A Simple Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin Types

November 01, 2019
Margaret Fisher
By: Margaret Fisher | skincare.com by L'Oréal
A Simple Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin Types

Life isn’t black and white, and neither is skin care. You may be under the impression that your skin has to fall into one of two categories—dry or oily—but that isn’t quite the case. If you’ve been struggling to identify whether your skin is dry or oily, the issue could be that your skin isn’t one or the other, but rather both. In other words, you could have combination skin. If that’s the case, you have to attend to both of your complexion’s qualities. That may make developing a skin care routine for combination skin types sound like a serious undertaking, but don’t get overwhelmed. We’re sharing a simple routine for combination skin types, plus, how to find out once and for all whether or not you have combination skin.

How to Determine if You Have Combination Skin

Unfortunately, it isn’t always obvious what skin type you have. Since your skin can’t come right out and tell you, it’s up to you to determine whether have dry, oily, normal, sensitive, or combination skin. You may be able to take a guess, but before you start crafting a skin care routine for combination skin types, it’s best to really be sure.

According to board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, combination skin is incredibly common. “Combination skin is by far the most common skin type I see in my patients,” he says. “My patients come in with oily T-zone areas (nose, eyebrows, chin) and dry skin at the periphery.” To give yourself an easy skin type test to help determine just how oily or dry areas of your skin are, cleanse and moisturize your skin as you normally would. If after cleansing your cheeks feel tight and dry, while your T-zone appears less shiny, that’s a sign you may have a combination skin type. After moisturizing, take a look at your skin again. If your cheeks appear well hydrated but your T-zone looks excessively oily—that may be another indicator of combination skin.

Another quick test you could try involves blotting papers. “Grab a blotting paper and gently dab different areas of your face,” Dr. Bhanusali says. “If the sheet becomes translucent, it’s indicative of oil absorption.” If you notice oil absorption on you T-zone but not your cheeks, that can be a sign that you have combination skin as well. For more tips on how to determine your skin type, check out our dermatologist’s guide here.


Combination skin is by far the most common skin type I see in my patients.

 how to tell if you have combination skin

How to Take Care of Combination Skin

Combination skin may be more complicated than having skin that’s just dry or just oily, but your skin care routine doesn’t have to be any more extensive. Keep it simple with these five steps.

1. Wash with a gentle cleanser. When you have combination skin, it’s important not to use a cleanser that’s too harsh. Otherwise, you risk stripping the dry areas on your face of essential oils. Follow the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) recommendation and use a mild cleanser, such as the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser. The gentle liquid formula—meant for all skin types—thoroughly cleanses without over-drying.

2. Use a chemical exfoliator. It can be tricky to find an exfoliator, and an exfoliating schedule, that works for you—and that’s without factoring in combination skin. When you take your skin type into consideration too, you have to be extra attentive to picking an exfoliating option that won’t be too rough on dry patches. Use gentle—yet effective—peel pads, formulated with glycolic acid, to resurface dull skin and help your skin absorb the next steps in your regimen. Our pick? The derm-inspired L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Peel Pads.

3. Don’t skip SPF. Here’s your regularly scheduled reminder that sunscreen is always a must. No matter your skin type, this is one step you definitely can’t get around doing. Choose a lightweight, water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher. The La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily SPF 50 Sunscreen fits the bill.

4. Apply a medium-weight moisturizer. Moisturizer is often one of the trickiest products to settle on for combination skin types. You can’t layer on a cream that’s too heavy at risk of making your skin look greasy, but a lotion that’s too light isn’t right either. The AAD suggests using a medium-weight moisturizer that hydrates without going overboard. A gel-cream, like the Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb The Antioxidant Super Moisturizer is perfect for the job. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, the non-greasy moisturizer instantly allows you to see and feel a difference in your skin. 

5. Keep blotting sheets on hand. Skin care doesn’t stop when you step out the door. If you’re used to seeing your T-zone start to look shiny midway through the day, do yourself a favor a make friends with a pack of blotting sheets. Keep the NYX Professional Makeup Blotting Paper in your bag or pocket for quick touch-ups throughout the day.

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