What is Combination Skin? Understanding This Skin Type
You want your skin to look it's most radiant, and this means caring for it in a way that takes into consideration your unique skin type. If you’re one of the millions of people with skin that seems to have more than one personality, this might leave you a little perplexed. Is your skin oily? Is it dry? Is it even possible to care for all the changing moods of your skin?
If this sounds familiar, let us welcome you to the combination skin club. While combination skin is one of the most common skin types, it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Caring for your combination skin involves learning how to balance it and tend to your problem areas without further irritating your skin anyway, but first, it’s helpful to understand what combination skin is and what causes it.
What Is Combination Skin?
People with combination skin don’t fit nicely into all the standard skin type categories – such as oily, dry, sensitive, or normal. Their skin shows signs of being a little of at least two of these, and it’s often difficult for them to know how their skin will react to skincare products and cosmetics.
When most people think of combination skin, it’s the classic T-Zone that comes to mind. A bit of oiliness along the forehead, nose, and chin, with some dryness along the cheeks and eye area. While this is a pretty common description, the T-Zone does not stand alone as the defining factor of combination skin.
Combination skin can also be partially dry and sensitive, or oily in some areas and completely normal in others. The variations of combination skin are about as unique as the people with this common skin type. If you have combination skin, you might have any combination of the following:
- A noticeable T-zone
- Patches of whiteheads or blackheads
- Enlarged pores
- Dry patches
- Fragile skin around the eye area
- Sensitive skin
What Causes Combination Skin
Like every skin type, there are a number of factors that can contribute to combination skin. Some of these factors, like genetics, aren’t anything you can control. Fortunately, for most of us, skin type isn’t something that’s left entirely up to fate. If you’re not happy with your moody skin, there is likely something you can do to balance your skin, or at least minimize the symptoms of combination skin.
Some factors that you can control, or at least protect your skin from, include:
Environment: Your skin is exposed to an environmental assault every single day. In fact, being the first line of defense and a protective barrier against the environment is one of your skin’s most important jobs. Exposure to certain chemicals or pollution in the air can cause a reaction in your skin, as can a change in the weather. If you have combination skin, you’re probably all too familiar with how your skin seems to ramp up the oil production in the humid summer months but loses moisture come winter.
Stress and Hormones: Hormones have such a tremendous influence on the skin, and along with natural hormonal fluctuations that you’ll experience throughout your life, stress can also cause havoc for hormone production. If you’re going through puberty, pregnancy, menopause, are taking medications that alter hormone production, or are experiencing a stressful time in your life, it’s not uncommon for your skin to develop multiple personalities.
Skin Care Product and Cosmetics: A common problem for people with combination skin is using skin care products that end up making their skin-related issues even worse. A person with an overactive oily T-Zone might try to remedy the situation by using a harsh acne control product, and as a result, irritate the non-oily parts of their skin. Likewise, someone with a few dry, patchy areas might choose a moisturizer that isn’t suitable for their otherwise normal skin and end up with breakouts as a result.
Caring for Combination Skin
The main goal of caring for combination skin is figuring out how to strike a balance. You might not be able to completely eliminate the causes of your combination skin, but you can do things to help bring about a healthy balance, which will, in turn, minimize any skin-related issues you’re experiencing.
Environmental and lifestyle adjustments that can help balance combination skin include:
- Reducing stress, this includes making sure you’re getting plenty of good quality sleep each night.
- Exercising to help keep hormone levels balanced and to increase blood flow to the skin surface.
- Drinking lots of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
- Avoiding foods that are common triggers for inflammation, such as those that are processed, fried, or high in sugars.
You can also help keep combination skin in check by caring for it properly every day. This includes:
- Using skincare products that are formulated especially for combination skin.
- Resisting the temptation to use skincare products that are either too harsh, like some that are designed for acne-prone skin, or products that are too heavily moisturizing.
- Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser twice a day. This is enough to remove dirt, oil, makeup, and dead skin, without being the risk of being over-drying.
- Use an enzyme-based exfoliant at least once a week to remove layers of dead skin and impurities from the pores in order to keep your skin looking fresh and vibrant.
- Pay attention to how your skin reacts when you use certain skincare products or cosmetics. Keep a skincare diary for a couple of weeks whenever you add a new product to your routine.
- Assess your skin at least once or twice a year to determine if your skin has changed and if your current products are working the way they should. Our Skin Care Quiz offers an easy way to do this.
Striking a Balance
When you think about it, caring for combination skin is similar to learning how to live a balanced life. It might take some trial and error to learn what works for you to find your magic formula. Each of us is unique in our own ways, skin type being no exception. Take care of your body, take care of your skin, and strive to live with balance, gratitude, and contentment.