Like the name suggests, combination skin is really two skin types in one.“It tends to be oily on the forehead, nose and chin but dry around cheeks and temples”, says New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco. Mild cases will have some blackheads and a bit of shine in the t-zone and some tightness on sides of the face—but in extreme cases, it’s a maddening combination of acne and sandpaper skin.The science Oily skin happens when testosterone levels rise and your body converts them into DHT, which triggers sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. (Stress, your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, birth control pills and certain medications and diet all affect the delicate hormone balance and therefore also how much oil your skin produces.)QUIZ: What’s Your Skin Type?When excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria, pores get clogged to form blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts. Dry, flaky skin, on the other hand, is most likely to happen when its protective barrier is damaged by hormonal fluctuations, harsh cleansers or exposure to cold, dry air.Causes How can skin be both oily and dry? Each pore contains a sebaceous gland that secretes oil—and you have more pores on your forehead, nose and chin than on the rest of your face, meaning you could break out on your t-zone but tend to have drier cheeks. The wrong kind of skincare can exacerbate the problem: “People see blackheads and reach for acne products,” says Dr. Fusco. “If you use them all over your face, you might be stripping the drier areas of oils that are necessary for your healthy, hydrated skin.”Gallery: Skincare Products for Combination SkinTips for combination skin
- Wash your face with a gentle, soap-free (non-sudsing) cleanser to avoid stripping the drier areas of your face.*Don’t be afraid to use different products on different parts of your face.
- Apply toner that contains salicylic acid on the t-zone only and spot-treat breakouts with benzoyl peroxide or sulfur-containing products.
- Use oil-absorbing products like blotting papers or clay masks on your forehead, nose and chin to cut shine.
- Apply a lotion that contains an alpha hydroxy acid (like glycolic acid) all over the face to help keep your pores clear. If your cheeks still feel dry, layer on a heavier cream.