The Ultimate Routine for Combination Skin

The Ultimate Routine for Combination Skin

Unique skin deserves unique care

Combination skin is the trickiest skin to care for as most products target just oily or dry skin, and you’ve got both. It’s a whole process to find a routine that keeps all your skin issues under control, not to mention just finding products that actually work. It is never a good time when you spend time and money on new skincare that ends up worsening your complexion.

Luckily, we’ve collected everything you need to know about your skin type, what products to use, and what order to use them.

Also, you can check out our routines for dry and oily skin separately for more suggestions, or our routine for normal skin if nothing else seems to work.


What is combination skin?

Combination skin is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of skin types. Typically, it presents with an oily or greasy T-zone (nose, forehead, and chin) and dry skin everywhere else (on the cheeks and along the jawline especially). Or, you may have skin that switches between being oily and dry.

While there could be many factors that cause combination skin, there are a few that are more common than others.

Changes in weather temperatures, patterns, and environmental factors, as well as seasonal changes, can stress all the skin. Hormones can also cause combination skin, especially when starting or stopping birth control and during menopause.

It also might be the products you’re using that are causing combination skin problems. Using multiple different products can overload and stress your skin while misusing or overusing other products can throw off your skin’s pH and moisture balances. When in doubt, simplify your skincare routine to just a few products, then add more back in as needed.


What does combination skin need? 

Because combination skin has the problems of two different skin types, creating a routine can be difficult.

One thing to avoid is doing two different skincare routines at the same time, as this can lead to a product overload that can worsen your complexion. Using products for oily and acne-prone skin may be great for your oily areas, but they might dry out your already dry cheeks, while hyper hydrating products can increase unwanted oiliness.

It’s important to find products that are either designed for combination skin specifically or to use different products on the different areas of your face without overlapping them.

Either way, make sure to keep your skin hydrated. Oily skin overproduces oil when it lacks moisture, and dry skin is dry also due to a lack of moisture. The trick is finding the right balance of products for your skin.


The Routine


When you wash your face in the morning and at night, try to use a gentle cleanser that removes impurities without stripping away your natural hydration. Cleansers that use ingredients like denatured alcohol can harm your skin’s moisture barrier, which can lead to both more oil production and dry, flaking skin.

Hydrating cleansers that use ingredients such as tea tree, like Dr. Jart’s Teatreement Cleansing Foam, work together to unclog pores while still keeping your skin moisturized. You could also use other moisture-promoting cleansers like CeraVe’s Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser or RéVive’s Foaming Cleanser and Enriched Hydrating Wash.

If those don’t strike your fancy, we also recommend Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple Cleanser, Cetaphil’s PRO Foaming Face Wash, or Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser if you also have sensitive skin.

If you wear makeup, it’s important to double-cleanse your skin. Before bed, start your skincare routine with makeup-melting micellar water like Garnier’s SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, then cleanse your skin again with one of the other face washes.

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While toners aren’t always a necessary part of skincare, they are perfect as treatments that give additional moisture, gently exfoliate, or help repair your skin.

For combination skin, we love Origins’ United State Balancing Tonic, No7’s Radiant Results Purifying Toning Water, and SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence. These help to even your skin’s texture without stripping away the moisture we worked so hard to keep while cleansing.

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Like with toners, serums and treatments are the perfect time to address specific skincare concerns. This is also where you want to use different products for the different areas of your face, depending on what they need.

At night, use clay and charcoal masks on your t-zone, as these draw out excess dirt and sebum, and cream masks on your dry cheeks or jawline. Sheet masks that use hydrating but non-pore-clogging ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid as well as oil and acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid are also great finds.

When it comes to serums, we like Clarins’ Double Serum and SkinCeuticals’ Silymarin CF. If you’re going to use an exfoliant like glycolic acid, lactic acid, or retinol, avoid over-exfoliating your dry skin to avoid irritation. If you’re looking for a face mask, however, we like to use either Peter Thomas Roth’s Irish Moor Mud Mask, AHAVA’s Mineral Mud Brightening & Hydrating Facial Treatment Mask, or GLAMGLOW’s Supermud Clearing Treatment on our oily areas once a week or so.

If the area under your eyes is also dry with fine lines, try out Dr. Dennis Gross’ B3 Adaptive Superfoods Stress SOS Eye Cream or Shiseido’s Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream.

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We also like to use different moisturizers on our different skin concerns. On the oily sections we like to use lightweight and non-comedogenic moisturizers, and on dry patches, we use heavier, cream-based hydrators.

CeraVe’s Moisturizing Lotion is amazing, but we also like Avene’s Skin Recovery Cream when our skin is feeling sensitive, or Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel when we need something lightweight. We also can’t pass up mentioning Dr. Dennis Gross’s Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream.

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Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night needing a big glass of water? Our skin is our body’s biggest organ, and it can get just as dehydrated as we do. Use a moisturizer that imparts extra moisture overnight, like EltaMD’s PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer, CeraVe’s PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, or Clarins’ Multi-Active Night Cream.

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While balancing your skincare routine between your skin’s oily and dry needs is important, sunscreen is the most important step to any skincare routine. If the skin isn’t protected, no amount of creams or serums can undo the damage done to it.

Even if you skip everything else, make sure you wear sunscreen every morning before going out. If you want a sunscreen that has some coverage, try SunBum’s Mineral Tint SPF 30. Otherwise, we love CeraVe’s Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30. But of course, the best sunscreen is going to be the one that you actually wear every day, so check out all of our face sunscreen options if these aren’t what you’re looking for.

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It can be discouraging when your skin isn’t cooperating day-to-day as you’re establishing a skincare routine. Luckily, there are plenty of products that can help give an extra boost of exactly what your skin needs at any moment.

When we want to take away some shine without having to fully wash our face midday, we like to grab some blotting papers. Palladio’s Rice Paper and Winky Lux’s Matcha Blotting Sheets remove excess oil from the surface of the skin without disrupting any makeup underneath. Avoid trying to cover oil with more face powder, as this can lead to cakey-looking makeup.

On the other hand, when our dry is looking and feeling a little extra dry and tight, we reach for hydrating facial sprays. PUR’s Miracle Mist Hydrating Spray, for example, hydrates the skin and sets makeup while Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Miracle Hydrating Mist and Derma E’s Hydrating Mist are perfect for a boost of moisture throughout the day.

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If we didn’t mention a product you were looking for, check out all of our other combination skincare products on our website.

*Disclaimer: Not all skin reacts the same to different products and ingredients. Check with a professional dermatologist for your specific skin and skin concerns.


For questions, concerns, or article ideas, feel free to reach out to our eCosmetics Beauty Editor directly at