What is Combination Skin and How to Care for This Skin Mood
Picture this: you’re shopping for a new skincare product when you notice a label that says: “For Combination Skin”. You take a second and ask yourself, “What is combination skin?” Don’t worry. We’re here to help!
When it comes to life, not everything is black and white. Or, when it comes to skincare, not everything is dry or oily. That’s why, at Mirra, we believe in skin moods. We don’t use the expression “skin types”, because your skin should not be a label – it changes! Instead, we believe in treating our cabinet where we keep our skincare products as a toolbox and reaching for what our skin needs at that moment.
While it sounds like balancing two different skin moods at once is a mysterious or daunting task, unlocking the mystery of combination skin is actually much simpler than you may think. In fact, with the right information and products, your skin can thrive with its newfound balance!
What is a Combination Skin Mood?
So, first thing’s first: what is combination skin? Well, ask yourself: do you have a dry skin mood in some areas while you have an oily skin mood in other areas? If you answered yes, you might have a combination skin mood! Typically, there’s a mix of oily and dry areas on different parts of your face, with the t-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) being slight to very oily (1).
I, for example, have an oily t-zone while the skin on my cheeks is mostly in a drier mood. It doesn’t matter whether you have an oily skin mood around your nose and a dry skin mood along your chin and jaw, or hairline – the specific areas don’t matter too much when it comes to lessening the problem.
There are a variety of reasons why people can develop combination skin, but more often than not, it’s just genetics. However, the kinds of skincare products you use can certainly contribute to the development of combination skin. Other factors, such as your diet and stress levels, can also cause you to unknowingly contribute to making your combination skin more of an issue.
Skin Moods and How They Can Change
Now that we’ve answered, “What is combination skin?”, let’s talk about how we can contribute to the issue. As you might have already guessed, using skincare products with harsh ingredients or irritating ingredients can ultimately dry out some areas of your face. At the same time, these products can stimulate excess oil production in other parts of your skin – especially around the nose.
Other factors that can exacerbate your combination skin mood include:
- Diet: While using topical products is an important factor in any skincare ritual, we can also target our skin concerns from the inside out. That’s why having good gut health is key. Usually, one of the first signs you’ll notice poor gut health is through more noticeable skin concerns, such as acne and inflammation. Many dermatologists who treat patients with uneven skin moods often find their patients to have diets heavy in processed or salty foods (2). If this sounds like your diet, try to avoid processed food as much as possible and add whole foods with antioxidants and vitamins to your diet.
- Environment: Every time you go outside, your skin is exposed to free radicals in the air, dirt, debris, and pollution. Oh, and the SUN. No matter if it’s in the middle of summer or in the dead of winter, you should always be applying sunscreen throughout the day to ward off excess sun exposure. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re cleansing at least every night before bed to wash off any leftover dirt, oil, or debris from the day. Plus, using products with antioxidants or eating foods high in antioxidants will help you address free radical damage.
- Stress: High stress levels can have a major negative impact on both your health and your skin. Stress can exacerbate breakouts and can contribute to combination skin, so it's helpful to find a method that can help reduce our stress levels. For example, exercise, meditation, and sleep are great ways to help us relax and unwind after a stressful day. Doing so will not only help your mental health but will also contribute to significant changes in your skin’s appearance.
How to Care for Combination Skin
One of the most common questions asked about combination skin, besides “what is combination skin”, is “how can I treat combination skin?”. The key thing to keep in mind with combination skin is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. According to Paula’s Choice, it depends on how dry your dry areas are naturally and how oily your oily areas are (1). You’ll have to divide and conquer!
There are basic rules to remember while we care for our combination skin. For example, the oil-absorbing or matte-finish ingredients that work perfectly on our oily areas will be a nightmare for our dry skin mood. This is what we meant when we said divide and conquer. Apply moisturizer to your dry areas while using oil-absorbing products on your oily areas - but keep them away from each other.
Here are some more tips to keep in mind while caring for combination skin:
- For the areas with an oily skin mood, you will need to use products with lightweight, but effective, formulas. Thin gels, lotions, serums, and essences with concentrated amounts of beneficial ingredients are ideal. For cleansing, try a water-soluble cleanser. It’s all about knowing when and where to layer your products.
- Make sure you’re not using products with harsh or irritating ingredients. This includes avoiding abrasive exfoliators and fragrances.
- Your toner, if you use one in your skincare ritual, should be hydrating, soothing, and non-irritating. Aim to use toners with a healthy number of antioxidants and ingredients that won’t harm your skin barrier.
- Using gentle, non-abrasive, leave-on gel BHA exfoliants are fantastic for combination skin.
- Add a nighttime moisturizer with a gel, serum, or liquid-like texture to your skincare ritual. This will help calm your skin while improving dry areas and lessening excess oil production on the skin’s surface. Typically, you can find nighttime moisturizers that will target other skin concerns, such as premature aging from free radical damage.
Written by Selena Ponton