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Combination Skin Care: Treatment and Tips

Vicky Davis, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 8/10/2021

For those looking to keep their facial skin feeling and looking its best, there are a range of products available to control oil production or soothe dryness.

It's not as easy for combination skin types. 

If you’ve got combination skin, a skin care routine becomes trickier. That’s because people with this skin type are oily in the T zone – or your forehead, nose and chin -- and dry everywhere else

What Are The Characteristics of Combination Skin?

People with combination skin, in addition to an oily T-zone, may experience enlarged pores in this area. 

Oil and enlarged pores may be confined to a slim part of the T-zone, or may be visible outside it. Their cheeks may feel normal or dry.

Sebum overproduction is responsible for an oily T-zone. Conversely, less sebum and a lipid deficiency may be behind your drier areas.

Overproduction of sebum may cause acne. Acne occurs when hair follicles under the skin become clogged. This can happen when oil and dead skin cells clog the pores, which may result in lesions, or pimples and zits. They often occur on the face but can also appear on the back, chest, and shoulders.

Acne, for most, goes away by their thirties, although it can continue for other people into their forties and fifties.

Best Practices For Combination Skin Care

No matter your skin type, there are ways to take care of it so it stays healthy.

That includes wearing a broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to both your face but also to all skin not covered by clothing. 

You’ll want to reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Doing so can help prevent sunburn as well as wrinkles, age spots and premature aging.

Avoid touching your face, since this habit can transfer dirt, germs, and oil from your hands to your face.

If you have combination skin and are also experiencing acne, there are ways to lessen your breakouts. These include:

  • applying acne cream or medication in a thin layer over the area of the skin that’s acne-prone, instead of spot-treating individual pimples.

  • using makeup, sunscreen, and skin, and hair-care products that are labeled “non-comedogenic” or “won’t clog pores.”

  • washing your face of makeup before bed each night.

  • avoiding sharing makeup and makeup brushes.

  • gently washing your face instead of scrubbing, which can irritate skin, causing acne flare-ups.

  • avoiding the urge to pop or squeeze your breakouts which can cause scarring and increase inflammation.

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What Is A Good Skincare Routine For Combination Skin?

It can be hard to take care of combination skin, since some areas are experiencing excessive oil production while others have dry patches. 

There are some general rules to follow to keep skin feeling and looking healthy. 

  • To clean skin, you may opt for a gentle, non-irritating cleanser to get rid of dirt and makeup both in the morning and evening.

  • Next, a toner can be applied to help hydrate dry skin and minimize oil.

  • After that, it’s recommended you use a lightweight, non-comedogenic SPF.

  • During the day you might choose to use blotting papers to soak up excess oil in your T-zone.

  • Another option for keeping combination skin looking and feeling healthy include gentle exfoliation to get rid of dead skin cells. You may try once a week and increase from there as long as your skin is tolerating it.


Using different masks for different areas of the face may also allow you to treat both oily and dry areas at the same time.

If acne is in the mix, there are medications available to help promote clearer skin. They need time to work, however. 

It’s a good idea to give them four to six weeks before you see improvement. 

Some people need three months. Then, once they are working, keep using the product to help prevent future outbreaks.

Some people who don’t see improvement after four to six weeks may choose to add a second acne treatment to see if their pimples clear up.

The second treatment should target a different cause of acne than the medication already being used. 

You can identify the main acne-fighting ingredient in your medication by looking at the ingredients:

  • Benzoyl peroxide: This decreases Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes)

  • Retinoids: Unclog pores and reduce oiliness

  • Salicylic acid: Reduces inflammation and unclogs pores

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Get Healthy Looking and Feeling Skin For Good

Having combination skin can be frustrating since you’re trying to care for dry and oily skin and in some cases acne, at the same time. 

By using products meant for combination skin and adopting habits to keep it healthy, it’s possible to manage oil production and dry patches at the same time.

7 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Neill U. S. (2012). Skin care in the aging female: myths and truths. The Journal of clinical investigation, 122(2), 473–477. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI61978
  2. Skincare tips dermatologists use. (n.d.). American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/skin-care-tips-dermatologists-use
  3. Understanding skin – Skin types and conditions. (n.d.). Eucerin. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from https://int.eucerin.com/about-skin/basic-skin-knowledge/skin-types
  4. Acne. (n.d.). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/acne
  5. 10 skincare habits that can worsen acne. (n.d.). American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/habits-stop
  6. How to care for combination skin the right way. (2020, October 5). Skincare.com. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from https://www.skincare.com/article/combination-skin-treatment-tips
  7. 10 things to try when acne wont clear. (n.d.). American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/DIY/wont-clear

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.