Figuring out the perfect skincare regimen for your skin type can be a challenge. And that challenge gets even harder when you have combination skin. When your complexion is oily in some areas and dry in others, it can feel impossible to find products that can meet all of your needs, especially when so many products seem to fall in one category or the other: dry or oily.
When it comes to improving the appearance of combination skin, there are three main things you need to accomplish to keep your skin clear, even, and glowing.
Let’s break down what your special skin type needs in order to look and feel its best, and talk about some products that will check all the boxes!
How Do You Know If You Have Combination Skin?
The tricky thing about combination skin is that it has characteristics of both skin types, so it’s really easy to think your skin is the dry type or the oily type and handle it accordingly. Then, in reality, your skin is actually combination skin, and you’re not meeting all of its needs by only addressing half its concerns.
The only real way to determine your skin type outside of speaking to a dermatologist is to be honest with yourself about how your skin behaves naturally.
While you may think your skin is oily because your T-zone tends to look slick and shiny and that bothers you, or if you sometimes struggle with dryness on your cheeks, you’re probably more of a combination type overall.
In fact, this is the main way to tell if you have combo skin — an oily T-zone + dry patches on the cheekbones.
In fact, experts say up to 70% of women have combination skin. Since there’s an almost 3 in 4 chance that you, too, have combination skin, if your dry or oily-specific skincare routine isn’t working for you, it’s probably because you’ve mis-identified your skin type.
What Causes Combination Skin?
It’s super important to know your skin type when you’re choosing skincare products. But what makes your skin type what it is? Well, the answer is simpler than you might think: genetics.
Whether your skin is dry, oily, or in the middle depends on the amount of oil your skin’s sebaceous glands produce. This is, for the most part, determined by whatever traits you inherit from your parents. With combination skin, some of your pores produce too much oil, and others don’t work quite hard enough.
Skin also produces less oil as you age. So, it’s possible that your skin type may shift slightly as you get older, particularly around big hormonal changes like menopause.
A few external factors like climate and your current skincare routine can also influence your skin’s oil production, and may make your skin present in different ways than it would naturally. For instance, if you have oily skin, your complexion may balance itself better in a dry climate. If your skin is dry, your complexion isn’t likely to thrive in the dead of a cold, dry winter. If you’re over or under-moisturizing, you can either stimulate or stall your skin’s oil production, resulting in a multitude of skincare complaints.
How Can I Support My Combination Skin?
There are three main things you need to get on track in order to have the bright and balanced skin you’re looking for.
Your Skin Microbiome
You’ve probably heard of your microbiome mostly in terms of gut health, but your skin’s microbiome is also crucial to your overall wellness. Your skin’s microbiome is responsible for fighting infection and helping your immune system, as well as playing a big role in the state of your complexion.
Your skin microbiome can be affected by factors like your genes and your diet, as well as environmental factors like smoking, air pollution, and exposure to UV rays. Certain skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea can also throw your skin’s microbiome out of whack. When your skin’s microbiome is unbalanced, it’s called dysbiosis.
A balanced skin microbiome is a happy skin microbiome — so choosing products that support a healthy pH balance and provide a wide range of nutrients and antioxidants is going to be ideal.
Your Exfoliation Routine
Exfoliating your skin regularly offers a wide range of benefits to any skin type, but it’s particularly crucial if you have combination skin. Exfoliation, whether chemical or physical, is the best way to keep your pores clear of bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells.
The oily areas of your skin particularly may be prone to breakouts, so it’s important to make at least gentle exfoliation a part of your routine to help your skin to stay as clear as possible.
Your Hydration Levels
That’s the thing with combination skin — the dry parts of your skin can be seriously dry, so it’s important to treat them accordingly. Getting your skin’s hydration levels down-pat can be key to helping your complexion stay balanced and bright overall.
Equally, though, the oily portions of your skin can be prone to clogging and will struggle if suffocated under a layer of thick moisturizer. So you’re going to need an intense, effective moisturizer that’s still lightweight, without any pore-clogging ingredients.
What Products Are Good for Combination Skin?
If you’re worried about finding a routine that strengthens your skin’s microbiome, gently exfoliates, and keeps everything hydrated without clogging your pores, don’t be — we’ve done the hard work for you.
Here is our pick of the top products that will help your combination skin thrive.
For a Basic Morning Skincare Routine
If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward skincare routine to help manage your combination skin, we can break it down for you in three easy steps.
The first is finding the best cleanser for your combination skin. Start with our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm. It’s formulated with Turmeric and Ginger Root oils, both of which are ideal for cleansing your oily t-zone, which is the part of your face most likely to run oily, while nourishing your skin with moisture-retaining AHAs Lactic and Azelaic Acid.
Skincare Tip: Use a cleanser with oils like our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm, and massage those oils into your T-Zone for a full minute.
Both of these are chemical exfoliants — but gentle ones. They’re not going to make your skin tingle or sting, and they shouldn’t cause any peeling. What they will do is remove every trace of makeup, dirt, and dead surface skin cells that might otherwise settle on your skin and result in clogged pores. Cucumber and avocado oils are included in our combination skin-friendly cleansing balm so that your skin feels soft and hydrated after washing.
Your second step is to move onto our Clear Nutrient Toner. Our toner is perfect for combination skin because it contains both Apple Cider Vinegar and Fermented Kombucha. If you’re into your gut health or fermented skincare, you know just how good these ingredients are for your microbiome — they’re also super helpful in keeping your skin microbiome balanced.
Finish off your simple routine with our Chebula Extreme Cream. It’s a triple threat when it comes to keeping your skin hydrated: super moisturizing, packed with antioxidants, and ideal for strengthening your skin barrier. These qualities alone make it great not just for combination skin, but also for fighting five signs of aging, including reducing the appearance of fine lines, preventing wrinkles, and improving your skin texture.
But on top of that, Chebula Extreme Cream contains zero pore-clogging waxes. That makes it ideal for your combination skin, because it will provide the intense hydration your dry areas need without congesting your oily areas.
Don’t forget sunscreen or SPF to protect your complexion, and you’re ready for makeup, after which one more combo skin-supporting step finishes off your skin care routine: our Renew Nutrient Mist.
This nourishing face mist sets makeup, but more importantly, it’s like a topical multivitamin you can spritz daily to give your skin a boost of ultra-hydrating, microbiome-friendly antioxidants to keep your skin quenched and balanced.
In the Evening
When it comes to a nighttime routine, it should mostly mirror what you do in the morning. Start with cleansing and toning. Then, you can use a serum.
If anti-aging is a priority on your list, Synthetic Retinol may be your typical go-to, but have you ever heard of Phyto-Retinol, aka plant-derived, all-natural Retinol? Read: a smart way to do Retinol?
Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster offers all the benefits of synthetic retinol in a gentle, plant-based solution. Whereas traditional Retinol can cause side effects like dryness, which can be a real issue if you’re trying to balance your combination skin.
True Botanicals Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster harnesses the innate intelligence of your skin to help deliver powerful anti-aging benefits. And while people often associate natural alternatives with less impactful results, Phyto-Retinols have been shown in studies to offer the same results as synthetic Retinol, without the sensitivity.
Our Renew Repair Nightly Treatment can also make an impact in your evening comob skin care routine. Since maintaining your skin’s microbiome is so important to combination skin, this treatment is an MVP. It’s formulated with our proprietary wakame ferment, which is super nourishing to your skin’s microbiome. It also has ceramides and peptides in it, which will help promote a strong skin barrier.
If you’re going for that “woke up like this” look, but aren’t sure what to use on your combination skin, Renew Repair Nightly Treatment is the trick up your sleeve.
For those struggling with breakout-prone skin, our Clear Pure Radiance Oil is also a wonderful addition to your routine, day and night. Helichrysum is known for its antibacterial properties, while hemp, pumpkin, and grape seed oils work to restore sebum balance!
When You Need Some Extra Care
While it doesn’t need to be part of your everyday routine, sometimes your skin needs a little extra love, or you want to do a little pampering (and who doesn’t?).
When that moment comes, reach for our Resurfacing Moisture Mask. It’s the best exfoliator for combination skin because it balances out the exfoliating effect of Lactic Acid with soothing ingredients such as mango and avocado butter. It’ll leave your skin balanced, exfoliated and completely moisturized.
Although realizing you have combination skin may feel like a challenge you’re not ready to take on, armed with a little bit of extra information and some great recommendations, meeting your skin’s varied needs is easier than you think!
Shop True Botanicals Combination Skincare Routine in full here.
Oily Skin: A Review of Treatment Options | The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology
Know Your Skin Type Before Choosing Skin Care Products | Cleveland Clinic
Aging Changes in Skin | Medline Plus
The Skin Microbiome | National Library of Medicine
Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind Assessment of Topical Bakuchiol and Retinol for Facial Photoageing | National Library of Medicine