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7 Skincare Mistakes to Avoid for Combination Skin

May 02, 2021

7 Skincare Mistakes to Avoid for Combination Skin

Do you find your skin to be oily in your T-zone, but dry in other areas? You most likely have combination skin.

Those with combination skin often struggle to identify what their skin type really is. They may categorize it as either oily or dry, but in doing so, neglect particular skin concerns. For example, in battling the excess oil in their T-zone, they may further dry out the skin on their cheeks, leading to flaking and irritation.

So how do you treat combination skin? Keep reading to learn about seven skincare mistakes to avoid if you have this skin type, as well as some helpful alternatives to keep your complexion balanced and healthy: 

Mistake #1: Using Harsh Cleansers

Cleansing is an important step to include in your skincare routine, no matter your skin type. However, those with combination skin should be very selective when it comes to choosing a cleanser.

In combination skin, the T-zone tends to be oily with larger, more pronounced pores. While the natural response to this may be to use a harsh cleanser, this can actually do more harm than good.

Harsh cleansers strip the skin of its natural oils, which can cause the skin to overcompensate by producing even more oil. Plus, these cleansers can further dry out areas that are already dry and lead to flaking and a tight, dehydrated feeling in the skin. Over time, this can eventually lead to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines.

Alternative: There are plenty of gentle cleansers that will do the job of cleaning your skin without completely stripping it of its moisture. Combination skin types may find that cleansers formulated with natural ingredients, such as rosehip seed oil, will remove impurities from the skin while helping to maintain its natural pH balance.

Mistake #2: Not Exfoliating

Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and debris, leaving your skin looking bright and radiant. It also creates a clean canvas on the skin, improving the absorption of the skincare products applied afterwards.

Regularly exfoliating is especially beneficial for combination skin types, as it will help to prevent clogged pores in the T-zone, while sloughing away flakes on dry skin. Exfoliation has also been shown to increase collagen production and even promote skin elasticity.

When choosing an exfoliating product, it’s important to know that there are both chemical and physical exfoliators:

  • Chemical exfoliators utilize different chemicals, such as hydroxy acids and retinoids to renew your skin. They help to peel away the surface of your skin so that new, more evenly pigmented skin cells can generate and replace them.
  • Physical exfoliators require manual scrubbing or rubbing to remove buildup on the skin. This can be done with a scrub or even a muslin washcloth.

Alternative: Not exfoliating can cause a variety of issues in the skin, such as clogged pores and breakouts. Those with combination skin may benefit from using a gentle exfoliator one to three times per week (whether it be chemical or physical). Just be sure to avoid over-exfoliating, as this can cause irritation and damage the skin.

Mistake #3: Using Products with Fragrance

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrance in skincare is one of the most common causes of allergic reactions in the skin. While some skin types can handle fragrance, others suffer from itching, rashes, and increased sensitivity.

Unfortunately, ‘fragrance’ often appears in the ingredient list of many popular skincare products. This is typically used as an umbrella term for thousands of potentially harmful ingredients, like aroma, perfume, or natural scents. Your skin may tolerate fragranced products that are on your skin for a shorter amount of time, such as cleansers, but products that sit on the surface of your skin like toners, moisturizers, and treatments may be irritating.

There’s no doubt that heavily fragranced skincare products smell nice—but they might be throwing off your skin’s natural balance, which can be an issue for those with combination skin.

Alternative: When it comes to treating combination skin, it’s best to keep your products and routine as simple as possible. As you shop for products, try to choose ones that are free of synthetic fragrance and other harmful ingredients like parabens and phthalates. Your skin will thank you!

Mistake #4: Skipping Moisturizer

Using a good moisturizer is essential for those with combination skin. While it might seem like the oily parts of your skin don’t need additional moisture, it’s important to know that a buildup of sebum simply sits on the surface of the skin, whereas a moisturizer will penetrate the layers of the skin and provide a boost of hydration.

The key to choosing a moisturizer for combination skin is to choose the right formula. A moisturizer designed for combination skin will help to control oil production while also keeping the dry parts of your skin hydrated. For example, Herbal Dynamics Beauty’s Prickly Pear Antioxidant Daily Moisturizer contains prickly pear and hyaluronic acid to moisturize and balance the skin.

Alternative: In addition to using moisturizer, those with combination skin can use face oils as a spot treatment. After moisturizing, use a few drops of a hydrating oil, like argan oil or tamanu oil, and gently press it into areas where your skin is dry. This will help to target dry areas without overwhelming oily areas with too much moisture.

Mistake #5: Using Comedogenic Products

Similar to those with oily skin, those with combination skin should steer clear of products that can clog pores. When choosing products, always look for the “Non-comedogenic” label, which means the product is free of ingredients that can cause pore blockages and acne.

For example, coconut oil is commonly found in skincare products, but this ingredient is highly comedogenic. Certain skin types may be able to handle it, such as dry skin, but it’s generally not advised for those with oily or sensitive skin.

Alternative: When browsing the skincare aisle, always look for the non-comedogenic label on your products. If you have questions about the specific products and ingredients you should be using, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist.

Mistake #6: Sleeping with Makeup On

After a long and tiring day, you probably want to hop in bed immediately. However, doing so before fully removing your makeup can take a toll on your skin over time.

Going to bed with a full face of makeup on, or remnants of makeup, means you’re sleeping with the dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and debris that your skin accumulated throughout the day. This can lead to dull skin, puffy, irritated eyes, and clogged pores. It’s also likely to dry out your skin and throw off its moisture balance, which can create additional challenges for combination skin.

Alternative: No matter how tired you may be, it’s important to take a few minutes each night to cleanse your face and follow up with nourishing products. This is critical if you want healthy, radiant skin!

In order to completely remove your makeup, try the double cleanse method by using a cleansing balm or oil to break down makeup, and following up with a liquid cleanser to remove any last traces of makeup, dirt, and grime. After cleansing, use a moisturizer and any other products you like to use in your routine, such as serums, oils, and treatments. 

Mistake #7: Not Applying Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen is a critical step in any skincare routine. As someone with combination skin, it's important to know that the dry areas of your skin are more prone to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, and sun exposure will only accelerate this through photoaging.

The damage caused by photoaging takes place in the deepest layers of the skin. In the short-term, it can cause changes in pigmentation, wrinkling, sagging, and uneven skin texture. In the long-term, it can lead to more serious consequences, such as skin cancer.

Alternative: Using sunscreen should be a non-negotiable part of your skincare routine. According to the AAD, it’s best to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for adequate protection.

At the end of the day, remember that everyone’s skin is different. Finding a routine that works for you might take some trial and error, but it’s well worth it! Skincare is an investment that will help you to look and feel your best.