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Creating A Combination Skin Care Routine

October 12, 2021


You could joke that combination skin has a split personality, because one part of the face might be oily, while another is dry. Balance is key for combination complexions, so use products that have the ability to treat both.


If you were to draw a large “T” on your face, you’d see that the skin under the T would include your forehead, chin, and nose, and the nose is most likely the oiliest part. That’s because those areas are also the ones with the most sebaceous glands, and they produce sebum, an oily secretion. This T area is where you will want to focus on cleansing thoroughly. 

The rest of the face, sometimes called the “S” zone, might be dry and flaky. This is where you will need to focus on adding moisture. 

The undereye area is often considered a separate zone, as that skin tends to be very thin, fragile, and prone to irritation. Only the gentlest products should be used here. 


There’s really no magic formula for treating combination skin. There shouldn't be a philosophy of “attacking” or “conquering” any of the frustrating problems of any of the zones because, working too hard to fix the issues of one zone can aggravate the issues of another zone. 

Harsh chemicals or scrubs only make matters worse; they strip skin and damage the protective barrier and the sebaceous glands will overcompensate by producing more oil.

The mantra for the combination skin type needs to be to achieve balance. Also, every skin type needs products that are gently nourishing and hydrating.

The skin barrier retains moisture and has high levels of ceramides that keep skin healthy with a balance of good and harmful bacteria. And overly strong chemicals will lead to tissue damage that will then lead to (more) acne, dermatitis, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. Skin will be inflamed, red and itchy. This means you need to ditch the harsh cleansers and work with your skin and not against it. 

Ingredients to look for include:

  • Rose water: Rose water offers cleansing, calming and hydration to all skin types. it’s especially effective for the oily T-zone, because it has the antibacterial components but also contains anti-inflammatories to soothe and calm.
  • Green tea: green tea contains polyphenols and polyphenols decrease sebum production. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Calendula flower: Also called “pot marigold,” calendula extract speeds healing, stimulates circulation, and provides antioxidant protection that reduces not only the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, but also the visibility of scars. Calendula also effectively calms inflammation.
  • Cucumber: This plant extract has the same pH as skin, so it can be used as a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Cucumber has plenty of vitamins, include A, C, E which are also natural antioxidants.
  • Aloe vera: This plant extract contains two hormones: auxin and gibberellins that speed wound healing and encourage healthy skin cell turnover. Aloe vera also treats sunburn, which can damage skin, cause dryness, and stimulate oil production. Aloe vera is a moisturizer and gentle enough for all skin types.
  • Sesame seed oil: This oil is abundant in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even contains linolenic acid, a beneficial omega-6 fatty acid.


Even the oiliest skin needs to be moisturized. Just be sure it’s a non-comedogenic (meaning that it won’t clog pores) moisturizer, such as olive squalane.

AHAs and BHAs, like glycolic or lactic acid, are gentle exfoliants when used at low  concentrations (under 10%).

Clay masks are great, especially bentonite clay, an ingredient that gently cleans out clogged pores and neutralizes blackheads, pulling the oxygen-darkened sebum “plugs” out of pores like a magnet.


Just like our gut, our skin has a balance of good and bad bacteria.

When certain types of probiotics come in contact with skin cells, they are able to calm parts of the cells that may want to react to the presence of bad bacteria as a way to protect the skin. They stop sending “attack messages” to the immune system.

Even though they think they are protecting from what they see as foreign invaders, the signals can actually lead to acne flare-ups.

Topical skin probiotics help to protect the skin while interfering with the bacteria and microorganisms’ ability to trigger an immune reaction.

Skin probiotics also help with rosacea and eczema, both inflammatory skin disorders. Rosacea causes redness on the chin, nose, cheeks or forehead with small red bumps or pimples. Living microorganisms on the skin are recognized as foreign by the body’s immune system which springs into action to counter this potential threat resulting in the inflammation, redness and bumps common in these skin conditions. When applied topically, the same probiotics that help prevent acne can help battle the symptoms of rosacea. It works the same way with eczema.


There’s an old saying that “all life begins in the sea.” Seaweed is beneficial to skin and especially combination faces because it has properties of value to oily as well as dry areas.

It has hydrating qualities, as well as anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits. It's packed with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Seaweed also has antibacterial properties that make it an ideal ingredient for fighting acne. 


There’s a persistent myth that sun helps clear up acne, but it can increase sebum production. The sun’s UV rays dry out the skin and damage the protective skin barrier, and so that triggers the sebaceous glands to overcompensate - producing more sebum to make up for the dryness.

The sun’s bronzing effect will temporarily make skin better by masking the redness, but sun damage can cause skin to both thin and thicken in different areas over time. When your skin peels, these excess layers of skin can have a hard time sloughing off. Sebum and Propionibacterium acnes bacteria combine with dead skin cells, clog pores, and result in acne.


Cleansing isn’t just a matter of lathering, rinsing, and drying. Use only lukewarm water; that will eliminate excess sebum and dirt, but it won’t be harsh enough to strip the skin’s moisture barrier. Use gentle, circular motions when applying products to stimulate circulation and pat (not rub) dry with towels.

  1. Take off all your makeup before washing, because cleansers usually don’t dissolve it all. Use eye makeup remover and wet some cotton pads with a gentle cleansing water (like micellar water) and wipe.
  2. Wash - and since you have a T-zone prone to oily skin, blackheads and pimples, you’ll want a salicylic acid-based one to cool the inflammation and any redness. Never wash more than twice a day, too much washing will stimulate the glands to produce more sebum.

If your skin gets visibly oily by mid-afternoon, you can mist your face with a gentle cleansing hydrosol like peppermint, tea tree, lavender or rose. Hydrosols are the optimal pH, nourishing, balancing and protecting the skin's acid mantle.

After washing, use a gentle toner, such as rose water. One of the most important things for skin is to keep a balanced pH, and rose water supports pH balance.

It can also clean deep into pores while soothing and calming inflammation while healing, strengthening, regenerating, and rejuvenating skin.


No discussion about routines for combination skin is complete without mentioning magnesium. This “miracle mineral” breaks apart fats and oils to reduce oiliness, while it also keeps skin hydrated, nourished, and healed by promoting healthy skin cell turnover and the production of collagen.

Magnesium helps with all of the body’s systems, keeping stress levels low and hormones balanced. Both can be causes of acne. Try adding aloe vera gelinto your routine to get more of this beneficial mineral.