There are grey areas in many areas of life, and that holds true for your complexion as well. Its common place for people to mistakenly believe they have either dry or oily skin.  The truth is that many people have skin that includes characteristics of both types, so-called “combination” skin. If you are subject to breakouts but also have dry, flaky areas, you have what is known as combination skin.

Treating two types of skin on one body may sound confusing, but it’s not as difficult as it may seem at first glance. With an understanding about what characterizes combination skin along with some simple planning, you can design a skin care regimen that’s easy to follow and very effective.

Here is a guide to diagnosing combination skin along with helpful tips for treating it successfully:

Combination Skin Traits

Combination Skin How To Diagnose and How To Treat

With combination skin, the oily areas generally conform to what is known as the “T zone,” which includes the forehead, nose and chin. The T-zone area, in particular, is often prone to blemishes and blackheads.

In contrast, the dry areas are usually found on the cheeks and along the jawline. The skin in those areas may feel tight, with a tendency to get flakey when it’s particularly moisture-deprived.

Complexions that feature dry patches along with rosacea, a condition where dilated blood vessels cause redness and pimples, also fall under the classification of combination skin.

Diagnosing Combination Skin

Self-diagnosing combination skin is quick and easy. Simply wash your face carefully, pat it dry and continue with your day. After an hour or so, examine your face in the mirror and use tissue to do a blotting test. Press a tissue to your forehead, nose, chin and cheeks, checking for residue after blotting each area. If oil is revealed on the tissue after blotting the shiny-looking areas but not in the areas that appear dry, then you have combination skin.

What Causes Combination Skin?

Most of the factors that cause combination skin are factors that are beyond your control, including genetics, hormones and age.  While you can’t control the type of skin you have, you can effectively deal with it by using an appropriate skin care regimen. Using heavy moisturizers and makeup can aggravate oily areas and trigger blemishes, while excessive face washing with abrasive products will make dry areas even more parched.

Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily have the same skin type throughout your life. At different periods in time, either oily or dry skin may take precedence, and may even normalize over time as well. Weather and climate can influence your skin’s condition too, causing your complexion to be oilier in the summer and dryer in the winter.

Tips for Treating

  • Wash your face morning and night with a gentle, water-soluble cleanser. Products that are gel-based or foaming are ideal for preventing irritation and dryness. Stay away from bar soaps, which include ingredients that are likely to clog pores.
  • Choose a clarifying serum or toner without irritants, such as alcohol, menthol, or fragrances.
  • Treat oily areas with anti-acne skin care products containing alpha-hydroxy acids, salicylic acid and other effective blemish-fighting ingredients. You can also use concentrated spot treatments on breakouts.
  • Sunscreen should be part of your daily routine as well in order to prevent cosmetic and structural damage to your skin. Foundation and pressed powder with sun protection properties can help control oiliness in your T-zone.
  • Moisturizer is good protection for all skin types, but with combination skin you should use products that are appropriate for the area you are treating. A light, oil-free moisturizer is best for the T-zone, while you can apply a richer moisturizer to dry cheeks. Don’t forget to moisturize before bedtime when your skin’s permeability is at its peak.
  • Exfoliation is a valuable technique for treating your face and neck area. It removes dirt and other debris that can clog pores while brightening dry areas by sloughing off dead skin cells. If you use an exfoliating cleanser, make sure it’s not too abrasive or it could irritate already sensitive skin.
  • Cold weather can sap precious moisture from dry skin, leaving it raw and chapped. Consider using a humidifier during the winter months to help dry areas retain hydration.
  • Don’t be afraid to discard a product if it’s not working. With numerous skin care formulas on the market, it can take a bit of experimentation to find the ones that are best for your individual complexion.

If you have combination skin, you don’t have to resign yourself to a problem-filled complexion. Use these tips and consult with your dermatologist to design a treatment program that’s customized for your particular skin.