skin, characterised by an oily central panel (forehead, nose and chin) and
dry cheeks, is the most common skin type. To keep oiliness and dryness under
control, the skin needs to be cared for as two distinct types - oily and
dry. There are many products on the market that provide a balance of
ingredients designed to cope with the demands of combination skin.
What is combination skin?
Many of us have an oilier T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) and drier cheeks. It's the width of this T-zone that determines whether your combination skin is on the drier or oilier side. If you have a more active oil-secreting T-zone across your entire forehead, for example, you have an oily-to-combination skin type. If your nose and chin are oily and your forehead is drier, your skin is defined as normal-to-combination.
How you know if you have combination skin?
You have combination skin when your skin is slightly shiny on your nose and forehead 20 minutes after washing, when it looks shiny on your forehead, nose or chin in the morning, even when you haven't used a night cream, and when pores are slightly visible on your nose and forehead in a regular mirror. You will probably suffer from occasional blemishes in the T-zone and your cheeks and jawline are likely to suffer from dry patches.
What causes combination skin?
This skin type tends to develop with time, especially in those skins that were oily during puberty. In your teens, sebum is usually stimulated by surging hormones; in your 20s, oily skin in the lower half of your face - the jawline and chin - is generally caused by hormonal factors, such as stress, the Pill and menstruation. The oily and dry patches of combination skin do change with age, so it's worth assessing your skin type regularly so that you can adjust your beauty routine accordingly. Most people will notice that combination skin changes with age, the seasons, the environment and hormonal fluctuations.
Balance skin from within
Eating a balanced diet and, if necessary, taking appropriate supplements, is a vital part of creating a healthy complexion. Bear in mind that it takes a good three weeks for newly formed cells to reach the skin's surface, so it takes time for lasting results to show. Vitamins A, C and E, selenium and zinc are essential antioxidants that help to enhance collagen repair and generally promote skin healing. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) can also have a positive effect on skin as they form a barrier that prevents moisture loss that helps combat dryness, fine lines and wrinkles.
What to avoid if you have combination skin
Combination skin is tricky because it has opposing needs. Take care not to exacerbate either the oiliness or the dryness by avoiding:
Overwashing This will make your cheeks drier and strip oil from the T-zone, causing the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum to compensate.
Mixing products Instead of trying to mix and match products for different skin types, use skincare for combination skin.
Heavy moisturisers These will nourish the dry areas of your face but will be too lubricating for the T-zone. It's better to strike a balance with a light, non-pore-blocking lotion.
The best skincare routine for combination skin
The T-zone tends to need more attention than the drier areas of the face. Look for gentle cleansers and moisturisers that will work to keep it under control.
Look for cleansers suitable for combination skin. A deep-pore cleanser will help to keep the oily T-zone clear. In the summer, an antibacterial soap will help to keep bacteria in check and prevent problems in the T-zone.
An oil-inhibiting moisturiser will provide enough hydration for the dry areas of the face, without making the oilier areas worse. If you feel you're not getting enough hydration, try a lotion with silicone oils - they're light enough to moisturise without causing extra oiliness.
A gentle toner will help to keep the skin in the central panel of the face shine-free. There's no need to use it on drier areas.
When you exfoliate, pay special attention to oilier areas such as the chin, nose and forehead. A gel mask suits combination skin. Or try using two different masks: a clay mask for the oil-prone nose, chin and forehead, and a cream mask for dry areas, such as the cheeks.
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