A Guide to Skincare for Combination Skin

8 minutes
by Kayla Kernel
April 18, 2022

Think of combination skin as the Goldilocks of skin types. It’s neither too dry nor too oily, but somewhere in the middle. Your complexion is a combo platter with a little bit of everything going on, so how do you choose the right products and ingredients that will give you clear, glowing skin? Here’s a simple, foolproof skincare for combination skin strategy.

What is Combination Skin? 

A combination skin type tends to be drier on the cheeks and around the eyes, and oilier at the t-zone (chin, nose, and forehead). You may break out on your chin and have enlarged pores on your nose, while the outer parts of your face need moisturizer. Combination skin is very common and very confusing, but using the right kinds of skincare products will keep it all in balance. 

What kinds of products and ingredients are good for combo skin types?

The key with combination skin is to use formulas that are lightweight and non-comedogenic (ie: not pore-clogging), such as serums or lotions that will hydrate your entire face without making your t-zone oilier or causing breakouts. Stick with oil-free lotions and serums instead of using heavier creams and balms, and look for hydrating humectant ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid that bring moisture to the skin without adding oil. 

One ingredient that’s essential for your skin type is salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark extract, because it helps to gently exfoliate dead skin cells to keep t-zone pores tight and pimples at bay. (Enlarged pores happen when oil and dead skin cells fill up and stretch out the pores.) Salicylic acid penetrates through sebum to clean them out. Salicylic acid also has antibacterial properties to prevent p. acnes bacteria from causing zits

Another effective superhero ingredient for combination skin is farnesol – a natural, gentler alternative to antibacterial and antimicrobial benzoyl peroxide. Found in rose oil, farnesol is plant-based and is great for breakout prevention. 

Your skincare routine for combination skin

A smart AM/PM regimen is the key to keeping combination skin in balance every day – adding enough moisture while keeping oily skin on your t-zone in check. 

Your Simple 5-Step Combo Skin Routine:

Cleanse

Combination skin types need a mild foaming (gel- not cream-based) facial cleanser to effectively remove oil, dirt, and makeup at the end of the day. (Use it in the morning too if your skin feels oily, and always wash post-workout.) Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel cleans off the yuck without stripping your skin, so it feels super clean and soft – not dehydrated. This gel formula is pH-balanced and contains farnesol to fend off acne flareups. There’s also a blend of gentle lactic, glycolic and azelaic acids and willow bark extract (a source of natural salicylic acid) to keep pores clear. 

Treat & Exfoliate

For every skin type, from oily to dry, gentle exfoliation is the key to removing dead skin cells in order to achieve a radiant, healthy, and clear complexion. Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel is a two-step chemical exfoliator that’s infused with seven acids, including salicylic and lactic (in peel pad number one) and retinol and antioxidants like green tea extract in neutralizing peel pad number two. Use it after cleansing every day (start with every other day if you’re a chemical peel newbie). Think of this as your glow-getter step. The Alpha Beta Peels have also been clinically proven to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier which will help dryer parts of the face. 

Now, here’s where combo skin – the t-zone in particular – needs a little extra: applying a pore-treating serum helps to decrease excess oil and exfoliate dead skin cells, which will minimize pore size and keep blackheads and breakouts at bay. Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting & Refining Serum contains witch hazel, a natural astringent that helps eliminate oil and bacteria, as well as agarikon mushroom extract, another plant-based oil reducer. It also has adipic and phytic acids to gently dissolve dead skin and waxy oil build-up that plugs pores, and farnesol, a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide. Apply this over your face, or use it as a t-zone treatment AM and PM to keep it clear. (These two products are formulated to be used together, so don’t worry that you’re overdoing it.)

Hydrate

The secret to balancing combination skin is using a lightweight moisturizer day and night. Alpha Beta Daily Moisturizer is a lotion with featherlight moisturizing ingredients, such as squalene and ceramides, that won’t clog pores. In fact, the gentle lactic, glycolic, malic, and salicylic AHA and BHA acids actually treat problematic, breakout-prone areas without drying out the skin. 

Eye Care

If you have combination skin, you know that different parts of your face can require a little more attention and care. (Case in point: Your oily t-zone.) The skin around the eyes is thinner and more delicate than the rest of the face and needs special TLC. Hyaluronic Marine Dew It All Eye Gel is a lightweight gel-cream that targets issues like puffiness, dryness, fine lines, and dark circles with hydrating humectants, caffeine (to decrease water retention), and antioxidant botanical extracts that help brighten and de-puff. 

Sun Protection

This daytime step is non-negotiable. Every single day, even cloudy ones! Broad-spectrum sunscreen is proven to prevent skin cancer and sun damage like wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging. The trick, especially if you have combination skin, is to use a lightweight, oil-free formula that won’t feel heavy or icky. A mineral-based sunscreen with zinc oxide acts as a physical shield against UVA and UVB rays and works the second you put it on. It also protects against the damaging effects of blue light (HEV) that emanates from lightbulbs and digital devices like cell phones and laptops. All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 is also infused with super-protective antioxidants, like sea buckthorn, ferulic acid, and bearberry. 

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Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

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Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

MORE FROM Kayla Kernel

What is IPL: All You Need To Know on Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Read More