Our best moisturizer for combination skin
We’ll be honest with you: Combination skin is a tricky skin type. Someone with combination skin may have flaking skin in one area of her face and a breakout in another. The variation makes combination skin types feel difficult to treat on occasion. Today, there are more and more skin care products hitting the market formulated specifically for combination skin, or gentle enough for combination skin types to use on the entire face. Combination skin is a blessing and a curse; while it requires specific facial products and care to handle, it also means you’ll learn everything there is to know about skin care ingredients, hacks, and the best skin treatment all on your journey to get glowing skin. You’ll get to try skin care products from across the spectrum to treat your specific skin concerns, and eventually combination skin types learn exactly what works for them. A customized skin care routine for your combination skin is the best recipe for healthy-looking skin. Ahead, learn how to determine if you have combination skin, discover how to take care of combination skin, and learn what the best moisturizer is for you.
What Is Combination Skin?
Combination skin requires specialized attention to multiple skin concerns. Therefore, it’s important you accurately determine your skin type before you move ahead with a combination skin care routine. People with combination skin have at least two different skin types in different sections of the face. Combination skin types often have a greasy, oily T-zone in addition to dry skin patches on your cheeks that can flake or feel tight. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the definition of combination skin is simple: “Combination skin is dry in some areas and oily in others.” Combination skin types may also have larger pores in some areas, especially around the nose. The weather can also affect combination skin. During summer or hot days, the oily areas of your face may become even shinier. Winter can also lead to flaky skin patches.
Aside from simply studying closely the separate areas of your face, another way to confirm that you have combination skin is with the blotting paper test. To test, first wash your face before bed, then go to sleep without putting on moisturizer. (This is the one time we’ll tell you to go to bed without wearing a sleeping face cream!) In the morning, blot your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin with the blotting paper and take note of which areas of your face are oily. Combination skin types typically have an oily forehead, nose, or chin, with cheeks that may be dry. You may not have the same oily or dry skin sections as another friend with combination skin, and that’s perfectly normal. Regardless of the exact layout of your oily areas versus your dry areas, the skin concerns and therefore the facial treatment for each is the same. As long as you have some oily sections and some dry sections, you can likely count yourself as having combination skin. Of course, the fail-proof way to figure out if you have combination skin is to visit your dermatologist and ask the doctor to determine your skin type. Combination skin may sound like a lot to handle, but with an understanding of your skin type and a skin care regimen curated for your needs, caring for your combination skin will become second nature.
Once you know you have combination skin, you can move ahead with a customized skin care routine for combination skin.
How to Take Care of Combination Skin
Every individual’s combination skin is different, but the commonality is both dry and oily sections of your skin. Log the areas of your skin that need attention, and then look for products that meet your specific skin concerns. “Divide and conquer” may be an appropriate strategy for your combination skin. “Using skin care products formulated for your skin's needs will help your skin look and feel its best,” advises the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). With the right skin care products, oily skin areas will have fewer blemishes and may even look less red over time. Meanwhile, dry skin areas will soften and even out in skin tone.
Combination skin types may benefit from a balancing facial cleanser that works to even out the face’s natural oils. The right cleanser for you will leave skin feeling refreshed and clean, without a tightness or squeaky feeling. Your skin care regimen should be non-irritating and gentle.
A gentle facial cleanser like Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Cleanser and Makeup Remover is a rinse-free option to manage dirt and impurities without irritating or drying out skin. Wet a cotton pad with the facial cleanser, then simply swipe it over your face to cleanse and remove makeup. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends “using a mild cleanser that minimizes sebum removal.” One such option is Garnier SkinActive Blackhead Eliminating Scrub, an oil-free daily face exfoliator formulated with salicylic acid to help unclog pores. The charcoal-infused scrub formula helps draw out and lifts skin impurities, while exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells from the skin surface and helps reveal the glowing, healthy-looking skin underneath. Regular removal of dead skin also helps prevent clogged pores. Harsh face scrubs or ingredients that are irritating to your skin should be avoided for combination skin types. Harsh ingredients can do double damage — not only will they exacerbate the dry areas on your face, but stripping facial cleansers can actually backfire and cause more oil production in the oily skin sections.
If oily sections are leaving your face shiny, another option is Garnier SkinActive Clean+ ShineControl Cleansing Gel. Also formulated with charcoal, the gel textured formula helps keep skin matte and shine-free throughout the day. For the most effective facial cleansing, use lukewarm water and your fingertips to gently massage facial cleanser into the skin. Even if you’re using an exfoliant, there’s no need to face scrub the skin with your hands — simply rub gently in circles from your t-zone outward. After you finish cleansing, pat your skin dry with a towel; resist the urge to rub a towel quickly across your face. For best results, most people will cleanse twice daily. Cleanse first in the morning before your makeup routine, and again in the evening to remove the day’s makeup and prep your skin for bed.
A mattifying sheet mask can also help keep skin moisturized while providing all-over shine control. Look for a face mask formulated with antioxidants like soothing chamomile or green tea. Hyaluronic acid can also add the moisture that combination skin needs without aggravating skin oiliness or over-moisturizing. We like Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Super Hydrating Sheet Mask Mattifying. A once or twice-weekly sheet mask can add a boost to your skin care routine and take your face over the finish line to glowiness. After cleansing your face, but before moisturizing, fit the sheet mask to the contours of your face and let the face serum soak into your skin for 15 minutes.
During weeks when breakouts are flaring up or you skin feels especially oily, opt for a face mask that can lift impurities from the skin’s surface. Look for a facial cleanser formulated with charcoal, which helps draw out impurities like a magnet and leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed. We like Garnier Pore Purifying 2-in-1 Clay Cleanser/Mask, a clay-based formula that hardens slightly as it cleanses skin. Use it daily as a rinse-off facial cleanser that will help keep blackheads at bay, or reach for it during an especially tough skin week. To use as a face mask, spread a thin layer of cleanser over a damp face. Let it sit on your face for five minutes, then rinse off and follow with a gentle moisturizer.
Once you’ve gathered the most effective facial cleansers, face masks, and other products for your skin type, it’s time to choose a face moisturizer that complements your combination skin and plays well with the rest of your skin care regimen.
Our Best Moisturizer for Combination Skin
Moisturizer is one of the most important tenants for a healthy-skin care routine. Since combination skin types are often dealing with dryness or flakiness, one of the best things you can do for your combination skin is to keep it nourished. At the same time, you likely want to refrain from using a face moisturizer that’s too heavy and may exacerbate the oily or acne-prone tendencies of combination skin. There’s no easy one size fits all skin care routine for combination skin, and your skin care journey may include a lot of trial and error. You may even decide to layer skin care products or use different products on different areas of your face. A mattifying moisturizer may work well for your t-zone, for example, while a hyaluronic acid-infused face lotion could be more effective for your cheeks and dry skin areas. Combination skin types have to find their own personal “Goldilocks of moisturizers and facial cleansers” — the skin care product that’s just right.
Moisturizer with a gel-cream texture works well for combination skin. Lightweight moisturizers like a gel-cream are a great option for combination skin. The texture and cooling feel will work to soothe oily areas, while the moisturizer nourishes the areas that need extra TLC. We like Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel Cream for Normal to Combination Skin, which is formulated especially for your skin type. The non-comedogenic moisturizer formula means it’s created to avoid blocking pores, so it’s safe even for acne-prone skin types. It also contains SPF 15 to offer your skin sun protection.
For all skin types including combination skin, it is imperative to use a daily moisturizer that includes broad-spectrum sun protection. Sun protection should be applied 365 days a year, regardless of whether or not you plan to be in the sun. As the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends, “a medium weight lotion with broad spectrum sunscreen containing many different sunscreen ingredients is beneficial.” Aside from all the health concerns associated with sun damage, exposure to sun may also result in the appearance of dark spots or exacerbate the look of scars. Taking sun protection seriously can help keep dark spots in check. Try Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Brightening & Smoothing Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 for a moisturizer formulated with broad spectrum sun protection and antioxidant Vitamin C. It helps brighten skin’s appearance, while also helping to protect it from sun damage when used as directed and taking other sun protection measures.
Combination skin often also means acne-prone skin. Aside from choosing a facial cleanser that is formulated to help fight breakouts, it’s also important to deal with the spots or scars that blemishes can leave behind. An even skin tone is a healthy-looking skin tone, and a dark spot corrector can help ensure that your skin complexion remains smooth and bright. Look for skin care products formulated with Vitamin C, which helps brighten and maintain an all-over glowing skin. We like Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Dark Spot Corrector, which contains not only Vitamin C, but also Vitamin E and pine bark essence for a truly moisturized, bright skin.
Since portions of combination skin may also be flaking, you can also use a nourishing sleeping face cream to add much-needed moisture back onto the skin. Garnier Miracle Anti-Fatigue Sleeping Cream is formulated with antioxidant lavender oil to keep your skin calm while helping it stay moisturized for longer. You can use it as a night cream every evening before bed, or spot treat the areas of your skin that are especially dry. (If your skin does not seem to be improving, check with your dermatologist.)
A determination of combination skin may seem like a burden at first, but just like any other skin type, it only takes the right products and care for a combination skin care regimen to become just another part of your face routine. It may take some trial and error, but the right balance of combination skin treatments is out there. Are you ready to start your skin care journey?