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Figuring out the best skin care routine for combination skin can feel a bit like you’re going in circles. What happens when your skin decides it’s going to be oily and dry?

There’s no need to worry. It might not be easy, but it’s definitely possible to find a routine that softens dry patches and combats shininess. It doesn’t matter what percentage of your skin is oily and dry, or if your dry and oily patches aren’t in the most common areas — the approach is the same.

Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.

That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.

We only recommend something we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched by our team.

According to board certified dermatologist and aesthetic expert Kavita Mariwalla, MD, FAAD, combination skin is common, just like other skin types.

The difference is that combination skin is oily in some places and dry in others. For example, Mariwalla notes that it’s common to have an oily T-zone and dry cheeks.

Nothing causes combination skin per se (it’s genetic), but it can change with hormonal and seasonal shifts.

As we age, skin may become drier and less oily as it reacts to hormonal changes. Other hormone-driven factors that can cause changes in skin are periods and contraceptives.

Signs of combination skin

A combination of oily and dry skin can appear in different ways and in different amounts.

There’s no hard and fast rule to how it looks and feels, and it may change with the weather, lifestyle factors, and stress.

With some observation, you can figure out exactly how your combination skin presents itself.

Signs of oiliness may include:

  • shiny skin
  • larger-looking pores
  • acne

Signs of dryness may include:

  • flaking
  • redness
  • feelings of tightness or roughness

It’s a good idea to think conservatively when figuring out your skin care routine for combination skin.

Go for gentle products that can moisturize dry areas without creating more oiliness, and only apply treatments to the needed areas for specific issues.

A.M. routine

Use products in this order to help create more balanced skin.

  1. Cleanser. It’s important to remove any buildup that occurs overnight.
  2. Toner. Toner removes any oil that your cleanser didn’t and balances your skin’s pH levels. Make sure to grab an alcohol-free toner.
  3. Serum. Serums hydrate and protect your skin. It’s best to opt for a serum with hyaluronic acid.
  4. Moisturizer. With combination skin, you’ll want two moisturizers. For dry areas, choose a creamy formula. For oily parts, choose a lightweight, water-based formula.
  5. Sunscreen. Choose a lightweight formula with at least SPF 30.
  6. Makeup. If desired, use lightweight products. Foundation and concealer should have oil-free formulas.

P.M. routine

In the evening, try applying products in this order:

  1. Makeup remover. If you wear makeup, makeup remover helps keep pores unclogged and gives your skin a chance to breathe. Micellar water is one of the gentlest products to use for this.
  2. Cleanser. Cleanse day and night. A nighttime cleanser should remove any makeup remnants in addition to natural buildup.
  3. Exfoliant. Once per week, exfoliants are great for removing dead skin cells, which keeps pores clear and relieves dry areas.
  4. Facial mask. Once per week, try multi-masking, which is when you apply different masks to different areas of the face.
  5. Serum, treatment, or moisturizer. Evenings are best for stronger products, so choose an emollient-rich moisturizer for dry areas.

Ingredients to consider:

  • Hyaluronic acid is ideal for your face, as it hydrates your skin without the greasiness that could aggravate oiliness.
  • Salicylic acid may regulate oil production and help keep pores unclogged.
  • Lactic acid acts as a mild exfoliant that removes dead skin cells from dry areas and gently clears pores.
  • Emollients are things like shea butter and coconut oils that soften dry skin.
  • Antioxidants protect you from environmental damage. Make sure to choose a product with vitamin C for general skin health. Be sure to wear sunscreen or use products with vitamin C at night to protect your skin from UV rays.
person with combination skin presses hands to cheeks against a beige swirly backgroundShare on Pinterest
Photo by Ohlamour Studio, Design by Alexis Lira

If you’re working with combination skin plus frequent breakouts, try the extra steps below.

  • Use a cleanser that contains salicylic acid.
  • Double-cleanse at night if you wear makeup.
  • Use a toner to remove excess oil and help fight blackheads and blemishes.

When it comes to treating combination skin, you may find plenty of home remedies in your fridge and kitchen cupboards.

Coconut oil

Virgin coconut oil may be a good choice for dry patches of skin. Research shows it has moisturizing qualities. It’s anti-inflammatory too.

However, coconut oil is comedogenic, which means it clogs pores. It’s best not to use on areas prone to acne.

Honey

Honey is another option. It’s a humectant so it hydrates the skin by drawing moisture from the air. It also works as a natural antibacterial and antiseptic, which may help support clear skin.

Honey works well in homemade masks.

Oatmeal

For excess oil, oatmeal can work well as it absorbs oil and calms irritation. It’s also great for sloughing off dead skin.

Try an oatmeal mask:

  1. Combine ½ cup ground oats with 2 tbsp. warm water to form a paste.
  2. Apply the paste to a clean face for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Good news! While combination skin can be tricky to treat, you don’t have to spend a fortune doing so.

“Look for products with key ingredients like niacinamide, which are known to work on combination skin,” advises Anny Choudhry, aesthetic physician at Aventus Clinic.

Another trick?

“Opt for multi-purpose ingredients which can help reduce the cost of buying multiple products,” Choudhry suggests.

A combination skin care routine is mostly the same for men as it is for women.

The only difference as far as Choudhry is concerned?

“Men’s skin is thicker and it also has a rougher skin texture, so sometimes using a toner in your cleansing step can help clear away impurities further and soothe combination skin.”

If you can, it’s best to avoid the skin faux-pas below.

Don’t skip moisturizer

Every skin type needs moisture. However, it’s best to find formulas for your skin type. You may want to use moisturizer sparingly on oily areas and apply more to dry areas.

Don’t forget to exfoliate

Healthy skin has dead skin cells removed via exfoliation. Use a gentle exfoliant once per week.

If your dry areas are causing sensitivity issues, you can exfoliate only in the needed areas.

Don’t get stuck in one routine

Make sure your routine keeps up with your skin’s changes. Switch up your products and regimen accordingly.

When it comes to safety, Choudhry says striking the balance between good skin hygiene and not overdoing it is key.

“Over-cleaning on a dry area could result in exacerbation of dryness flaking and broken skin, while not cleansing properly on very oily areas can result in breakouts and dead skin build-up,” she explains.

To choose the best products for combination skin, we’ve looked for solutions that contain the most effective ingredients.

We’ve also consulted the reviews and asked Healthline staff with combination skin for their recommendations.

Each product has been vetted by our team for medical and business standards. Learn more here.

Best cleansers for combination skin

Laurel Skin Deep Clarity Oil Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1.7 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: sesame oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil

Great at getting all the gunk out of your pores while being gentle enough to not irritate or trigger excess oil production, this deep-cleaning cleanser contains three powerhouse oils: sesame, safflower, and sunflower.

Sesame oil can fight free radical damage, safflower is an emollient that softens the skin, and sunflower oil provides moisture. All three are non-comedogenic so they won’t clog your pores.

The cleanser can be used with facial tools or massage to stimulate lymphatic drainage and circulation. It may help to reveal a brighter, smoother, and clearer complexion. However, it also contains essential oils, which some people may find irritating.

Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 6.7 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: glycolic acid

If you’re looking for a cleanser with acne-fighting benefits, this gel-based face wash may be a solid choice.

It’s formulated with glycolic acid which exfoliates dead skin cells and helps prevent clogged pores that lead to breakouts. The cleanser has a resurfacing effect that evens skin tone and reveals a brighter complexion.

It’s also mild enough to deeply clean the skin without irritation or causing extra dryness.

The cleanser is a hit with reviewers. Many say it made their skin feel soft and look glowy, and most found it gentle and non-drying.

It’s a little on the pricey side, but some reviewers say a little goes a long way.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

  • Price: $
  • Size: 9.1 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: 2 percent salicylic acid

Combination skin can be tricky to manage, especially if you’re also prone to acne breakouts. You’ll need something strong enough to effectively target blemishes without causing irritation.

Enter this oil-free acne wash from Neutrogena. It’s formulated with salicylic acid, a powerful acne-fighting ingredient that sloughs off dead skin cells and prevents the formation of new breakouts.

The cleanser eliminates oil and leaves behind no pore-clogging residue. It has mostly positive reviews, and fans of this cleanser say they’ve seen a reduction in breakouts since they started using it.

This particular cleanser has a budget-friendly price point too.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 13.52 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: niacinamide, glycerin, ceramides

If you have combination skin that is mostly dry, you’ll need a hydrating cleanser to combat it.

This gentle cleanser from La Roche-Posay may be a good choice for you as it contains skin-nourishing ceramides.

It’s noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores and contribute to excess oil production. The cleanser is also oil-free and paraben-free and has a non-irritating formula.

The powerhouse ingredient in this cleanser is niacinamide, which is also known as vitamin B3. It has lots of benefits, from helping to regulate oil and repair the skin’s lipid barrier to protecting the skin from oxidative stress.

However, as this cleanser contains sodium chloride, some users may find it strips moisture from the skin.

Best toners for combination skin

Pixi Glow Tonic

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 8.5 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: glycolic acid, aloe vera, ginseng

If regulating excess oil production is your biggest skin care goal, look no further than Pixi Glow Tonic.

This toner has achieved cult status in the world of skin care. It’s formulated with 5 percent glycolic acid, an exfoliating ingredient that dissolves dead skin cells and oil.

This product also contains aloe to soothe and hydrate the skin as well as ginseng to improve circulation and boost collagen production.

Most reviewers say this toner has been a great addition to their skin care routines. In particular, users say it improves skin texture, brightens the complexion, and helps to clear breakouts.

Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 5 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: niacinamide, cactus flower, green tea

This positively-reviewed toner from Fenty, Rihanna’s skin care line, is a great choice for those who have combination skin with enlarged pores.

A toner and serum in one, it contains niacinamide which can be helpful in treating acne and protecting the skin against environmental factors.

It’s also made with cactus flower, which has healing and moisturizing benefits, and green tea which reduces redness and irritation.

The fast-absorbing formula delivers several benefits including reducing redness, adding hydration, and delivering a toning and brightening effect.

Many reviewers say this product gave me a healthy glow and a much more even skin tone.

Best serums for combination skin

Glow Recipe Avocado Ceramide Redness Relief Serum

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1 fluid ounce (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: avocado butter, avocado extract, ceramides

This serum has a milky texture and aims to restore skin to its natural healthy state.

It’s made with avocado butter and avocado extract. These ingredients are packed with oleic and linoleic acids that smooth and moisturize dry skin.

It’s also formulated with a blend of five ceramides. They reduce redness by supporting skin barrier health. They also lock in moisture

This serum is fragrance-free so it may be a good choice if your skin is on the sensitive side.

Reviewers say the serum made their skin feel super soft and hydrated. Many say it clears redness and helps with breakouts too.

Tata Harper Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 1 fluid ounce (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: AHA, BHA, Vitamin C

AHAs and BHAs are exfoliating ingredients and are great at sloughing off dead skin cells to reveal smoother, brighter skin.

This serum is made with lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, white willow bark, and meadowsweet. Together, these have a resurfacing effect on the skin.

This product also contains Vitamin C, known for its brightening effects.

This serum is certainly on the pricey side, but some reviewers say it’s worth the expense as it gives the skin a great glow. Not everyone is a fan of the scent though and some found the formula too irritating.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1 fluid ounce {fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: Ceramides, omega fatty acids, hyaluronic acid

Combination skin that has more dry spots than oily patches may benefit most from this serum.

It has a lightweight formula and is packed with hydrating ingredients, including ceramides, omega fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid.

These ingredients strengthen and repair the skin’s barrier while replacing lost moisture. Add to that, the serum helps to visibly reduce fine lines and is formulated to nourish very dry skin.

This product has mostly positive reviews. Reviewers love the lightweight and quick-absorbing formula.

However, some users found it too irritating and say it caused their skin to purge.

Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Hyaluronate Serum

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1 fluid ounce (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: Lipids, peony root extract

Having combination skin means you have to target two primary concerns: a lack of moisture and the over production of oil. This serum works on both fronts.

As it’s non-comedogenic it won’t clog your pores or contribute to excess oil production. Meanwhile, its hydrating formula effectively nourishes the skin.

The serum contains lipids, which support natural fatty acids in the skin, and peony root extract, which is used to improve areas that are excessively dry or oily.

Reviewers say this product layers well with other skin care products. Many found it to be lightweight and some say the texture of their skin has improved since they started using it.

However, some say it doesn’t last long enough.

Best moisturizers for combination skin

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

  • Price: $
  • Size: 19 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid

A good choice for those with very dry patches of skin, this moisturizing cream from CeraVe has been recognized by the National Eczema Association.

The cream contains glycerin, a humectant that helps the skin retain moisture. It’s also made with ceramides, which lock in moisture and restore the skin barrier.

You’ll also find hyaluronic acid, a hydrating ingredient that can reduce scarring, in this deeply nourishing cream.

Some reviewers have called this moisturizer a “holy grail” product for the skin. Many found it deeply hydrating and some say it improved their eczema.

Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 2 fluid ounces.
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, superfoods blend, vitamins C, E, and K

This lightweight moisturizer is a little like a smoothie for the skin thanks to the inclusion of antioxidant-rich ingredients like kale, spinach, and green tea.

These three nourishing ingredients pair with hyaluronic acid to improve moisture retention and condition the skin.

Meanwhile, vitamins C, E, and K brighten and protect the skin and give it a smooth and healthy appearance.

According to reviews, it works well on oily skin, is fast-absorbing, and is effective at treating and preventing acne breakouts. Many also loved the light, clean scent.

However, not everyone was thrilled with the higher price point.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

  • Price: $
  • Size: 1.7 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, glycerin

This hydrating gel-based moisturizer is a good choice if you want to treat combination skin on a budget.

Gel creams are great at providing lightweight hydration for oily skin, however, this one has been formulated to nourish extra dry spots too, making it a solid for combo skin.

It combines two powerful active ingredients: hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Together, these two ingredients quench the skin and keep it hydrated for up to 24 hours.

It’s also noncomedogenic so it won’t clog your pores.

Reviewers say it left their skin feeling soft, supple, and deeply moisturized. However, some weren’t keen on the texture.

Best face masks for combination skin

Cetaphil Derma Control Purifying Clay Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 3 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: kaolin clay, bentonite clay

Great on oily parts of the skin, like the t-zone, this purifying mask is great at soaking up excess oil and removing impurities and dead skin cells from your pores.

It should be applied to the oiliest parts of your skin and left for 5 to 10 minutes before you rinse it off.

The mask is made with kaolin clay and bentonite clay. According to research, clay can be especially useful for skin toning. Kaolin clay in particular is used as a drying agent and is known for being gentle on the skin.

This mask also contains apple seed and cucumber which protect your skin from excessive dryness and irritation.

La Mer Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask

  • Price: $$$$
  • Size: A pack of six
  • Key ingredients: algae extract, squalane

A solid choice for anyone looking for a little extra pampering, this luxury mask is a real treat for the skin.

While it’s certainly on the pricier side, you will find premium ingredients in this sheet mask, such as algae extract and squalane.

Algae extract reinforces the skin barrier and has soothing properties, while squalane has anti-inflammatory qualities and softens skin texture.

This sheet mask is placed on the skin for around 5 minutes and requires no rinsing after it’s removed.

After use, you may notice that your skin is plumper, brighter, and healthier looking.

Best natural products for combination skin

Crude Cleanse

  • Price: $
  • Size: 1 fluid ounce (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: sunflower and safflower seed oils, grapefruit oil, ylang ylang flower oil, bergamot oil

Non-foaming oil cleansers are generally quite gentle on the skin, so they are often a good choice if you want to avoid stripping the skin of moisture.

This oil cleanser from Crude is made with certified organic ingredients. It contains sunflower oil, which is rich in antioxidants, has a hydrating effect, and can unclog pores.

This product can also be used as a moisturizer.

Most reviewers agree that it’s great for removing makeup, giving the skin a deep down clean, and adding moisture.

Be warned though: if you’re new to oil cleansing, it may take your skin a little while to adjust.

Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Oil-Serum

  • Price: $
  • Size: 1 fluid ounce (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: sea buckthorn extract, camellia oil, vitamin E, chamomile flower extract, jojoba oil

This oil-serum hybrid will suit combination skin types thanks to its powerful lineup of ingredients.

Vitamin E offers the skin protection and hydration, while jojoba oil is great for healing dry, chapped skin thanks to its hydrating and antibacterial qualities.

Meanwhile, camellia oil, sea buckthorn, and chamomile extract calm, nourish, and hydrate the skin.

The product has mostly positive reviews. In particular, reviewers say it’s lightweight, melts into the skin, and improves skin texture. Many also say it gave their skin a glowy and radiant appearance.

They also liked the budget-friendly price point.

100% Pure Fermented Rice Water Toner

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 4 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: shiitake mushrooms, bearberry, niacinamide, licorice, sake

Formulated for oily, dry, and combination skin, the key ingredient in this toner is fermented rice water, also known as sake.

Sake is rich in enzymes, amino acids, malic acid, minerals, and vitamins that deeply soften, nourish, and give skin a healthy glow.

Meanwhile, white mulberry, shiitake mushroom, licorice, and citrus balance skin tone, lessen the appearance of dark spots and brighten.

The toner also contains hyaluronic acid, a powerful hydrating ingredient that gives skin a healthy, plumped-up appearance.

According to reviews, it improves skin texture, giving it a soft, and supple feel. Some reviewers say it also minimized the appearance of pores.

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 2 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid and evening primrose oil

A great choice for those rough, dry patches of skin, this moisturizer from Paula’s Choice is deeply nourishing.

It contains hyaluronic acid and peptides. These two ingredients calm, repair, and hydrate the skin, and can also target rosacea and redness.

The moisturizer also features primrose oil, which may help improve the appearance of mature skin.

Paula’s Choice products have a bit of a cult following, and this particular product is no different: It has plenty of rave reviews. Many reviewers say it gave their skin a smoother texture and a brighter appearance.

Most found it to be deeply moisturizing, however, some found the texture too heavy.

cocokind Daily SPF, SPF 32

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1.7 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide, blue phytoplankton, microalgae, rice starch

Sun protection is a vital step in every skin care routine.

If you’re looking for a natural SPF, this sunscreen from cocokind is both vegan and cruelty-free. It contains SPF 32 and offers protection against UVA and UVB rays.

It’s a mineral-based sunscreen that uses zinc oxide to protect the skin against sun damage.

Add to that the product contains blue phytoplankton and microalgae, which shield the skin from the effects of blue light and pollution.

Reviewers say this sunscreen is lightweight, non-greasy, and quickly absorbed into the skin. They say it prevented sunburn and gave the skin a healthy, dewy appearance. However, some reviewers noted the zinc oxide leaves a white cast.

It can be frustrating to follow a consistent skin care regimen and not see the results you were hoping for.

If you’re finding combination skin difficult to manage, Choudhry recommends seeing a dermatologist sooner rather than later.

“For combination skin, I recommend keeping a diary and seeing a dermatologist or an aesthetic physician for a skin mapping service,” she says. “This type of skin can be very difficult to manage and skin mapping can help you formulate two skin care routines depending on the needs of the different areas.”

More questions about combo skin? Get the facts below.

Can I use products formulated for dry skin or oily skin, or will these only irritate my skin?

For best results, Choudhry says it’s a good idea to take a targeted approach.

“Combination skin has its own special needs. You can use products for oily skin or dry skin but only on targetted areas,” she explains.

If in doubt, you can use ingredients that work well on combination skin like pure rosehip oil or dry argan oil, she advises.

What’s the best anti-aging skin care routine for combination skin?

When creating a skin care routine for more mature-looking skin, you’ll want to plump fine lines, banish dark spots, and lift sagging skin. A few tips:

  • Don’t forget about your neck when it comes to cleansing, treating, and using sunscreen.
  • Choose a gentler exfoliant, as your skin may be more sensitive.

How can I treat an oily t-zone without drying out the drier parts of my skin, like my cheeks?

Your t-zone is greasy while your cheeks feel drier than the Sahara. It’s a common tale for combination skin types.

To manage excess oil without irritating your dry bits, “Use a dry oil like argan oil to help protect dry parts of the skin. It can also help as a barrier and moisturizer,” says Choudhry.

Can I improve combination skin through diet? If so, what foods might help?

“This is very subjective to the client,” says Choudhry. “However, there are reports to suggest that spicy foods, oily foods and chocolate can exacerbate sebum production.”

A 2018 study found that dark chocolate consumption increased the presence of dead skin cells on the skin in young men, though the study was small and only conducted on men.

The above study and a 2021 review noted that a high glycemic diet including foods that may affect blood sugar levels has been shown to contribute to acne.

These include:

  • white flour
  • white rice
  • very sweet fruits, like watermelon
  • refined sugar
  • starchy vegetables, like potatoes

Should I use different types of moisturizers—one rich, one lightweight—for combination skin?

In Choudhry’s opinion, this can be really tricky to determine and really depends on the severity and extent of your dry and oily areas.

A dermatologist can help you determine if you need two separate routines.

When it comes to combination skin, finding the right skin care routine can be tricky. It may take a bit of time to find the right combination.

However, using the best products in the right areas should create the best possible outcome for your skin.

You should always consult a dermatologist if you have any questions or concerns.

Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website.