Does dry but oily skin exist?

Many people have dry skin, and many people have oily skin. But what about a combination of the two?

Although it sounds like an oxymoron, it’s possible to have skin that’s simultaneously dry and oily. Dermatologists may label skin with this condition as “combination skin.”

Dry and oily skin often occurs in people who are chronically dehydrated. But the primary cause behind dry, oily skin is simply genetics.

Combination skin means that you may have fine lines and wrinkles at the same time as acne, blackheads, and other oil-related breakout issues. Fortunately, you can take steps to remedy this skin issue.

Before you begin taking steps to treat your combination skin, it’s important to know whether you actually do have it. Here are some signs of combination skin. See a dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Oily T-zone. Your nose, chin, and across your forehead are oily or look shiny. This area is known as the T-zone.
  • Large pores. You can easily see your pores in the mirror, especially the ones on your forehead, nose, and the sides of your nose.
  • Dry spots. Your cheeks and the skin under your eyes are often dry (and sometimes flaky).

If you’re not sure whether the above symptoms apply to you, do a simple test:

  1. Wash your face thoroughly with a gentle soap or cleanser.
  2. Blot your skin dry with a towel, then wait 20 minutes.
  3. Don’t touch your face during this time or put anything on your face (such as moisturizer).
  4. After 20 minutes have passed, look at your skin in the mirror. If your T-zone is oily but the rest of your face feels tight, then you probably have combination skin.

Although genetics is the leading factor in your skin type, there are ways you can combat the problems associated with dry, oily skin. Here are a few of the most popular treatments:

  • Nutrition. Many times, people with dry, oily skin get breakouts from moisturizers or lotions. However, it’s still important to moisturize your skin. You can do this by incorporating healthy oils into your diet or taking fatty acid supplements, such as fish oils with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and plant sources with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
  • Oil-free sunscreen. Always use a sunscreen whenever you’re outside. This proves difficult for many people with dry, oily skin, though, because they fear sunscreen will cause breakouts. Oil-free formulas are a safe bet. They’re commonly labeled as “mineral sunscreen.”
  • Medication. A dermatologist can prescribe medications for managing your skin, often in the form of topical treatments.

Combination skin is highly manageable if you take the right steps to address the problem. The first action you should take is to consult with your doctor or a board-certified dermatologist. They can confirm your skin type and help you determine next steps.