Combination skin stands out as having a range of challenges, from an oily T-zone to dry rough patches along your cheeks and the edges of your face. An effective skin care routine for combination skin takes finesse to get right. But once you’ve made space above your sink for some beauty products that will target all the needs of combination skin, you will realize there is a lot you can do to help your skin look its best.

Cleanse

The cleansers you use on dry skin are different from the cleansers you use on oily skin because the needs are different. But with the current array skin care products, you are in good hands. For this first step in your skincare routine, with both the oil-based cleansing step and the follow-up foaming wash, pick something that gently removes impurities without stripping natural oils from your face. You can worry about taming your T-zone in subsequent steps.

Exfoliate

Choosing the right exfoliator is essential to not drying out the dry skin areas of your face. Plus, anything too abrasive and drying will cause your oil-prone areas to produce even more oil to compensate, which you want to avoid. Use an exfoliator with BHAs or AHAs listed as an ingredient. Both acid families are gentle yet help to speed up cell turnover and shed dead skin. Choose an exfoliator labeled for combination skin types with no abrasive elements. Alternatively, you can use a slightly stronger skincare exfoliator for your T-zone, and a gentle one for the rest of your face.

Prep and prime with toners and lotions

This is the priming stage, where you prep your skin for the essences that will follow. Hydrated skin is skin that will better soak up essences and serums. And yes, even your T-zone, no matter how oily it is, needs hydration. While you might be tempted to look for toners that only minimize your pores and target your T-zone, don’t forget the rest of your face and its needs, too. US and European astringent toners focus on pore tightening, but this can be too harsh for the cheeks. Select an all-in-one toner or lotion for sensitive and combination skin types that both hydrate and lessen oiliness.

Essences and serums and eye creams

Dry skin needs heavier creams and oily skin needs light-weight formulas that will not clog the pores. This is a problem that combination skin types brush up against throughout the process of taking care of their skin. So what should you do when skin needs are conflicting? Compartmentalize. Select an essence that targets an oily T-zone, a serum for the drier areas of your face, such as your cheeks, and an eye cream for your eye area that will plump out fine lines. Picking and choosing for each area of your face will allow you to pinpoint products that might be causing you to break out or flake out.

Sheet Masks

Want to boost your skin care routine? Or give your face some extra care after being in a skin-harsh environment? Sheet masks give you concentrated hydration but can also target specific needs. For example, you can find mask patches for the cheeks and ones for the T-zone. Or choose a sheet mask that will brighten the look of dull skin, enhance cell turnover, or plump out fine lines. Get ready to explore the many options.

Moisturize

Moisturizers at this step in a skin care routine are meant to seal in the goodness from the previous steps. But because you want to avoid clogging your pores, and because your cheeks will likely have different needs than your T-zone, consider using separate products for your cheeks versus your T-zone. Then you can choose a cream-based formula for your cheeks, and a lighter weight formula for your nose and forehead. Or use a lighter weight formula for your whole face, and give your cheeks some extra moisturizing love.

Sunscreen 

To top off your skincare routine, add an SPF 50 broad-spectrum sunblock. Choose one that is the lightest weight possible while still providing you with coverage so the pores in your T-zone stay happy and clog-free. If you pick a product that includes moisturizer, then combining your moisturizing and sunscreen step together is also an option, and you can skip the previous step entirely. Several Japanese makeup and Korean cosmetics companies have created BB creams and cushion compacts that combine moisturizer, SPF, and foundation in one go, making those a worthwhile option for combination skin.

 

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