Have you noticed that some parts of your skin are dry while other parts are oily? This is known as combination skin. Combination skin is characterized by an oily T-zone while the cheeks are either normal or dry. How to tell if you have combination skin? Wash your face with your normal cleanser, then wait an hour. If your T-zone is oily whereas your cheeks are either normal or dry, you have combination skin.
Combination skin is thought to be one of the most common skin types. When it comes to skincare routines, hydrating creams are too hydrating, oil-absorbing masks are too absorbing, balancing lotions never seem to do much balancing… It can be tricky to figure out how to care for your skin properly.
Dr. Teo Wan Lin is an accredited dermatologist and an expert on cosmeceutical skincare research and development. She is the author of “Skincare Bible – Dermatologist’s Tips for Cosmeceutical Skincare” which was published July 2019 by leading bookstores Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor and Apple Books and available in bookstores islandwide from January 2020. She heads up Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, a specialist cosmeceutical skincare line with evidence-based active ingredients for anti-ageing and skin health. Its subsidiaries, the Pi- Cosmeceutical Custom Makeup Lab and the Conscious Mask Bar are part of the Conscious Concept Pharmacy launched in December featuring environmentally sustainable makeup and skincare materials. In this series “Dermatologist Talks” she shares her top tips on common skincare topics. In this article, she tells us the science behind combination skin – skin that is both dry and oily.
Skin that is both dry and oily boils down to an underlying pathology of the skin which is much more common in acne-prone individuals is known as seborrhea, which is overactivity of the oil gland. It is part of the causes of teenage and adult acne. Even when you have seborrhea, it is possible for you to have a deficiency in the ceramide content of your skin barrier leading to dry skin.
The production of ceramide is genetically determined. You could have inherited both the genes for oily skin as well as dry skin. The commoner scenario we see would be someone with acne and oily skin who started using over the counter medication such as those that contain retinol or benzoyl peroxide and these will break down the skin barrier and it can result in the skin being dry, sensitive and acne-prone.
Individuals with combination skin often have breakouts over the greasy T-zone area. This can be exacerbated, in the case of some women, especially during the time of their monthly menstrual cycles. On the other hand, their cheek areas can be very dry and when they travel, especially when there is a change in climate, these areas can become dry, flaky and sensitive especially if they are using skincare that is slightly harsher on their skin.
The recommended skincare routine for combination skin should address both the oiliness of the T-zone, which can sometimes get quite uncomfortable especially in a humid climate like Singapore, as well as the potential dryness that may occur over the cheek areas. An important thing to note would be a gentle emulsifying cleanser is recommended for combination skin such as the Honey Cleanser.
Honey itself is a natural emulsifier which means it produces foam without the need for strong chemical lathering agents such as the laureth sulfates. At the same time, it is a natural humectant which means that it traps moisture under the skin. As a result, it helps to balance out the production of sebum without over-stripping the skin of its natural oils.
From left to right: Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Vitamin C Serum, Radiance Fluide Hydrating Emulsion, Milk Cleanser, Honey Cleanser, SunProtector, Elixir-V Eyes, Mineral Booster, Elixir-V Serum
Individuals with combination skin should focus on using hydrating serums such as Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Vitamin C Serum and Elixir-V Serum as these contain cosmeceutical active ingredients which function as treatment over their T-zone to regulate oil production.
Also, use hydrating emulsions rather than creams, the former is an oil in water mixture rather than a pure cream formula. This helps to moisturize the skin without the cream becoming too thick or greasy. Finally, the excess grease over the T-zone can be addressed with the use of blotting papers (such as those infused with active ingredients like cannabis sativa). These blotting papers are infused with cannabis sativa, an extract of the hemp plant which helps to moisturize the skin and regulate oil production, at the same time physically removing excess grease over the T-zone. One should follow with a hydrating mist such as the Mineral Booster which helps to regulate the skin barrier.
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