5 Signs You have Combination Skin and What You Can Do to Reduce Breakouts

Published on May 11, 2017

When your skin is either dry or oily, the solution is pretty straightforward - use hydrating/moisturizing products or products catered for oily skin. However, when you have a bit of both, things can get pretty complicated. We spoke to several facial therapists from trusted facial boutiques to give you the low-down on how to care for combination skin.

What is Combination Skin?


Combination skin is basically skin with multiple characteristics. You can have oily-dry combination skin (the T-zone tends to be rather oily whereas the areas under the cheekbones and the outline of your face tend to be drier) or you can also have oily-sensitive combination skin or dry-sensitive combination skin. 

Combination Skin

Shizuka from Award-Winning Japanese Facial Salon Organics Beauty shared that dehydration is possibly the biggest cause of combination skin for customers she's seen in Singapore. Dehydration is often due to the lack of water intake as well as the use of overly harsh over the counter facial products. Many of these products tend to remove oil and water from our face, stimulating oil production. 

Wonder why that is the case? Well, our skin naturally produces a layer of sebum to lubricate the skin, protecting it from dehydration and maintaining health and lustre. The sebum works together with surface cells and sweat to form an acidic environment that forces our surface cells to lie flatly. Without the sebum, cells can pull apart, leading to loss of water, irritation and sensitivity. When there are insufficient oils and water, the skin may be overstimulated, causing excessive sebum production and eventually combination skin.

While genetics, air pollution and humid weather contributes to combination skin, Shizuka found that many of her customers experienced a huge improvement in their skin after changing their facial products and correcting their facial routines. Although you may still find that your skin is still marginally oily, you will find that your skin won't be dry and rough afterward. 

How do you know if You have Combination Skin?


1. The pores on your nose are bigger than the pores on your cheeks and jawline

Pore size is a telltale sign of combination skin as shared by Grace from Geranium Skin Boutique. As your skin is oilier on your T-zone, the overproduction of sebum will result in comedones or what we commonly know as blackheads and whiteheads, resulting in larger pores on your nose than on your cheeks and jawline. 

2. Certain areas on your skin are prone to acne breakouts and other areas are excessively dry

According to Chrissy from Face Plus by Yamano, overproduction of oil on the T-zone blocks the pathway to your hair follicles, resulting in clogged pores. Trapped in between, bacteria will grow, forming acne in the T-zone. Therefore, the T-zone tends to have frequent acne breakouts than other areas. 

Combination Skin Illustration

3. Some areas of your skin will witness fine lines due to dehydration

Since with combination skin, some parts are drier than others, Grace mentions that you may notice fine lines on those areas which are superficially dehydrated. 

4. Parts of your face turns oily 30 minutes after washing your face

If your face is truly oily, your entire face should turn oily after a face wash. However, Shiori from SONA Japanese Skin Studio points out that ladies with combination skin will find that only parts of the face will turn oily. This could be due to innate characteristics of your skin but it can also be aggravated by harsh facial products and an incorrect washing routine. Gel cleansers, for example, should be lathered on the hand before placing on the face to prevent excessive removal of sebum from the skin.

Oily Skin Blotting Paper

How You Can Manage Combination Skin


1. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate!

Since the cause of combination skin is more often than not caused by dehydration, the solution is simple - HYDRATION. This includes drinking enough water daily and using the right facial products to hydrate the skin. 

2. Find a gentle cleanser

A gentle cleanser can include clay-based, water-based or even gel-textured cleansers. The most important thing is that it effectively removes dirt, makeup and debris without dehydrating the skin.

Some products we've tried and really loved are:

  • Doronko Clay Cleanser recommended by Face Plus by Yamano: This is the first clay mask we've tried that leaves the face feeling moisturized.
  • Phyt's Natural Cleansing Gel recommended by Organics Beauty: This is a gel cleanser that is certified organic, alcohol-free and is perfect for combination skin.
  • PCA Facial Wash recommended by SONA Japanese Skin Studio: This facial wash containing gluconolactone, lactic acid and aloe that removes excess oil impurities and makeup. Suitable for oily and breakout-prone skin.

3. Apply a hydrating, soothing non-irritating toner 

Shizuka shares that a lot of ladies in Singapore appear to skip the very important step of applying toner. Applying toner is actually a very crucial step in the skincare routine. Many people mistake the toner as a secondary cleansing process, when in fact, a toner is actually the moisturizing step as the application of a well-formulated toner can replenish the moisture and nourish your newly cleansed skin! Try to use alcohol-free toners that leave your skin feeling supple.

4. Protect from sun damage

No skin type is exempt from the need of a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater and applied 365 days a year. This is the one step that reduces the early signs of aging. For combination skin, an extremely feather-light formula with a soft matte finish works best all over the face (don’t forget to apply to the neck). Consider also applying a nourishing serum over the dry areas and then apply the ultra-light sunscreen over that. 

5. Use two different facial products to target different parts of the skin

Can't find one product that can be used for your entire face? Shiori recommends applying suitable products on the different areas instead, If T-zone is oily and cheek area is dry, it is best to use a clay mask on oily areas to absorb excess sebum oil, and concentrated vitamin C serum to minimize open pores. You can then apply hydrating serum and seal with lightweight water-based moisturizer on the dry areas.

6. Go for the right facial 

There is no one size fits all facial as you may experience different skin conditions at different parts of your life (and experience different types of combination skin). 

Sensi Facial Treatment by Geranium Skin Boutique for Combination Skin

Sensi Facial Treatment by Geranium Skin Boutique

The Sensi Facial Treatment from Geranium Skin Boutique includes a special sensi mask to rebuild the skin's natural defenses after the usual double cleansing and extractions. 

SONA Japanese Skin Studio, on the other hand, uses oxygen to hydrate and exfoliate the skin with their Aqua Oxygen Hydration peel (+$45) that gently exfoliates and soften the skin to remove blackheads and deeply infuse hydrating treatment serum into the skin. 

For those who prefer not to have extractions, Japanese-themed salon Face Plus by Yamano has an Essential Oil Facial. The facial promotes lymphatic drainage using hand massage to detoxify and purify the skin. Instead of having extractions which can cause scarring and inflammation, clay mask, enzyme peel and air suction machines are used to remove blackheads and whiteheads. Essential oils are then applied to soothe the skin and replenish essential minerals. 

Kohaku Regeneration Facial by Face Plus by Yamano for Combination Skin

Kohaku Regeneration Facial by Face Plus by Yamano

Alternatively, you can also try the Kohaku Regeneration Facial that Agent G did. She experienced a huge improvement in her combination skin after going for the facial and using Yamano's facial products at home.

Deep Cleansing Facial at Organics Beauty for Combination Skin

Deep Cleansing Facial at Organics Beauty

Lastly, the Award-Winning Organics Beauty Deep Cleansing Facial focuses on hydrating the skin and boosting your skin's natural immunity the natural way - with organic herbs and a facial massage.

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