What Is Combination Skin and How to Balance It
What Is Combination Skin and How to Balance It

What Is Combination Skin and How to Balance It

4 minutes read

‘What is combination skin?’ Well, it is one of the top ten skincare questions we have Googled in the past two years. Combination skin affects everyone, not just teenagers – and dermatologists, along with Clarins skincare experts, say it’s the most common skin type. So let’s take an in-depth look…

What is combination skin?

Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager, describes combination skin as “when the distribution of oil varies significantly across your face. The most common example of combination skin is when your T-zone is oilier than your cheeks. Your cheeks, by contrast, maybe “normal” (an ideal balance of water and oil), or even dry (lacking oil).”

The rest of your face (e.g. cheeks) will feel smooth and supple, which means you have normal skin in those areas. And if the skin feels rough to the touch – it is dry.

What causes combination skin?

Here is the checklist:

  • Genetics 
  • Skincare products that are too harsh for your skin. 
  • Dry skin: the sebaceous glands overproduce oil to keep it hydrated. 

5 signs you have combination skin

1. You have an oily T-zone and everywhere else is dry:

According to McHale, “The best way to identify combination skin is to analyse your skin on separate parts of your face – her advice is: 

Look at the T-Zone: 

If you have combination skin, this area will be shiny and oily. 

The rest of your face (cheeks and forehead) will feel smooth and supple, which means you have normal skin. And if it feels rough to the touch – it is dry.

2. Bumps under the skin:

Raised bumps under the skin” also indicate combination skin. 

3.  Breakouts, blackheads and congestion:

These indicate that oil is trapping dirt within the pores. Oily skin is by definition sticky; it grabs onto impurities.

4. Larger pores:

These are usually found on the nose, chin and forehead.

5. Dry or red patches on the cheeks:

Sometimes also found on the forehead and can be caused by sun exposure.

Model with combination skin

Best products to use to treat combination skin 

You can’t change your skin type, but you can use skincare products that alleviate the symptoms of this common problem. 


Choose a cleanser that includes oil-absorbing qualities and ingredients, like a salicylic-acid-based wash. The Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser gently removes excess oil from the skin while being soap-free and gentle too. The fragrance is a zesty blend of natural lime, fresh mint and ylang-ylang to give you a feeling of freshness. 


We know you’re tempted to use something alcohol-based to dry everything up – but this makes the skin work harder to produce even more oil. So instead, go for a plant-based option that is scientifically proven to reduce pore size, combat oil production and keep skin hydrated all at the same time. The Purifying Toning Lotion does all of the above and soothes irritation thanks to the marine-based seawater and kelp. 


Women with combination skin tend to prefer a gel rather than a cream moisturiser – so this could be the perfect pick for you. The Hydra Essential Cooling Gel is a fresh, non-greasy product that hydrates the skin and leaves it radiant and shine-free. In addition, it contains organic medicinal kalanchoe extract, which restores the skin’s capacity to retain water and boost its production of hyaluronic acid.

Treatment oil 

The award-winning Lotus Face Treatment Oil doubles as a natural astringent for combination skin. It contains an aromatic blend of essential oils – lotus, rosemary and geranium. The hazelnut oil is rich in omega 9 and vitamin E; it helps visibly soften, soothe and seal in moisture and minimise the appearance of fine lines. This product’s lightweight formula absorbs into the skin instantly.

Pore control

Combination skin characteristics include enlarged pores, which is why Clarins Pore Control Serum is so great. This instant pore perfector unclogs and minimises pores with the inclusion of tamarind pulp acid to exfoliate and clean out the debris. 

Face masks 

“Multi-masking is perfect for combinations skins!” says McHale. “You’ll need a hydrating mask for the cheeks, whether they are normal or dry.” She recommends Clarins Comfort Face Mask SOS Hydra Mask– the leaf of life hydrates skin in a mere ten minutes.

Face mask

Then apply the purifying Clarins SOS Pure Balancing Clay mask on your T-zone area only. The clay absorbs impurities and excess grease, so you’re visibly refreshed and glowing. 

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