Combination skin

Sometimes our skin just can’t make up its mind: It is dry and oily at the same time. Because combination skin combines very different needs, its care often becomes a balancing act. We explain how to recognize combination skin and how to meet its needs.

  • Combination skin means that you have both dry and oily areas of skin on your face.

  • When caring for combination skin, it is important to consider the respective skin condition. You may need different care products for dry and oily skin.

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From Head of Cosmetics:

From Head of Cosmetics:

Medically reviewed by:

Medically reviewed by:


What does combination skin look like?

Combination skin can be recognized by the fact that your facial skin does not look the same everywhere: Some areas of skin are dry, others are significantly more oily.

  • Dry areas of skin (mostly cheeks and around the eyes) tend to look dull and lackluster. They are normally free of skin impurities. The skin looks fine-pored and may be prone to wrinkles around the eyes. Very dry skin can feel rough or flaky and often reacts sensitively to external influences.
  • Greasy (oily) areas of skin (usually forehead, nose and chin) have an oily sheen and feel slightly sticky. They often have enlarged pores and can be prone to blemishes such as blackheads or spots.

If you are unsure, take a piece of paper and press it gently onto your face. Does the forehead area leave a clearly greasy imprint, while hardly any grease remains on the paper on the cheeks? Then you probably have combination skin.

How does combination skin develop?

Combination skin is caused by an imbalance in sebum production: in some areas, such as the forehead and nose, the sebaceous glands are very numerous and active, while their colleagues on the cheeks tend to take it easy. This is why some areas of the skin are oversupplied with sebum and others are undersupplied.

This is partly due to the completely natural, innate distribution of the sebaceous glands. But there are also a number of other factors that can increase your tendency to have combination skin:

  • Age: Mature skin tends to be drier. Oily skin in adolescence can therefore turn into combination skin later on. Conversely, those with combination skin from a young age often develop dry skin later on.
  • Season: The skin generally becomes drier in the cold and oilier in the heat. That’s why you may have combination skin in winter, while you tend to have oily skin in summer.
  • Lifestyle: Factors such as your diet can also have an impact on sebum production and therefore on the appearance of your skin.
  • Skin care: The right skin care has a balancing effect on combination skin – you can find out more about this below. Unsuitable products, on the other hand, can even increase the oiliness or dryness of different areas of the skin.

When does combination skin become a problem?

If you have combination skin, you probably know that it can be difficult to meet the different needs of your skin. The rich skin care cream that is good for your dry cheeks makes pimples sprout on your forehead. The toner that helps against spots will in turn make your dry cheeks flush. If you are not very sensitive to your skin’s needs, skin problems can occur time and again.

In general, oily areas of skin tend to develop blemishes or even acne. Dry skin, on the other hand, often has a weaker skin barrier. This makes them more susceptible to skin irritations and even eczema. Typical signs of skin ageing such as lines, facial wrinkles and age spots often appear earlier with dry skin.

Oily skin: the right cleanser

You should consider the following when cleansing combination skin:

  • You must not degreasedry skin too much, otherwise you will weaken its barrier function.
  • Oily skin areas, on the other hand, benefit from clarifying products that remove excess sebum and thus prevent blemishes.

So how do you go about it? If you have combination skin with a low tendency to blemishes, simply use a cleansing gel or a light cleansing milk – but not an oil-based product. The product should be mild and adjusted to the skin’s natural pH value. Cleanse your face with it twice a day, morning and evening.

If your T-zone is very oily and you struggle with blemishes, an additional product for oily skin may be useful. Good options include facial cleansers with additives such as salicylic acid, which have a mild exfoliating and anti-inflammatory effect. Make sure that you really only dab these products on where your skin produces too much sebum.

However, do not use products that are too degreasing, such as those with a high alcohol content. They can even intensify the extremes of your skin. This is because they dry out your cheeks even more, while oily areas of skin often become even more oily. The result: your skin becomes completely unbalanced.

Combination skin: The right care

Just as with cleansing, you should also balance the very different needs of your skin when it comes to care. The best way to achieve this is to combine two different skincare products that suit your skin type:

  • Dry skin areas need richer care with moisturizing active ingredients to support the skin barrier.
  • Oily skin does not need additional oil, but it does need moisture. So don’t just skip the moisturizer, but use a product with the label “non-comedogenic”. This means that it does not promote skin blemishes.

You have two options for application: You can either layer the two care products on top of each other or apply them separately. If you opt for the first option, first apply the moisturizer all over your face and allow it to absorb. Then apply a moisturizing face cream to the dry cheek and eye area. Alternatively, simply apply the two products separately.

In general, you should always keep a close eye on your skin and adjust your skincare routine if the condition of your skin changes. Bear in mind that your combination skin may tend to be oily in summer and dry in winter.

You can also find more skincare tips in our guides on dry skin and oily skin.

Any questions about combination skin? Our FAQ section has the answers!

Combination skin means that your face has both oily and dry areas of skin. The forehead, nose and chin are usually more oily, while the cheeks and eye area are drier.

Combination skin is characterized by different skin conditions on the face: Oily skin areas such as the forehead, nose and chin appear oily and shiny. Skin blemishes such as blackheads and pimples may also appear in these areas. There are also dry areas of skin, such as the cheeks, which look matt, i.e. do not shine. They may even be rough, scaly or slightly reddened.

No, these are different skin types: Combination skin means that you have both dry and oily areas of skin on your face. The forehead, nose and chin are often oily, while the cheeks tend to be dry. Blemished skin, on the other hand, is characterized by blackheads and pimples.

However, it can easily happen that you confuse combination skin with generally blemished skin, because the oily skin areas can tend to be blemished. Pay close attention to whether blackheads or pimples appear all over the face or perhaps only in the forehead and chin area. If your cheeks are pimple-free and matte (i.e. not shiny), you probably have combination skin.

When caring for combination skin, it is important to consider the different needs of dry and oily skin. This means that you will probably need different cleansing and care products for dry skin and for oily skin, which you use as required. You should always pay close attention to the current condition of your skin, because sometimes your skin changes with the seasons.

More questions? Simply make a personal consultation appointment online.


Last updated: 02.06.2024