How to Rebalance & “Fix” Combo Skin

Does Cassandra have combination skin?

Cassandra’s skin has been through a lot, and it gets very dry sometimes, but she also has very oily skin on her forehead and T-zone. This is called combo skin. But, when it comes to combination skin, what is it, how do you know if you have it, and how do we take care of it? Well, combination skin is simply what it sounds like. It has dry areas and others that are oilier. Combination skin means you could have two different skin types on the same face. But before we get into it, we should understand that skin types are not technically medical terms. You cannot be diagnosed with oily skin dry skin, or combination skin. 

Is combination skin oily?

With combination skin, the oiliness usually happens around the T-zone (above the eyebrows and nose) and the chin. On the other hand, there might be dryness on the cheeks, jawline, or even around the eyelids. If that description sounds like you, you might have combination to oily skin. If your dry areas are more prominent, you might have combination to dry skin. 

But, if you really want to be sure of your skin type, you can do the shower test. The shower test is when you get into the shower and wash your face without an oil cleanser or a stripping cleanser. You just use water. Note, it’s best to do this test on day 2 or 3 of not wearing makeup. 

Next, when you get out of the shower and dry off, how does your skin feel? Does it feel tight or does it feel slick and oily? If you feel a mixture of tightness and oiliness, you probably have combo skin. Combo skin can be one of the most difficult skin types to deal with. Even though we can use products like clays, salicylic acid, or drying products, this might dry other parts of your skin out. 

So, if you have combo skin, but you haven’t found any products that truly work, here are a few suggestions that might actually help. 


Let’s talk about a little trick that Cassandra has been doing for years called multi-masking. Multi-masking is when you use multiple face masks on different parts of your face. For example, if you have acne on some areas of your face but hyperpigmentation on others, use different masks for those different concerns. For combo skin, you can use masks that wick away oil on some areas, and then, a more hydrating product like a sleep mask on the dry areas. Here’s one mask for combo skin, especially combo to oily. 

Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque -$54 

This is a little more expensive, but Cassandra thinks they're fabulous for the T-zone. 


Dermalogica Hydro Masque Exfoliant -$64 

This mask includes gently exfoliating and bursting bamboo beads within a hydrating formula.  If you have dry skin and need exfoliation, this is wonderful. While a lot of people with dry skin need exfoliation, many exfoliating products dehydrate the skin. So, this can make the dry patches worse. But fortunately, this product exfoliates and hydrates at the same time. If you want to use masks you already have, a general rule of thumb is to use products that say “oil-control” on oily areas and products that say “hydrating” for dry areas. 

Dermabeam Light Therapy Mask -$199.99

We should also talk about tools and treatments that can help with both oiliness and dryness. LED stands for light-emitting diode. Did you know that light at certain wavelengths can penetrate into the skin, help with wound healing, and stimulate special cells in our skin called fibroblasts? Fibroblasts help to create and produce more collagen. 

LED is one of Cassandra’s favorite treatments. Specifically, red LED is usually used for collagen and wound healing whereas blue LED is used for acne. There’s green, purple, amber, and there are a couple of other modalities on the mask as well. You can get much more powerful LED treatments at a spa or derm clinic, but as someone who struggles with acne, Cassandra loves this one for at-home use. 

Another great option is the Dr. Dennis Gross Face Mask

Dr Dennis Gross DRx Spectralite Faceware Pro -$455 

LED studies have tons of benefits for the skin, and some studies have actually shown it to be beneficial for oil production and dryness. A specific study showed that the use of LED helped to mitigate dryness in the skin. This means it helped the skin to rebuild the skin barrier, even out dryness, and even texture. The same study also showed that LED helps to regulate oil production. So, if people were too oily, it helped to bring that oil down. 

But, if it was too dry, it helped to repair the skin barrier so that it could hold in moisture better. This is not the case for everyone across the board, but you can try it.

Before going to LED, Cassandra would first recommend multi-masking or trying to get your skin barrier into a happy place first. Speaking of helping to heal our skin barrier, let's talk about cleansers and moisturizers. With combo skin, we have to be mindful when cleansing and hydrating.

A lot of people with combination skin see oiliness, and they don’t like it. So, they use a cleanser that strips their face and exacerbates dryness. Additionally, some people with oily to combo skin avoid moisturizers because they think moisturizers will give them greasy skin and acne. However, moisturizers are always necessary, especially after a cleanse. 

What cleanser should I use for combo skin?

Try not to use an overly stripping or foaming cleanse. A nice, gentle cleanser is a great way to go. Especially if you are combo, the double cleanse method can be perfect. Double cleansing is using an oil cleanser first and then using a regular cleanser to follow up. If you have acne, rosacea, or pigmentation, double cleansing can be super helpful as well. 

What moisturizers should I use for combo skin?

When it comes to moisturizers, you can use different moisturizers on areas of the face. But, if you only want to use one moisturizer, look for a lightweight formula that includes ceramides. One of Cassandra’s favorite moisturizers is the PSL moisturizer.


Medature PSL Repair Moisturizer 4 - $48 

This moisturizer has oils, ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids naturally produced by our skin. But at the same time, it’s still a nice, lightweight formula that’s perfect for combo skin. This moisturizer also helps build back the skin barrier. If you have super dry patches, Cassandra would recommend spot treating them with Solimo Petroleum Jelly or the Ceremedx Ultra Moisturizing Cream.

Ceramedx Ultra Moisturizing Cream - $18.99

Petroleum Jelly - $3.31

These choices might be a bit much for people who are oily to combo, and that’s why the PSL moisturizer is a perfect balance. 

Another great option for combo skin is the Jumiso waterfull cream. It’s kind of like a gel because it has hyaluronic acid among other hydrating ingredients, but it also works for dry skin. So, if you’re someone who doesn’t like the feel of a thick moisturizer on your skin, this one can be wonderful too.

Jumiso Waterfull Cream 

Another excellent option for balancing combo skin is sunscreen. This one is perfect for combo skin.

SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Hyalu-Cica Water-Fit Sun Serum SPF50 PA++++ 

This is so good. It’s a nice watery, hydrating sunscreen that doesn’t feel thick on the skin. It goes on so invisibly, but it doesn’t exacerbate oily skin. 

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen -$46


Cassandra loves this sunscreen from Biossance because it has squalane. While it will definitely hydrate the dry portions of your skin, it might give the others a glow because of the squalane. This hydrates the dry portions, but depending on how oily the other parts of your skin are, it might cause some greasiness. 

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% -$6 

Before applying sunscreen, you’ll want to put on a serum to further balance the skin. If you have combo skin, you can look for niacinamide or vitamin B3. Niacinamide is known to help sebum production. If you have too much, niacinamide brings it down, and if you have too little, it helps bring it up. Cassandra would recommend this niacinamide option for people who are combo to oily because the zinc PCA works well for those who are greasy.

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum - $6  

This is excellent, it helps reduce the look of pores, and it’s made with 10% niacinamide. 

Tiam Vita B3 Source

This was one of the best K-beauty products of 2022. This has niacinamide, and it doesn’t have an overly greasy feel to it. It doesn’t leave the skin feeling dehydrated, dry, or chalky either. Sometimes niacinamide can leave you feeling a bit chalky or peel up when you're trying to layer products for combo skin.

When it comes to combination skin, you have to be very patient. Yes, it can be hard to balance out the skin, but sometimes you just have to tell your skin to do different things in different areas, and that’s perfectly okay. Plus, taking before and after pictures can be really helpful for seeing progress too.