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How to Tell If You Have Combination Skin

Most women think they have dry or oily skin but really have combination skin. Combination skin is basically a combination of 2-3 skin types, usually oily in some areas and dry in others.

Combination Skin Characteristics

If you find your t-zone (the forehead, down the nose to the chin) is oily, prone to blackheads and breakouts while your cheeks may remain dry and flaky, you have combination skin.

Most people's skin changes a lot over the course of the year. Skin is seasonally and hormonally affected. You may find your skin is oilier in summer and dry in winter. In spring and fall, your T-zone is oily while your cheeks are dry. When you are on your period, your skin may experience breakouts causing you to think your skin is oily. But once your period is over, the breakouts clear right up and your skin can become flaky. This is a sign of combination skin.

Causes of Combination Skin

Oily skin is caused by overactive sebaceous (oil) glands. Heat and humidity will increase sebum production, which is why your t-zone may become super oily in the summer while your cheeks seem to normalize. In winter, when furnace heat kicks in and cold strips your skin of it's natural oils, your oily spots may become more normal while your cheeks become dry and flaky.

How to Take Basic Care of Your Skin

The secret to treating combination skin is to spot treat your problem areas. Cleanse with a cleanser formulated to cut down on sebum production and use a moisturizer on your dry spots. Exfoliate your face with a warm washcloth. This helps break down oils and helps remove dead skin.

Try a basic skincare routine:

- Wash with a cleanser formulated for oily skin in the summer and one formulated for normal to dry skin in the winter. Cleanse your skin at night and rinse off with warm water in the morning so you don't over-cleanse skin, again causing it to go into oil overproduction. See my list of cleansers for all skin types.

- Moisturize your dry spots with an light, oil-free moisturizer, skipping your more oily spots in the summer. In the winter, you can moisturize all over with a heavier moisturizer. I include many great moisturizers in this list.

- Exfoliate twice weekly with a gentle scrub. I list some great ones here.

- If you suffer from breakouts, an astringent may help but be careful to use it only on your problem spots, avoiding your dry skin areas. You may also use toners, which can be too drying for other skin types. See my article on toners, "Is Toner Really Necessary?"

Best Makeup for Combination Skin

Choose cream blush for your dry cheeks, except in summer when you can use powders. Prep skin with a moisturizer before smoothing on an oil-free foundation or tinted moisturizer. To keep your eyeshadow from melting into your crease, use an eyeshadow primer or base.

In your oilier moments, carry blotting papers in your purse to soak up oils in your t-zone. Blotting papers won't mess up your makeup and will keep you from powdering your face too often -- upping your chances of clogging pores.