Skincare routines have long evolved from the ease of soap and water. We've gotten used to a multistep process, layering on serums and moisturizers, creams, and sprays. And if you have combination skin, this habit can be even more complicated. "It's very common for people to have some areas of dry skin and some areas of oily skin—there must be an evolutionary cause!" dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, says. "This is combination skin."
Combination skin can be tricky. Mona says that its oiliness can keep skin looking youthful, but its dryness can accentuate fine lines. Esthetician Shani Darden mirrors Mona's response, adding, "The T-zone may be oily, and the cheeks may be dry," for instance.
When we asked Mona and Shani for their thoughts on combination skin, they agreed that it's the type of situation for a specific skincare routine, where trial-and-error may be in order. "If your nose tends to get congested, you might need to find a different moisturizer to use there alongside the one you use on the rest of your face," Shani says. "You can also do light layers of products to get the right treatment and moisture specific to what your skin needs."
Below, Shani and Mona describe the 12 products they would use for combination skincare routines to balance out the varying textures. Bottom line? They understand that your time in front of the mirror may be more involved than others.
"This is designed for combination skin," Mona says. "Regardless of skin type, SPF is essential!"
"There is a misconception that people with combination or oily skin do not need a moisturizer," Mona says. "This is totally wrong. The reality is dry skin can actually lead to increased oil production. HA5 is a great hydrator that won't feel heavy and clog pores."
"This is easily absorbent and great at getting rid of free radial damage," Mona continues.
"This is a gentle cleanser that's great as a skin barrier, and it deposits moisture while you wash," Mona notes.
"This is perfect for when you need to reapply sunscreen every two hours," Mona says. "Use the powder on the more oily parts of your face."
"It adds hydration but not too much," Mona explains. "The unique dry base brings the equilibrium back."
"You can use these pads at night to soak up extra oils," Mona notes. "They're great because you can direct them to the area that needs a bit of extra love."
"A gentle cleanser that doesn't strip your skin is so important," Shani says. "I love this gentle gel cleanser because it effectively cleans the skin without drying it out."
"I love an oil-free sunscreen like this one because it's lightly hydrating yet won't clog your pores," Shani notes.
"Texture Reform is a gentle retinyl palmitate serum that boosts collagen, reduces fine lines, and smooths texture," Shani says. "It contains lactic acid to gently exfoliate the skin and Sodium PCA to help skin hold on to moisture—a perfect match for combination skin."
"I love these AHA/BHA peel pads because they work really well without being overly harsh," Shani notes. "AHAs remove the dead layer of skin on the surface, and BHAs help to clear out your pores."
"This lightweight oil-free moisturizer is perfect for those battling oily skin," Shani says. "It helps with sebum imbalances and is moisturizing, but it doesn't cause congestion."