Some people have oily skin, and others deal with a dry or dehydrated complexion. But did you know it's possible to experience both of these skin types at once? If you're feeling frustrated because your skin feels oily and dry at the same time, you're not alone. Combination skin is more common than you probably realize. But what is combination skin, and how can you address one concern without making the other worse?

Learning how to treat combination skin is easy once you get the hang of it. Read on to identify whether you have this skin type and how to customize your skin care routine to unleash your healthiest, most radiant complexion.

What Is Combination Skin?

Combination skin is just what it sounds like: skin that combines oily and dry areas. For most people, the oily parts are in the T-zone, which includes your chin, nose, and forehead. This is because you have the highest concentration of oil glands (also called sebaceous glands) in those areas. But while those spots may be oily, other spots on your face—like your cheeks—may feel dry or sensitive.

Whether or not you have combination skin is mainly due to your genetics. Combination skin may also fluctuate over time due to factors like stress, weather, and hormonal changes (e.g., during your period or when starting birth control pills). You may also notice that your skin changes as you get older. For many people, skin becomes drier over time as sebum production wanes.

Close up of woman looking in mirror check face after mask cream beauty treatment feels satisfied admire reflection, laser skin resurfacing, glycolic acid peel, anti-ageing skincare procedures concept

How Do You Know If You Have Combination Skin?

In general, combination skin can appear shiny or acne-prone in the middle of your face while appearing red or flaky over your cheeks or on the sides of your face. Your skin may also feel tight or rough in these areas.

Still not sure if you have combination skin? There's an easy way to find out. Wash your face with a mild cleanser and wait 30 minutes without applying any products. Then, use a blotting sheet (a piece of tissue paper also works in a pinch) and press it over different areas of your face. After each press, hold it to the light to see the oil markings. If you only have oil coming from your T-zone, it's safe to say you have combination skin.

How to Treat Combination Skin

If you have combination skin, don't fret. It's definitely possible to find a routine that combats both oily and dry patches at the same time. The key is to treat the different areas individually, which means addressing the oily patches separately from the dry spots. Here are some steps to incorporate into your skin care routine:


Use a gentle cleanser like EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser twice a day to loosen oil, makeup, and any other impurities that build up on your skin.


After cleansing in the morning, follow up with a balancing toner on the oilier parts of your face. Try a formula like EltaMD Skin Recovery Essence Toner, which can help balance your skin's pH while soothing and hydrating your skin at the same time.

Apply Serum

Use a serum with antioxidants to protect your skin from damage while repairing past injuries. For example, EltaMD Skin Recovery Serum has soothing Vitamins B5 and E and Sodium Hyaluronate to retain moisture, calm inflammation, and improve skin barrier function while visibly reducing redness in just 24 hours.


Use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer on the center of your face. On the outer regions of your complexion, try a thicker formula with ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid to increase moisture and keep skin supple.

Use Sunscreen

Finish off your morning routine with a lightweight, oil-free, broad-spectrum sunscreen like EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 to protect your skin from sun damage.

Blot as Needed

To control any shine that appears throughout the day, keep a blotting paper on hand to absorb excess oil and keep your skin shine-free.

Achieving Your Best Complexion

Whether you have combination skin, dry skin, or sensitive skin, you can figure out the best routine for your skin type to reach your skin care goals. With combination skin, the trick is to focus on addressing the oily and dry spots of your face separately to uncover your most beautiful complexion. So go ahead, take these tips under your wing and find what works for you!



    Maria Robinson, MD, MBA is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist with over ten years of clinical experience. Dr. Robinson has a passion for nutrition and integrative dermatology, and is the co-founder of, where people can explore holistic dermatology treatments. Through her writing, she strives to empower people with accurate health information so they can make positive decisions that lead to healthy and vibrant skin.