Monday, 04 March 2024 15:59

To a T: The Proper Treatment for Combination Skin  

Written by   Lydia Sarfati

Combination skin is the most common skin type, and the most commonly mistreated skin at home. It can also be overlooked in a treatment menu. Combination skin can affect people of all ages, from teenage skin to mature skin. It is characterized by an oily forehead, nose, and chin – the area of the face known as the T-zone – with drier areas on the periphery of the face, such as the cheeks. The condition manifests because of overactive sebaceous gland activity in the T-zone, which creates excess sebum, leading to blackhead and pustule formation. At the same time, the area on the periphery of the face has underactive sebaceous glands, resulting in dry, flaky skin and even a compromised skin barrier.   



This skin type can be greatly affected by the environment, becoming oilier during the summer months due to heat and humidity, while becoming dry in the winter due to wind and lower humidity. This skin type can also result in dehydration, due to improper product use. One study found that participants with combination skin type were 1.63 times more likely to have sensitive skin than participants with neutral skin.1  

The greatest damage a client can do when treating combination skin at home is to use overly drying products that address the oily T-zone yet causes the outer area of the cheeks to become dehydrated. This causes the skin acid mantle to be disrupted and an imbalance in skin’s pH. Skin needs to be within 4.5 to 5.5 acid range levels, so it is essential to use products that help maintain the acid balance in skin.  

Combination skin’s unique set of concerns, which include presenting oily and dry, dehydrated skin at the same time as well as moisture barrier and pH disruption, have been difficult to treat in the past, but new protocols and products are making it possible to create the perfect balance. 


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  1. Xiao X, Qiao L, Ye R, Zuo F. Nationwide Survey and Identification of Potential Stress Factor in Sensitive Skin of Chinese Women. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020 Nov 20;13:867-874. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S284359. PMID: 33244252; PMCID: PMC7685347. 
  2. Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. "Niacinamide: A B Vitamin That Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance." Dermatologic Surgery, July 31, 2005, 860-65. 
  3. Bissett DL, Miyamoto K, Sun P, Li J, Berge CA. “Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin”. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2004, 231–8. 


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