Article- The joys of Combination Skin!

It is generally accepted that there are five types of skin. Normal, dry, acne-prone, oily or sensitive.  If you’re really unlucky you have a combination of  oily,dry and if you really won the lottery, sensitivity & possibly redness. If your skin falls into the combination category your main complaint and the nature of your skin will probably shift and change a bit from your teenage years through middle-age. When I was a teen I didn’t have acne but I had very very dry skin. My mother was not very big into skincare or cosmetics and consequently couldn’t give me any tips to make myself look like less of a flaky mess, not even something simple  like “Use Moisturizer!”  I used to be horribly self-conscious about what looked like dandruff around my eyebrows which I later found out was something like an allergy to the over-production of yeast, or something called “yeast overgrowth.”  That was when I saw a dermatologist for the condition and was given a topical ointment for my face that I used in place of moisturizer. It was a form of ketoconazole which helps reduce the shedding of cells. I used the ointment for 3 years, and then the problem became less intense and moisturizer was enough to keep my dry skin in check. As I got older my problem went from combination/dry to really bad breakouts and now i have adult acne and a very oily t-zone with slightly dry spots. My face has always been sensitive, too. Lucky me, huh? Because of my skin problems, until recently I had a hard time getting foundation to look natural. Instead of blending in, it seemed to highlight my problems by looking patchy and caking in the dry spots making them look very flaky. I was most comfortable in low light & knowing how I must look in fluorescent lighting made me want to hide my face when I had to be in a room lit that way. I’ve read articles upon articles on skincare for the different types and they often have only a couple vague statements on combination skin or they skip it altogether! From trial and error, I finally have a skincare routine that works for me. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another but here are my tips for having  healthy combination skin.

First off, alternate between a gentle  cleanser and something to exfoliate. Use the gentler one most days and exfoliate 2-3 times per week- more, if you notice buildup. Be careful though, exfoliating too often can strip the skin of it’s natural oils which in turn will cause your oil-glands to over compensate and you will be extra -shiny! For an exfoliating cleanser I use good old Saint Ives Apricot Scrub. For the gentle everyday cleanser I use Clean & clear finishes even tone foaming cleanser. It’s oil-free and has ingredients to calm the skin. If your skin is sensitive and tends to get red easily, try only using an exfoliating cleanser once a week or try what a Make-up artist once told me- while in the shower, take a face-cloth and soak it in warm water. Hold it against your face like a mask for about 20-30 seconds and then gently rub it in  slow,short circular motions against your skin. Start in the middle of your face and work outwards, buffing the dead skin off your face.

When you can find them, use products labeled for combination skin. Also, always stick to oil-free products!

Soak a cotton ball or cotton round in an alcohol-free toner and treat your face with it after cleansing. I’ve been using L’oreal hydrafresh.

Alternate between a light, oil-free moisturizer in the mornings and heavier moisture in the evenings, but only if your dry patches are very bad. If oil is your main problem with light dryness, just stick to a light oil-free formula such as Neutrogena oil-free moisture for combination skin.

Always take off all your makeup! Do not sleep in it!  Not only will that make your skin problems worse, it will clog pores, cause breakouts & prematurely age your face. You don’t want that now, do you? At the very least keep makeup-removing towelettes by your bed and wipe yourself down before passing out. This is at the LEAST! It’s better to have a routine at night with all the steps you need for your healthiest skin.

After using an oil-free makeup remover in the evening, you may want to cleanse, use toner and moisturize again.I find that cleansing twice a day irritates my skin and moisturizing multiple times makes my skin way too oily, but see what works for you.

Now, if you have acne too you’ll want to treat that in the evenings.  There are two basic acne treatments available over the counter. So what I found works best is I swipe my face with pads, a 2% salicylic acid treatment is standard.I buy Neutrogena Rapid Clear treatment pads. There are many different brands of pads in a jar  out there and they vary in cost but almost all are the same exact thing! A textured pad soaked in 2% salicylic acid solution. I then use a 10% Benzoyl Peroxide gel. These are usually white but dry clear (because no one wants cream dotted all over there face at night when they lay down next to someone!) I use walgreen’s brand and it’s ok. I advise buying clean& clear maximum strength benzoyl peroxide gel though because walgreen’s texture  is a little gritty.

My final tip is that if an over-the-counter regimen is not helping, see a dermatologist. This may seem like a lot of steps but  having combo skin means needing multiple solutions to address our multiple problems. Also, I know people who have much more complex skincare routines with far less problematic skin to begin with! As usual, of course, it’s all in what works for you. Also, I do not only use drugstore products but as far as my skin goes, these things work for me so why pay more?

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