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 • Skincare  • Skincare Guides  • Your Complete Combination Skin Routine (That’s Actually Affordable)

Your Complete Combination Skin Routine (That’s Actually Affordable)

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If you’re a little confused about what your skin type is, it might be because it’s a combination of everything. A bit dry, a touch oily, with a bit of normal in between. 

Combination skin types often notice an oily t-zone that can sometimes break out into spots. Confusingly though, while all this is going on, other areas like your cheeks might be flaky and dry. Wait…what?!

And if it’s your time of the month, your oil production can intensify but then suddenly dry up without warning when your period’s over. Talk about peak confusion! 

Yup, combination skin is a massive balancing act. But it’s not so bad once you’ve got your products nailed.

So, in the spirit of gaining back some control, we’ve collated our favourite products for combination skin, to help you build your perfect routine. 


The best cleansers for combination skin

Image – The Inkey List


Sally Underwood, Editor in Chief: If my skin is ever oilier in some places and drier in others, I tend to go for a cleanser which will gently exfoliate to prevent my pores becoming clogged while still protecting my skin barrier. 

I really like The Inkey List’s Fulvic Acid Cleanser (£12 from The Inkey List UK /$13 from The Inkey List US), which removes all my makeup and gently brightens my skin tone over time without being harsh.


Philippa Pearne, Beauty Editor: I tend to get very oily on my forehead, chin and jawline but experience eczema around my nose. This means I want to use a cleanser that minimises oil but that also doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry. Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Gel Cleanser (£17 from Boots UK /$30 from Caudalie US) is the perfect combination (if you’ll pardon the pun) of mattifying and hydrating.


Philippa: Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Cleanser (£25 from Paula’s Choice UK /$19 from Paula’s Choice US) is primarily an oil-reducing cleanser but it doesn’t dry out the skin or leave it feeling uncomfortable. It’s a great one for reducing breakouts too.


The best toners for combination skin

Image – REN


Sally: Toners make it really easy to target specific areas of your face and if I’m particularly oily on my forehead or chin I’ll use a gentle acid toner just on those areas. 

I really like REN’s Ready Steady Glow AHA Tonic toner (£30 from REN UK /$40 from REN US) as it’s seriously effective as unblocking pores (I’ve had results overnight before) and brightening skin at the same time.  It’s gentle enough for me to use on oily patches daily, although as someone with sensitive skin I wouldn’t use it on drier patches daily.


Philippa: When my eczema isn’t too bad but I still have a bit of dryness around my nose, La Roche Posay Effaclar Clarifying Lotion (£16 from Look Fantastic UK /$16.99 from La Roche Posay US) is a great all-rounder for keeping the skin smooth and balanced. Like Sally though, I wouldn’t use it on very dry patches like eczema, even though it has been created for sensitive skin types. This is because it contains salicylic acid so it’s quite potent.  


Philippa: Weleda One Step Cleanser Toner (£17.25 from Weleda UK /$19.99 from Weleda US) is ideal for those wanting a 2-in-1 cleanser and toner. This one cleans the skin without drying it out or adding too much oil. It’s been designed specifically for combination skin and won’t break the bank either.


The best moisturisers for combination skin

Image – La Roche Posay


Laura Kemp, Senior Beauty Editor: I use the CeraVe Moisturising Lotion (£12 from Boots UK /$15.99 from Ulta US) which is really calming and lightweight, but still feels really moisturising and it absorbs quickly. It also contains ceramides and HA, and I use it on my face and body – it’s an amazing all-rounder! 


Philippa: My ideal moisturiser mix is one that’s lightweight – so not too heavy on my primarily oily skin – but that also contains enough hydration so that my skin feels comfortable and maintains a glow. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ SPF 30 with Niacinamide (£21.90 from Look Fantastic UK) is just this. I actually panic when I start to run out because no other moisturiser gives me a more perfect balance.


Philippa: Face Theory Supergel Oil-Free Moisturiser M3 (£16 from Face Theory UK /$16.50 from Face Theory US) is another great combo of lightweight and hydrating. It’s particularly good for congested skin thanks to salicylic acid and niacinamide and it brightens the complexion using vitamin C. Use this one sparingly as it’s quite full of active ingredients. 


The best masks for combination skin

Image – 47 Skin


Sally: I really like a clay or BHA mask on areas of oiliness to gently degrease and help to unclog pores.  My favourite is Nip + Fab’s Salicylic Fix Clay Mask (£19.95 from Nip + Fab UK /$23.95 from Nip + Fab US), which really does help to make my skin feel less oily while not drying it out.  If you’re concerned about dry areas though, you can always ‘multi mask’ and use one mask on oily areas and another on dry spots.


Philippa: I like a mask that primarily treats spots but doesn’t strip the skin completely of oil, especially during the winter when my skin feels drier in places – it’s all about balance! 47 Skin Anti-Blemish And Scar Repair Intensive Treatment Silver Mask (£24 from 47 Skin UK /$36 from 47 Skin US) is great for this. Leave it on for 25 minutes, then peel off to reveal a hopefully calmer breakout and fresh skin. 


The best SPFs for combination skin

Image – Elf Cosmetics


Philippa: Curology The Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($17 from Curology US) is non-comedogenic so ideal for those who experience breakouts but who still like a hydrated, dewy finish.


Philippa: Finding a sunscreen that’s not too thick for the face can be tricky but e.l.f Suntouchable! Invisible Sunscreen SPF 30 (£14 from e.l.f Cosmetics UK /$14 from e.l.f. Cosmetics US) is a great compromise of hydrating and light. It’s completely clear in colour so hard to spot, it feels velvety soft and acts as a brilliant makeup primer too.


The takeaway

Finding balance is key with combination skin. It’s about choosing textures that aren’t too pore-cloggingly heavy. But equally, opting for ones that are aren’t so lightweight that they don’t hydrate your skin properly.

Even though combination skin can be confusing at first, it’s easy to stabilise when you apply the right formulas and ingredients. The above routine options will hopefully not only give you an idea of what you should be using. But also make you feel encouraged that the options for combination skin aren’t thin on the ground.

And at just under the price of a night out for a whole routine, your combination skin type just got some serious brownie points.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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