Though it may seem like everyone can characterize their skin as "oily" or dry," for most people, the reality is that it's a little bit of both. “Combination skin, which is oily in some areas, like the T-zone, and dry in others, like the cheeks, is actually the most common skin type,” says Fatima Fahs, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Canton, Michigan.
Common or not, though, this situation poses quite a conundrum when it comes to creating an effective skin-care routine. When you're dealing with combination skin, different areas of your face are going to have varying tolerability to ingredients and products, which can make it challenging to find options that won’t make one zone worse while you're trying to treat the other, points out Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. In other words, something geared towards oily skin may work great for your slick forehead…but end up drying out or irritating your already dry cheeks and vice versa.
So what’s the solution? Dr. Nazarian says that seeking out gentle, multi-tasking products is your best bet. The good news: There are plenty that fit the bill, and, even better, don’t cost a ton of money. Here, seven derm-approved products for combination skin, all for less than $15.
7 Best drugstore products for combination skin
Dr. Nazarian names this as one of her top cleansing choices for combination skin. It’s both moisturizing and calming, great for dry skin, and fragrance-free to minimize the likelihood of irritation, she says. Still, it’s able to (gently) remove unwanted oil from the surface of your complexion.
“I love this cleanser for combination skin types because it starts as a creamy lotion and then transforms into a gentle foam,” says Dr. Fahs. “It’s strong enough to remove excess dirt, while still restoring hydration with ceramides and hyaluronic acid.”
“This is a lightweight, lactic acid serum that helps to gently exfoliate the skin while also pulling in hydration,” says Dr. Fahs. “Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid known for its brightening properties, but it is still gentle enough to use on dry areas. Apply it overnight and you’ll wake up less oily, but more glowy.” Yes, please.
According to Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, this is a great moisturizer for those with combination skin who also want some anti-aging benefits. The active ingredients aren’t drying or irritating, and the formula as a whole is moisturizing but non-comedogenic, she says. Dr. Nazarian is a fan, too, noting that the retinol in the formula decreases oil production and wrinkles without causing sensitivities. “It’s combined with anti-inflammatory and hydrating vitamin B, making it more tolerable for all skin types, including those with combination skin,” she says.
The gel-based formula of this moisturizer—which is another one of Dr. Fahs’ favorites—is lightweight enough that it won’t leave oily areas feeling oilier, but still contains hyaluronic acid for a nice amount of hydration as well as line-smoothing peptides.“Best of all, it’s lightweight enough to wear under makeup,” adds Dr. Fahs.
Dr. Fahs says she often hears people with combination skin complain that sunscreen leaves their skin oilier, but that is not—we repeat is not—an excuse to skip it. She says this formula is an ideal solution because it’s formulated with oil-absorbing minerals to keep excess shine at bay and also touts skin-brightening antioxidants.
Another good sunscreen, this is one of Dr. King’s top picks. “It’s great for combination skin because it moisturizes, but is light and non-comedogenic,” she says (in other words, you don’t have to worry about it clogging pores). She also lauds it for containing niacinamide, which improves tone and textures, as well as antioxidants that help protect the skin from the effects of blue light.
Want more tips on how to best treat combination skin? Check out the video below.
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts, and more? Sign up to have the intel delivered straight to your inbox.
Loading More Posts...