Several factors can contribute to how your skin looks and feels at any given time. Your skin type may be the most obvious determinant, but external influences such as extreme weather, pollution, and sun exposure can also affect your skin’s appearance. This is especially true for those with combination skin types, who experience conflicting concerns (typically, dryness and oiliness), often simultaneously.
Determining proper skincare for combination skin, unsurprisingly, can be challenging, since most skincare products tend to only target one issue at a time. Thankfully, it’s not impossible—you just need to know what to look for. To help, we compiled a routine with skincare for combination skin. It includes everything you need to soothe dryness, minimize oiliness, and keep your skin balanced and healthy-looking. And we’ve outlined all of the steps below. Read on to discover the ultimate Kiehl’s routine for combination skin.
How To Tell If You Have Combination Skin
The most common question our skincare experts hear when it comes to this skin type is: “What does combination skin look like?” Thankfully, it’s pretty straightforward. If you have combination skin, you’ll have a mix of dry and oily areas on your face at the same time (typically, the T-zone is oily and the cheeks are dry). Some parts of the face may also be a bit more sensitive than others, or you may deal with breakouts in only some areas. How dramatic the difference is between dry and oily areas varies from person to person (and can even change in response to environmental and internal influences, like weather and hormones). The best skincare for combination skin addresses these conflicting issues simultaneously without worsening any others.
How To Care For Combination Skin
Now that you know what combination skin is, you’re ready to learn how to care for it. Keep reading for your daily six-step routine for combination skin.
Wash Away Dirt and Oil With a Foaming Cleanser
Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash
If you have combination skin, you’ll want to reach for a cleanser that washes away dirt and excess oil without stripping your skin of its natural moisture. We recommend a lightweight foaming formula, like Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash. This top-rated facial cleanser is formulated with calendula extract and glycerin to deeply clean without over-drying the skin. You can use it day and night to wash away impurities for an instantly refreshed, revitalized appearance.
Kiehl’s Expert Tip: For proper skincare for every skin type, skip the hot water, which can dehydrate the skin and worsen irritation. Instead, wash your face with lukewarm water to minimize dryness and keep your skin looking its best.
Tone Skin With a Mild Hydrating Toner
Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner
In virtually all of our skincare routines for different types of skin, we recommend toning the skin after cleansing. Toning can help remove any residue left from your cleanser and helps refresh the skin to prepare it for the rest of your routine. If you have combination skin, try a gentle toner, like Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, which contains calendula extract and allantoin. This cult-classic toner (a Kiehl’s staple for more than 60 years!) helps soothe the skin after cleansing for a clean, refreshed feel. It’s formulated without alcohol, so it won’t strip or over-dry the skin, making it ideal for those who struggle with both oiliness and dryness.
Reach For a Radiance-Boosting Serum
Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: A healthy skin barrier is crucial for healthy-looking skin. To keep your barrier functioning properly, reach for a lightweight hydrating serum, like Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum. This effective formula stars 11kDa hyaluronic acid, an engineered form of hyaluronic acid that penetrates the skin’s deeper layers. It also boasts a blend of protective adaptogenic herbs, including red ginseng root. Together, these powerful ingredients help neutralize the effects of damaging external aggressors, like pollution and UV exposure.
With regular use, it’s clinically-demonstrated to double skin’s strength, minimize the appearance of fine lines, and improve skin texture.* Despite its potency, this unique formula is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. We recommend using it morning and night for more radiant, healthy-looking skin.
Nourish Skin With a Lightweight Facial Oil
Daily Reviving Concentrate
Another way to keep your skin barrier healthy and nourished is by incorporating antioxidants into your routine. If you have combination skin, we recommend doing this with a non-comedogenic facial oil, such as Daily Reviving Concentrate. This luxe face oil contains ginger root essential oil and sunflower oil to energize and revitalize your skin. The antioxidant-rich formula also helps defend your skin against the damaging effects of external stressors for a fresh, healthy-looking glow.
Kiehl’s Expert Tip: If you have oily or acne-prone areas, stick to lightweight, non-comedogenic facial oils to avoid any potential breakouts. Also, keep in mind that a little goes a long way: a few drops is more than enough for your entire face.
Don’t Forget The Delicate Eye Area
Avocado Eye Cream
The skin around your eyes is quite different from the skin on the rest of your face. It’s thinner, more delicate, and more likely to show signs of aging prematurely. As such, it’s vital to use products specifically formulated for this area, like the best-selling Avocado Eye Cream. This unique formula contains shea butter and avocado oil to hydrate and instantly improve the look of under-eye skin texture. It’s suitable for all skin types and clinically-demonstrated to de-puff the under-eye area for a brighter, more revived appearance.**
Kiehl’s Expert Tip: When using an eye cream or serum, don’t rub it in. Instead, use your ring finger to lightly pat the formula on to minimize pulling or stretching the delicate skin.
Hydrate Skin With a Lightweight Moisturizer
Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream
Moisturizing combination skin can be challenging since you need a formula rich enough to soothe dryness but lightweight enough not to weigh down oily areas. Try a gel moisturizer, like Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream, which contains concentrated calendula extract to soothe the skin with lasting, all-day hydration. With continued use, it helps diminish redness, reduce dullness, and even the skin tone for a fresh, radiant appearance.
If your skin feels especially dry or tight—or you simply want a bit of extra hydration—we recommend our #1 facial moisturizer, Ultra Facial Cream. This non-greasy formula stars olive-derived squalane and glacial glycoprotein to soften and smooth skin with 24-hour hydration. It’s formulated for all skin types and absorbs quickly for softer, visibly healthier skin.
Address Individual Concerns With a Mask (or Two)
Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask
Ideally, skincare for everyone—regardless of skin type—should address specific complexion concerns, like dryness or acne. Those with combination skin, however, have the unique challenge of tackling two conflicting concerns at once. That’s where multi-masking comes in.
As the name implies, multi-masking involves using different treatment masks on separate areas of the face to address those areas’ specific skincare needs. As such, it’s ideal for those with combination skin, who may have an oily t-zone and super-dry cheeks (for example).
To balance oily or acne-prone areas, we recommend Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask. This top-rated formula contains Amazonian white clay and aloe vera to draw out pore-clogging dirt, oil, and other impurities. It helps reduce skin’s surface oil production by 46.7%, which visibly minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores for a more refined appearance.***
For dry areas, reach for a moisturizing mask, like Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask. It’s formulated with avocado fruit extract and evening primrose oil to condition and nourish the skin. The creamy formula also helps seal in moisture to prevent future water loss for softer, more supple skin.
*Skin Strength Index: Composite average score of skin suppleness, plumpness, and resiliency. Based on a 4-week clinical study on 58 subjects tested in urban and polluted environments. **Results based upon expert grading evaluated with product in a 4-week clinical test. ***Based on results two hours after use vs. untreated skin.