A guide to caring for combination skin

Combination skin is essentially unbalanced, characterized by both oily and dry patches on the face. For this reason, it can be difficult to establish a skin care regimen that addresses the distinct needs of these two areas—it is important not to strip the drier parts of the face, and equally important to not overburden oily skin.

This article explores the characteristics and causes of combination skin, and recommended formulations to assist in achieving equilibrium.

Identifying combination skin

A fine balance

Combination skin blends characteristics of both oily and dry skin types. Oiliness typically presents on the T-zone (the forehead, nose and chin), or on the O-zone (around the mouth), while dryness is usually most noticeable across the cheeks and under the eyes.

Generally, those with combination skin tend slightly toward either combination/oily or combination/dry. The former occurs when the T-zone produces excess sebum, resulting in a shiny forehead, nose and chin; the latter manifests in a dry forehead and chin.

Common causes of combination skin

Genetics play a significant role in the characteristics and behavior of our skin, and combination skin is no different. It is also known that this skin type has a greater tendency to reactivity, rosacea, and breakouts: it is particularly sensitive to hormonal and climatic changes.

Combination skin is often associated with irritated or sensitive skin as increased sebum production—which presents as oiliness—can also lead to congestion and aggravation. With this in mind, formulations that work to simultaneously purify, decongest, and soothe can be particularly effective at balancing this skin type.

Beneficial ingredients for restoring balance

Where combination skin tends towards oiliness, we recommend using products containing ingredients that address overactive sebum production, helping to restore equilibrium to skin. Astringent ingredients (such as Witch Hazel, Eucalyptus Oil, and Green Tea extract) can help to reduce the appearance of larger, more open pores; while ingredients known for their purifying properties (including essential oils of Juniper Berry, Tea Tree Leaf, and Bitter Orange) can help to ease congestion. Ethyl alcohol—listed as ‘Alcohol Denat.’ on our product labels—dissolves excess sebum on the skin’s surface. Also known as Denatured Alcohol, it supports the cleansing process and contributes to the clean, matte finish of formulations containing this ingredient.

Suggested formulations for combination skin

Rather than applying separate products to different areas of the face, we advocate the use of formulations that address the complexity of combination skin, taking into account environmental considerations and textural preferences.

Combination skin with a tendency to oiliness

Cleansing combination skin involves removing excess sebum without disturbing the drier parts of the face, decongesting skin and restoring equilibrium.

In Two Minds Facial Cleanser is a gentle daily-use formulation developed specifically for the needs of combination skin. It contains Salicylic Acid to effect a mild chemical exfoliation, astringent Witch Hazel and a combination of essential oils selected for their known soothing, purifying, and hydrating properties.

Toning is essential for combination skin, helping to lift any remaining sebum and leave skin optimally prepared for hydration. Like its cleansing counterpart, In Two Minds Facial Toner has been formulated specifically for use on combination skin. The refreshing formulation contains alcohol to dissolve excess sebum on the skin’s surface, astringent Witch Hazel to cool and balance, and Salicylic Acid to effect mild chemical exfoliation, helping to clarify the skin. It is ideal for year-round use to address excessive sebum production; or for use in summer by those who experience an oilier T-zone in warmer periods.

To finish, we recommend moisturizers that balance combination skin without overburdening oilier parts of the face. Rapidly absorbed In Two Minds Facial Hydrator has a light, refined texture and matte finish, and was formulated specifically for the combination skin type. It combines a potent blend of botanical extracts renowned for their nourishing, soothing and purifying properties including Edelweiss, Andiroba Seed, Copaiba Seed, and Açaí, alongside gently astringent Witch Hazel.

Combination skin with a tendency to dryness

Where skin described as the combination type errs on the side of dryness or reactivity, care should be taken not to strip skin of its natural oils when cleansing.

Cleansing combination skin involves removing excess sebum without disturbing the drier parts of the face, decongesting skin and restoring equilibrium. Those with combination or oily skin often eschew oil-based products in the belief they are only suited to dry skin: a common misconception is that oil begets excess sebum. On the contrary, oil molecules bind to other oil molecules, meaning facial cleansing oils are particularly effective in lifting sebum, and often help to normalize its production. Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil forms a comforting emulsion upon contact with water to yield an exceptionally gentle cleanse, removing makeup and surface grime without perturbing skin.

In Two Minds Facial Toner contains Niacinamide and Chamomile Bud, each known for their calming properties; developed specifically for combination skin, it employs mildly astringent Witch Hazel to cool and balance skin. During the winter months, or where additional hydration is desired, B & Tea Balancing Toner offers an excellent alternative. The alcohol-free formulation imparts lightweight replenishment and anti-oxidant fortification.

In cooler climates, Mandarin Facial Hydrating Cream confers excellent hydration with nourishing extracts of Rosehip Seed and Carrot Root and a refreshingly aromatic blend of Lemon, Mandarin, and Tangerine Rind oils. And for those with combination-dry skin who prefer a lighter texture, Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum offers a lightweight alternative in a soothing base of Aloe Vera. It contains a complex blend of anti-oxidant rich botanical extracts to lend fortifying properties, and leaves skin feeling smooth, soft, and hydrated.

Deep cleansing

Regular deep cleansing (up to twice weekly) is recommended to address excess oil, decongest pores and restore balance to combination skin. Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque contains a combination of high-quality clays to gently draw impurities, balanced with conditioning botanical extracts to ensure skin is not stripped during the cleansing process. It is easily applied and rinses off completely in water, lifting sebum and grime. Tea Tree Leaf Facial Exfoliant is a powdered dry blend of finely milled Walnut Shell and ground Tea Tree leaves that effects a mechanical exfoliation and prepares the skin for subsequent toning and hydrating products. It is designed to be blended with an Aesop facial cleanser, gently buffing and polishing skin to leave it feeling smooth, refreshed, and thoroughly cleansed.

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‘With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson