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Diagnosing Combination Skin

You might think that your skin is difficult to manage. It might struggle with too much oil or extreme sensitivity, but dealing with only one complexion personality might actually be a blessing in disguise. Spare a thought for those who have to deal with a contradictory complexion; one that exhibits both shine and dehydration, pimples and fine lines.

Combination skin is incredibly common, but most experts and brands dedicate most of their time to demystifying the more well-known skin types such as oily, dry and sensitive, leaving people unsure as to whether their skin actually falls into the combination skin category or not.

How to Spot the Signs

The best way to determine whether you have combination skin is to cleanse it with a basic, gentle cleanser. After rinsing any remaining residue away, wait for around 20 minutes and take a good look at your skin in the mirror. What you see will determine whether your skin can be classed as combination or not.

Combination skin is just that; skin that includes a combination of oily and dry areas. Most commonly, the T-Zone (that’s the forehead, nose and sometimes the chin) will be shiny or greasy, and have more noticeable or open pores. The rest of the face will likely feel tight and look dull, with dry or flaky skin in more extreme cases.

You may also notice that your skin reacts very unpredictably to changes in your diet or the environment, and you probably also struggle with treating both breakouts and fine lines at the same time. Oh, the joy.

How to Pinpoint the Cause

Like most skin types, combination skin tends to be caused by one of two things; your genes or your lifestyle. While you can do nothing drastic about the skin you inherit, the way you treat it – especially in your teenage years – can have a significant effect on its condition later on. For example, using products that are too strong or formulated with a heavy alcohol base can strip the skin and leave it unsure how to react; producing sebum in some areas and struggling to stay hydrated in others.

How to Manage the Condition

Nobody wants (or can afford) to have two lots of products for every step in their routine, so the best way to manage combination skin is to make balance the focus of your morning and evening regimes. That means avoiding products that are heavily weighted towards oiliness or dryness. Those products aimed at curbing sebum production will strip already parched areas of the face and formulas designed to quench sahara-esque skin will block the pores and overwhelm greasy areas.

Invest in a daily supplement that helps to balance and hydrate the skin from the inside out, such as the Rejuvenated H3O Night Repair. This overnight supplement combines Hyaluronic Acid with antioxidants to better nourish the skin without adding layers of grease to the surface.

Any cleanser or toner you use will need to be ultra-mild in formula in order to satiate both sides of your complexion. The Skyn ICELAND Glacial Face Wash lightly foams on the skin, to release trapped dirt and dead cells without drying out the skin, and contains soothing extracts to minimise imbalance. If you must use a toner, opt for the Phytomer Oligomarine Flawless Skin Tonic which is specifically designed for combination skin. It uses balancing minerals, Witch Hazel and Vitamin B3 to refresh and strengthen the skin without making it sore or tight.

For days or weeks when your skin is acting particularly out of sorts, embrace the multi-masking trend – which is basically a dream technique for combination skin types. It involves using different mask formulations in different areas of the face, to address the skin’s unique needs. Try a decongesting clay mask on your T-Zone (like the DCL New World Collection Detoxifying Clay Mask) and a hydrating cream mask on your cheeks. The Avène Soothing Moisture Mask is ideal as it stays in place and won’t run or move about on your face, so you can avoid any mask confusion.

Finally, get clever when it comes to moisturiser. You need a product that is hydrating enough to soften the driest patches of your complexion, in a texture that isn’t heavy or pore-clogging for the oilier areas. For basic, fuss-free hydration and pore-refining benefits in one pot, try the SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture. For something a little more corrective, opt for the Epionce Renewal Facial Lotion which combines barrier-repairing Ceramides with hydrating Hyaluronic Acid in a light, easily absorbed formula.

Image from iStockphoto

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