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How should I moisturize my combination skin?


It's hard enough treating one skin type, but with combination skin, you have to appeal to opposite ends of the skin care spectrum. Your skin is oily in the infamous T-zone -- the forehead, nose and chin – but it's dry on the cheeks and jawline. Breakouts keep invading one part of your face, while flaky patches stubbornly cling to their own territory. That's why moisturizing combination skin can feel like refereeing a civil war. If you appease one side, will the other rise up in rebellion?

If your T-zone isn't too greasy and your dryness is minimal, you can probably get away with using one moisturizer on the entire face. Choose an oil-free, water-based lotion or gel, avoiding heavy creams with pore-clogging vegetable and mineral oils. For daytime, make sure your moisturizer has an SPF of 15 or higher, unless you plan to apply a separate sunscreen [source: Merola]. If your dryness worsens, which can often happen in the winter months, spot-treat it by dabbing a richer cream only on the parched areas after applying your lightweight formula [source: Flahive]. Some dermatologists even recommend budget-friendly petroleum jelly.

For those with extremely oily skin, enlarged pores and frequent breakouts on the forehead, nose and chin, you can leave those regions moisturizer-free. Treat them instead with acne products such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Depending on the level of dryness, apply a lightweight or heavier moisturizer to the rest of your face. There's a caveat to this two-pronged approach, however. Remember that your oily zones still need sun protection; so use an oil-free, noncomedogenic sunscreen during the day [source: Scott].

Some moisturizers are specially formulated for oily and acne-prone skin, containing pimple-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or retinol. While these products may seem like the obvious choice for combination skin, they may cause redness, flaking and peeling on your cheeks, jawline and other dry spots. [source: Hall-Geisler]. If you want to give one of these moisturizers a go, start using it slowly and sparingly, stopping at any signs of irritation. Alternatively, try applying it to your T-zone only, and stick with a less abrasive product for the rest of your face.

For more information on combination skin and moisturizing, check out the links on the next page.