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The good news is that you don't need a million products to wash combination skin. "A gentle gel-based or mild-foaming cleanser works best since it will help prevent irritation and sooth dryness," says Jody Levine, M.D., clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Pre-soaped towelettes are also a good option since they are usually gentle and appropriate for both dry and oily skin. Avoid bar soaps, which can clog pores and often contain ingredients that are very drying and irritating. When washing your face, always use lukewarm (not hot) water and pat your face dry with a towel instead of rubbing.
Using a gentle cleanser is just the first step in caring for combination skin. "You may need to treat different parts of the face with different products depending on each area's needs," says Levine. For example, a thicker moisturizer may be applied to the drier areas, while toner should only be used on oily areas. If you like to use an all-over, everyday moisturizer, stick to one that's oil-free. "Look for the hydrating ingredient dimethicone, which can not only can add moisture to dry areas, but also can help absorb oil in the T-zone," says Zeichner.
Another ingredient to look for in your products is beta hydroxy acid. "It's great for combination skin because it exfoliates, reduces pore size and aids in killing bacteria that leads to acne," says Levine. And make sure the label says the product is "noncomedogenic," which means it won't clog pores.
- Fusco, Francesca, M.D. Personal correspondence.
- Zeichner, Joshua, M.D. Personal correspondence.
- Levine, Jody, M.D. Personal correspondence.