A/B Hotline (Pt. 2) - Oily vs. Combination Skin

The skin is dynamic, it often feels like an ever evolving game with new rules popping out of nowhere with hard to pronounce 'it’ ingredients we all can’t possibly live without. As it was stated in dry skin vs dehydrated skin post, skin types are largely a result of genetics, you can thank your parents for the hand you were dealt, but there are also many external and internal factors that are in play.

Two skin types that seem to cause confusion when presented together are: oily and combination skin.

Let’s dive in in:


Oily skin is characterized by visibly large pores and an increase in sebum production, otherwise known as oil. It’s a common misconception that some people with oily skin assume they shouldn’t use moisturizers because it increases oil production —it doesn’t. It’s a fallacy to think that oily skin is self moisturizing when in reality the skin is trying to compensate for lack of moisture by over producing oil, causing a certain glazed look —remember we are aiming for inner glow, not replicating the sheen of a your favorite pastry.

For oily skin, it is advised to follow a simple routine by concentrating on using gentle cleansers with active ingredients such as salicylic acid that help to exfoliate the skin and create a nice clean canvas to layer other actives and moisturizers on top. Vitamin A is another exfoliating ingredient that is effective for cell turnover and oil production control, it can be paired with humectants to avoid irritation. And as stated many a time, diet plays a role, what goes into your body is reflected on your face. So cut down on dairy products and refined sugars as they can be inflammatory and trigger oil production.

Good news though, one perk to having oily skin is less wrinkles! There’s always a bright side, as it happens the key to everlasting youth is found in enlarged pores.


As the name suggests, people with combination skin have a mix of different skin types; for instance dry and oily skin on different areas of the face; kind of like a game of Tetris that’s changing according to external and internal factors like hormones and the weather. It is, unsurprisingly, one of the most common skin types. Those with combination skin usually experience oiliness around the T-zone: forehead, nose and chin. Pores around the nose are visibly larger than those found elsewhere.

Treating combination skin is a delicate balancing act. Much like how those with oily skin are recommended to use gentle exfoliating cleansers, those with combination skin will benefit too by simultaneously unclogging pores and exfoliating dry flaky skin.  Multi-masking is a fun way to target different concerns. Use clay masks like kaolin for the t-zone as it absorbs oils and opt for more hydrating or calming masks for surrounding dry areas. This is the one time where being two-faced is okay!

Remember to stay hydrated and to listen to your skin, it usually knows what it’s asking for.

About the Author
Nauf Alfahad is a Digital Editor at a leading publishing company with a background in Applied Linguistics. Her interests range a wide expanse driven by her need to understand the human condition, her appreciation for well curated aesthetics, and achieving that inner glow.  
For more on this beauty and brains, follow her at @riyadhblogs
illustration by the ever so talented @_frdesign