Considering the gazillions that are poured into skincare R&D, it absolutely blows our minds that so little is done to tackle the challenges of combination skin. If the applicants to become testers for our Beauty Bible books (enlisted via www.beautybible.com) are anything to go by, around 45% of the population is experiencing some level of combination skin – quite as many as ‘dry’ types. (There are precious few ‘normals’ among our readers, we can tell you.) What’s more, some of those women categorise themselves as ‘combination/sensitive’ – adding another skin challenge to the list.
Admittedly, combination skin is a tough nut to crack: you’re dealing often with two ends of the spectrum – dry cheeks, and an oily, shine-prone T-zone. Many sufferers also have occasional breakouts in that oily zone, along with open pores. Now, few of us want either the expense or the faff of having two skincare regimes on the go – but to be honest, that’s almost what it boils down to, to deal with this dual problem. If you just stick to products designed for breakouts/oiliness, they’ll almost certainly lead to dry, flaky skin, tightness – and plenty of frustration. And if you gaily slather a facial oil or rich cream over the oily bits, you end up having to deal with lots of shine, and make-up that simply won’t stay put in the affected areas – it almost ‘slides’ off the face…
Here, though, is what we’ve come to believe is most effective as a combination skin strategy…
If you’re choosing an anti-ageing product, go for a serum. When we dispatch products to a team of combination-skinned testers for Beauty Bible, they don’t get a ‘miracle cream’; they get a serum. The good news about serums is that they pack quite a punch, active ingredient-wise – so potentially, they can deliver impressive results. Apply all over, and then add a touch of moisturiser to the drier zones – but that’s your anti-ageing treatment, taken care of. One serum which has scored particularly well with testers is Sarah Chapman London Skinesis Age-Repair Serum, £47 for 30 ml, notching up comments including ‘Really a wow product: you only need a small amount for a great difference in the texture of the skin, which really did appear softer, brighter and more rested’, and ‘definitely reduced marionette lines near nose and mouth – am definitely buying; I look as if I’ve had a good holiday’. A a personal favourite of our is Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Revitalise & Glow Serum, £46 for 30 ml, which also scored incredibly highly in our recent book The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible.
Choose a cleanser that suits all skintypes. Without wanting to sound like we’re running a Sarah Chapman fan club here, you absolutely need to know about her Skinesis Rapid Radiance Cleanse, £29 for 100 ml: this is clay-based, and can be used for cleansing (although we do recommend removing eye make-up first), or as a mask you leave on. Completely brilliant, and not like anything out there. Another innovative product (um, it’s from Innovative Skincare, and this definitely lives up to the brand name!) is Warming Honey Cleanser, £34 for 120 ml, which really feels soothing on the skin, features antibacterial honey to help control acne breakouts, and works tor reduce pore size, too.
Don’t use a skin-stripping toner. The temptation with combination skin is to try to blitz the oil with alcohol-based toners. Big mistake. Those oil glands just whirr into overdrive, and shine comes back even faster. If you cleanse properly, toner is completely superfluous to requirements anyway.
Avoid over-using powder. You don’t want to be layering lots and lots of powder onto the shiny area, or it will go all cloggy. (Technical term, cloggy!) We prefer ‘blotting sheets’, which lift oil off the complexion.
If you do apply powder, use a narrow brush. Not the classic big and fluffy face brush traditionally usually used for powder, but something really not much wider than a large eyeshadow brush. This enables you to target just the shiny bits with powder, rather than getting it all over the drier cheek zones. Always tap hard after you’ve dipped it in powder, to remove excess.
And yes, use two masks. If you like a mask – and we’re all for anything which commands us to lie back and relax for 10-20 minutes while it gets to work – then you’ll probably have to a more clay-based mask on the T-zone, and creamier on the rest of the face. You could try Yes to Cucumbers Calming Facial Mask, £11.99 for 48g, on the centre panel of the face, and smooth Temple Spa Quench Rejuvenating Face Mask, £22 for 65 ml, on the rest of the face. This might seem expensive – but remember, you’re only using half the usual quantity on each zone of the face, so it balances out (hopefully literally), in the long run.
If only there were more like it around. Beauty CEOs, are you looking at VH right now? Hope so. Because trust us: millions of combination-skinned women are being ignored!