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Do you have Combination or Oily Skin

Understand the Difference Between Combination and Oily Skin

Are you finding that your T-zone calls for midday touch-ups?

Or maybe blotting papers have become a beauty staple in your skincare routine?

Then you could be forgiven for thinking your skin is oily, but chances are, it may be combination.

Knowing your skin type is really important when it comes to product selection.

So let’s take a deeper look at the difference between these similar skin types, to determine which camp your fickle skin falls in.

Skin conditions associated with skin types

Of all the bothersome skin types, a combination and oily skin are the trickiest to treat, simply because of all the different conditions.

  • breakouts; pimples, pustules and papules
  • whiteheads and blackheads
  • areas of sensitivity
  • visibly large pores
  • dry patches
  • acne

Breakouts are associated with both an oily and combination skin type.

Whilst it may be hard to resist the urge to squeeze pimples, bacteria transferred from your fingers can cause new outbreaks to appear. And, if that’s not enough, your skin can start to overproduce more oil, and you’ll be left with excessively oily skin; squeezing is a big “no!” in our book.

You may also end up with a condition known as post-inflammatory inflammation, which is extremely difficult to reverse.

What is the difference between the two skin types?

Oily skin

This is often thick and sallow in appearance and can appear quite shiny. This tends to build up throughout the day due to the overactive sebaceous glands that excrete sebum onto your skin’s surface.

If a large amount of sebum flows through the follicles, it appears as large pores which are almost impossible to treat. Acne and breakouts are also associated with this skin type.

Dehydration can make your skin appear more oily. As can hormonal changes, cosmetics, genetics, diet, or certain medicines.

Combination skin

This means two or more skin issues are occurring at the same time. Signs such as large pores, shiny skin, and blackheads are indicative of combination skin.

The central panel – the nose, chin, and forehead – often referred to as the T Zone, contains more sebaceous glands than any other face areas, and the cheeks tend to be a lot drier and even flakier in areas.

Combination skin is quite technical when it comes to treating it correctly, so much so, we have put together an entire article on the subject, which does a great job of getting to grips with this skin type.

So to recap

A quick synopsis on the difference between an oily and combination skin:

  • more oil-producing glands are in the central facial zone, so those with combination skin are more oily in this area but drier in others
  • those with truly oily skin are oily all over their face, and another sure-fire way to tell if your skin is oily is if your skin is prone to breakouts

Why does your skin have varying degrees of oiliness?

Age, genetics, hormones, the environment, and even the type of skincare products you use can determine how oily your skin is.

If you’re a teenager, chances are that you will have encountered one or two troublesome breakouts at some point. This is because, during adolescence, shifts in hormone patterns increase the flow of oil from your sebaceous glands.

The great news is that by the time you reach your mid-twenties, your hormones will start to settle down.


If this information is a little overwhelming, and it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel, there is some good news on the horizon. All that lovely excess sebum keeps your skin soft and supple, helping to delay any signs of premature ageing.

This means that fortunately, you will stay looking younger for longer and be less prone to wrinkles.

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