Combination skin is characterised by an oily T-zone (nose, forehead and chin)—enlarged pores, shininess, blackheads and breakouts are also common in these areas—with normal or dry cheeks and under eyes.
Multiple concerns can complicate things. How are you supposed to target an array of issues at the same time? When it comes to taking care of combination skin, balance is the name of the game. That means multi-tasking topicals with botanicals that reduce bacteria on your T-zone, while simultaneously moisturising drier areas. And because the old adage “you are what you eat” has proven true time and time again, we’ve included some easy-to-follow diet tips.
Consider this your comprehensive guide to treating combination skin.
Stage 1: Week 1 - 3
The first step is getting pores, oil, blackheads and blemishes under control. We handpicked a dream team of multi-tasking products to target a combination (get it?) or complexion woes.
- Unclog pores: Cleansing is an essential step in the AM and PM. But not just any face wash will do. You might find that many of those that target acne are great for your T-zone but too drying for the rest of your visage. The solution? A mild emulsion that purifies but doesn’t strip skin. Our No.1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk contains salicylic acid to unclog pores and balance sebum. Coconut oil does double duty hydrating and regulating oil production, while fruit extracts even pigmentation and combat eruptions.
- Reduce surface oil and bacteria: Over the years, toner has gotten a bad rap. And that’s because, in the past, it was alcohol-based and notoriously drying. But nowadays botanical-driven formulas are offering a skin-friendly update on this staple. Our No.2 Citrus Rhapsody Toner Mist harnesses the powerful astringent properties of may chang to remove excess oil, refine pores and expel acne-causing bacteria. Coupled with stress-relieving calendula and fig, it leaves skin fresh and radiant.
- Soothe and repair: Acne is an inflammatory condition. Thus soothing products are imperative. Our & Soothe Me Balm combines the calming benefits of chamomile and cucumber with the antimicrobial abilities of calendula and echinacea. Antioxidant-rich cranberry and white tea enhance repair, while aloe vera provides oil-free hydration.
Stage 2: Week 4+
Now is the time to rev up your oil-control efforts and incorporate hydrating and nourishing products into your routine.
- Hydrate: Skipping moisturiser is a major no-no. When skin is dry, it overproduces oil to compensate. Your best bet? Use a lightweight formula like our No.4 Vanilla Silk Lotion—a blend of camellia seed oil, cocoa and shea butter moisturises without clogging pores. For an extra hit of hydration, try our No.3 Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum. Hyaluronic acid surges water deep into the skin, kakadu plum quells inflammation, acerola lends antimicrobial support and edelweiss protects against UV damage.
- Balance sebum: An overnight mask is an essential in your oil-combatting toolkit. Our & Sleeping Beauty Purifying Mousse leverages Australian pink clay and volcanic zeolite to purify, decongest pores and banish breakouts. It also contains avocado oil, which is clinically shown to stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT (one of the hormones responsible for overactive sebaceous glands), reducing an oily T-zone by 70% in two weeks.
- Nourish: Regular exfoliation keeps pores clear of grime. While many products can be harsh—stripping natural oils and causing further irritation—our & Desert Lime Micro-Exfoliant is a kind-to-your-face polish that gently sloughs away dead skin cells and promotes epidermal turnover with rice enzymes, while ginkgo biloba boosts circulation and wattleseed refines pores. Cocoa butter, coconut and camellia seed oil impart a triple dose of nourishment.
Ingredients to Avoid
Sadly, in many cases, the products we use to combat our skin concerns can be the very cause of them. These are the topical ingredients combination complexions should avoid:
- Sodium laureth sulfate: Sodium laureth sulfate (commonly added to face wash to make it foam) is what gives skin that squeaky clean feeling. Unfortunately, it strips skin of its natural oils, causing overproduction of sebum, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
- Synthetic fragrances: Synthetic fragrances are a major source of irritation for most skin types and are shown to trigger redness and inflammation.
- Mineral oil: Mineral oil is known to clog pores. It sits on top of the skin, creating a film that traps acne-causing dirt and bacteria beneath.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is an active ingredient in everything from cleansers and makeup removing wipes to acne treatments. The problem is that it's exceptionally drying and irritating. It breaks down skin's natural protective barrier and can actually exacerbate blemishes.
- Silicones: Silicones—found in many mattifying or smoothing products (e.g., primers, cosmetics and moisturisers)—can cause congestion and clogged pores.
- Preservatives: The types of preservatives found in most beauty formulas, including parabens, ethylhexanol and even those claiming to be natural, are among the most common irritants. Instead, we use sodium anisate (derived from aniseed) and sodium levulinate (a cellulose starch) to keep our products stable.
Complexion woes are never just skin deep. Topicals alone won’t fix the problem. What you eat plays a major role in establishing harmony from the inside, out.
- Eliminate refined sugar: Refined sugar (agave, corn syrup, cookies and muffins to name a few) causes insulin levels to spike. This raises testosterone, which then converts to DHT, increasing sebum production. Keep blood sugar levels stable by sticking to a low-glycaemic diet. Alcohol, dairy and fried foods have a similar (negative) effect—so best to avoid.
- Balance hormones: Regulating hormones is an important factor in controlling sebum. Good news: It’s as simple as sipping a few cups of No.4 Golden Glow Tea with hormone-regulating licorice and red clover, plus cleansing burdock and cleavers. When it comes to your diet, fill up on high-nutrient foods like bee pollen, cod liver oil, maca and kale.
- Stock up on fibre: A happy gut begets a clear complexion. Fibre is crucial for healthy digestive function, thus it’s critical for combating acne. Get your fix by making lentils, almonds and flaxseed part of your daily diet.
- Care for your liver: The liver is a detoxifying powerhouse that supports skin health. To make sure this vital organ is running at peak performance, consider our No. 1 Green Goddess Detox Tea. This herbal tisane enhances liver function with milk thistle, schizandra and dandelion root.