Oily/ Dry/ Combination- What’s your damage?


High school- Terribly oily skin that constantly needed to be blotted away. The worst part is, it showed up in EVERY picture I took. Photoshop shine be gone anyone? NEXT. College- Embarrassing acne infested skin, very obviously covered in heavy foundation which only caused MORE oil production. Sure I could get a date every now and then but actually secure a boyfriend? I blame thee- oily acne skin. NEXT! Post College Years– 1 word: Accutane. Overly dry skin with chapped lips that bled. Whoever knew my lips could hurt this much? That and Accutane caused the worst cystic acne of my life. Unfortunately for me, the pixie cut wasn’t hiding anything. Ugh. Next please. Now- Combination skin, you’re not too bad and I’m doing alright. I look pretty great if I say so myself. But dear, you’re way too high maintenance trying to please both dry and oily. Do  I ever get a break?

If there’s anyone who’s been through a stage of having each skin type, it’s me. Needless to say, I understand the hassles that come with each skin type.

Dry Skin

Medically know as Xerosis- dry skin can be itchy, red, flaking, peeling, and cracking followed by bleeding. Luckily for many of us, it’s shouldn’t be an issue until our 40s. So then why are some of us dealing with it now? Well, normal skin is coated by a thin layer of lipids and fatty acids to keep it moisturized. If your skin is dry, it’s usually caused by something in your environment that is stripping away these protective oils. Dry weather, air conditioning, harsh soaps, hard water, hot showers, or simply improperly moisturizing can be contributing to this skin type. That or- you could be taking medication that causes dry skin (severely cracking and bleeding lips was no fun while I was on Accutane).

When dry skin is not cared for, it can lead to dermatitis, eczema, cellulitis, skin discoloration, or infections. So let’s look at how to treat and prevent it:

  1. Look out for fragrance and alcohols in your products. “Fragrance free” is not the same as unscented (which can still have perfumes).
  2. Do not use anything abrasive on your skin, rather something that effectively retains moisture. Remember- skin must be damp when you moisturize so moisture actually traps into your skin. I’ve noticed results are always optimum after my pores have been opened up by a little steam.
  3. Choose short lukewarm showers to avoid washing away natural oils (I love my hot showers so I know this is a hard one).
  4. Wash with filtered water over hard water as hard water leaves a film of harmful minerals on your skin.
  5. If you can, splurge on a humidifier during dry weather.
  6. And if possible consult your doctor to reduce medication that dries out skin.
Argan Oil and Raw Honey

Argan Oil and Raw Honey are great at trapping moisture into your skin.

Unfortunately if these solutions do not work for you, other possible causes are malnutrition, diabetes, psoriasis, and hypothyroidism. And if it’s simply genetics, make sure you are diligently using a proper moisturizer (i.e oils that contain fatty acids).

Oily Skin

Known as Seborrhea- it means your skin is overproducing sebum. So first, let’s go over what sebum does- it protects the skin’s surface by keeping it moisturized. Vitamin E, fatty acids, and triglycerides (partially making up sebum) are all contributors to this. So on the positive side, oily skin combats aging (who knew there was a positive side to oily skin?). But on the negative, oily skin results in enlarged pores, blemishes and blackheads (ay yai yai, that’s why you’re here). With that said, many factors influence sebum production- genetics, hormones, stress, diet, and climate. But really aside from genetics, the two main contributors are hormones and dehydration.


During your menstrual period, pregnancy, or menopause, hormonal imbalances may upset and increase the activity of sebaceous glands with increased androgens– a reproductive hormone. Also, sleep deprivation and stress may create insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is linked to IGF-1, another hormone that may increase sebum production. Fortunately for you, we’ll look into ways to reduce stress. But if you haven’t already, check out my previous article on how to beat bad stress habits for starters. Even stress hormone cortisol, causes oil buildup. And if you thought foods had no impact on your hormones, think again. Sugar, refined carbohydrates and dairy may also lead to overactive sebum production. Specifically dairy as it rises the levels of testosterone and progesterone. Check out my article on circulation as circulation helps balance hormones.


If you aren’t well hydrated, your skin will literally freak out. Birth control, hormone replacements, or medication that cause dehydration will cause the skin to overcompensate for what it lacks-thereby producing excess oil. Dry and cold weather also cause skin to dehydrate. And sun bathing in particular can trigger an injury response- causing the sebaceous glands to overproduce oil in order to protect the skin’s surface.

So what to look out for in products:

Avoid products that contain fragrance or ingredients that are “comedogenic“. Harsh soaps, over drying, over cleansing, over exfoliating, scrubbing with too much pressure, and applying too much product are all HUGE NO NO’s. They will only exacerbate the issue and cause skin irritation. Even certain anti-acne ingredients can prevent your skin from producing the right amount of oil. So don’t be afraid to moisturize, and as always I’ll recommend my favorite moisturizer- Argan Oil.

Combination Skin

Usually looks like dry skin in some areas while oily in others (the T zone). That- or you experience facial dryness in the winter and oiliness in the summer. The pores on your nose may be large while small on your cheeks and jawline. You may even get breakouts and dry patches at the same time. So to be honest, the proper care for this skin type is literally a combination of the two types above. This includes:

Fish Oil and Almonds

Consuming Fish Oil and Nuts are an easy way to get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Moisturizing internally by eating foods high in fatty acids (salmon, nuts, etc) and externally using products that contain them (*cough* Argan Oil *cough*).
  2. Don’t use pore clogging products like petroleum based moisturizers and anything comedogenic.
  3. Choose fragrance free products that don’t strip natural oils.
  4. Avoid sulfates, alcohol and harsh soaps so as not to overdraw skin and cause oiliness.
  5. Gently exfoliate without using anything abrasive to rid your skin of dead cells while not over drying it.
  6. And relieve stress- the culprit to many of our skin problems.

Achieving beautiful skin is simple and the skincare you use should reflect such. Lookout for my Star Ingredients in future blog posts as most of them (if not all) will actually benefit every skin type. What are your favorite products to use for your skin type?

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