The 10 Best Moisturizers for Combination Skin, According to Dermatologists
Beauty retailers and pharmacy shelves alike are filled with products touted for dry and oily skin. But what do you do when your cheeks are dry and flaky, but your nose and T-zone has erupted into a fresh crop of pimples with oily skin to boot?
This is known as combination skin, and while it's very common, it can be a challenge to care for, dermatologists say. Just as its name implies, combination skin doesn't fit into any of the main categories of dry skin, sensitive skin, or oily skin—but rather, it's a combination of all skin types.
"People with combination skin have a hard time figuring out what's happening with their skin because they are sensing a little bit of everything," Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, tells Health. That might mean you have dehydrated, sensitive skin on certain areas of your face, while other parts are extra oily. Or, your skin may shift from dry to oily, and vice versa, as the seasons or other environmental conditions change.
"Skin responds to outside weather, temperature, humidity, pollution, and external stimuli," says Omer Ibrahim, MD, Co-Director of Research at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. "So the fact that most people juggle a constantly changing skin type in response to the outside world is not surprising."
What causes combination skin?
Generally, younger people are more prone to combination skin, possibly because they're more likely to use different products, Dr. Nazarian says. Occasionally, women going through hormonal changes because of starting or stopping birth control—or due to menopause—may encounter this skin type as well.
It's also often the result of misusing or overusing products with ingredients that aren't right for your skin, says Dr. Nazarian. This can result in a variety of issues—like an imbalance in the pH of your skin, clogged pores, and the stripping of natural oils that result in dryness—happening simultaneously. For this reason, keeping skin adequately moisturized is super important for combination skin (and yes, that includes the acne-prone areas as well as the dry parts).
The good news? While finding the right moisturizer for this skin type can be a challenge, it's certainly not impossible. A good rule of thumb is to go with a lightweight lotion that's non-comedogenic (read: won't clog pores) if your skin is feeling extra oily, or with a cream if your skin is more dry than usual. "In general, creams are a good middle of the road," Dr. Ibrahim adds. And once you find the right happy-medium treatments that work for you and your skin, developing a regular routine can keep the fluctuating textures at bay.
Below, we outlined 10 dermatologist-recommended moisturizers for combination skin. From gels and creams to overnight treatments across a variety of price points, these are the best options to soothe dry, irritated skin and prevent breakouts simultaneously.
- Best Drugstore Option: CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion
- Best Repairing: Elta MD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Lite Lotion
- Best Overnight Lotion: Inkey List Ceramide Night Treatment
- Most Gentle: Oxygenetix Oxygenating Moisturizer
- Most Lightweight: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel
- Best with Sunscreen: Neutrogena Healthy Defense Moisturizer with SPF 50
- Best with Salicylic Acid: Bioderma Hydrabio Gel Cream
- Best Anti-Aging: Skinfix Triple Lipid Peptide Cream
- Best Splurge: Tatcha The Water Cream
Read on to learn more about each of these expert-recommended picks, plus why they could be just what your skin needs to stay balanced.
Sign up for our Health Shopping newsletter to get your daily dose of retail therapy with great deals handpicked by our editors — straight to your inbox