Caring for Combination Skin

My skin is normal, but nowadays it feels sticky, and at times it's very dry….
My skin feels dry after I wash my face, but after I apply sunscreen it becomes oily…
My skin just does not feel fresh in summers. Its either dehydrated or oily or at times both
My cheeks are dry, but my forehead shines like anything…

Sounds familiar? That's combination skin for you! And did you know that the weather (e.g. an intense summer) can leave your skin with alternating moments of oily, dehydrated, itchy sensations – making it a combination skin type? There could also be other reasons as well as to why your face skin would reveal a combination of skin types – these range from hormonal imbalances to pollution in the air to plain stress or even passive smoking.

As complicated as it may sound, it's not that complicated to take care of your combination skin. Remember these 4 basics of combination skin care:

  1. Always cleanse mildly without over-stripping your skin of its essentials

  2. Always be measured in your moisturising, apply only just what is required

  3. Never step out into the sun without protection.

  4. Stay away from irritants, strong fragrances and harmful ingredients such as SLS, parabens and phthalates (more on this later)

To make things practical, let's break it down to a daily CTMP routine that you can follow easily!

Cleansing (C)

Always start your routine with mild yet effective cleansing. It is better to go for a daily exfoliating face wash than a once-in-two-months parlor based deep cleansing. Let’s not forget we live in a humid climate with pollution. Just as our body needs daily cleansing, our face too needs daily cleansing. If possible, use a mild cleanser with a good dash of vitamins and anti-oxidants.

And remember, your daily mild cleanser should always avoid harmful ingredients such as

  1. SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)- a commonly used surfactant that creates lather in shampoos, toothpastes etc. but irritates the skin - read about SLS here

  2. Parabens –widely used preservatives in personal care products but in the grey zone of safety. Read about parabens here.

  3. Phthalates-widely used plasticizer in products such as nail polish, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes etc. with somewhat scary side effects. Catch the dope on phthalates here.

The "right" way to use a face wash:

1. Wet your face with water.
2. Squeeze out a coin-sized amount of face wash on your palm.
3. Gently rub on your face, for a few seconds. If the face wash has scrub particles, apply light pressure while using it.

4. Gently rinse away with water and pat dry with soft towel (don't scrub your face with the towel!)

Usage timing and frequency:

Use it twice (or thrice) a day, in morning and before going to bed. Remember never go to bed angry or with an unclean face  

Toning (T):

Some of you might be thinking, “Toner! Why isn’t that only for oily, acne–prone skin?”

But is that all there is to toners? Not really!

First of all as the temperatures increase, people with combination skin are prone to acne break outs, especially in cities high on pollution. A good toner not only unclogs and shrinks pores, but also hydrates your facial skin and makes it look fresh and youthful due its active anti-oxidant ingredients. However, you must watch out that all toners are not suitable for combination skin. An ideal toner for a combination skin comprises natural astringent (such as Green Tea or Witch Hazel), AHAs and avoids alcohol (as it dries the skin).

The simple way to use a toner:

1. Pour out a little quantity on your palm and splash it on your face. Alternatively moisten a cotton ball with the Alcohol-Free Toner, and dab it softly in small circles across your face.

2. Give special attention to T-Zone, forehead, nose and chin areas.

3. Let the toner air dry, don't hurry to wipe it off.

Usage timing and frequency:

Use twice a day, in morning and before going to bed, post cleansing.

Moisturization with Protection (MP):

Moisturization is vital for your facial skin to maintain skin equilibrium and to keep wrinkles at bay. And protection from sun is utmost important for youthful, clear skin. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures how well the sunscreen content of your cream or lotion protects your skin from harmful UVB rays of the sun. SPF 15-30 is normally recommended by dermatologists in Indian conditions. Anything more than SPF 30 is overkill, unless you are hiking, swimming or the like. Catch our detailed post on sun protection here

How to use a moisturizer
  1. Dot your face with the moisturizer with SPF. One dot each on forehead, both cheeks, nose and chin. That’s 5 dots totally. 

  2. Now gently massage it into skin using finger-tips, with upward-outward small circular motion

  3. Don’t forget neck and arms!

  4. Also reapply after 3-4 hours

  5. Please apply sunscreen at least 10 mins before you step out in sun, it allows the sunscreen to absorb into the skin and set, and hence ensures its effectiveness.

Usage timing and frequency:

Use 1-2 times during day time. If you are nearing or over 30, it's best to complement your day protection with a night cream.

Weekly Regime:

That was your Daily Regime, but once in a week your skin needs deep cleansing and hydration, and a little bit more time than your usual rushed 5 minutes. Pamper your skin at least once a week. For brighter, fresher, younger looking skin it is best to deep clean, exfoliate and nourish your skin with a face mask once a week.

How to get best results from a face mask
  1. First of all, cleanse your face with a good face wash, with special focus on forehead and chin area

  2. Gently apply a thin layer of face pack over all areas of the face, avoiding eyes and lips area. Wait for about 15 minutes or until the mask dries completely.

  3. Wash off with plain water. Do not scrub face with towel, gently pat it dry.

  4. Gently hydrate your skin with a moisturizer or lotion to seal in the goodness ingredients.

Usage timing and frequency:

Use once a week

All of this might sound like a lot to do, but once you build your skin care regime into a daily routine, it's as "everyday" as brushing your teeth! Your skin is an integral part of your body. Just as it is important to eat properly every day to maintain good health, you need to regularly nourish and take care of your skin in order to maintain a glowing, healthy and youthful look. Stay good, be good!

Related posts

A step-by-step guide to care for oily skin
5 at-home skin care tricks for the weekend
Which is the right toner for you?

Related products

Full face care kit for combi skin
Grape Seed & Sea Buckthorn Mild Foam Scrub
Green Tea Alcohol-Free Toner
Hello Aloe Ultra-Lite Day Lotion SPF20
Grape Seed & Sea Buckthorn Renaissance Face Mask

About Plum

Plum GoodnessInspired by global best practices in safe natural cosmetics and beauty solutions, Plum is an exclusive, online-only beauty brand. At Plum, we bring together science and product expertise in a harmonious blend. And we give back to nature as much as we take. Designed in London and in the EU, all Plum products are 100% vegan and free of Parabens, DEP, DBP, Propylene Glycol, SLS, PABA, DEA and other harmful chemicals. Plum is available directly from Click here to explore our product range.


3 On-site Comments

October 23, 2015

Thank you very much! that was very helpful!


July 01, 2015

Bookmarked!! Great article:)


April 19, 2015

I can exactly relate to those problems stated at the beginning. Have combination skin is a curse for me. Specially when summer starts :( Thank you so much for these tips. My skin is begging to taken care of and without knowing what it wants properly, I was so lost. So thanks again. I would make sure to incorporate these in my daily regime and look forward for great results.

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