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a guide to dry, oily, and combination skin

Different skin types can present their own challenges, so caring for your skin properly starts with knowing what type it is. Here is a quick guide if you suspect you may have dry, oily or combination skin, so that you can find a skin care routine that’s best suited to your specific needs.


1. Dry skin

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: People with dry skin tend to have almost invisible pores and a complexion that can look dull and rough. You might also have reddish patches on your skin and have a tendency to show lines and wrinkles(1).


WHAT TO DO: If you have dry skin, wash twice a day with a gentle cleanser or creamy cleansing wash like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Avoid taking baths that are too long or with the water too hot, as this can dry out your skin even more.


Applying a moisturizer just after cleansing will help to soothe skin and minimize the visible lines(2). Be sure to use the moisturizer while your skin is still damp, as this will help lock in moisture(3). And as your skin is the type that’s extra-thirsty, don’t be scared to apply moisturizer several times a day.


The ideal moisturizing cream for dry skin should contain ingredients such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid(4), which help the skin retain more water. And remember that, for dry skin, exfoliating once a week should be enough, making sure to use a gentle exfoliator with skin conditioners. 

2. Oily skin

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: Oily skin shows enlarged pores and a shiny complexion. All of this is caused by excess levels of sebum (the substance that lubricates and waterproofs our skin)(5).

WHAT TO DO: If you have oily skin, you might be tempted to wash your face more often to remove the excess oil and dirt. However, it’s important to still limit cleansing to no more than twice a day; washing too much can actually lead to even more oil production. You may want to try a foaming cleanser like Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash that’s specially formulated for oily skin.

As for exfoliation, this removes dead skin cells, leaves skin looking brighter and, in the long-term, can even promote increased collagen production. People with oily skin can benefit from more frequent exfoliation (as often as once a day, provided you use a gentle scrub)(6).

Apply a light moisturizer once a day, and choose one that’s optimized for oily skin. The best moisturizer for this type of skin is one that’s light, easily absorbed and reduces oil and shine, such as Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30. And when choosing any skincare products for oily skin, be sure to choose one that is labeled non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores(7).

Aside from moisturizer, use sunscreen regularly and throughout the year as this helps to prevent UV damage.

3. Combination skin

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: If you have combination skin, there’s a good chance that your skin has a little bit of both dryness and oiliness. For example, you might find that your forehead, nose or chin (the area known as the T-zone) might be oily, but your cheeks are dry. This can make it bewildering to know which products to use to get the best results for combination skin


WHAT TO DO: The best step is to use a gentle cleanser, like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and stick with a moisturizer with oil-free hydrators such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Different parts of your face may need slightly different kinds of care (e.g. more frequent moisturization in dry areas, using light moisturizers in oily areas)(8), so it’s best to observe how your skin reacts and stick with the routine that works best for you.