Combination Skin: What To Look For In Skincare?

If you are a skincare newbie, you might feel a little overwhelmed at the store trying to choose skincare that best suits you. To get you started, here is a quick crash-course on what combination skin is.

A row of skincare products
So many products, but which is suitable for you?
Image by Brandless from Unsplash

What Is Combination Skin?

If you have oily skin in your T-zone (the area around your nose, chin, and forehead) but your cheeks are drier than the Sahara, you have combination skin. Like me, we have lost the genetic lottery – big time. Not to mention the pimples that just won’t go away!

It can be tricky to choose the right skincare product for pimple-prone combination skin, especially when there are so many products for either dry or oily skin on the market. It’s basically a trial and error process where the chances of choosing the right product are slim if you don’t know what you’re doing. Before we get into how to customise an effective skincare routine for combination skin, let me explain how our main enemy, pimples are formed.

The Anatomy Of A Pimple

A quick explanation of how pimples are formed by Tech Insider.

To put it simply, dead skin cells and excess oil clog pores. Clogged pores breed bacteria, causing infections. The pus everybody loves squeezing? It’s actually dead white blood cells your body produces to fight the infection.

It’s not advisable to pop pimples whenever you feel like it, as it can make the infection a whole lot worse. Regardless, prevention is better than cure. So how do we prevent pimples from forming in the first place?

How To Prevent Pimples?

A pimple is formed when excess oil and layers of dead skin cells are paired with surrounding bacteria. To prevent it is equally as straight forward – just take away one of the elements in the equation! Our aim here is to reduce the production of excess oil, reduce the buildup of dead skin, and of course, keep our face as clean as we can.

Step 1: Oil Control

Keeping the skin from becoming too oily is pretty easy. There are a few ways to do it – blotting, powder, and cleansing with facial wash suited for your skin. Blotting your skin with facial blotting paper can immediately suck up all the excess oil. Applying powder has the same effect, but you’ll have to remember to cleanse your face properly at the end of the day to avoid product buildup (which can also clog pores!). Lastly, choosing the right facial wash can ensure that your face is not too dry nor too oily.

Face powder for oily or combination skin
You can use powders to suck up the excess oil, but remember to clean your face at the end of the day!
Image by Raphael Lovaski from Unsplash

Step 2: Exfoliating

Exfoliating your skin to reduce the buildup of dead skin cells is a little more troublesome. You can exfoliate using either chemical exfoliants or physical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliation uses different types of acids that melt away the dead skin cells, whereas physical exfoliants come in the form of scratchy scrubs that create micro-tears on your skin to loosen the dead skin cells. Physical exfoliation can be too harsh for certain skin types. Personally, chemical exfoliation is the tried and true go-to for me.

Girl with sand on her face, because I can't find any commercially free-to-use pictures of girls using a face scrub
Physical exfoliants can be a good way to scrub off dead skin cells but it may be too harsh for sensitive skin.
Image by Alex Perez from Unsplash

Step 3: Keeping Your Skin Clean

Accompanying the above two steps, is keeping your skin clean. Best way to do this is to not touch your face throughout the day. Think of all the surfaces you’ve touched throughout the day, now imagine them all touching your skin. Gross, right? Just remind yourself to stay away from touching your face at all costs.

Dirty fingers touching face. It's bad for any type of skin, not just combination skin.
Dirty fingers touching your face – just not a good idea unless you’d like your face to grow pus-filled volcanoes.
Image by Jacqueline Day from Unsplash

How To Customise A Skincare Routine For Pimple-Prone Combination Skin?

Now that you know what you need to do, you probably need some products to help you out. After years of trial and error and hours of watching Korean skincare routines on YouTube, one thing I found that worked for me was to track the ingredients listed on the back of the packaging. The rule is pretty simple, find an active ingredient that works for you and stick with it.

For Exfoliation

For me, I found that salicylic acid works wonders for my skin. It’s a chemical exfoliant that removes the dead skin cells without harsh scrubbing. Since there’s no buildup of dead skin cells, there’s no pesky pimples.

To Kill Nasty, Infection-Causing Bacteria

Aside from salicylic acid, tea tree oil (a.k.a melaleuca oil) is also effective in warding off and treating pimples. Its natural antibacterial properties are great for preventing bacterial infection, keeping pimples at bay rather than on your face. However, it’s important to start with small amounts as it can irritate the skin if used in large quantities, especially if you’re not used to it initially.

Aside from the ingredients, the position of said ingredients on the list is also important. This is because the ingredients list is written according to the ratios used in the product. The earlier you see it on the list, the more of it will be in the product. In this case, it’s best to see salicylic acid in the first five ingredients, whereas tea tree oil can be in lower concentration in a product as it can be overwhelming for sensitive skin.

The Tried And True Product

For the purpose of this article, I will be focusing on the specific toner that changed my skin. I have tried other toners with salicylic acid, but many of them contained amounts of alcohol which dried out my skin a little too much. I also realised that highly rated toners with good ingredients were way out of my budget.

One day, out of pure chance, I decided to try out this brand of toner that I’ve never heard of before. The ingredients looked good and it was advertised to be moisturising yet oil controlling, which is great for my troublesome combination skin. I tried using it for a few weeks and I must say, I’m impressed by it.

What Is This Mysterious Product?

Product picture of Aiken Tea Tree Oil Toner, perfect for combination skin!
This is how the packaging of Aiken’s Tea Tree Oil toner looks like. It is one of the best affordable skincare products I have tried so far.

The toner I speak so fondly of is the Tea Tree Oil toner by Aiken. It contains a good amount of salicylic acid, which is great for gentle exfoliation of dead skin. Listed as the fourth ingredient, this product packs a punch.

At the same time, Aiken’s toner also contains tea tree oil (it’s in the name, after all). Though not listed in the first five ingredients, it’s still effective in preventing pimples. It’s a good start for those who haven’t incorporated tea tree oil in their skincare routine but would like to get started. It’s not too diluted with other stuff that it’s ineffective, but it’s also not too strong for sensitive skin

The toner is great to use at any time of the day, whenever you feel like your skin needs a deep cleansing. Personally, I like to use it before I wash my face at night, just to ensure that I got all the gunk of the day off. Plus, it’s insanely satisfying to see the cotton pad turn a light shade of grey due to the dirt and dead skin.

What Does It Do For Combination Skin?

So the formula and the benefits are great, but what makes it so good for combination skin? For starters, it exfoliates well without drying out the skin. Some toners can be a little too harsh, drying out the skin; some toners can be too mild, making no difference whatsoever. The Malaysian made toner strikes a great balance with this product, making it great to use all around the face for those with combination skin.

It sounds simple, but it can actually be a huge help for lazy gals like myself. With this toner, I don’t have to worry about dry spots or flaky skin. This allows me to skip the extra step of using a moisturiser. I also don’t have to be afraid of my skin getting too oily as the toner magically helps in managing the overall moisture level of my skin.

Give Your Skin The Glow It Deserves

The Aiken toner is a great starting point if you’re a skincare newbie. It does what it promises without fail, it reduces the number of skincare steps required, and it’s super affordable. Happy Fresh is carrying it for only MYR7.89 whereas Watsons is selling it for MYR8.33. You can always lower the price even more by using coupon codes or waiting for sales season to grab this gem. Though with the already low price, you might not want to wait any longer. Treat your skin to the Aiken toner today, thank us later.

For more information about Aiken, check out their Facebook page. If you have specifically problematic skin, click here to read about how handmade soaps can help eczema!

Sabrina CHONG

About Sabrina CHONG

Journalism graduate who jumped ship to the world of corporate communication, Sabrina is sweet and sassy, but brutally honest when expressing herself. Her polished corporate exterior hides a passionate personality, with interests that range from girly topics to geeky tech speak.

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