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A Complete Skincare Routine for Combination Skin | Kanvas Beauty Buying Guide


Combination skin? Use these products for the win.

(Plus other stuff that’s worth knowing)           


Combination skin can be complicated, but your skincare routine doesn’t have to be! Sometimes oily, sometimes dry, sometimes both – it can be hard for your products to keep up. Plus, skin is a living, breathing organ: hence, the condition of our skin is rarely static. It changes and fluctuates according to our age, stress levels, environmental factors, diet and so on. That’s why it’s so important for your skin (and bank account) to use skincare that is versatile and hits all the right spots, no matter how your skin is feeling on any given day.


But before we delve into what is the best skincare routine for combination skin, we need to ask ourselves the all-important questions: what is combination skin, and do I actually have it?


What is the combination skin type?

Here’s what to look for: Combination skin is essentially a skin type characterized by skin that is both oily in parts, and dry in parts. In most cases, it’s the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) that’s oily, while the U-zone (cheeks and neck) tend to be dry – but it can work in reverse. The level of oiliness or dryness can also change with the seasons or other external factors, including what skincare you’re using. And, unless you’re applying your skincare routine in sections, it can be a little complicated to treat. Some people with combination skin focus heavily on drying out an oily T-zone (which in addition, can give rise to blocked pores and acne), sacrificing the parched areas on their face. Similarly, others with combination skin veering on the dry side can overly concentrate on treating dry skin, without looking at sebum control. It doesn’t have to be that way, however – good skincare can do both! Let’s talk.



First, the basics – get your cleanser right.One of the most downplayed tenets of skincare is the cleanser – but in fact, it is arguably the most important step when you’re trying put your skin back into equilibrium. The best combination skin cleanser is one that has a skin-matching pH of 5.5. Contrary to popular belief, our skin is NOT pH neutral (7). Healthy skin is in fact, slightly acidic at 5.5. Washing your face with a skin-matching pH cleanser can make all the difference to your sebum production, as well as your dry patches.


Cleansers which range from strong to stripping sit higher on the pH scale (generally 7-9). While it might temporarily assuage oily skin, it can actually have the unwanted effect of encouraging your oil glands to produce even more sebum to compensate for the way your skin has been dried out. That’s why starting your routine with a suitable combination skin cleanser can make a world of difference.


Do high pH cleansers even have a place in skincare? The answer is yes! Stubborn makeup, SPF and even a day’s work in a dusty, dirty or hazardous environment (think tradies working with fiberglass or concrete) require a thoroughly clarifying clean to keep your pores unclogged and your skin infection-free. But when we’re talking about a cleanser for combination skin, high pH cleansers are generally unsuitable.


Once you got the pH right, the best cleanser for combination skin will vary according to your other skincare concerns (Hyperpigmentation? Rosacea? Acne?) and what textures you prefer. Scroll down for some of our best-sellers.



Best facial cleanser for combination skin

Here are our top 5 face cleanser for combination skin:

  1. NeogenSurmedic Azulene Soothing Cleanser
    Best for: Combination skin with some sensitivity and redness
  2. COSRXLow pH Good Morning Cleanser
    Best for: Combination skin that’s also acne prone
  3. Mary & MayWhite Collagen Cleansing Foam
    Best for: Combination skin with ageing concerns
  4. Dear, KlairsGentle Black Facial Cleanser
    Best for: Combination skin on the oily side
  5. Pyunkang YulCalming Low pH Foaming Cleanser
    Best for: Combination skin on the dry side


Side note for the double cleansers out there:We go into detail above about the best face wash for combination skin but haven’t touched on oil cleansers or balms. Why? We’ve found that people are highly discerning when it comes to this category, the most important factors varying between effectiveness at makeup removal for some, to texture and experience for others. Because the first cleanse is followed by a second that removes any residue, we’ve decided that helping you find the right facial wash for combination skin is more useful. In our Combination Skin category on the Kanvas Beauty website, you will find some cleansing balms and oils that we think are suitable, but ultimately, the boundaries are less exacting.




Next, your toner – choose your fighter.Did you know there are essentially 3 types of toners? Cleansing toners (i.e. astringent types, that help remove any residue and oil that your regular face wash missed), Treatment toners (i.e. exfoliating toners or toners with an active ingredient such as vitamin C) and Hydrating toners (i.e. toners that regulate your pH levels, rehydrate your skin after washing your face and prep your skin for the rest of your routine). The best combination skin toner really depends on what your other skin concerns are. For instance, a skincare routine for acne prone combination skin would likely benefit from using a treatment toner with BHA or other acids, to treat blocked pores. The best skincare routine for sensitive combination skin should make a beeline straight to a hydrating toner, preferably with soothing panthenol or allantoin. And if you love waterproof wearing makeup, a cleansing toner is perfect for ensuring your face is clean before bedtime. It’ll help you set the tone for the rest of your routine (pun unintended….okay it was).


Best toner for combination skin

Here are 5 different toners for various types of combination skin:

  1. AcwellLicorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner
    Best for: Combination skin on the oily side and makeup lovers
  2. By WishtrendMandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water
    Best for: Combination skin with hyperpigmentation or dark spots
  3. SKIN&LABTricica Barrier Soothing Toner
    Best for: Combination skin that’s feeling dehydrated or prone to redness
  4. SVR Laboratories - Sebiaclear Micro Peel
    Best for: Combination skin prone to acne and breakouts
  5. ISNTREEGreen Tea Fresh Toner
    Best for: Those wanting a great all-rounder toner for combination skin



What is an essence? While it’s not vital for most, a Korean skincare routine for combination skin will always include an essence. A facial essence sits between your toner and serum, and is basically meant to reinforce the aim of your routine and enhance the absorption of your serums and creams. For combination skin, essences are used to help regulate sebum or just provide some lightweight hydration (particularly after using an exfoliating toner).


Our top 3 essences for combination skin

  1. AcwellNo. 2 Refreshing Fluid
    Best for: Combination skin on the oily and congested side
  2. BentonSnail Bee High Content Essence
    Best for: Combination skin that’s also sensitive and prone to redness
  3. By WishtrendQuad Active Boosting Essence
    Best for: Dehydrated combination skin looking for maximum absorption of their serum and creams




The best serums for combination skin are those that manage to regulate the excess sebum of an oily T-zone, while also nourishing the dry and dehydrated parts of your face. Some of these come in the form of targeted T-zone treatments, leaving your moisturizer and essence to pick up the leg work for any dry patches. Other serums however, can do it all! The latter group contain versatile ingredients such as niacinamide, Coptis Japonica Root and Astragalus

Membranaceus Root which can both reduce oil production over time at a cellular level, rather than simply drying your skin out.


5 good serums for combination skin

Here are some of our favourite targeted treatments and all-rounders.

  1. Pyunkang YulMoisture Serum
    Best for: Regulating oil and rebalancing sensitive, combination skin
  2. Mary & May - Niacinamide & Chaenomeles Sinensis Serum
    Best for: Combination skin with congestion
  3. SVR Laboratories - Vitamin B3 Ampoule
    Best for: Regulating oil and rebalancing dehydrated and combination skin
  4. SVR LaboratoriesSebiaclear Mat+Pores
    Best for: Combination skin with a very oily T-zone looking to decrease shine and the appearance of large pores
  5. SKIN&LAB - Tricicabarrier Calming Ampoule
    Best for: Combination skin with redness



What makes a good moisturiser for combination skin? Most of us want one that won’t leave our oily parts looking as shiny as a mirror after a couple of minutes of wear, but be hydrating enough to prevent that uncomfortably tight feeling that comes with dehydrated skin. Generally speaking, the best moisturiser for combination skin tends to come in gel form. As a rule, we tend to advise customers away from occlusive formulas unless they have a very damaged skin barrier or persistent dry patches. Gel creams are lightweight enough to allow oily skin to breathe, can offer more of a matte finish and still deliver plenty of water-based moisture. But there are other excellent ones in traditional cream form too – it ultimately will depend on your skin, the texture you prefer and whether you want your cream to act as a good primer for makeup as well.


Our top 5 combination skin moisturiser

Below are a variety of facial moisturisers for combination skin that we think are the best in their class!

  1. AcwellReal Aqua Balancing Cream
    Best for: Sensitive combination skin
  2. SKIN&LAB - Vitamin B Hydrating Gel Cream
    Best for: Combination skin on the dry side, or in a layered routine with active ingredients
  3. SVR LaboratoriesBiotic Peptide Smoothing Gel
    Best for: Oily combination skin also looking to combat the signs of ageing. Works well under makeup
  4. PuritoOat-in-Calming Gel Cream
    Best for: Oily combination skin with a damaged skin barrier
  5. innisfreeGreen Tea Balancing Cream EX
    Best for: Combination skin looking for a lightweight, sebum-regulating cream



Is a night cream for combination skin necessary? We don’t believe it’s crucial. If you want to maintain an affordable skincare routine for combination skin, you can always use your day moisturizer. However, if you’re using actives such as acid exfoliants and vitamin C, or have a compromised skin barrier, you might want to invest in a heavier or more reparative night cream. Why? While we sleep, our skin goes into mechanic mode. After being on high alert during the day and acting as a shield against free radicals and other environmental aggressors, it switches to a repair and recovery function we catch our zzz’s. Most of the healing and skin-regeneration happens during the night, which is why some of us like to switch to a cream with ingredients that could aid this process. Night creams tend to be heavier and richer for that reason. Of course, the last thing we want is to wake up with a breakout due to our combination skin being unable to handle it! The key is to look for a nutritious but essentially lightweight cream for combination skin.


Combination skin night cream

If you want to invest in a good combination skin night cream, try the below. They’re not too heavy, and not too light – but are packed with great ingredients to boost!

  1. By Wishtrend - Vitamin A-Mazing Bakuchiol Night Cream
    Best for: Combination skin with ageing concerns
  2. Dr. AltheaAzulene 147HA Intensive Soothing Cream
    Best for: Irritated and sensitive combination skin
  3. UpCircle Beauty - Night Cream with Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid
    Best for: Combination skin prone to redness




Bringing up the tail end of the optimal morning skincare routine for combination skin is your SPF. The common complaint about sunscreens is that they tend to be greasy, oily, thick and heavy – none of the things that combination skin love. Thankfully, in the last decade or so, there’s been a lot of innovation in the world of sun lotions to improve their texture, feel and appearance without compromising protection. This has been particularly important for skincare because as you know, SPF is the key to good skin in the long run, as well as reducing the risk of skin cancers. Hence, its adoption its critical and the more sunscreens please their wearer, the more likely we are to wear them! There’s more choice today than the good old Banana Boat and zinc sticks. Let’s go through them.


Best sunscreen for combination skin

Looking for a sunscreen for combination skin? Try the below.

  1. SVR LaboratoriesSun Secure Blur SPF50+
    Best for: Those looking for a mattifying blurring, combination skin sunscreen that also acts as an ace primer (and is dark-skin friendly)
  2. SKIN&LABHybarrier Fresh Sun Lotion
    Best for: Mature, combination skin on the dry side
  3. Etude HouseSunprise Mild Watery Light SPF50+ PA+++
    Best for: Those looking for a lightweight, makeup-friendly sunscreen for combination acne prone skin
  4. SVR LaboratoriesSun Secure Mineral Tinted Sunscreen
    Best for: Those looking for a specifically formulated SPF for oily combination skin, with a universal tint
  5. Rohto MentholatumSkin Aqua UV Super Moisture Essence Gold
    Best for: Combination skin looking for a sheer, waterproof sunscreen.




Is vitamin C good for combination skin?

Vitamin C is very good for combination skin – as well as most other skin types. Being an antioxidant, it can stop your sebum from oxidizing and forming blackheads. Yep, that’s right. The sebum in your pores that is exposed to free radicals and UV rays turn your otherwise light yellow sebum into a black colour. That’s how blackheads are made. In turn, this makes our pores more visible. Because vitamin C (being an antioxidant) fights against oxidization, it can reduce the appearance of oily pores on your T-zone and over time, even help regulate sebum production from overly-enthusiastic glands. Plus, there are the other great benefits of using a vitamin C serum that also apply to combination skin: a brighter and more even appearance, less hyperpigmentation and increased collagen production.


What ingredients should I avoid for combination skin?

When it comes to ingredients that must be avoided for combination skin, there are no hard and fast rules. What may not work for most can still be great for some. However, there are some loose guidelines. Generally, occlusive ingredients don’t suit an oily T-zone or other oily parts of combination skin. This group includes silicones or heavy oils like marula. That said, they can be great for a dry U-zone if you’ve got the patience to apply your skincare in sections. On the flip side, you don’t want to dry your skin out heavily by using high pH-cleansers, strong acid exfoliants too frequently, or too many active ingredients: not only can this compromise your skin barrier, but it can also lead to your sebum glands working overtime to correct your dehydration (thereby making your skin oilier). A balanced routine applied consistently is generally the best route.


What is the best BB cream for combination skin?

What the best BB cream is highly subjective. That being said, UK natural beauty brand Lily Lolo makes a solid BB cream for combination skin. Its BB Creams are silicone-free, offer light coverage and allow congested skin to breathe. At the same time, they are fairly moisturizing and can replace your cream if your combination skin is on the oilier side.


What is a good combination skin wash that won’t irritate my rosacea?Rosacea can respond very positively to anti-inflammatory ingredients such as tea-tree – however, tea-tree isn’t for everyone. A general, all-star face wash for combination skin with rosacea would be the Soon Jung pH 5.5 Foaming Cleanser from Etude House. The simple, stripped-down formula is free from added fragrances and essential oils, and just contains what’s required to put your skin back in balance while gently removing excess sebum, makeup and debris. Moreover, the product doesn’t use any ingredients which could trigger rosacea. Shop our entire Rosacea/Redness category here.


What is a good routine for combination skin?

Looking for a simple skincare routine for combination skin but don’t know where to start? Check out our example morning and night skincare routine for combination skin, that just has the basic steps. You can increase the layering as you go along, or just keep it as is.


Example daily skincare routine for combination skin

Simple morning skincare routine for combination skin:

  1. Begin by washing your face by lathering up a coin-sized amount of the Soon Jung pH 5.5 Foaming Cleanser from Etude House. Massage into the skin for around 10-15 seconds, and rinse off.
  2. Don’t dry your face. Instead, reach for ISNTREE’s Green Tea Fresh Toner and pat it over your damp skin with your fingers.
  3. Once the toner is almost absorbed, take an appropriate amount of SKIN&LAB’s Vitamin B Hydrating Gel Cream and massage into your face.
  4. Finish with the Sun Secure Blur SPF50+ from SVR Laboratories.


Simple night skincare routine for combination skin:

  1. Double cleanse your skin. Take an emulsifying balm or oil cleanser such as the Ginseng Cleansing Oil from Beauty of Joseon, and massage into your face for around 45-60 seconds. Rinse off with water.
  2. Next, lather up a a coin-sized amount of the Soon Jung pH 5.5 Foaming Cleanser from Etude House. Massage into the skin for around 10-15 seconds, and rinse off. Ensure your skin is clean from any residue.
  3. On damp skin, apply the 2 Refreshing Fluid from Acwell.
  4. After your skin is almost dry, evenly apply the Niacinamide & Chaenomeles Sinensis Serum from Mary & May, careful not to let the dropper touch your skin directly.
  5. Finish off with SKIN&LAB’s Vitamin B Hydrating Gel Cream.


And there you have it! You can alternative your evening toner with an acid exfoliant, or swap your morning serum for a vitamin C serum, or simply layer it in between.