Have Combination Skin? Here's How to Shop for the Absolute Best Moisturizer

To put it simply, if you're not shopping for your skincare products based on your skin type, you're not doing your skin any favors. That's because each skin type has different needs, and some products are not formulated for every type. You probably know that if you have dry skin, you want to gravitate toward formulas that are hydrating and that don't strip the skin of natural oils. And if you have oily, acne-prone skin, you want ingredients that won't clog pores and that can reduce excess oil and shine.

And as for combination skin, you need to find a balance. "Combination skin is often characterized by a mix of dryness and oiliness to the skin," says Kathleen S. Viscusi, MD, FAAD, FACMS, co-founder and partner at Dermatology and Surgery Specialists of North Atlanta (DESSNA). "Commonly, you find an excess of oil production on the T-zone, nose, chin, etc., and dryness on the periphery of the face."


(Image credit: @kariseward)

Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, FAAD, founder and CEO of Vibrant Dermatology and Skin Bar MD, explains what can be tricky with this skin type: "The challenge with combination skin is that oily areas may be more acne-prone (think increased whitehead and blackheads) because of increased sebaceous glands in the T-zone area. However, other areas of the skin may be more sensitive." So you need to be able to find products that manage both the dryness and the oiliness, without heightening either issue.

One thing that you should prioritize is moisturizing and cleansing, recommends Tracy Evans, MD, MPH, FAAD, FACMS, medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology. She recommends a lighter moisturizer and a foaming face wash. "Cleansing with a foaming face wash can help to remove the outer layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, while keeping your skin relatively hydrated," she says.

How to Choose a Moisturizer for Combination Skin


(Image credit: @madisonelainechertow)

When it comes to shopping for a moisturizer, Imahiyerobo-Ip says you want a balance between using exfoliating products that help with oil production and clogged pores and hydrating products that prevent excessive irritation in those dry areas. "I generally recommend a hydrating moisturizing lotion. Creams may be too heavy for those with combination skin. The key is to provide moisture to the skin without increasing shine/oil production," she says.

You'll want to look for skincare terms and ingredients like noncomedogenic formulas (to avoid clogged pores) and hyaluronic acid (to hydrate). "Hyaluronic acid effectively moisturizes without causing an increase in oil production and oily residue," Viscusi says.

As for ingredients you may want to avoid, you'll want to stay away from anything that's abrasive, like alcohols, fragrances, retinoids, etc., Viscusi adds, since these can strip the skin of its natural oils, cause more dryness, and offset the skin's balance.

You can shop some good options for combination skin below.

The Best Moisturizers for Combination Skin

1. Melé Dew the Most Sheer Moisturizer SPF 30

2. Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream

3. Isdin Hydralift Serum

4. Avène Hydrance Aqua-Gel

5. Neocutis Bio Cream Firm

6. EltaMD PM Therapy Moisturizer

7. Skinbetter Science Trio Rebalancing Moisture Treatment

8. Alastin Skincare Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer

9. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizer

10. Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer

11. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer

12. Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer

13. Tatcha The Water Cream Oil-Free Pore Minimizing Moisturizer

14. Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

15. Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer

16. Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

17. Clinique Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Custom-Repair Moisturizer for Dry to Combination Skin

Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019. In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot). She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.