What Is the Difference Between Oily & Combination Skin?

Combination skin requires special care.
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Oily skin is characterized by widespread excess sebum -- oil -- from the sebaceous glands, while combination skin experiences oiliness on only certain parts of the face. Knowing the difference can indicate the right skin care products to potentially prevent breakouts and excess dryness.

1 Oily or Combination?

Oily skin is easier to detect than combination skin. Your face tends to get shiny within hours of cleansing your face, and you’re prone to breakouts. Oily skin can become dry and irritated if you use too many face products. Combination skin, on the other hand, is neither oily nor dry. Instead, you’re likely to experience a shiny nose, forehead and chin with dry to normal cheeks.

2 Finding the Right Products

Thanks to advances in marketing and labeling, you should be able to find products listed specifically for oily or combination skin. When in doubt, know that water-based products are best for controlling oil, while petrolatum versions relieve dry skin. You may need both for combination skin. Dermatologist Dr. Mathew Avram tells ABC News that combination skin can be more difficult to care for, so be prepared to try different products until you find the right “combination.”

Kristeen Cherney began writing healthy lifestyle and education articles in 2008. Since then, her work has appeared in various online publications, including Healthline.com, Ideallhealth.com and FindCollegeInfo.com. Cherney holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Florida Gulf Coast University and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in English.