a guide to dry, oily and combination skin

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 skincare 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 looks dull and rough. You might also have reddish patches on your skin and have a tendency to show lines and wrinkles. 

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 too-long baths, as this can help worsen your dry skin.

Applying a moisturizer with sunscreen once a day just after cleansing will help soothe dry skin and minimize the appearance of lines. Be sure to add the cream while your skin is still damp, as this will help lock in moisture. And as your skin is the type that’s extra-thirsty, don’t be scared to apply moisturizer several times a day.

The best face moisturizer for dry skin should contain ingredients (such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid) that help the skin hold water. And remember that for dry skin, exfoliating once a week should be enough. And be sure that when you do, 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 excessive sebum (the substance that lubricates and waterproofs our skin).

WHAT TO DO: If you have oily skin, you might be tempted to wash your face more often to rid it of 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 PRO Oil Removing Foam Wash that’s specially formulated for oily skin.

As for exfoliation, this removes dead skin cells and leaves skin looking brighter. People with oily skin can benefit from more frequent exfoliation (as often as once a day, provided you use a gentle scrub).

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 provides oil control such as Cetaphil® PRO Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30. And when choosing any skin care product, be sure to choose one that is labelled “non-comedogenic”, meaning it’s formulated not to clog pores.

Aside from moisturizer, use a sunscreen regularly and throughout the year.

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 extra 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 stay with the routine that works best.