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.

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 (1)

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 moisturiser with sunscreen once a day just after cleansing will help soothe skin and minimize the visible lines (2). Be sure to add the cream while your skin is still damp, as this will help lock in moisture. (3)  And as your skin is the type that’s extra-thirsty, don’t be scared to apply moisturiser several times a day.

The best face moisturiser for dry skin should contain ingredients (such as glycerin) (4) that help the skin hold water. 


Oily skin

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: Oily skin shows enlarged pores and a shiny complexion(1) . 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 Dermacontrol Oil Control Foam Wash that’s specially formulated for oily skin.

As for exfoliation, this removes dead skin cells, leaves skin looking brighter and long-term, can even promote increased collagen production. People with oily skin can benefit from more frequent exfoliation (as often as once a day, provided you use a gentle scrub) (5).

Apply a light moisturiser once a day, and choose one that’s optimized for oily skin. The best moisturiser for this type of skin is one that’s light, easily absorbed and provides oil control such as Cetaphil® RestoraDerm Skin Restoring Body Moisturiser. And when choosing any skincare product, be sure to choose one that is labelled “non-comedogenic”, meaning it’s formulated not to clog pores. (1)

Aside from moisturiser, use a sunscreen  regularly and throughout the year as this helps prevent sebum over-secretion induced by the sun.


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 moisturiser with oil-free hydrators such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin(4). Different parts of your face may need slightly different kinds of care (e.g. more frequent moisturisation in dry areas, using light moisturisers in oily areas ),   so it’s best to observe how your skin reacts and stay with the routine that works best.


1. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/whats-your-skin-type

2. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/anti-aging-skin-care/selecting-anti-aging-products

3. https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/saving-face-101-how-to-customize-your-skin-care-routine-with-your-skin-type

4. https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/--small-changes-in-skin-care-routine-can-significantly-improve-skin-affected-by-acne-and-rosacea

5. https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/evaluate-before-you-exfoliate