How do I know if my skin is oily or combination?

Oily skin has an overall shine and tendency to breakout on the cheeks and T-zone. Combination skin has an oily T-zone but the cheeks are normal or dry. A common mistake made with both skin types, is the use of oily skin products that are harsh and drying. What you need is the right skin care routine for oily skin.

1. What is oily skin?

Before getting to grips with your skin type, it helps to understand what causes oily skin.


Oil is produced by the skin to keep it lubricated, supple, and healthy in order to function as a barrier – keeping moisture in the body and protecting it from external pollutants, and bacterial and fungal infections. Oily skin occurs when your body produces too much oil – called sebum from the sebaceous glands. As oil production increases, the sebaceous glands can get bigger and increase the size of our pores. Sebum, which not only contains oil – but also triglycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters, squalene, cholesterol esters, and cholesterol – accumulate on the skin’s surface along with lipids from skin cells, sweat, and environmental matter. If you’ve been asking what is my skin type? – dry skin produces too little oil, normal skin has a good balance of oil, while oily skin produces an oversupply of natural oils – no wonder dirt and bacteria can get trapped in the skin, resulting in blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples!


Note: To start minimizing the appearance of blackheads quickly – try Clarins SOS Pure Rebalancing Clay Mask purifying face mask for oily skin or combination. This mask quickly absorbs impurities – leaving skin visibly mattified.



It’s likely you have oily skin if you’re familiar with these signs and symptoms:

  • Shine on the skin that feels oily to the touch
  • Open or clogged pores, concentrated in the oilier areas of the face
  • Whiteheads and blackheads
  • Regular breakouts of pimples
  • A tendency to get pimples on the chest and back
  • Dull-looking skin
  • Oily hair that needs washing often

So, what is combination skin then? Combination skin has an oily T-zone while the cheeks tend to be normal or dry. The reason the forehead, nose, and chin are often oily is because there are more oil-producing glands in this central facial zone. The way to tell the difference between oily skin and combination skin is that those with truly oily skin are oily all over their face, even if the T-zone appears oilier than the rest of the face and has a tendency towards acne.

2. Skin care for oily skin

Interestingly, oily skin tends to have a thicker dermis than other skin types – but this doesn’t mean that oily skin is tougher than normal or dry skin. One of the most common mistakes made in skin care for oily skin, is including oily skin products that are harsh and drying. If you originally suspected you had oily skin but now find yourself asking – what type of skin do I have? – it could be that the incorrect use of face wash and moisturizer may have led to your oily skin presenting as combination skin (an oily T-zone and dry cheeks), sensitive skin that is red and itchy, or even skin that appears to be dry. This is often the result of overuse of harsh scrubs, drying cleansers, alcohol-based products, and over-the-counter acne treatments.


So out with the harsh and in with gentle, but effective, oily and combination skin care!


Start with a gentle face wash for normal or combination skin morning and night to wash away excess sebum and impurities. Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed is a non-drying, creamy facial cleanser with soothing Cottonseed extract that water-activates into a silky foam – rinsing away impurities, trapped makeup, excess oils, and dead surface cells while respecting your skin’s natural moisture balance.


Follow with an alcohol-free, refreshing best toner for oily skin like Clarins Toning Lotion with Iris. The purifying properties of Iris and Sage extracts, remove every last trace of your cleanser for oily skin as well as oil buildup. Your skin is radiant-looking, beautifully balanced and visibly refreshed. The bonus? Toning Lotion with Iris helps soothe away irritations and helps to visibly shrink pores. Now you’re ready for your serum for oily skin.


If you’re wondering how to unclog pores as well as how to minimize pores – your answer is Clarins Pore Control Serum. This pore minimizer harnesses the plant power of firming Vine Flower cells and mattifying Organic Strawberry Tree fruit extracts to help purify and visibly tighten the appearance of enlarged pores on the surface of your skin. Tamarind pulp acid naturally exfoliates debris from clogged pores to help smooth and visibly refine the skin's texture for a boost of radiance.


Note: oily skin needs moisturizing just as much as dry skin. Opt for a lighter, fluid moisturizer for oily skin. Bring out the big guns with Lotus Face Treatment Oil formulated with 100% pure plant extracts. This natural astringent for oily or combination skin uses an aromatic blend of essential oils – including Lotus, Rosemary and Geranium. Hazelnut Oil, rich in Omega 9 and Vitamin E, helps to visibly soften, soothe and seal in moisture.


Once or twice a week, include a face mask for oily skin in your oily or combination skin care routine. Clarins SOS Pure Rebalancing Clay Mask is a 10-minute reboot for skin that tends to be oily. The purifying clay face mask contains Organic Alpine Willow Herb extract to help mattify, minimize shine, and reduce the appearance of pores. White Clay and Green Clay help absorb impurities, smooth the skin and promote a healthy-looking glow while the powdery cream-paste texture leaves skin clean, and visibly refreshed and glowing!

Got more questions about Clarins products? Find all the answers you need here.

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