Treating dry or oily skin is rather straightforward, but what do you do if your skin is both dry and oily?
“Combination skin is a common skin type characterized by having both oily and dry areas. Individuals with combination skin typically experience oiliness in the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin), while the cheeks and other areas tend to be drier,” licensed esthetician and owner of Skin Factory LA, Jeff Mendoza, tells us.
With half your face needing extra hydration and the other half requiring oil control, it can be hard to know which products work best on your skin type. To learn more about moisturizers for combination skin, Shop TODAY asked two skin experts to weigh in. Read on for their expert advice and use the links below to jump to a category.
What is combo skin? | What causes it? | What to look for in a moisturizer | Best overall | Best budget | Best for acne | Best K-beauty | Best gel | Best tinted | Best for over-40 | Best for redness | Best for night | Best for sensitive skin | FAQs | How we chose | Meet our experts
How do I know if I have combination skin?
Identifying that you have combination skin and choosing products that align with your skin type is an important step in achieving healthy, balanced skin.
“Signs that someone has combination skin include a shiny T-zone, larger pores in the T-zone, more frequent acne breakouts in the T-zone, and dry or flaky cheeks,” explains Dr. Divya Shokeen, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Ocean Skin and Vein Institute in California.
What causes combination skin?
Combination skin can be the result of multiple factors, explains Shokeen.
“Genetics, hormones and environmental factors can all contribute to the development of combination skin. People with combination skin may have inherited the tendency to produce more oil in their T-zone, but hormonal changes or environmental factors like a dry climate can exacerbate the issue,” she adds.
What to look for in a moisturizer for combination skin
“Using products that are not suited for your skin type, such as those formulated solely for dry skin or oily skin, can lead to further skin irritation, inflammation or breakouts,” explains Shokeen.
If your face has aspects of both dry skin and oily skin, here are four expert-recommended factors to consider:
Formula: “People with combination skin should look for a lightweight moisturizer that isn't too heavy or greasy, as well as one that can balance the skin's oil production. Gel moisturizers are often a good choice because they can hydrate the skin without weighing it down, especially this summer,” shares Dr. Shokeen.
Key ingredients: “Look for noncomedogenic options that won't clog pores or cause breakouts. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid can help hydrate the skin without feeling too heavy, while niacinamide (<4%) can help regulate oil production,” advises Shokeen.
Ingredients to avoid: To reduce future breakouts, Shokeen recommends that people with combination skin to avoid heavy oils and ingredients like mineral oil that can clog pores or worsen oily skin.
Skin concerns: Consider your specific skin concerns, such as whether your combination skin is also sensitive, aging or acne-prone. This will help ensure that you get the best results possible and leave your skin looking hydrated and healthy.
Best overall moisturizer for combination skin
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, 3 essential ceramides | Size: 12 fl. oz. | Usage: 1x a day or as needed | Fragrance? No
Nearly 78,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon can’t be wrong! This product is a fan and expert favorite — and for good reason. "CeraVe is an excellent choice for those with dry skin or a history of eczema because it provides the key ingredients of hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which hydrate skin and repair the skin barrier," says dermatologist and Shop TODAY Beauty Awards panelist Dr. Macrene Alexiades.
On the flip side, this lotion's oil-free, lightweight formula also helps to ensure that breakouts don’t form after use. As a bonus, this option is suitable for the entire body — including the face, arms, legs and hands — making it a staple for your head-to-toe beauty routine.
Looking for more products formulated specifically with combination skin in mind? CeraVe has an entire line of products, including makeup removers, hydrating toners and cleansers, as well as a range of popular face and body lotions to choose from. In fact, don’t be shocked if you see CeraVe make another appearance later on in this article (hint, hint).
Best budget moisturizer for combination skin
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Size: 3 oz. | Usage: 2x a day or as needed | Fragrance? No
This lightweight moisturizer is formulated specifically for combination and sensitive skin types. The hyaluronic acid helps attract and lock in moisture to keep your skin soft and hydrated throughout the day, while the product also helps defend against five signs of sensitivity, including dryness, irritation, roughness, tightness and a weakened skin barrier. In addition to nearly bestowing the product 35,000 five-star ratings, verified Amazon reviewers rave about the benefits they saw after using this product.
One Amazon customer shared, “Light enough to not clog pores but rich enough to make my face feel terrific when I put it on. Eases any dryness and tightness without causing any oily patches. Absorbs instantly. For the price point, not sure it can be beaten.”
Best moisturizer for acne-prone skin
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, willowherb extract, Santorini grape extract | Size: 1.35 oz. | Usage: 2x a day | Fragrance? Yes
This lightweight moisturizer is formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate those pesky dry spots, as well as salicylic acid to help unclog pores and reduce blemishes.
But the real star of the show is the Santorini grape extract, from the Greek island of Santorini, which is said to blur and minimize the appearance of pores — which are often more noticeable along the T-zone of people with combination skin.
Best Korean moisturizer for combination skin
Key ingredients: Snail secretion filtrate, hyaluronic acid | Size: 3.53 oz. | Usage: 1x a day or as needed | Fragrance? No
Now before you run for the hills at the thought of putting snail mucin on your skin, hear us out. Snail mucin offers a multitude of benefits, like improved skin tone and hydration, and is an excellent option for those with combination skin (including me, Jennifer). Since I started incorporating this into my skin care routine, my combination skin feels more hydrated and is glowing without appearing oily. But don’t just take my word for it — consider the more than 14,200 verified five-star ratings on Amazon with reviews aplenty expressing similar results.
“My skin is combination, with an oily T-zone and cheeks that are sometimes so dry that they are peeling. I was previously using a heavy-duty body moisturizer to satisfy my dry skin. … When I switched to this moisturizer, I was afraid it wouldn't be enough. But I was wrong! This is incredibly moisturizing. My skin is not peeling, it feels firm and smooth, and I have had way less acne since switching,” shared one Amazon customer.
Best gel moisturizer for combination skin
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Size: 1.7 oz. | Usage: 1x a day or as needed | Fragrance? No
The unique gel texture of this Neutrogena moisturizer can feel a bit misleading. After all, how can something so weightless be so hydrating?
While it feels like magic, the secret lies in the hyaluronic acid that’s infused within the formula. The hyaluronic acid attracts moisture to the skin, locking it in for long-term moisture so that the skin is left feeling smooth and supple — sans extra oiliness — with every use. And it’s certainly a fan-favorite, amassing nearly 63,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon.
Best tinted moisturizer for combination skin
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | Size: 2 oz. | Usage: As needed | Fragrance? No
This oil-free tinted moisturizer not only hydrates the skin without clogging pores, but it also protects the skin from UVA/UVB, infrared and blue light. It’s even water-resistant (up to 80 minutes), making it a perfect choice whether you’re looking for light coverage for the day or plan to enjoy time outdoors.
One DRMTLGY customer shares, “I absolutely love the physical tinted moisturizer! I wear it everyday! It’s perfect for those that want a very light coverage and maximum sun protection.”
Best moisturizer for combination skin over 40
Key ingredients: Calendula serum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Usage: 1–2x a day | Fragrance? Yes
This lightweight gel moisturizer is a multitasker for all ages, especially those over 40 who are looking to combat signs of aging to keep their skin looking youthful. Not only does it help improve skin tone and reduce redness, but it also softens the skin and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines.
“Makes my skin feel so soft and smooth with a very light feel. Absorbs quickly without a greasy feel. Love this product!” raved one Kiehl’s customer.
Best moisturizer for redness
Key ingredients: Lactobacillus extract | Size: 1.7 oz. | Usage: 2x per day | Fragrance? No
If you struggle with visible redness or blotchiness, look no further for soothing hydration and comfort. This Daily Relief Cream is the second step in Clinique’s Redness Solutions regimen, which also includes the Soothing Cleanser and Daily Protective Base, an oil-free makeup primer with SPF.
This cream utilizes microbiome technology to help strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, improve redness and reduce future irritation, but the lightweight and oil-free formula makes it perfect for people with combination skin.
Best night moisturizer
Key ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, 3 essential ceramides | Size: 3.0 oz. | Usage: 1x per day | Fragrance? No
We told you you might see CeraVe pop up again! How your skin looks and feels while you sleep may not be at the top of your priority list, but we’re here to tell you that your skin doesn’t just need moisture when you’re awake.
This nighttime lotion from CeraVe was crowned Best Budget Moisturizer during Shop TODAY's Beauty Awards this year, and for good reason: This pick helps moisturize your skin all night long while also working to restore your skin’s natural barrier — all while you sleep. Along with more than 35,600 verified five-star Amazon ratings, our product testers love how hydrating and lightweight it is without going on oily — and in fact, one confesses to using it in the morning, too.
Best moisturizer for sensitive skin
Key ingredients: Ceramide AP, hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) fruit oil, niacinamide | Size: 2.0 oz. | Usage: 2x a day | Fragrance? No
Free of common irritants like fragrance, alcohol and essential oils, this lightweight moisturizer is an effective option for people with sensitive or irritated skin. Not only does it help soothe and repair the skin, but it also helps restore the delicate moisture barrier while promoting cell turnover.
Its gentle yet effective formula has left many Liquid Gold customers singing its praises, including Shop TODAY associate SEO editor, Fran Sales.
"I love my CeraVe moisturizer, but for times when I need an extra hydration boost — like when I've just put on a vitamin C serum or when my cheeks are feeling extra dry and irritated — this is the moisturizer I reach for. It goes on silky, absorbs very quickly, and my face feels plump for hours."
Questions about combination skin, answered by experts
What is the best skin care routine for someone with combination skin?
“An effective skin care routine for combination skin involves a gentle and balanced approach,” Mendoza tells Shop TODAY. He advises:
“Start with a mild cleanser to remove impurities and excess oil without stripping the skin of its natural moisture.
"Follow this with a toner to restore the skin's pH levels.
"Next, apply a lightweight moisturizer to hydrate the dry areas and consider incorporating an oil-controlling product, such as a mattifying gel or serum, to manage shine in the T-zone."
How often should I moisturize if I have combination skin?
“For individuals with combination skin, it’s generally recommended to moisturize twice daily — once in the morning and once at night. However, personal preference and the specific needs of the skin may require adjustments in terms of the amount and frequency of moisturizer applied,” explains Mendoza.
How do I know if I’m over- or under-moisturizing if I have combination skin?
“Tightness, flakiness or dullness in certain areas could indicate under-moisturizing. Conversely, if the skin feels excessively greasy, experiences an increase in breakouts or appears shiny all over, it might suggest over-moisturizing,” says Mendoza.
He adds that adjusting the amount and frequency of moisturizer based on these observations can help strike the right balance to achieve healthy skin.
Do I need both serum and moisturizer if I have combination skin?
Serums can be an important part of a healthy skin care regimen and can help address specific concerns, such as brightening or acne.
“Apply serums before your moisturizer to target specific skin issues effectively. Look for lightweight serums that won't contribute to excessive oiliness. Follow up with a moisturizer that suits your skin's needs, maintaining the delicate balance between hydration and oil control,” Mendoza explains.
How we chose the best moisturizers for combination skin
As someone with combination skin, I (Jennifer) understand the frustration of trying to manage two different skin types with one product — and it’s certainly no easy feat. That’s why we spent hours upon hours researching moisturizers for combination skin, including old favs, as well as trending and newer products to find the best of the best.
I considered customer reviews, as well as my own personal experience (trust me, I’ve tried dozens upon dozens of moisturizers for my combo skin). I also considered recommendations from members of the Shop TODAY team who also have combination skin. Together, we compiled the 10 best moisturizers to keep your indecisive skin healthy and happy.