If your skin feels like it is just “all over the place” in terms of oiliness and dryness, you could have what experts call “combination skin.”
Believe it or not, there is a “method to the madness” of combo skin. Here’s how it works for many people and, most importantly, how you can find balance for your unique combination skin type.
Combination Skin and the T Zone
Combination skin is defined as skin that is sometimes dry, sometimes oily, and sometimes both at the same time (usually in different parts of the face or different parts of the whole body). (1) For most people, combination skin is most prevalent within the “T Zone” of the face. According to dermatologists, this zone includes the entire forehead and also the area directly down the nose from the forehead and all the way to the chin. In T Zone combo skin, one may experience oiliness in that area and dryness elsewhere, especially on the cheeks.
Even though this is the most common way in which combination skin is expressed, it is definitely not the only way. Combination skin can also happen on other parts of the face as well as on the scalp, hands, and feet.
Combination Skin and the Sebaceous Glands
Combination skin is intricately related to the functioning of the sebaceous glands in the skin. The T Zone tends to have the most sebaceous glands of any part of the body, and that is why combination skin occurs there more than any other place. Sebaceous glands create a waxy substance called sebum which is designed to protect your skin and keep it moisturized and soft.
Some individuals with combination skin genetically have extra sebaceous glands in the T Zone especially. These glands may also be more active, producing more sebum fluid when compared to other individuals.(2) While genetics can absolutely be a factor for combination skin symptoms, it is by no means the only factor, nor is it the most important one. The principles of epigenetics state that it usually takes 3 or more “epigenetic catalysts” for a genetic predisposition to manifest. Epigenetic factors can be internal imbalances not related directly to the specific genetic trait (gut issues, for example) or they can be environmental influences such as harsh chemicals in sundry products or air pollution. Epigenetic factors can also affect the severity of your combination skin.
Reflect: Do you experience extreme combination skin symptoms in the T Zone or other areas of your face or body? If so, what epigenetic factors do you think are contributing to these symptoms?
What Causes Combination Skin Symptoms
Here are just a few situations that can create the “perfect storm” for combination skin symptoms to manifest:
Seasonal Changes. Extreme oiliness and dryness along the T Zone, feet, hands, or elsewhere can occur with the seasons. This may be expressed in that some areas may feel oilier in the summer and drier in the winter (or vice versa). On the other hand, you may have periods of breakouts, rash, flakiness, or acne during certain seasons. For example, a person may experience extra dryness every September and October, as the weather in their region turns from hot to cooler.
Seasonal combo skin may include the T Zone on your face as well as combination characteristics in other parts of your body. For example, your heels may feel extra dry and prone to cracking in the winter and prone to sweating or feeling extra oily in the summer.
Reflect: Do areas of your face or whole body go through skin-related changes with the seasons? How so?
Hormonal Changes. The condition of the skin can also change with changing hormones. This is especially true for women. Hormonally influenced combination skin can look like oiliness along the T Zone that occurs only during the menstrual cycle if you are of childbearing age. If you are older, breakouts can happen during or after menopause or flakiness can occur along the T Zone or elsewhere shortly after “vasomotor symptoms (VMS)” or “hot flashes.”
A 2005 study sponsored by Boston University School of Medicine found that low estrogen levels, especially prevalent during menopause, can cause excessive skin dryness. In addition, scientists have long known of the connection between adrenal hormones and sebaceous gland function. (3) A 2016 report published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that the activation of adrenal androgens could be linked to “early sebaceous gland maturations in late childhood” and acne development. (4)
Reflect: Do you experience changes in your skin during times of hormonal change, such as during your menstrual period or, if you are older, during menopause or when you have a hot flash?
Emotional Stress. Random dryness, oiliness, and breakouts can also happen because of too much cortisol and adrenaline in the body caused by emotional stress. A 2008 German meta-analysis found an interesting connection between the function of the sebaceous glands in the skin and the health of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal-like axis in the endocrine system. (5) In addition, a 2003 Stanford University study found a concrete link between heightened periods of stress and acne outbreaks. A link between the two is the fact that cells which produce sebum also have cellular receptors for stress hormones. (6)
Reflect: Can you recall a stressful time when the characteristics of your combination skin were heightened or when you broke out in acne?
What You Can Do
It may seem like the extreme imbalances that occur in your combination skin have no rhyme or reason. However, the reality is that there is a pattern to what is going on. Once you understand and discover this pattern, you can begin to focus on helping your skin and your whole body regain balance and resilience. Here are just a few tips to help do just that:
#1 Practice Stress-Lowering Techniques
Practicing stress-lowering tools such as light exercise, deep breathing, and meditation/prayer every day (even when you are not stressed) can help you react with more calm when stressful events do occur and prevent reactions on your skin, such as acne breakouts, as well. According to recent research, these kinds of techniques can directly affect cortisol levels. This, in turn, can lower inflammation, promote quality sleep, improve gut and brain health, and drastically improve the look, feel, and functionality of your skin. (7)
#2 Focus on Rebalancing Hormones
Taking measures to balance hormones every day can help during those times, such as during menstruation or menopause, when hormonal levels commonly become out of balance. To know where you stand with your hormones, first consider getting some key tests done, such as an E3 test (which will check the three main types of estrogen, not just estradiol), a hormonal precursors test, an iodine loading test, a CRP-1 test, and a vitamin D test.
Also, remove toxins from your diet and immediate environment. These could include heavy metals found in tap water, dental fillings, and some food packaging, xenoestrogens found in plastics, sundry products, and chemical cleaners, and halides like bromide, chlorine, and fluoride found in water, new products, and many common commercial foods such as bread.
#3 Use Plants and Herbs to Naturally Soothe and Rebalance
While there is so much you can do to help your skin from the inside, what you put on its surface can make a huge difference as well! Stay away from all those harsh chemicals that can be found in commercial skin cleansers, toners, and astringents. Instead, help your skin to heal on its own terms through the use of gentle yet powerful organic, non-GMO, plant-based products. This is where CHARLíS Luxury Skincare and the new CHARLíS Body Collection can really help!
The best overall T Zone rebalancer is the CHARLíS Daily Facial Cleanser. This amazing product contains both aloe vera and oat beta glucan to soothe and seal in moisture for dry areas. It also contains organic grapefruit peel oil, which is a natural astringent and skin tightener, and Canadian Willowherb, a gentle yet powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties known for helping with acne.
For full-body cleansing, don’t forget about the new CHARLíS Body Collection. One of this line’s signature products is the CHARLíS Orange Blossom Shower Gel. This all-over cleanser is unique because it contains the vitamin C-rich properties of Kakadu plum. Kakadu plum is native to Australia and contains 4% ascorbic acid, which makes it the richest source of vitamin C in the world. The CHARLíS Orange Blossom Shower Gel also contains hydrating sunflower oil as well as antibacterial rosemary extract and the invigorating essence of 100% organic citrus aurantium dulcis peel oil.
Experience the Beauty and Balancing You are Looking For!
If you have combination skin, then its tendency for diversity is not necessarily a bad thing. When this tendency gets out of hand, however, is when you can help your skin and your whole body return to balance again. Lowering stress, rebalancing hormones, being kind to your skin during harsh weather, and living a healthy lifestyle are all must-do’s.
In addition, using the skin-nourishing, organic, lab-tested products in the CHARLíS Luxury Skincare line and the new CHARLíS Body Collection line can take your skin health to the next level. Move out of chaos and into beautifully clear, healthy skin with CHARLíS!
(1) Understanding and Treating Various Skin Types: The Baumann Skin Type Indicator
(2) The Genetics of Human Skin Disease
(3) Estrogen and skin: The effects of estrogen, menopause, and hormone replacement therapy on the skin
(4) Endocrinologic Control to the Development and Activity of the Human Sebaceous Gland
(5) Frontiers in sebaceous gland biology and pathology
(6) The Response of Skin Disease to Stress Changes in the Severity of Acne Vulgaris as Affected by Examination Stress
(7) Influence of Mindfulness Practice on Cortisol and Sleep in Long-Term and Short-Term Meditators