If you’ve ever looked through the skin care section of your local drugstore, you’ve no doubt noticed that there are literally hundreds of products marketed towards people with acne. While some of this is certainly nothing more than pure marketing gimmicks, there are also some legitimate reasons to have different acne products available to consumers.
One of the most important reasons for different types of acne treatments is that there are several different skin types, all of which respond differently to certain forms of treatment.
A person’s skin can typically be grouped into 1 of 4 primary types: normal, dry, oily, and combination.
In this article we will look at some of the best acne treatment options for those of us out there who are struggling to find the right balance for our combination skin type.
To understand combination skin, we have to first understand what dry and oily skin are.
Skin which doesn’t produce enough natural oil is considered dry, and symptoms include tightness, flaking, and inflammation. This dryness can be very irritating, and that irritation can lead to acne breakouts.
Overproduction of skin oils, however, causes oily skin which appears shiny or “greasy” and this can make it easier for clogged pores to fill with sebum and turn into acne.
Combination skin, just as the name implies, is when a person experienced dryness on certain areas of the face (typically the cheeks) while other areas (such as the T-zone) are oily.
By far the most common cause of combination skin is genetics, and that’s unfortunate in a way because it means there isn’t a whole lot you can do to “fix” it, you simply have to find a way to deal with it. It is normal for the chin, nose, and forehead (T-zone) to have more active oil-producing glands than other areas of the face, such as the cheeks. However, in people with combination skin the difference between the areas of the face is drastic enough that it is both noticeable and affects the formation of acne.
Certain products, when used on the face, can simultaneously stimulate oil production in the t-zone while causes dryness on the cheeks.
When you’re working with combination skin, you will need to be using products which help to create a balance between the oil production on your t-zone and the dryness on your cheeks. There are really two ways you can do this, and they are very different from one another.
The first way to get combination skin under control is to work with your skin and use as few products as possible. What I mean when I say work with your skin is to only use facial products to subtly influence the oil production of certain parts of your face, and let things come into balance naturally. This might mean using different products on different parts of your face, or even no products on other parts.
If your t-zone is oily, you may want to consider not even washing that part of your face. I know that sounds crazy and counterproductive, but washing strips away the natural oils that your skin produces, and that causes your skin to produce even more oil to compensate.
If you are using a moisturizer (and you should be!), then you might want to think about not applying any to your t-zone, and just letting your skin naturally moisturize itself.
The other, drastically different method for dealing with combination is to take matters into your own hands and use products to control the amount of oil on your skin. This mean using a cleanser on the whole face to remove all oils, and moisturizing to try to keep your skin from producing as much oil for itself.
Here is a sample acne treatment that you can try if you have combination skin, but ultimately it’s important to realize that it’s probably going to take some trial-and-error before you figure out exactly what works best for you.
Start out by washing your face with an un-medicated gentle cleanser. Make sure that your cleanser does not contain any acne fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. This doesn’t make sense to a lot of people with acne, but they don’t realize that your cleanser is actually not the most important part of your regimen when it comes to clearing acne. It’s actually the next step which gets rid of your acne; the purpose of the cleanser is simply to strip away whatever is on your skin and prepare it for an application of topical benzoyl peroxide.
After you’ve washed your face with your gentle cleanser, and allowed it 5-10 minutes to fully dry, it’s time for a topical application of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide.
It’s important that the benzoyl is 2.5%, rather than 10%. Studies have shown that 2.5% is just as effective at fighting acne, while causing less irritation to the skin.
Unfortunately most BP you will find in stores is 10%, but Neutrogena does offer a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide called “On-The-Spot” which can be found in most stores.
So how much do you apply? You should start with a small amount, maybe no more than a pea-sized amount for your entire face. At first benzoyl peroxide may be irritating to your skin, but if the start with a small amount and allow your skin to get used to it, you will eventually be able to increase the amount until you get to the point where it’s enough to keep your acne clear.
The final step is to moisturize your entire face with a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
A lot of people with oily or combination skin don’t want to do this, because they think it’s going to make their skin more oily and greasy. However it’s important to always moisturize because, as I’ve said earlier, if your skin is left too dry it will start to overproduce natural oils.