Having combination skin—which has characteristics of both dry skin and oily, acne-prone skin—often means walking a tightrope with your skin care. You don’t want to use anything that will strip your skin of moisture completely or anything that will ramp up oil production and cause breakouts. To maintain that delicate balance, derms often recommend that you use a combination of acids for exfoliation, antioxidants for brightening and strengthening skin, and hydrators—while avoiding potential irritants like dyes.
To find out the best new products for combination skin, we had a range of testers (many who have combination skin themselves) try out the latest from brands like Philosophy, Kiehl’s, and Murad, and rounded up some winners for all the steps along your skin-care routine: from cleansing and exfoliating, to moisturizing and slathering on sunscreen.
Best Moisturizer for Combination Skin: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
Our testers were very charmed by the thick, whipped texture of the relaunched Ultra Facial Cream from Kiehl’s. The new formula nixes the parabens, but keeps a skin-friendly blend of superstar oils like squalane oil and hydrators like glycerin. A key factor for people with combination skin: It’s lightweight and never greasy, which testers reported (see below). See the full ingredient list here. (And if you’re curious about parabens, including whether you actually need to be freaked out by them, you should read more about what the science says here—it’s fairly nuanced, and the long story short is that you shouldn’t really worry. But if you do worry…again, this product doesn’t have them,
Bonus Points, Per the Experts: This product comes with the acne-fighting salicylic acid, which dermatologists noted could be helpful for combination skin.
One Tester Said: “As someone with combination skin, I loved this moisturizer. It was thick and rich, but didn’t feel heavy or sticky on my face. It smelled nice (actually barely smelled at all, which I prefer) and left my skin feeling very soft after just one use.”
Best Cleanser for Combination Skin: RéVive Foaming Cleanser and Enriched Hydrating Wash
Foaming cleansers are a solid middle ground for combination skin: They won’t overdo it with grease like an oil cleanser, and the foaming action helps unearth dirt and oil from your pores. Testers agreed that this one from Révive Skincare knocked it out of the park for its rich consistency—thanks to a blend of emollient oils and butters—that made their skin feel extra clean and soft. It also contains antioxidants like vitamin E and green tea to repair damage to skin from free radicals, which might help justify splurging a little more on a daily cleanser. See the full ingredient list here.
Just So You Know: This product contains fragrance, which our derms recommend you watch out for.
One Tester Said: “This was my favorite cleanser. It’s so creamy. I used it every day, and it literally felt like freaking heaven on my skin. It’s thicker than other cleansers and the consistency is amazing. It’s very good for those like me who have combo skin. It removes everything and leaves your face feeling super clean without drying the skin out completely.”