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Skincare 101: The commandments for combination skin


We talk products, procedures and pores with a skincare professional.

The skin is the largest breathing organ in the human body, and caring for it effectively can sometimes feel like a case of trial and error.

Between the signs of ageing, pigmentation and breakouts, there are a myriad of concerns that we each face on a daily basis. While there are specific products aimed at each problem, those with combination skin can experience multiple issues at any one time and finding a solution can be tricky territory.

To suss out how to redeem our skin sins and enhance our routines, we sought advice from the professionals.


“No two skins are alike,”  says Emma Ryall, the proprietor and skin specialist at Zest Skin Clinic. “With combination skin, there’s many types of concerns so you really have to zone off the area.”

It is often difficult to know what skin type you are, and Emma believes that every woman should make it a priority to visit a specialist to have their skin analysed. The specialist will then advise you about products and/or recommend a treatment programme.

“Most concerns can be managed and treated - if there’s a concern, don’t live with it. See someone about it and find out what your options are.

“A lot of people go straight for the facial, but seeing a skin therapist is where you can get the real knowledge from.

“What you do at home usually accounts for 75 percent of a healthy skin care routine. Everything is completely individual, so a skin specialist will vary products according to someones needs, then they can build up their products at home.”

Emma adds that our skin changes rapidly and regularly, so we should be constantly reevaluating how we take care of it. 


Facial skin care

Facial skin care

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Facial skin care

“The right products always depend on a client’s age, environmental factors, budget and lifestyle - so thats why the initial meet with skincare specialist is so important, to work out what's best for your skin,” Emma states.

First things first, cleansing and cleaning is an essential step. However, it is not a case of one product fits all. 

“Typically you should be exfoliating 2 to 3 times a week - but if you’re quite sensitive that might only be once a week. If you’re more oily, you can afford to go every second day.”

“Cleanse morning and night, without fail,” Emma recommends. “I would always use a cleanser in the morning to prep skin for the day and remove the sebum produced during the night. Double cleanse in the evening - first to remove dirt grime and makeup, second cleanse (using a separate product) cleanses skin itself on deeper level.”

“Oil cleansers are great. Oil on oil helps to break down the sebum, but only as a first cleanse. If you are oily/acne prone, you would be looking at more of a gel or foaming cleanser. Glycolic, salicylic and lactic are really active ingredients to help acne prone, ageing or pigmented skin.”

“If you put a cream cleanser on oily skin you’re going to add more oil content, you're going to get more breakouts and clog the pores,” Emma adds.


Emma, as an acne sufferer herself, cites facial peels as a skin saviour, and she believes that there is a peel out there for everyone.

“Almost everyone can benefit from either a once off or a course to help combat something like acne or pigmentation. It’s more than what a regular facial can give you.”

For a thorough, deeper cleanse, a mask will help to penetrate the skin. But those with combination skin may need to incorporate a few different types of product to get an effective result.

"Clay masks are good to absorb and bring everything to the surface. With a mask, you might find that your therapist can apply 2 or 3 masks - if you’ve got a couple of options on your shelf, you can recreate that at home. Zone it off so you have one particular mask for dry areas, and another product for areas where you have spots,” Emma offers.

Another issue that can plague women, regardless of what skin type they are, is the appearance of large and visible pores.

While you can never minimise them as such, Emma is adamant that you can certainly reduce their appearance, with a course of peels, IPL, and regular exfoliation.

“With a peel, you're removing the surface layer of dead skin cells so everything looks smoother. At home, exfoliation is the best thing, but you would get more of a result from a professional procedure.” 

To help minimise the appearance of pores, Emma has a few tips up her sleeve.

“Primer works well. Preparation in the morning is key to how everything sits throughout the day,” she says.


freshed face beauty

freshed face beauty

Getty Images/iStockphoto

freshed face beauty

“Also, use warm water in the shower to remove oil and grime, but finish off with cool water to close the pores.”

As someone who spent almost a decade living in sunny Australia, Emma has one golden rule that she won’t compromise on.

“The main thing I would suggest is including a SPF 30 into your facial skin care routine. it doesn't matter if theres no sunshine. Even inside, we can get UV damage from laptops and iPads. Give it 5 minutes after applying, before doing your makeup so it really absorbs into the skin.”

Emma Ryall is the Proprietor and Skin Specialist at Zest Skin Clinic in Swords, Co Dublin. For more information, phone 01 890 2441 or visit www.zest.ie


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