An Editor and Dermatologist Share Their Best Tips for Dry and Combination Skin

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Neutrogena Skin Balancing Cleansers


If you talk to any skincare expert, they’ll wax poetic about how everyone should have a routine tailored to their skin type. There’s a reason for that. Curating your daily regimen with products specifically made for your skin type makes it easier to target concerns and achieve your healthiest, happiest skin. That’s why Neutrogena® recently rolled out its Skin Balancing Line, a trio of cleansers that make it easy to care for your skin’s unique needs. The cleanser collection—which was developed with dermatologists—includes the Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Gel Cleanser for combination skin, Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Clay Facial Cleanser for oily skin, and the Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Milky Cleanser for dry skin. Each works to eliminate pore-clogging dirt while respecting your skin's natural moisture barrier, leaving it soft and balanced.

While each cleanser is infused with a unique blend of ingredients based on the skin type it caters to, you’ll find one staple ingredient in all of them: 2% polyhydroxy acid (PHA). “Polyhydroxy acids are one of the mildest acids that help to gently encourage the dead skin cells at the surface to shed and exfoliate,” says board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Caroline Robinson, MD, FAAD. For Dr. Robinson (who has combination skin) and myself (who has dry skin), the Neutrogena® cleansers have been much-needed additions to our daily skincare routines. Ahead, we both break down how the Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Cleansers have fit into our skincare routines and share a few tips on how we care for our dry and combination skin.

An Editor’s Dry Skin Routine and Tips (Milky Cleanser)

Neutrogena Skin Balancing Milky Cleanser

As someone who deals with chronically dry skin from head to toe, the best advice I’ve been given is to curate my routine with ultra-hydrating products. Ideally, you want to look for products that have humectants or other hydrating ingredients to ensure that the skin remains soft and moisturized. Dr. Robinson says this is what makes a milky cleanser ideal for drier skin types. Like the rest of the cleansers in the collection, the Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Milky Cleanser is formulated without parabens, soaps, sulfates, phthalates, alcohols, and dyes. Its silky, milk-like texture allows it to remove dirt and oil without overly stripping my skin. When I slathered it onto my wet skin, the cleanser felt equally soothing and nourishing. After rinsing it off and examining my skin closely, I noticed how refreshed my complexion looked and how moisturized it felt. Another upside to the cleanser? I’ve also applied it to my dry skin to remove makeup and it was able to melt away every stitch so effortlessly. 

After I use the cleanser, I like to treat my skin to a gentle mask one to two times per week. Typically, I’ll reach for one that boasts moisturizing and purifying benefits to reset and renew my skin. Once I wipe off the mask, I’ll pat a toner into my skin to help balance my skin’s pH levels and improve the efficacy of the products I apply afterward. I’ll then follow the toner with a hyaluronic acid serum, rich moisturizing cream, and facial oil to amp up my skin’s hydration. And, of course, I finish things off with a moisturizing sunscreen to protect my face from the sun. In the evenings, I like to round my routine out with a nourishing overnight treatment. When I follow this routine to a T, I’m left with skin that is far from parched. It feels incredibly balanced and looks brighter.

Olivia Hancock


A Derm’s Combination Skin Routine and Tips (Gel Cleanser)

I have combination skin, so one of the biggest challenges is finding the right cleanser and moisturizer for my skin as the seasons change and years pass. Some areas on my face are prone to dryness, like my cheeks and around my mouth, while others can be oilier, like my forehead and nose.

Currently, the focus of my skincare is softening some of the signs of aging. In the morning, I use a gentle exfoliating cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids to brighten and absorb oil throughout the day. I follow this with treatment serums to address discoloration. After this, I use a moisturizer and an SPF. At night, I double cleanse with a lotion cleanser followed by a gel cleanser. These types of cleansers work well for removing makeup and sunscreen. With Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Gel Cleanser, it effectively targets 100% of pore-clogging dirt and impurities, but still leaves the skin feeling smooth and soft. This is thanks to the infusion of polyhydroxy acid, as mentioned earlier. Compared to other exfoliants, PHAs tend to be less sensitizing to the skin due to its larger molecule size. It's an ideal ingredient in the Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Cleansers because it is a moisture binding humectant that nourishes and conditions skin while cleansing.

Neutrogena Skin Balancing Gel Cleanser

I follow this with a topical retinoid to help with breakouts and address the signs of aging (i.e., fine lines, discoloration, and skin laxity). I also use a topical vitamin C at night because of its antioxidant effects and its impact on evening tone. I follow this with a thick night cream to help combat loss of hydration overnight.

One of the most important things that people with combination skin types can do is to pay attention to their skin and what it needs. There is no one-size-fits-all routine for the skin, and there may be days where you feel drier or oilier than others. I’ve learned to assess my skin after washing to see if my cleanser is keeping me balanced and after applying my products and throughout the day to see if I need more or less moisturizer. While caring for your skin is a fluid process, having a routine that meets your skin’s needs is important.