Ah, the T-zone. We’ve all got one, and it’s not particularly picky about skin type, overproducing oil and letting blemishes spring up all over the place. If you identify as having combination skin, I’m sure you’re in a complicated relationship with your T-zone, but that’s what we’re here for!
What is the T-zone?
Our face, just like all of our skin, is covered with pores, which are essentially the gateway to our hair follicles that contain sebaceous glands. These glands produce sebum (or oil) which are needed for both our hair, and our skin. Whilst you have these all over your body (excluding your palms and soles of your feet), they are most concentrated on your face and scalp. In fact, you can have more than one gland per pore! Sebum is essential for optimum skin health; it keeps your skin moisturised and even acts as a protective barrier - another fun fact, you have independent sebaceous glands in your eyelids which produce a special type of sebum which stops your tears from evaporating too quickly! The sebaceous glands across your forehead, and on your nose and chin are particularly active, and can overproduce sebum which makes your skin appear oily or congested – this is the area we call the T-zone, and the ‘T’ simply refers to the shape it makes on your face.
Those with combination skin find their cheeks are quite dry despite their T-zone being particularly oily, but even those with dry skin can experience additional oiliness across their forehead and nose. If your skin is oily, you may experience more breakouts in this area, particularly blackheads which occur when the sebaceous glands become clogged with excess oil and pollutants.
How can I rebalance my T-zone?
Thankfully, there are some great tips, ingredients and products out there to minimise the effect of extra active sebaceous glands!
Use area-specific products
If your skin is dry in the non-T-zone areas, you’re not going to find balance by using the same products across your entire face. Cleansers and toners can be great to tackle both concerns, but when we get to more specific products like your serums and moisturisers, you don’t want to have to compromise. We’ve seen the rise in using multiple face masks at once, so this is just an extension of that great idea! Try applying our Activated Charcoal Face Mask to your T-zone a few times per week to cleanse those sebaceous glands!
Excess oil means we need to be thorough cleansing our skin at the end of the day. You may think it’s wise to avoid oil-based products if your skin is oily, but oil-based cleansers are actually fantastic at attracting all of that sebum to be washed away, without stripping your skin. For a brightening and hydrating option, go for our Grapefruit Cleansing Balm, but for sensitive or mature skin opt instead for our Rosehip Cleansing Oil, which also has calming properties. Your second cleanse, your water-based cleanser this time, should still skip the drying ingredients and go straight for the fresh feeling. Skin on the normal/oily side will benefit from the zing of Peppermint Daily Cleanser which helps to fight blemishes, whereas drier, stressed skin will love the super hydration of our Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleanser.
That includes exfoliation!
As we learnt from last week’s blog on cleansing, our pores are constantly at risk of being clogged by pollutants in the air, alongside dead skin cells. When it’s matched with the oiliness of our skin in the T-zone, we’re looking at a recipe for breakouts! Exfoliation helps to regularly remove any build-up and make it easier for our skin to absorb oil-controlling ingredients and moisture. Our Apple AHA Exfoliating Gel dissolves the glue that keeps those dead and damaged skin cells hanging on, without irritating your skin in the process. If you have spots already across your chin, nose and forehead, this will help to nudge along the recovery process, as exfoliating promotes cell renewal.
However, our Apple AHA is no longer your only exfoliating option! Enter our new Niacinamide Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, the answer to combination skin cleansing and exfoliation in one. Where to begin? Niacinamide is an amazing ingredient for blemish-prone and oily skin as it helps to reduce redness and calm skin, balance oil levels, clear out clogged pores, as well as generally give you a healthier complexion. This is paired with Aloe Vera, which despite being a household name, is incredible… packed with antioxidants, vitamins, enzymes and flavones, it helps to prevent skin damage, soothe skin discomfort, and balances out our exfoliating action. This cleanser is a gentle physical exfoliator, which means (unlike the Apple AHA Exfoliating Gel) it contains physical particulates which are responsible for removing dead skin and build-up through friction. Now, you might have seen quite a bit of backlash on physical exfoliators recently, due to micro-skin damage, and microplastics being released into our waterways, and I am here to assure you we have taken that well into consideration! Our exfoliating beads are Jojoba Esters, which at a molecular level are chains of fatty acids and fatty alcohols held together in a perfect spherical shape. With no jagged edges (like you might find in sugar scrubs or gritty exfoliators) there’s no risk for micro abrasion and skin irritation, and they can gently agitate dead cells on the surface of your skin until they lift off and can be easily washed away. We see the same effect with plastic microbeads, but unlike these problematic exfoliants, Jojoba Esters are biodegradable and don’t negatively affect our marine life and ecosystems. It’s a complete win-win situation! Plus, this cleanser uses natural surfactants which aren’t drying or stripping for an effective cleanse that leaves your skin bright and happy, and a prebiotic mix of Inulin and Fructose which specifically look to improve and strengthen your skin microbiome (the balance of good bacteria) to reduce sensitivity, stress, blemishes, and redness.
Don’t skip toning!
Toners are designed to rebalance your skin, so making sure you follow up with one is a no-brainer for combination skin. A toner like our Niacinamide Daily Toner is multifunctional, with the titular ingredient helping with oiliness and breakouts, combined with Hyaluronic Acid for hydration and Aloe Vera for protection. Pair it with our brand new cleanser for a double Niacinamide hit!
Moisturise. Yes, even the oiliest areas…
Believe it or not, a common, reason for our sebaceous glands to be overactive is due to a lack of moisture in your skin. Your pores panic because your Hyaluronic Acid or Squalene levels are low, and go to town to fix it… Unfortunately we often just end up with a very oily surface, with the deeper layers of our skin cells still struggling. And whilst it may be tempting to avoid adding any moisture to those oily areas, it’s one of the best things you can do for your skin. There are lots of non-comedogenic options out there, that are designed to hydrate your skin without clogging your pores.
The secondary benefit of a good moisturiser is protection. Not only from moisture evaporating from your skin, but warding off environmental stressors that can irritate and clog your skin, making blemishes worse. And, you know, the dry areas around your T-zone absolutely need it! But you have a couple of options… The first is using an oil. Again, this might seem counterproductive, but using a non-comedogenic oil like our Squalane Facial Oil will help to keep your pores from making even more oil, whilst absorbing the moisture and creating a seal over your skin as you sleep or go about your day. The second is using a hydrating serum to really imbue your skin with some moisture. You could add a serum to just your morning or evening regime at first to see how your skin responds. Our Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum is a no-brainer, but you might also like our Zinc PCA Facial Serum with its moisturising Vegetable Collagen, alongside oil-controlling ingredients we love and will also benefit from.
The last is a (you guessed it) moisturiser! I present to you our new Zinc PCA Daily Moisturiser, which we specifically designed for those with skin on the oilier side, to get moisture without going over-the-top with it. Zinc PCA is great for combination skin as it helps to reduce bad bacteria from causing havoc, gets right to your sebaceous glands to regulate sebum production, and works to prevent collagen degradation (which we need for elasticity, youthfulness, and moisture!). Then comes Jojoba Oil, which like Squalane, is very close to the oils we already have in our skin so absorbs easily and helps to balance oil levels and calm skin, and Ginseng, packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients which brighten, soothe, and repair skin. Not to mention two of our favourites, Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid. Whilst you can still use this one on your T-zone, and a richer cream (like our Collagen Face Cream) on your drier areas, it can be used morning and night on your entire face. It’s a great base for makeup, too.
And it’s that easy! Really, it just takes a little time to make sure your routine is serving your goal of balanced skin to the best degree. Let’s give the T-zone the love it needs to chill out and leave you with bright, clear skin!
See you next time,
Amy @ Team Q+A
Online community coordinator at Q+A and excited to double up on two of my favourite ingredients! 🤩