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Best Face Wash for Oily Skin, as Recommended by Dermatologists

Best Face Wash for Oily Skin
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Updated January 30, 2024

Cleansers are key to maintaining a healthy complexion. Creating a routine and product line-up designed to keep your face clean and clear depends on your skin type. For oily skin, finding a gentle and non-comedogenic product will help keep your skin healthy and fresh. The balancing act is finding a face wash for oily skin that protects, hydrates, and keeps your pores unclogged to prevent breakouts.

What to consider when buying face wash for oily skin

Ingredients

When considering a face wash to purchase for oily skin, look for ones with lighter oils, says Dr. Geeta Yadav, board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “You want to find ones that mimic the qualities of your own sebum, like squalane and jojoba,” she says.

Skin type and breakouts

“If you are prone to blemishes, you can also use cleansers with ingredients that will help clarify the pores and prevent breakouts, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide,” says Dr. Yadav.

Texture of face wash

Those with oily skin should consider foaming and gel formulas to help cut through the oil on their skin and not leave moisture behind like a creamy face wash, Dr. Yadav advises.

Price point and size

Just like anti-aging serums and eye creams, affordability and budget will likely dictate the type of face wash you purchase, so I rounded up a range of options from splurges to steals.

Our top picks for the best face wash for oily skin

Best budget face wash for oily skin: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

I love CeraVe for its affordability and oily-skin friendly ingredients, like salicylic acid, which smoothes rough skin, and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Because it’s non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, this face wash won’t irritate or clog your pores (super important if your skin is oily). Unlike many face washes, it doesn’t have microbeads so it won’t strip oils you need from your skin.

Specifications:

  • Size: 16 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Salicylic acid
  • Price on publish: $14.24

What we like:

  • Recommended and developed by dermatologists
  • Affordable
  • Basic cleanser for normal or oily skin

What we don’t like:

  • Unscented (if you like your cleanser to smell good, this one isn’t for you)

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for a dermatologist-approved cleanser for oily skin at an affordable price, this fragrance-free face wash will make a great addition to your skincare routine.

Best budget face wash for oily skin
CeraVe Renewing Salicylic Acid Face Cleanser for Normal Skin 16 fl oz

CeraVe Renewing Salicylic Acid Face Cleanser for Normal Skin 16 fl oz

Best splurge face wash: SkinCeuticals Simply Clean: Our Best Cleanser for Oily Skin

SkinCeuticals is another dermatologist-recommended brand, and its oily skin face wash is a gel that gently exfoliates dead skin cells without stripping your skin of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy. I love that it includes chamomile, which naturally reduces inflammation and soothes redness, on its list of key ingredients.

Specifications:

  • Size: 6.8 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Fruit acid blend, chamomile, and botanical extracts
  • Price on publish: $39.00

What we like:

  • Recommended and developed by dermatologists
  • Contains natural key ingredients
  • Removes waterproof makeup

What we don’t like:

  • It’s a little pricey for the amount in the bottle

The bottom line:

This highly-recommended skincare brand’s option for oily skin is chock-full of natural ingredients, like chamomile, to fight inflammation, and this cleanser easily removes dirt, pollutants, and makeup to keep your pores unclogged.

Best splurge face wash
SkinCeuticals Simply Clean: Our Best Cleanser for Oily Skin

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean: Our Best Cleanser for Oily Skin

Best face wash for oily skin and acne: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

The key word here is “oil-free” because dermatologists recommend you steer clear of added oils in products if you have an oily complexion. Oily skin may also mean blemishes but this face wash is gentle enough to use and it contains salicylic acid, a powerful ingredient to help clarify pores and prevent breakouts, according to Dr. Yadav.

Specifications:

  • Size: 9.1 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Salicylic acid (2%)
  • Price on publish: $9.19

What we like:

  • Good for preventing breakouts
  • Dermatologist recommended
  • Affordable

What we don’t like:

  • Not organic or all-natural
  • May be better for younger skin
  • Some users reported it made their skin feel tight after washing, myself included

The bottom line:

An affordable, dermatologist-recommended acne-fighting cleanser without additional oils.

Best face wash for oily skin and acne
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Read, also: Best Face Washes for Acne Prone Skin, According to Experts

Best face wash for large pores and blackheads: Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser

This fragrance-free product is designed to do a deep-dive cleaning on your pores. If you struggle with blackheads caused by clogged pores, Rare Earth will remove excess oil and dirt and reduce the appearance of large pores. Gentle enough to use every day, with all-natural ingredients like aloe and clay, this is a great choice if blackouts and big pores are a burden.

Specifications:

  • Size: 5 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Aloe and fairly traded Amazonian white clay
  • Price on publish: $29.00

What we like:

  • All-natural
  • Deep cleans pores
  • Oil-absorbing clay

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

It provides a deep clean from natural products like white clay and aloe to soothe irritated or blemished skin.

Best face wash for large pores and blackheads
Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser

Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser

Best face wash for oily sensitive skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream

If you need a deep clean but have sensitive skin, La Roche-Posay is an affordable option. One of its ingredients, coco-glucoside, removes excess oil while clearing out clogged pores, which can lead to blackheads. Suitable for oily or dry skin, this foaming face wash also provides a layer of moisture.

Specifications:

  • Size: 4.22 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin and coco-glucoside
  • Price on publish: $24.99

What we like:

  • Can be used on many skin types
  • Affordable
  • Minimizes pores
  • Tested and approved by dermatologists

What we don’t like:

  • Has a light scent

The bottom line:

An affordable (and highly recommended) face wash for acne and oily skin that gets deep dirt out of pores.

Best face wash for oily sensitive skin
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream 4.2 fl. oz

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream 4.2 fl. oz

Best face wash for oily mature skin: DERMA-E Anti-Wrinkle Cleanser

Mature skin can be oily, too. DERMA-E gently removes oil without harsh ingredients and it contains Vitamin A to help diminish fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also made from 100% vegan ingredients and is certified cruelty-free.

Specifications:

  • Size: 6 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Glyceryl laurate (vegetable-derived), glycolic acid, bakuchiol, retinol, and Carica papaya fruit extract
  • Price on publish: $16.50

What we like:

  • Affordable
  • Carica papaya extract has antioxidant properties
  • Dermatologist tested
  • 97% of people experienced reduced wrinkles over a six-week study period while using the Anti Wrinkle Collection.

What we don’t like:

  • Some users say it left their face feeling tight and dry after a few days or weeks of use

The bottom line:

An affordable and eco-friendly product for mature skin, thanks to ingredients that greatly reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Best face wash for oily mature skin
DERMA-E Anti-Wrinkle Cleanser

DERMA-E Anti-Wrinkle Cleanser

Best natural face wash for oily skin: Osea Ocean Cleansing Mudd

Osea is known for its all-natural approach to skincare, and this face wash won’t disappoint fans of their other products. Good for oily and blemish-prone skin, it boasts ingredients harvested from the sea, like algae and glacial oceanic clay powder to help unclog pores and detoxify skin, plus glycerin to smooth and hydrate. Shopping tip: Osea also sells skin care tools like gua sha sculptors and a plant-based body brush.

Specifications:

  • Size: 5 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Bladderwrack algae, peppermint oil, glycerin, and glacial oceanic clay powder
  • Price on publish: $48

What we like:

What we don’t like:

  • Strong peppermint smell (only a con if you don’t like it; some users find it refreshing)

The bottom line:

If you can afford the high price tag, this face wash made from all-natural ingredients gives you a deep clean without overdrying your skin.

Best natural face wash for oily skin
Osea Ocean Cleansing Mudd

Osea Ocean Cleansing Mudd

Best drugstore face wash for oily skin: Olay Regenerist Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 Revitalizing Facial Cleanser

This lightweight gel cleanser for oily skin removes dirt and oil plus hydrates without leaving your face feeling sticky with residue. It contains peptides—which are known for increasing collagen production plus treating fine lines and wrinkles—and because it’s gentle and fragrance-free, it works well for sensitive skin. Olay also makes a night cream with niacinamide and peptides that is suitable for oily skin.

Specifications:

  • Size: 5 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and peptides
  • Price on publish: $7.43

What we like:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Hydrating
  • Contains peptides to reduce wrinkles and improve the skin barrier

What we don’t like:

  • If you don’t like gel cleansers, you may not like this one

The bottom line:

Extremely affordable, quality face cleanser recommended by dermatologists with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and peptides.

Best drugstore face wash for oily skin
Olay Regenerist Hydrating Face Wash for All Skin Types 5.0 oz

Olay Regenerist Hydrating Face Wash for All Skin Types 5.0 oz

Best hydrating face wash for oily skin: Paula’s Choice Oil-Reducing Cleanser

Affordable and easy to use, this skin-balancing cleanser works best on oily skin to remove excess shine, make-up, and impurities. It can be used more than once a day (AM and PM, suggested) to keep your face hydrated without drying it out.

Specifications:

  • Size: 8 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, Aloe barbadensis⁠, stearic acid⁠, glycerin⁠, and cetearyl alcohol⁠
  • Price on publish: $14.25

What we like:

  • Affordable
  • Helps with blackheads
  • Improves the appearance of enlarged pores

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers say it doesn’t work well for combination skin

The bottom line:

A skin cleanser that is affordable without harsh ingredients suited specifically for oily or combination skin.

Best hydrating face wash for oily skin
SKIN BALANCING Oil-Reducing Cleanser

SKIN BALANCING Oil-Reducing Cleanser

Best smelling face wash for oily skin: ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

This sweet-smelling face wash is a great choice if you are looking for a collagen-based cleanser. Infused with oils like lavender, elderberry, camomile, and eucalyptus, this cleanser calms and cleans your skin while appealing to your sense of smell. Best of all, you can use it twice daily or leave it on longer once a week as a collagen-boosting mask.

Specifications:

  • Size: 3.5 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Elderberry oil, starflower oil, and Padina pavonica (brown algae found on the Mediterranean coast.)
  • Price on publish: $68

What we like:

  • Smells amazing
  • Gives your face a deep cleanse
  • Helps skin glow
  • Easily removes makeup

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

A remarkably good smelling facial balm that turns into a hydrating face wash with thousands of five-star reviews.

Best smelling face wash for oily skin
ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm For All Skin Types, 50g

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm For All Skin Types, 50g

How we selected the best face washes for oily skin

I selected my top picks with the help of dermatologists who advised me on the types of ingredients you should look for in a face wash if your skin is oily and how to best care for oily skin. I also talked with friends and colleagues, personally tested cleansers, and searched through hundreds of reviews. My “best of” list covers a range of affordable options to treat oily skin.

How to tell if you have oily skin?

“One of the easiest ways to tell if you have oily skin is how much shine your skin develops, especially in the t-zone, throughout the day,” explains Dr. Yahav. “If you try blotting your skin with a blotting paper, oily skin will leave behind significant residue while dry skin will leave little to nothing on the paper. Oily skin is also more prone to enlarged pores than dry skin.”

What ingredients should people with oily skin look for?

The following ingredients are recommended by dermatologists:

  • Squalane to keep pores clean and hydrated
  • Jojoba to soothe inflammatory skin
  • Anti-inflammatory salicylic acid for redness and acne-prone skin
  • Retinol for clogged pores
  • Niacinamide for helping to regulate oil production

What ingredients should people with oily skin avoid?

If you have oily skin, avoid ingredients like petroleum or coconut oil which will block your pores. You should also steer clear of jelly-based or wax-based products. Look for face washes in gel form versus creams.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How often should you wash your face?

“For oily skin, I do recommend twice daily cleansing, and for that PM cleanse, I typically recommend double cleansing: one cleanser to remove makeup and the next cleanser to remove sebum,“ says Dr. Rachel Reyes-Bergano, medical director of SkinSpirit Pasadena in California.

Is CeraVe good for oily skin?

CeraVe brands offer products that are good for oily skin because they help restore your skin’s barrier but they won’t clog your pores. Finding the best face wash can be a challenge but CeraVe’s lineup makes it easier.

What should you not use on oily skin?

Dr. Yadav recommends that individuals with oily skin avoid products with excess oils and products that may clog their pores. Dr. Reyes-Bergano says thick and creamy cleansers can potentially cause pore congestion and should be avoided if you have oily skin.

How do you use a face wash for oily skin?

Use lukewarm water to rinse your face, then take a small amount of face wash and gently apply it in circular motions to your face. Rinse off with lukewarm water and pat dry.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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