10 Best Cleansers for Oily Skin in 2021

Best Cleansers for Oily Skin

Oily skin is not just annoying, but it is also hard to manage, from the shine and grease to the blemishes and breakouts. Excess oil has been found to be potentially damaging to the skin too, as this is prone to oxidation. The good news is that there are ways you can effectively control oiliness and minimize the skin problems that come with it, including blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. The most basic yet important of these oil-reducing strategies, according to dermatologists, is cleansing your face. And your must-have besides micellar water: a face wash that is specially formulated for your type of oily or sensitive skin.

Today’s selection consists of a range of cleansers for men’s and women’s oily skin. You’ll find mild and medicated options for all skin types. There are cleansers that work best as an exfoliating face wash or a whitening face for any skin types. And you can even choose from a variety of organic face washes

To help you decide, we made the How to Pick Best Face Washes & Cleansers for Oily Skin Guide revealing all the secrets. 

Best Cleansers for Oily Skinsers for Oily Skin Comparison Chart

PictureProductFeaturesOveral ReviewBuy
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser Review1. CeraVe Foaming Facial CleanserFormulated with three essential ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) to help restore and maintain the skin★★★★★ (5)Check Price
Vitamin C Cleanser by InstaNatural Review2. Vitamin C Cleanser by InstaNatural  Organic Anti Wrinkle Reducer Formula★★★★★ (5)Check Price
Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser Review3. Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing CleanserContains natural charcoal to deep clean pores and absorb unwanted oil
★★★★★ (5)Check Price
La Roche Posay Effaclar Review4. La Roche Posay Effaclar

Oil-free / Fragrance-Free / Paraben-Free


★★★★★ (5)Check Price
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser Review5. Cetaphil Daily Facial CleanserHypoallergenic facial cleanser★★★★★ (5)Check Price
Clean & Clear Dual Action Face Moisturize Review6. Clean & Clear Dual Action Face Moisturize Made with salicylic acid that helps treat and prevent pimples★★★★★ (5)Check Price
Neutrogena Cleanser Skin Balancing Kaolin Clay Review7. Neutrogena Cleanser Skin Balancing Kaolin Clay Contains 2% PHA and Kaolin clay for oily skin ★★★★★ (5)Check Price
L'oreal Pure Clay Cleanser Review8. L'oreal Pure Clay CleanserMade with 3 pure clays and Charcoal detoxes
★★★★ (4.5)Check Price
Bliss Pore Patrol Clay Cleanser Review9. Bliss Pore Patrol Clay Cleanser100% FREE from parabens, phthalates, SLS and more★★★★ (4)Check Price
Organic Male OM4 Oily Review10. Organic Male OM4 OilyEffective for clearing problem or blemished skin★★★★ (4)Check Price


Oil or sebum is essential to keeping your skin healthy. It is produced by the sebaceous glands underneath your skin, with oil production particularly active in areas crowded with these glands: your face, neck, chest and back.

Oil travels from sebaceous glands to the surface of your skin through the nearest pores and in the process not only lubricates but also protects your skin by binding to and removing dead skin cells and other irritants. In addition, research suggests that oil helps deliver antioxidants such as vitamin E, which are key to keeping your skin healthy.

At times, however, sebaceous glands produce more sebum than necessary. This excess oil ends up clogging your pores and making your skin look greasy and shiny.

Signs and Effects

How can you tell if you have overactive sebaceous glands? What are some signs of oily skin?

  • Enlarged pores: Oily skin and large pores typically go hand in hand. Pores increase in size to compensate for the amount of oil that overactive sebaceous glands produce. The bigger your pores, the more oil is secreted through your skin.
  • Shiny complexion: If you have oily skin, chances are your face looks shiny, especially around your forehead and nose (T-zone). Your skin might also feel greasy just a few hours after the last time you showered or washed your face.
  • Prone to blemishes and breakouts: Oily skin and pimples are closely associated. Oil attracts dust, dirt and other impurities that clog your pores. Clogged pores in turn lead to acne prone skin, blackheads and whiteheads, among other skin problems.

If you wear makeup, you might have noticed that your makeup doesn’t last as long with an oily complexion, necessitating multiple touchups throughout the day.

Or perhaps you’re no stranger to frequent blotting. If the tissue you use gets soaked in oil each time you blot your face, then chances are you do have this skin type.

But if oil buildup is occasional and concentrated around certain areas of your face only (usually the nose), while other parts feel flaky and dry, then you probably have combination skin.

Causes of Oily Skin

A host of factors contribute to your skin type. And no, it’s not because you feasted on greasy food last night. While your diet can aggravate skin problems, it does not directly cause it. But the following do:

  • Genes: This for most part hereditary. So you could be predisposed to oily skin if your mother or father has it. Those “born” with this skin type have bigger sebaceous glands, which are more active at producing oil.
  • Hormones: These skin types can also be traced to heightened levels of androgen, a hormone that plays a critical role in producing oil. Androgen levels increase during specific stages of your life such as puberty, resulting in a spike in oil production, which then leads to blemishes, oil, and acne. Women also tend to have higher androgen levels—and oilier skins—just before their menstrual cycle begins, during pregnancy and as they undergo menopause.
  • Stress: Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that pumps up your skin’s oil production. So if you’re going through a physically, mentally or emotionally exhausting period, your skin may be more vulnerable to oiliness.

Oily skin has also been linked to air pollutants such as cigarette smoke. This is likewise considered among the side effects of taking steroids and similar medications. And if your face-cleaning regimen is too aggressive or harsh, it becomes part of the problem rather than the solution (discussed in detail below).

Oiliness can be seasonal too. More people have extremely oily skin in summer due to excessive heat and humidity, which ramp up oil production, and increased sweating. This is not to say that you’re spared from the skin type in winter. But because there is less moisture in the air during winter, your skin will be prone to drying out.

Look at the Bright Side!

Having oily skin is not all bad. It actually has benefits too. For one, those with oily appear to have fewer wrinkles and fine lines and therefore look more youthful than people with dry skin. And because it has a thicker dermis and is better at holding in moisture, oily skin can more effectively withstand the elements. Also, oily skin can feel softer and smoother, giving you a natural glow.

Of course, you will want to control it so your skin may earn better health and a less-shiny look. But it’s always great to look at the positive side of your skin type. That’s why you should maintain it with the proper cleanser to reap its benefits well!

Top 10 Cleansers for Oily Skin Reviews

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser – Daily Face Washing, Normal to Oily Skin

✔ Foaming cleanser that leaves your skin feeling soft
✔ Offers deep pore action to ensure your entire face washes well
✔ The foaming cleanser can also get rid of blackheads with its hyaluronic acid

✘ Not the best for those with a skin type that are susceptible to conditions
✘ Face cleanser may make your skin more sensitive with its ingredients like parabens

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser Review

The CeraVe Foaming Face Wash earns points for its unique non-drying formula. Delivered via a patented controlled-release technology, the formula contains three ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) that help remove excess oil while retaining the healthy oil that forms the skin’s protective barrier. One of its active ingredients, hyaluronic acid, aids in locking in moisture, so you can look forward to all-day hydration. And with niacinamide calming and soothing your skin, your natural glow is restored.

Users also love how the foaming cleanser action gently refreshes and thoroughly cleanses, leaving their skin feeling soft rather than tight. And only a little amount is needed to make the clear liquid lather, so a bottle may last you longer than expected.

Plus, this foaming face wash does not clog pores or cause irritation and is mild enough for everyday use. It is ideal for those with normal to oily skin and can be counted on no matter the skin type.

However, if you’re looking for a foaming face wash that also gets rid of blackheads, heals dark spots and effectively removes waterproof and long wearing makeup, then this may not be your best bet. Some users warn against washing with the cleanser if you have sensitive skin or a skin condition like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, having experienced rashes with little red bumps themselves. It has been pointed out too that the formula includes parabens, and propylene glycol, a known skin sensitizer.

  • What it’s best for? Keeping your skin moisturized daily
  • Why? This foaming face wash contains three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid, ensuring that your skin does not dry out

Vitamin C Cleanser by InstaNatural – For Oily, Dry & Sensitive Skin

✔ It boasts of a nice fragrance with oil free properties
✔ Face washes for oily skin well, has great consistency
✔ Exfoliating cleanser that’s compatible for all skin types and can remove dead skin

✘ Comes at a higher price compared to other face washes for oily skin
✘ Doesn’t get rid of acne as quickly as expected, it takes longer times

Vitamin C Cleanser by InstaNatural Review

This Vitamin C Face Cleanser is an organic face wash popular for its anti-aging and blemish- and pore-reducing benefits. It’s one of the best-sellers at InstaNatural, a small business that focuses on natural yet effective skin care solutions. The company does not use parabens, formaldehyde releasers, mineral oil, MCI/MI, synthetic dyes, sulfates, harmful alcohols and any fillers, making their products 100 percent safe.

For their Vitamin C Face Cleanser, InstaNatural selected and combined pure and nourishing ingredients that together protect, refine and rejuvenate the skin, for better texture and tone and a healthier complexion. Topping the list is the natural antioxidant Vitamin C along with chamomile, green tea and sugarcane extracts. Aloe and coconut water are mixed in as well, making for a refreshing and hydrating formula.

The most notable feature of this cleanser is its anti-aging properties.Its boosters help get rid of dulling skin cells, while the antioxidants from Vitamin C prevent and reduce wrinkles and fine lines and promote collagen production, resulting in firmer, brighter-looking skin. A lot of users have also seen their acne blemishes and dark spots lighten with daily use.

In addition, the exfoliating cleanser does a top-notch job of tightening and exfoliating your pores. Users with oily skin and blackheads or whiteheads reported fewer of these unsightly bumps, while those with oily skin and large pores said they felt their pores became smaller. Many also loved how soft, smooth and healthy their skin looked. If you have sensitive skin though, certain ingredients may cause an adverse reaction.

When washing with this exfoliating cleanser, which has a nice citrus fragrance, a little goes a long way. It also rinses easily and thus does not leave any residue.Some users, however, experienced a tingling sensation while washing and mild drying after washing. The price may be a bit high, but on the whole the product is worth your money.

  • What it’s best for? For an anti-aging cleansing regimen and as an exfoliating face wash
  • Why? It contains ingredients that contribute to youthful-looking skin and tighter pores

Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser

✔ Suitable for all skin types for deep pore action without stripping natural oils
✔ Can be used as a deep cleanse without requiring micellar water
✔ You may earn better skin quickly after a few days to a week with its salicylic acid

✘ No promise of leaving your skin without tingling sensations
✘ If you have dry skin, it may have your skin a bit itchy

Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser Review

This dermatologist-tested acne cleanser is Biore’s take on the “activated charcoal” hype, with many purchasing the product because they were interested in finding out if it’s worth the hype. Among satisfied customers, feedback often focused on how deeply the wash cleanses, how smooth and soft their face feels, and how bright their complexion turned out.

The cleanser combines natural charcoal and salicylic acid (1 percent), creating a blend that works even on extremely oily skin with acne. It helps by penetrating deep into pores to clean out oil, dirt and other pimple-causing elements. It also instantly absorbs oily residue on the skin, reducing the likelihood of further breakouts.

It may not clear your skin completely or erase old pimple scars, but users are still happy that this affordable cleanser helps minimize acne and manage oily skin in summer. In case your skin feels dry or needs a hydration boost after washing, applying a non-comedogenic moisturizer ought to do the trick.

However, if you have dry or severely sensitized skin, this cleanser is not recommended as it may make your face slightly red or result in little itchy bumps, as some users have shared in their reviews. Also, what is normally a cool and mild tingling effect from cleansing could feel more like a uncomfortable burning and stinging sensation.

  • What it’s best for? Deep cleanse for a deep pore treatment
  • Why? It uses a combination of natural charcoal and salicylic acid

La Roche Posay Effaclar – Purifying Foaming Gel Face Wash Cleanse

✔ Has an oil free and smooth consistency that helps remove dead skin
✔ Face washes well with it, leaves a nice scent for your skin care routine
✔ A foaming and gel cleanser that isn’t harsh on the skin

✘ The foaming cleanser may cause some dry skin, not the best for combination skin types
✘ More expensive compared to other face washes for oily skin

La Roche Posay Effaclar Review

The La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser has won fans over with its effective pH-balanced and water-soluble formula, which suits even those with oily sensitive skin. The cleanser is not only recommended by thousands of dermatologists worldwide but was also developed in collaboration with dermatologists and clinically tested on acne- and blemish-prone sensitive skin.

The formula features a thick and clear gel texture and a light citrusy scent. It is free of oil, soap, alcohol and parabens and relies on zinc pidolate to cleanse and purify the skin.

As a result, excess oil and impurities are removed, leaving your skin feeling fresh, soft and smooth. Plus, there are no ingredients that could clog your pores, making the foaming and gel cleanser a safe choice for those who have skin with acne.

According to many users, the gel and foaming cleanser is gentle enough for daily use, with only a few complaining about dryness or irritation after washing. Price-wise, it’s one of the more cost-effective options in La Roche-Posay’s selection. Compared to other brands with water-soluble washes, however, the product tends to be more expensive.

  • What it’s best for? As a foaming cleanser for acne- and blemish-prone sensitive skin
  • Why? It is oil-, soap- and alcohol-free foaming cleanser and has been tested on sensitive skin

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser – For Normal to Oily Skin

✔ The best deep cleanse for any skin type, contains no fragrances
✔ Can be used as an exfoliating cleanser, treating your skin without risks
✔ Offers deep cleanse action to leave your skin clear and fresh

✘ Contains ingredients like parabens that may ruin your skin care
✘ The brand costs more than the usual deep pore cleanser

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser Review

Cetaphil Daily Cleanser is developed by dermatologists and widely trusted for its safe and gentle formulation. It steers clear of additives like dyes, phthalates, sulfates and synthetic fragrances and instead makes the best out of the basics—a blend of mild and nonirritating ingredients.

Among these are surfactants that break up and remove the oil, dirt and other impurities for a thorough cleanse that won’t leave your skin feeling dry or tight. And there’s cetyl alcohol, which helps slow evaporation from the skin.

As it’s moisturizer- and soap-free, this cleanser washes off well—without any greasy residue to irritate your skin or to clog your pores—despite its fairly thick consistency. It exfoliates too and aids in tightening pores, enhancing your skin texture and tone so you end up with skin that looks fresh and feels soft.

So it’s no surprise that this has become a favorite acne cleanser for oily skin, especially among users who regularly experience breakouts. And it is ideal not only for men’s and for women’s skin care needs, but suits children and teens as well, which just goes to show how skin-friendly its formulation is.

While it costs a bit more than the average face wash, to many of those who have purchased and tried the cleanser, the price is pretty reasonable since a bottle lasted them up to two months and delivered the results they hoped for. The formula may have ingredients like parabens though, a substance which in large amounts could harm your skin.

  • What it’s best for? For sensitive skin requiring a safe and gentle formulation
  • Why? It uses only mild and nonirritating ingredients and rinses well

Clean & Clear Dual Action Face Moisturize

✔ Contains salicylic acid to fight off acne effectively for all skin types
✔ Helps with all skin care routines, great to combine with micellar water
✔ Absorbs to your skin and deep pore without feeling tingly or burning

✘ Don’t expect a deep cleanse right away, it takes more time than usual
✘ Some people don’t experience many huge changes from the face washes for oily skin

Clean & Clear Dual Action Face Moisturize Review

If you suffer from oily skin, drugstore finds that work really well are an answered prayer, especially if you’re on a tight budget. This is why the Clean & Clear Dual Action Face Moisturize is a great steal. Available in a 5-ounce tube, the cleanser boasts a dual-action oil-free formula that helps with both oily skin and pimples.

In this case, the combination of salicylic acid and Powder particles technology helps treat and fight acne while washing away excess oil. Suitable for all skin types, it is gentle enough for daily use as an acne soap.

The cleanser works by penetrating pores without clogging them. It dries up, shrinks and reduces the redness of pimples. It is even effective for spot treatment, especially when paired with a disinfectant.

And unlike most acne-control washes, this feels moisturizing, so you don’t have to worry about your skin overdrying. It’s also perfect if you apply makeup in the morning before you go out, as it leaves a smooth, matte and powdery finish that helps control oil throughout the day.

However, some users were disappointed that results took longer than what was indicated on the package, while others did not experience noticeable improvements in their complexion or found the cleanser irritating.

  • What it’s best for? Cleansing all skin types before applying makeup
  • Why? It contains salicylic acid and penetrates pores

Neutrogena Cleanser – Skin Balancing Kaolin Clay

✔ Cleanses acne prone skin without stripping it off its oils
✔ Made with cruelty free ingredients and a hypoallergenic formula
✔ Keeps your skin soft and smooth without any sketchy ingredients that flare up skin

✘ It may have a weird feel at first, takes time to get used to
✘ The price may be a bit too high for some

Neutrogena Cleanser Skin Balancing Kaolin Clay Review

The Neutrogena Clay Cleanser is a great choice because it is oil free and has the nicest consistency that blends well into your skin. This is a conditioning face wash made with a Kaolin clay mattifying formula, which would target all pore-clogging dirt while maintaining your skin’s natural moisture barrier. That way, your skin stays soft and balanced.

I also trust the fact that this is made of cruelty free ingredients, as Neutrogena is a reputable brand that’s recommended by dermatologists and has its values in mind and rights reserved. Besides that, it’s made with hypoallergenic formula, made for all skin types! 

You may be a bit shocked if it’s your first time using clay, as it doesn’t feel anything at all like your gel cleanser. However, that’s what makes it worth the shot, especially with its amazing benefits in giving your skin the nutrients it needs without stripping it off its natural oils.

L’oreal Pure Clay Cleanser

✔ Useful for oily and acne prone skin, has an oil free consistency
✔ Made of cruelty free ingredients to ensure safety
✔ Rights reserved with its unique formula, you can’t get it anywhere else

✘ Doesn’t have the feel like a gel cleanser, may feel rough at first
✘ Sometimes leaves gray residue rings on the sink when rinsing it off

L'oreal Pure Clay Cleanser Review

No need for micellar water anymore, because you’ve got the L’Oreal Paris skin care clay cleanser to give your skin the nutrients and cleansing it needs! This is made with oil free formula so it doesn’t leave a weird shine, nor will it leave a slippery feeling on your face. Furthermore, the clay cleanser is made with cruelty free ingredients such as pure clays, red algae, and volcanic rock, which will exfoliate all the dead skin cells and smoothen imperfections.

I like that you can find results within days after using the clay cleanser consistently. As long as you use it thrice a week your skin may earn the fantastic feel you’ve always wanted. If you are acne prone, not to worry! This is made to also help remove any dirt and oil that cause your acne, leaving your skin clear and healthy.

Bliss Pore Patrol Clay Cleanser

✔ Best face washes for excess oil control with oil free consistency
✔ Eliminates the need for micellar water and other skin care products
✔ Unique formula that removes all dirt and impurities quickly

✘ There are complaints of a bad odor
✘ Feels a bit looser than clay and has a different feel

Bliss Pore Patrol Clay Cleanser Review

The Bliss Pore Control Clay Cleanser is another product with oil free consistency for your comfort and preference. While made for all skin types, it’s also optimal for those who produce too much oil, giving you a smooth and less shiny complexion! As with most cleansers I mentioned here, its formula has rights reserved, having the antioxidant-rich recipe made with cruelty free ingredients to ensure safety and eco-friendliness. 

The cleanser has tea tree oil, kaolin, glycerin, among other premium ingredients, but NO parabens or harmful chemicals. So you can expect only the best moisturization as your skin feels cleaner and clearer. Plus, it would minimize your pores as well, removing any impurities and excess oils without stripping off TOO much.

With its oil free consistency and unique formula, it’s one of the best face washes if you’re focused on finding something made with clay for the better feel.

Organic Male OM4 Oily

✔ Easy and quick to apply with good absorption
✔ Great for men and post-shave
✔ You only need a small amount for it to work

✘ A bit pricey for its size, but it lasts a long time
✘ Made better for men than women

Organic Male OM4 Oily Review

I believe that the Organic Male OM4 Clay Cleanser is the best for sensitive skin for its oil free consistency and key active ingredients like kaolin, eucalyptus, white willow bark, violet, tea tree oil, coconut oil, and echinacea. It’s made for all skin types and is a clay-based mineral cleanser designed to detoxify the skin and reduce excess oils. Another unique feature is that it’s made for both men and women, but more specifically men!

Men can use it as an aftershave or moisturizer, having the thick yet oil free consistency that smells great. It moisturizes the skin well while cleansing it from any impurities, making it worth the price.

How to Pick the Best Cleansers For Oily Skin

Now that you know all about your skin type and the importance of investing in the right skin care products, the next question is: How can you choose the best face washes for oily skin for you? These are the important factors to consider when selecting a good product:

The Ingredients

Your cleanser should have a good formula made for oily skin. Here are the ingredients you should look out for when doing so:

  • Salicylic acid is perfect for removing any excess oils, or sebum, form your skin. It would remove your skin’s top layers, getting rid of excess oil buildup and other dead skin cells. BUT, it might also make your skin a bit dry. 
  • Benzoyl Peroxide is an exfoliating agent which removes excess sebum from your skin, preventing it from developing acne. If you’re new to this ingredient, make sure to add only a small amount,as this can cause dry skin and/or redness.
  • Glycolic acid is used in many cleansers, moisturizers, and toners, derived from sugarcane. It penetrates to your skin deeply and is very beneficial for oily skin.
  • Niacinamide is a vitamin B3 that provides amazing benefits for your skin. It can control sebum production, as well as any existing acne on your skin, if any.

You should also opt for natural formulas with healthy ingredients to nourish and moisturize your skin for optimum health. Focus on getting cleansers that are infused with healthy oils, vitamins, among other skin-beautifying supplements that are hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly.

Besides the ingredients mentioned above, make sure that the cleanser is non-comedogenic and sulfate-free, which may earn a spot in the best cleanser list. You may also want to consider pairing your cleansers with micellar water, which can help further clear your skin and get rid of deeper impurities, if required.

The Type of Cleanser

There are different types of cleansers to choose from. There is the foaming face cleanser, gel cleanser, and a mix of both. You may also want to consider getting clay cleansers, though they have a different feel you may need to get used to. But just make sure that you avoid any oil-based cleansers overall, which can actually encourage more oil production and leave your skin feeling oilier and shinier.

It’s much better to get these types of cleansers, as they clean dirt and sebum from oilier complexions better, without leaving your skin stripped. It would also dig deeper to purify your pores, helping to regulate the way your skin produces oil without leaving it too dry. This is recommended for both oily and combination skin.

Feel and Consistency

Of course, you want to prioritize your comfort as well. That’s why you’ll want to focus on getting a lightweight texture but with thick and oil free consistency for better application. It shouldn’t be slippery or have your face look shinier and oilier. Instead, it should absorb quickly and not feel heavy on the face.

Your cleanser also needs to be gentle on the skin, not causing any tingling or burning sensations. While this may be normal during your first few uses, it shouldn’t be intense to the point that it’s painful. Rather, it should be free from extremely harmful chemicals that may do more harm than good.

Look into the fragrance as well. If you are sensitive to smells, invest in one that is fragrance-free. Otherwise, you may want to shop around for certain fragrances you prefer. There is a wide range of fragrances to choose from, whether you want chocolate flavors or tropical ones!

What Is Best Face Wash for Oily Skin?

Besides the factors to consider when selecting a good cleanser, I’ll be going deeper into what else you need to know about the ingredients and type of cleanser you need for your skin.

The best facial cleansers for oily skin are gentle and non-drying. So avoid products with strong or harsh ingredients, many of which may seem to be helping at first but over time are actually making things worse. Such ingredients do make your skin less oily, but they tend to overdo it, irritating and stripping oil from your skin. Your body responds by producing more oil as a way of protecting your skin. So your skin might end up being even more shiny.

One example is alcohol. When added to cleansers, denatured, SD and other volatile alcohols allow for a quick-drying matte finish that degreases your skin. As appealing as this sounds, it’s a short-term benefit that’s counteracted by alcohol’s harmful effects on the skin, from dryness and erosion to enlarged pores and bumps.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is responsible for the “squeaky” clean feeling that some face washes give you. However, it tends to strip your skin of its natural protective oil and is said to cause allergic reactions.

Some people are also wary of parabens. This additive works as a preservative that thwarts the growth of harmful fungi and bacteria. While parabens have not been scientifically proven to contribute to cancer, there are concerns that they may be a risk factor. Also, if you have sensitive skin, cleansers with paraben could be irritating.

Fragrance-free formulas are your best bet if you have oily sensitive skin. Synthetic fragrances are laden with chemicals believed to trigger headaches, asthma attacks and allergies. The phosphates that are used to stabilize them are also associated with birth defects and reproductive problems, according to animal studies.

So what should you keep an eye out for when reading the labels on cleansers for oily skin?

  • If you are looking for an alternative to the acne soap you’ve been using, opt for non-comedogenic cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Such antibacterial medications help with managing or preventing breakouts, especially if you’re dealing with oily skin in summer.
  • For a more radiant complexion, try face washes that contain alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid, which help eliminate dead skin cells while encouraging the growth of new ones.
  • To keep your oily skin smooth and soft, you may want to consider cleansers with anti-inflammatory and calming agents like aloe, chamomile and green tea.
  • Need a face wash that will deeply cleanse your skin? Charcoal-based options, formulated to penetrate pores and take out impurities, have been introduced.
  • If you need an exfoliating face wash, choose an exfoliating cleanser with soft and round granules or micro-beads over those that have scratchy and round grains.
  • To get your fragrance fix, be on the lookout for cleansers that are scented using plant and fruit extracts or essential oils. However, it’s best that you avoid fragrances with oil, as you want an oil free cosnsitency.
  • If you would like to try a whitening face wash for oily skin, select cleansers with skin-lightening properties courtesy of fruit or plant essences and extracts. A number of today’s face washes use tomato, lemon, soya, liquorice and saffron extracts to lighten the skin tone and for a brighter and more luminous complexion.

Oil-free and Oil-based Cleansers

Not all cleansers for men’s and for women’s oily skin are oil-free. Some of today’s options are actually oil-based.

Oil-free cleansers are traditionally preferred, as most believe “oil causes oil”—adding oil to the mix would exacerbate oiliness rather than eliminate it. The most effective ones are non drying and moisturizing.

Oil-based cleansers are formulated around the notion of “like dissolves like,” which in this case would be oil attracting and dissolving excess oil. They also go on and spread easily, especially when applied on oily skin.

It all depends on your preference. I, for one, would rather get oil free cleansers, as it makes me look less shiny and it would still absorb to my skin just fine. 

Foam and Gel Cleansers

Foam cleansers are ideal for people who have oily skin with acne, as they tend to be quite drying. Named for their foamy lather, they are formulated to break down impurities trapped in your pores and to remove oil, makeup and sunscreen. Most include a pump dispenser and last long, as only a small amount is needed to work up enough lather to clean your face.

If you find foam cleansers too harsh, gel cleansers are a good fit, as they are generally more gentle. They are great at cleaning out excess oil and dirt without stripping necessary natural oils, helping to fight acne and to keep your skin moisturized.

Face-washing Tips for Oily Skin

Washing oily skin can be a tricky challenge. This is because excess oil on your face binds to dirt and debris and tends to get stuck in your pores. You could do a thorough cleanse, but then you might strip away the natural oils that help keep your skin hydrated. And you need to watch out for overdrying and irritation, both of which could cause your skin to produce more oil.

While the right cleanser can set you off on the right track, when and how you wash your face matters a lot too. So here are some face-washing tips and tidbits that can help keep your oily skin both clean and healthy.These guidelines are not gender-specific and work for man and woman alike.

  • Before starting, carefully read the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions for washing oily skin. Drugstore cleansers are formulated differently, so you may need to adjust your routine based on what is indicated on the product’s packaging.
  • How often you wash your face affects how oily your skin gets. If you don’t wash enough, oil builds up. If you wash too often, your face produces more oil. Either way, you end up with oilier skin.The general rule is to wash your face twice a day: cleanse in the morning and rinse off grime and oil at night. You could squeeze in another wash after you exercise. But most dermatologists advise against washing your face more than three times daily.Remember overwashing leads to overdrying, and overdrying kicks oil production into overdrive. So don’t overdo it.
  • Use lukewarm water for best results. If the water is uncomfortably hot or too cold, you won’t be doing your skin any good. Hot water causes blood vessels to dilate, irritating and drying out your skin. It might also wash off natural oils responsible for keeping your skin soft and supple. Cold water is not very effective at removing oil and loosening dirt from your skin. This leaves you vulnerable to breakouts.
  • Make sure your hands are clean before you begin. The last thing you want is to add dirt or bacteria to your face.
  • While applying the cleanser, gently massage this into your face in small, circular motions using your fingertips.
  • Be mindful of what kind of and how much pressure you exert as you rub the cleanser in. Extra caution is necessary because the skin on your face is very delicate.
  • Avoid scrubbing if possible, as this can irritate or inflame your skin. Harsh scrubbing can also lead to overdrying, rashes and even burns.
  • Spend a bit more time cleaning your T-zone, which is often oilier than other parts of your face.
  • Don’t forget to also clean your hairline, along your jawline and other areas around your face that are prone to sweating.
  • Ditch the loofah and scrub brush or pad. Their rough texture may be aggravating your skin. Your fingertips should suffice.
  • If you’re using an exfoliating face wash, you could probably rub the cleanser onto your face using a soft washcloth. Do this as gently as possible.
  • Don’t rush. Lather from about 30 to 60 seconds after your face wash foams up for a thorough cleanse.
  • It’s best to clean your face in the sink. But if this is not possible, the shower will do. Just be sure the water is lukewarm and that you don’t wash your face longer than necessary.
  • Pat your skin dry using a clean towel. Avoid rubbing the towel into your skin, and replace the towel you use every week. This can help keep breakouts at bay.
  • After washing and drying your face, apply moisturizer to help keep your skin hydrated. This is especially beneficial before you go to bed, as your face is bound to lose moisture through the night. You can also finish with a toner, which aids in reducing oil and shine during the day.
  • Use an exfoliating face wash at least once a week to slough away dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. This lowers the chances that your pores will be clogged, that you will get blemishes or breakouts, and that your skin will look dull. Clear pores also make it easier for skin care products to penetrate.
  • Adjust your face-washing regimen based on the time of year. Use an extra gentle cleanser to avoid overdrying your oily skin in winter. And to minimize breakouts on your sweaty and oily skin in summer, do a deeper and more thorough cleanse.


You may not be able to put a stop to oiliness, but you can definitely control and manage it. Start by picking a face wash that suits your skin type, addresses your skin problems and fits your budget. Just make sure to closely review your options before making a purchase and to follow a skin-friendly face-washing regimen. And if you have extremely oily skin, do take the time to consult with a dermatologist. Remember excess oil can affect your skin’s health too, so give your oily skin the care and attention it deserves.

Hopefully, my purchasing guide helped you find the best exfoliator cleanser, or any type of foam or gel cleanser for the matter, made for your oily skin. Remember to look into my advice and try any of the products I reviewed and let me know what you think of it in the comments section below. Good luck!

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