The Best Face Washes & Cleansers for Oily Skin – When you have oily skin, the quest to find the perfect facial cleanser is more complicated than most.
People with oily skin tend to attract more dirt and produce excess sebum than the average person. This makes finding a face wash that goes hard on the dirt but gentle on the skin a bit tricky.
When I was young, I always felt like my face produced so much oil it attracted all the dirt in the air wherever I passed. So naturally, at the end of the day, I always felt like washing my face with a cleanser that made me feel dry and squeaky clean after. It always made me feel like the product has done its job well by stripping everything off my face.
Little did I know, not only was it aggravating my oily skin but also putting my skin’s lipid balance out of whack. It invited a host of other skin issues like sensitivity, dryness, and irritation.
It also worsened my bout with acne on top of everything else. And if you ask anyone who has had to battle acne, any compounding skin issue can be an excruciating experience. 🙁
Finding the right cleanser is crucial to how you’re setting up your skin for the rest of your day.
It’s also one of the main pillars of a balanced skincare routine, so choosing the right one for your skin type is essential.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know when looking for the perfect cleanser, as well as a shortlist of the best products we’ve found for your skincare needs.
- 1 Editor’s Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily Skin
- 2 Editor’s Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily + Acne-Prone Skin
- 3 Editor’ Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily + Sensitive skin
- 4 Editor’s Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily + Acne-Prone + Sensitive skin
- 4.1 Avene Eau Thermale Cleanance Soapless Gel Cleanser for Oily and Blemish-Prone Sensitive Skin
- 4.2 Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cream Cleanser for Sensitive Skin with Glycerin
- 4.3 VMV Hypoallergenics Superskin Spring Cleaning Purifying Facial Wash for Oily Skin
- 4.4 BONUS: Tips to prevent oily skin
What to look for in a cleanser if you have oily skin
If you have oily skin, your cleansers need to be a powerhouse in flushing out all that oil and grime at the end of each day but gentle enough that it won’t dry or irritate your skin.
If you break the balance of your skin by stripping it too much of moisture and natural oils, it’s going to compensate by generating more oil. That’s why its very important for people with oily skin to be well-hydrated. Choose a product that does not leave you dry, and quickly follow up with a light, easily absorbed moisturizer.
If you have oily and sensitive skin, use a gentle cleanser aimed for oily skin that is both hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. If you don’t have cystic acne, you can combine it with a cleansing brush aimed for sensitive skin for a thorough clean.
If you have oily skin with acne-prone skin, blackheads, whiteheads, and large pores; you can look for cleansers that incorporate chemical exfoliants in their ingredients. Chemical exfoliants like AHAs dissolves dirt and dead skin cells from the upper layer of your skin. BHAs loosen up hard plugs and flush out excess oil from pores.
You can combine these with a physical exfoliant like a cleansing brush or a microdermabasion device twice a week to remove any remaining build up.
This routine can be amazing and life-changing, but it’s not for everybody. Some people, especially those with acne, can find chemical exfoliants to be irritating on the skin. If chemical exfoliants won’t work for you, it’s best to choose the routine for sensitive skin and combine it with your topical medication.
The right face wash is just the first step towards a balanced skin (i.e. having a clear, young-looking, and normal skin type). If you’re looking for a permanent solution to oily skin, it’s best to undergo a program that can address the underlying cause. You can try acclaimed skincare programs like Patricia Everson’s Oily Skin Solution.
Our recommendations for the best cleansers for oily skin are based on our comprehensive analysis of the products’ formulation, claims, value for money, and consumer reviews. We make an effort to be as objective as possible and give advice in good faith; however, our reviews may still contain conjectures and opinions based on our research and personal experiences.
It’s important to know that as with any product (especially cosmetics), what may be perfect for you may not be right for the next person. So as much as we want to guarantee that these will be everyone’s next holy grail, results can still vary depending on individual factors like your current skin condition, the environment you’re in, use of the product, reaction to your other skincare, and so on. For best results, make sure to choose a product that is suited for your skin type and skin issues.
This website is for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Product or service details are collected directly from the manufacturer and other reputable sources during the time of this review, and cited in the Resources section. We try to keep on top of new formulations when we can, and update our data accordingly.
At the end of every review, there will be a link for you to check current discounts and other customer reviews on Amazon. These, along with some other links that redirect you to third party sites, are affiliate links where we earn a small commission if you do decide to make a purchase. This is at absolutely no extra cost to you and will help in maintaining the quality of the site.
This website is our passion project, and our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. The choices we make take extensive research (which we actually enjoy because we’re weird and nerdy like that), including data from credible academic papers and user sources available.
Bottom Line: We objectively review a laundry list of top performing products, pick the best ones based on our results, and present them to you with all the key info so you can choose the most suitable one for your skin. If you decide to buy something, we earn a commission that helps cover site costs like hosting, design, research materials, etc. You don’t have to of course, thank you for visiting us nonetheless. 🙂
Editor’s Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily Skin
Oily skin tends to be thicker and resistant (i.e. not sensitive), so it can usually tolerate a stronger cleanser formulated for oily skin. If you don’t have sensitive skin or isn’t acne-prone in particular, we highly recommend these to help maintain a healthy and well-balanced skin.
These are our choices for the best cleansers for oily skin based on product formulation, claims, value for money, and consumer reviews.
Make sure to choose a product that is best suited for your skin type and skin issues.
Editor’s Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily + Acne-Prone Skin
Combining BHAs and AHAs in your routine will not only help clear out impurities from the skin, but also increase cell turnover which results in younger, smoother, and more refined skin.
Shifting to these line of products has been a life-changing event for me, in making sure that breakouts are kept at a minimum while also gently smoothing out rough and dull skin.
Editor’ Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily + Sensitive skin
If your skin reacts badly from normal facial washes, you’re likely to have sensitive skin. Personally, Ponds, Olay, and L’Oreal are some of the drugstore brands I steer clear from because they irritate my skin even after just one wash. I’m also wary about using scrubs, but there are brands with facial scrubs that are gentle and effective like VMV Hypoallergenics, Celeteque, and Neutrogena.
Look for cleansers that are hypoallergenic—meaning it contains fewer ingredients that regular products and few or none that can cause allergic reactions.
If you have oily AND sensitive skin, it’s best to stick with very gentle cleansers like the ones below:
Editor’s Choice: The Best Face Wash & Cleansers for Oily + Acne-Prone + Sensitive skin
Otherwise known as the trifecta of common skin problems. Having acne-prone, sensitive, and oily skin means you’re limited to hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, water-based products (whew!).
Almost all the products listed here are for acne-prone and sensitive skin, unless otherwise stated but the below are the ones that crossed finished line.
BONUS: Tips to prevent oily skin
Sometimes oily skin are hormones at play, sometimes it’s the byproduct of unsuitable skincare, but most of the time it’s just simply the skin that you were born with.
Whatever the cause is, the universal goal if you have oily skin is to slow down your skin’s oil production for as long as possible so you can get the benefits of having this skin type (less wrinkles as you grow older as it helps trap moisture under the skin) but not the disadvantages (shiny face, breakouts).
The way to do it is to maintain a skincare regime using the right products–starting with right cleanser.
Tips to Prevent Excess Oily Skin:
- Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and flush out toxins.
- Keep your skin very clean. Wash your face twice a day with gentle cleansers. Face washes that can cause irritations and dryness will trigger an overproduction of oil and sebum leading to blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. If you have excessive oily skin and have problems managing it, I highly recommend the Oily Skin Solution Program by Patricia Everson.
- Use warm water to help break down dirt and makeup.
- If you have sensitive skin, introduce new products one at a time with at least 3 days in between to make sure you are not allergic.
- For acne-prone skin, products with Beta-hydroxy acids (ie. salicylic acid) are best as they are oil-soluble and go deep into the pore lining to purge deep seated dirt. If you have them, you will have an initial “purging” or breakouts to clear out all this oil and bacteria from you skin. Fear not, as after a few weeks or so, the BHA would have done it’s job and clear out all the grime that would eventually lead to an infection.
- If BHAs go deep, Alpha-hydroxy acids or AHA are water soluble and work on the the top layer of skin to buff it. They help stimulate cell renewal, face acne marks, and minimize large pores. When starting out, use no more than 5% AHA and only at night then work your way up.
- After cleansing, make it a habit to apply moisturizers specifically formulated for oily skin to keep your skin hydrated without breaking you out.
- Regularly use mud masks or clay masks (one or twice a week) to clear away excess oil.
- Reduce the amount of dairy and fat in your diet—fried foods, animal fats, vegetable oils, as they can aggravate your condition.
- Caring for oily skin DOES NOT mean drying your skin. Despite having excess oil, your skin may still lack moisture. Moisture is the amount of water in your cells, not the amount of oil. Making sure your skin is hydrated is one of the keys to keeping oil production at bay.
And that’s it! Remember, the right combination of products will do wonders for your skin no matter what condition its in. With this list, I hope you find the perfect facial cleanser for you.
Grigore, A. (n.d.). Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin.
Shetty, R. (n.d.). Age Erase: Your ultimate beauty bible to ageing gracefully.
Kenet, B. and Lawler, P. (1999). How to Wash Your Face: America’s Leading Dermatologist Reveals the Essential Secrets for Youthful, Radiant Skin. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Doherty, B. and VanTine, J. (2002). Growing Younger: Breakthrough Age-Defying Secrets. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.
Avalon.edu. (2016). Oily Skin Advantages | Avalon School Of Cosmetology.
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2016). Oily skin.