Acne-Prone Skin Cleansers Oily Skin Skin Type Skincare

The Best Face Washes & Cleansers for Oily Skin in 2017

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.

 

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.

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.

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Face Cleanser for Normal, Combination, and Oily Skin

One of Paula’s products that can provide incredible mattifying effect and leaves skin shine-free for a long time. It can be a bit dehydrating for some though, so make sure to use a light moisturizer after.

It’s lightweight in consistency and comes to a soft lather that is good enough to remove make-up (This is reportedly Elizabeth Taylor’s go to make up remover).

As all Paula’s Choice products, it’s fragrance-free but not hypoallergenic so it can cause irritations to those with sensitive skin. Make sure to to a patch test before trying this out if you do.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Skinceuticals Clean Pore-refining Gel Cleanser for Combination Or Oily Skin

This product has five hydroxy acids to help exfoliate dead skin cells at the top layer of the skin. This helps stimulate cell renewal for smoother skin and reduced pores. It also has anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe and chamomile extracts to soothe out the skin.

If you regularly use makeup, you’ll need a separate makeup remover because this washes off just the oil and not cosmetics. Any form of acid can potentially irritate, so those with sensitive skin should do a patch test first.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon
Clinique-Liquid-Facial-Soap-Oily-Skin-Formula

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin

Clinique’s products have always been great, this one included. This is the first step in Clinique’s famous 3-Step Skincare System.

The product develops into a foamy lather to gently break down dirt. It is also fragrance-free with a bit of cooling sensation from the menthol. This can feel refreshing for those with regular skin but can be irritating for sensitive skin.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Daily Power Scrub Facial Cleanser For Men

For all the men in the house who wants an all-in-one power cleanser, Rugged & Dapper has got you covered with their cleaner, scrub, and toner in one. It has aloe vera, vitamin c, tea tree oil, willow bark, and burdock root.

They even offer a money-back guarantee within 60 days if you’re not 100% satisfied. It’s an all in one solution for men on the go.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

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.

Glytone Exfoliating Gel Wash, Oily Skin

It has 4.75 AHA, which is a powerhouse in removing dead skin. The glycolic acid can be more effective if you do a thorough clean first and let the product sit on the skin for a minute. This makes the skin ready and more susceptive to topical medicines like benzoyl peroxide or clindamycin and can take ages of your skin.

It’s gel-based and you’ll really only need about a dime to use so a bottle should last about 2-3 months. If you skin dries out easily, make sure to use a moisturizer after.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

La Roche Posay Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream

One of the trouble with an anti-acne regime is that it can leave a lot of open pores in its wake. This product not only cleans out congested pores but is also known to close them up. It’s the first step of EFFACLAR ‘3-Step’ Anti-Blemish System.

The only downside of this is the medicinal scent. If scents like this doesn’t bother you, this one comes highly recommended.

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PCA SKIN BPO 5% Cleanser, 7 fl. oz.

PCA is brand known for their corrective and potent formulations using alpha hydroxy acids. Exfoliants improve the health and appearance of skin by promoting cell renewal and prevent buildup of dead skin cells.

This daily cleanser has a unique combination of 5% benzoyl peroxide and phytic acid (exfoliant) to eliminate existing and preventing future breakouts.

Gluconolactone is a calming, moisturizing ingredient that promotes a clear complexion. Botanical extracts soothe irritated and inflamed blemishes, allowing skin to heal.

Free of potential irritants like synthetic dyes and fragrances. PCA SKIN® does not perform or condone animal testing.

Best for: All skin types; looking for face treatments, those who don’t have exfoliating products in their regimen

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Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories B Prox Anti-Blemish Wash

DCL’s anti-acne formulation is a multi-tasker that aims to eliminate the cause, reduce the side effects, and prevent acne from coming back.

The 10% benzoyl peroxide (the highest % BP you can get OTC) washes away acne-causing bacteria, while its detoxifying mineral-rich clay and plant extracts work to absorb excess oil and refine pore size. This helps prevent any future breakouts–a critical feature if you have oily skin.

It also has an Advanced Algae Complex that helps diminish the sensitivity that often accompanies the use of aggressive acne treatments; and Canadian Willow Herb to help visibly and dramatically reduce redness and soothe irritation.

All in all, a power packed product for those with oily skin who would like their treatment done to the next level.

Dermatologist tested. Paraben-free. Non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic. 

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

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:

Christina Moss Naturals Facial Wash

The product is hypoallergenic and made from only organic ingredients, perfect for very sensitive skin. Don’t be afraid of the oils on the ingredients list—they’re non-comedogenic so it won’t clog your pores.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Control Foam Wash

I know you’ve probably been hit with the head with this brand one but it’s really one of the most affordable and gentlest cleaners out there.

If you have oily skin though, we don’t recommend using the popular generic Cetaphil daily facial cleaner–use the oil control one. It doesn’t particularly help with acne, if you’re already on acne medication or treatments, you’ll want to minimize putting any additional irritating products on your face.

On that front, Cetaphil is perfect for you. It doesn’t have a scent and it’s non-drying so it doesn’t drive your skin to produce more oil.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Clarins Cleansing Milk for Oily or Combination Skin

For those not familiar with milk cleaners, it works a little differently than gel and liquid ones. You simply put the product on your face and pat it until the product absorbs all the oil and makeup on your skin. Once the consistency is thick, rinse or tissue off to remove. This will lift all the impurities without irritating the skin.

The down side is it has a bit of fragrance, but it doesn’t linger long after washing. Some people are a bit uncomfortable with using just a milk cleanser and uses this in a double cleansing routine.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

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.

Avene Eau Thermale Cleanance Soapless Gel Cleanser for Oily and Blemish-Prone Sensitive Skin

This product has a track record of not breaking out acne-prone AND sensitive skin. It feels soft and foamy when applied, which can result to cleaner and brighter skin. You only need a small amount so a bottle should last you about 2-3 months. Also known to work very well with serums.

The down side is if you’re already suffering for breakouts, it’s not formulated to fight but prevent acne. You would have to use this in combination with topical lotions or other acne medications.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cream Cleanser for Sensitive Skin with Glycerin

One of the bastions of French pharmacies, La Roche Posay produces a cleanser for the oily and ultra sensitive skin. The cleanser is very thick and foamy so a pea sized amount would go a long way.

Check for current discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

VMV Hypoallergenics Superskin Spring Cleaning Purifying Facial Wash for Oily Skin

VMV is the first, and the only, brand in the world to rate its hypoallerginicity. Personally speaking, my mother has compounded skin allergies (rosacea, acne, sensitive skin) and this brand has been one of the few her skin can tolerate.

I personally prefer their Superskin Oil-Control Antibacterial Scrub over this, which I use on the regular, but if you don’t like scrubs then the wash is the way to go.

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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:

  1. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and flush out toxins.
  2. 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. 
  3. Use warm water to help break down dirt and makeup.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. After cleansing, make it a habit to apply moisturizers specifically formulated for oily skin to keep your skin hydrated without breaking you out.
  8. Regularly use mud masks or clay masks (one or twice a week) to clear away excess oil.
  9. Reduce the amount of dairy and fat in your diet—fried foods, animal fats, vegetable oils, as they can aggravate your condition.
  10. 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.

 

References:

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

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