Most are affordable drugstore picks.

By Christie Calucchia
July 09, 2020
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While it might seem counterintuitive, if you have oily skin, you still need to moisturize. “One of the biggest mistakes that a person with oily skin can make is not moisturizing,” says Caroline Robinson, MD, FAAD, a Chicago-based board-certified dermatologist and the founder and CEO of Tone Dermatology. “When you avoid using moisturizer, you are teaching your skin to work even harder to produce extra oil to keep your skin cells hydrated.”

So rather than skip the moisturizing step in your skincare routine, you want to find a moisturizer that’s made for your skin type. To do so, you can look out for a few key ingredients. Debra Jaliman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist working in New York City, recommends using light creams and lotions that contain jojoba oil, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and aloe. 

Dr. Robinson also suggests looking for products that blend ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids, since the skin readily soaks up these ingredients.

Once you’ve found the product that’s right for you, Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Dr. Loretta skincare, advises applying moisturizer twice a day unless it contains sun-sensitizing ingredients like retinol.

With this in mind, keep scrolling to shop 12 dermatologist-approved moisturizers for oily skin. There’s one for every budget and skin concern.

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Both Dr. Robinson and Dr. Ciraldo recommend this gel cream from Neutrogena. Its lightweight formula contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin without leaving behind an oily residue, and its price won’t break the bank.

To buy: $16 (was $19); amazon.com.

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“This moisturizer is great,” Dr. Jaliman says. She points out the effectiveness of its ingredients, including cactus, jojoba oil, and hyaluronic acid, and adds that it improves the skin’s hydration and elasticity without clogging pores. 

To buy: $38; amazon.com.

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This is one of Dr. Robinson’s favorite face moisturizers. “It contains an advanced blend of ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol in a lipid ratio blend that the skin recognizes,” she explains. Not only does the lotion moisturize skin, but it also smooths wrinkles and evens tone.

To buy: $98; lovelyskin.com.

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Dr. Ciraldo suggests this moisturizer from La Roche-Posay because, in addition to hydrating the skin, it also contains lipohydroxy acid, which is “a cousin of salicylic acid that helps to minimize pore appearance and breakouts.” 

To buy: $32; amazon.com.

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If you’re looking for a moisturizer with sun protection, this CeraVe lotion is a great option. “It moisturizes and protects skin from the sun throughout the day and helps to restore the skin's protective barrier,” Dr. Jaliman says. The lightweight oil-free formula contains ceramides and hyaluronic to moisturize and plump the skin without clogging pores, she adds.

To buy: $15; amazon.com.

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Dr. Robinson says this mousse-like moisturizer provides “intense hydration” thanks to ingredients like water and hyaluronic acid. It also contains brightening pineapple extract for a natural glow.

To buy: $39; sephora.com.

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Another breakout-fighting moisturizer, this oil-free pick from Neutrogena is grapefruit-scented. Dr. Ciraldo advises using this product because it’s “very hydrating and lightweight, and it features salicylic acid, a proven acne-control ingredient.” And at just $7 a bottle, the price can’t be beat.

To buy: $7 (was $9); amazon.com.

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“This moisturizer is great because it has three types of ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid,” Dr. Jaliman says. Ceramides protect the skin and lock in moisture, while hyaluronic acid moisturizes and plumps the skin, she explains. It works overnight to even dark spots and smooth fine lines without adding oil to the skin.

To buy: $12 (was $14); amazon.com.

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For everyday use, Dr. Robinson recommends this moisturizing lotion, also from CeraVe. “It contains a blend of essential ceramides and hyaluronic acids to help restore and hydrate the skin,” she says.

To buy: $12 (was $14); amazon.com.

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Dr. Ciraldo likes this moisturizer for oily skin because it tackles multiple skin concerns. “It hydrates, absorbs excess oil from the skin’s surface, and provides SPF 30 all in one product,” she explains.

To buy: $14; ulta.com.

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“This one is good for people with oily and acne-prone skin,” according to Dr. Jaliman. “It moisturizes without a greasy or heavy feel while adding sun protection.” The oil-free moisturizer is also fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.  

To buy: $9 (was $11); amazon.com.

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Dr. Ciraldo is a fan of Clinique’s Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly, which uses natural ingredients like sunflower seed, barley extract, and cucumber fruit extract. “It’s an extremely light, watery, oil-free moisturizing serum that boosts hydration for 24 hours after a single application,” she says.

To buy: From $28; nordstrom.com.