The 8 Best Face Washes for Oily Skin of 2023

We love the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser for its ability to control oil production without stripping the skin.

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Best Face Washes for Oily Skin

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Oily skin can be hard to tame. Your best line of defense? Having the right beauty products on hand. This includes face wash, which is the foundation of any skincare routine. To help you figure out the best face washes for oily skin, we spoke with three board-certified dermatologists for guidance. 

“Look for a cleanser that not only cleanses the surface oils, makeup, and dirt but has active ingredients that clarify the pores and gently exfoliate the skin,” says Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology in Westport, Connecticut. 

“The best face wash for those with oily skin should be oil-free, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free,” says Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, also known as the Derm Guru on TikTok, where she recommends the best skincare products to her followers. 

We also sought the advice of Dr. Marie Leger of Entière Dermatology and spent hours researching the best face washes for oily skin, evaluating each on ingredients, application type, effectiveness, and more. Our top pick is the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser for its oil-fighting formula, hydrating ingredients, value for the money, and more.

Read on to learn more about our top picks as well as how to pick the best face wash for your type of oily skin.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall Face Wash for Oily Skin:
La Roche-Posay Gel Facial Cleanser at Amazon
Best Budget Face Wash for Oily Skin:
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash at Amazon
Best Face Wash for Oily & Acne-Prone Skin:
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser at Amazon
Best Face Wash for Oily & Sensitive Skin:
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water at Amazon
Best Exfoliating Face Wash for Oily Skin:
Tatcha Exfoliating Cleanser at Amazon
Best Cleansing Oil for Oily Skin:
Innisfree Cleansing Oil at Amazon

Best Overall Face Wash for Oily Skin

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a face wash that will help with excess oil but not dry their skin out.   

Who it isn’t for: People with acne who want a face wash with salicylic or glycolic acid.

Zubritsky told us she loves this product and would recommend it to consumers. “It’s gentle but effective and works for even those with sensitive, oily skin,” she says. “It replenishes the skin barrier while also reducing oil and sebum.” The ingredients that help replenish the skin barrier include glycerin and ceramide-3, both of which help the skin retain enough moisture to prevent drying.

As for oil-fighting ingredients, know that this product is non-comedogenic, meaning that it won’t clog your pores, and is water-based, so it’ll wash away excess oil on your face. Not only that, but this La Roche-Posay face wash also contains niacinamide, which helps with breakouts and works to regulate oil production, among other benefits. It’s free of sulfates and fragrances, too, making it more compatible for people with sensitive skin.    

Price at time of publish: From $16

 Product Details:

  • Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, glycerin, ceramide-3, thermal water
  • Type: Foaming gel
  • Size: 6.76 or 13.52 ounces

Best Budget Face Wash for Oily Skin

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash with Salicylic Acid

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an oil-free face wash at a budget price.

Who it isn’t for: People with combination or sensitive dry skin.

One of the most popular cleansers for oil control is the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, which stands out for its affordability, accessibility (you can easily find it on the shelves of major grocery and drug stores), and effectiveness. The face wash’s success can largely be attributed to the amount of salicylic acid in the product, which, at 2 percent, is the highest you can get over the counter. Zubritsky loves this product and told us that for her oily and acne-prone patients, she recommends using a face wash daily that has 2 percent salicylic acid. 

Zubritsky says this much salicylic acid may make the product too strong for some people. Because this ingredient works so well at absorbing your skin’s oil, it can be drying. To alleviate this, Neutrogena does add aloe and chamomile extract to this face wash, which together help to soothe and hydrate the skin. Still, the potential dryness, plus the addition of a fragrance, may prove to be too much for people with sensitive skin.

Price at time of publish: $10

 Product Details:

  • Key Ingredient: Salicylic acid
  • Type: Foaming gel
  • Size: 9.1 ounces

Best Face Wash for Oily & Acne-Prone Skin

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

4.8
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an affordable face wash that targets face and body acne.

Who it isn’t for: People who want to avoid exfoliants. 

This cleanser from CeraVe is an affordable drugstore pick that is favored by Leger as an effective face wash for oily skin and acne. The CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser offers incredible value for the price, as it contains premium ingredients often found in face washes at a higher price point. This includes niacinamide, three types of ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, the latter of which is known for its ability to keep the skin hydrated.

The cleanser is also non-comedogenic and contains one of the most effective ingredients for fighting acne: salicylic acid. This ingredient penetrates deep into the skin, exfoliating and clearing bacteria and sebum out from pores. 

Rachel Thalhuber, our E-Commerce Campaign Manager who has acne-prone skin, swears by this product. “It helps keep my acne at bay and gives my skin a gentle exfoliation. My T-zone has been less oily, and my breakouts few and far between,” she says. And she’s not the only fan. When we asked our editors about the face washes they use for their oily skin, multiple people referenced this as their go-to face wash.

Price at time of publish: $13

Product Details:

  • Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin D
  • Type: Foaming gel
  • Size: 8 or 16 ounces

Best Face Wash for Oily & Sensitive Skin

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

Amazon

Who it’s for: People with ultra-sensitive skin who need a gentle product that’s powerful enough to remove makeup. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want to give their pores a deep clean.

People with sensitive skin should look for a cleanser that is free of fragrance, botanicals (such as essential oils), citric acid, and sulfates, all of which can cause irritation. Many cleansers usually contain one or more of these ingredients, so your best bet is to use micellar water.

This Garnier micellar water product doesn’t contain any of the above ingredients, or really very many ingredients at all, and has been designed to specifically help people with oily skin. So not only will it be gentle on your skin, but it will also offer a cleanse that won’t dry you out, thanks to the addition of glycerin. 

Micellar water contains little oil balls that are able to lift the dirt and oil off your skin, while the water washes it all away. It doesn’t need to be rubbed in or rinsed off after applying, which is doubly good news for those with sensitive skin. Although micellar water does clean the face, keep in mind that it will not get deep into your pores as other face washes do. Considering this, those with acne-prone skin may need a formula with stronger ingredients.

Price at time of publish: $11

 Product Details:

  • Key Ingredient: Glycerin
  • Type: Cleansing water
  • Size: 3.4, 13.5, or 23.7 ounces

Best Face Wash for Oily Combination Skin

Paula’s Choice Resist Perfectly Balanced Cleanser

Paula’s Choice Resist Perfectly Balanced Cleanser

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a lightweight cleanser that balances combination skin.    

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a more affordable cleanser.

There are a whole different set of rules that people with combination skin need to follow regarding face washes. You want a face wash that can get rid of excess oil and replenish moisture, a balancing act that’s hard to find. This cleanser from Paula’s Choice does just that. It features plenty of hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, ceramides, aloe extract, and sunflower oil, which is naturally non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.

Plus, this cleanser is water-based and becomes a foam as you lather—which is good news since foaming cleansers excel at getting into your pores and removing excess oil. This product is also cruelty-free and fragrance-free. The brand advertises this product as “pore-reducing,” but remember: You can change the appearance of your pores with products, but you can’t change their size (pore size is a result of genetics).  

Price at time of publish: $22

 Product Details:

  • Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, aloe
  • Type: Foaming cream
  • Size: 6.4 ounces

Best Exfoliating Face Wash for Oily Skin

Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser

Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want an exfoliating cleanser that is safe to use daily. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a less expensive cleanser and people who want to avoid any product that contains alcohol.

If you really love giving your skin a deep clean, consider getting a daily face wash that exfoliates. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and can help with unclogging pores, which can help reduce breakouts. Since exfoliation is a serious cleanse, it is generally recommended to do only a few times a week. However, people with very oily, acne-prone skin can likely handle exfoliating daily as long as the cleanser is gentle enough. This Tatcha exfoliating cleanser is safe to use every day and boasts a formula that is well-suited for people with oily skin.

The Tatcha Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser is non-comedogenic, oil-free, and contains glycerin, which helps balance out the exfoliating abilities of the product’s main ingredient, Japanese luffa fruit. Even though you can use this product daily, it’s best to only use it once a day, as you don’t want to run the risk of over-exfoliating. Over-exfoliating can lead to a host of problems, including dryness, redness, and greater oil production (since your skin is producing more oil to make up for the loss of moisture).

Price at time of publish: $39

 Product Details:

  • Key Ingredients: Japanese luffa fruit, Japanese wild rose, Japanese leopard lily, glycerin
  • Type: Foaming gel
  • Size: 5 ounces

Best Cleansing Oil for Oily Skin

Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Oil with Green Tea

Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Oil with Green Tea

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a cleanser that also removes makeup. 

Who it isn’t for: People with acne-prone skin. 

Someone with oily skin might balk at the thought of using cleansing oil. And we get it—conventional skincare wisdom dictates that fighting oil with oil is akin to fighting fire with fire. But believe it or not, with the right ingredients, you can use a cleansing oil on your oily skin without there being a negative reaction. In fact, oil is known for doing a pretty good job at cleaning your face, as it's able to remove oil and effectively clean out clogged pores.

People with oily skin just need to select the right type of oil, which this Innisfree product contains. The key ingredient is green tea, which naturally helps reduce excess oil and contains other benefits that will help any skin type, including the ability to soothe the skin and protect it from sun damage. When you apply it, just make sure to rinse very thoroughly, and consider using it as the first step in a double cleanse. Not doing so could result in the product’s ingredients staying on your face and possibly leading to breakouts.

Price at time of publish: $22

Product Details:

  • Key Ingredient: Green tea
  • Type: Cleansing oil
  • Size: 5.07 ounces

Best Clay Face Wash for Oily Skin

SkinFix Barrier+ Foaming Clay Cleanser

Skinfix Barrier+ Foaming Clay Cleanser

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want to take advantage of the benefits of clay masks every day.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a lightweight cleanser. 

Clay is one of the best ingredients to use when dealing with oily skin. That’s because clay excels at absorbing the skin’s oils, as well as other impurities such as bacteria, dead skin cells, and more. This explains why so many people turn to clay masks to detoxify their skin. 

If you want to take advantage of all that clay has to offer on the daily, consider getting this cleanser from Skinfix. This product contains kaolin clay, which not only gets rid of excess oil but is relatively gentle on the skin. Plus, with the addition of moisturizing jojoba oil, your skin is less susceptible to drying out. And don’t worry—jojoba oil is non-comedogenic and helps regulate sebum production, making it an ideal oil to use on oily skin.

The Skinfix Barrier+ Foaming Clay Cleanser has been tested and recommended by dermatologists and is cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and vegan. What’s more, 96 percent of its ingredients are naturally derived. 

Price at time of publish: $30

 Product Details:

  • Key Ingredient: Kaolin clay
  • Type: Clay-to-foam
  • Size: 5 ounces

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Facial Wash because it is non-comedogenic and contains ingredients that will help with excess oil production and keep your skin hydrated. It’s also fragrance-free and budget-friendly compared to other face washes on the market.  

How to Shop for Face Washes for Oily Skin Like a Pro

Ingredients

Ingredients are the most important factor when considering what type of face wash you should get for your oily skin. All three of the dermatologists we spoke to advocate for products that contain salicylic acid. 

“The hero ingredient is salicylic acid, which breaks down oil/sebum and helps to keep pores clear of impurities,” says Robinson. “I also love clay, charcoal, and sulfur to absorb surface oils and pull out trapped sebum, dead skin cells, and impurities from the pores,” she says. For those with oily and acne-prone skin, Robinson also recommends using something with tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide. 

People with sensitive skin should take extra precautions regarding ingredients. Leger told us that common allergens include parabens, fragrance, essential oils, and many botanical ingredients. If you know you have sensitive skin, avoid the above ingredients. Zubritsky also suggests hypoallergenic products. She also said that people with oily skin, sensitive or not, should avoid ingredients with oil and alcohol, as they can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts. 

If you want to use a product that contains oil, it’s important that it’s an oil that will not exacerbate your already oily skin. These include jojoba oil, green tea, and sunflower oil. Water-based cleansers also work well for oily skin, as well as products labeled non-comedogenic, which means that the formula won’t clog your pores.

Foam vs. Gel

When shopping for face washes for oily skin, you’ll often see that the face washes either come in gel or foam. Zubritsky likes foam ones more. “Foaming cleansers are more effective at removing oil compared to other types of face washes,” she says. “This is because it penetrates a bit deeper into the skin, effectively removing oil and sebum from your pores.” 

However, if you have sensitive skin, you might be better with a gel. “Formulas that foam contain sulfates which can be overly drying to sensitive skin and actually trigger the production of more oil, perpetuating the imbalance,” says Robinson. If you’re unsure of how your skin will react, try something with foam and if your skin becomes irritated, switch to gel. There are also many foaming gels on the market that combine the best of both worlds.

Avoid Harsh Scrubs

Robinson and Zubritsky told us the biggest mistake they see people with oily skin make is using harsh particle scrubs on their skin. “Those with oily skin think that they need to scrub away their oil. The opposite is actually true,” says Zubritsky. “It’s important to still be as gentle as possible to your skin, even if your skin is oily. I would avoid harsh scrubs, like those with walnut or apricot shells as the active ingredients.” 

Robinson also recommends avoiding walnut and apricot ingredients. “These scrubs may make your skin feel super clean, but these particles can cause microtears in the skin, drive inflammation, and worsen oil imbalances over time by compromising the skin barrier,” she says. Zubrinsky says they can also lead to irritation and even flaking. 

Questions You Might Have

Will a face wash made for oily skin dry my skin out?

It depends on your skin type and the product. Zubritsky and Leger say that adding a moisturizer to your daily skincare routine can help prevent this. “When washing your face, it’s best to immediately apply moisturizer to the skin when it’s still damp. This traps the moisture in the skin, leading to hydration and skin barrier protection,” says Zubritsky. 

“Furthermore, face washes have come a long way and no longer should leave the skin feeling dry and tight after cleansing. Look for face washes that also contain ingredients like ceramides or hyaluronic acid to prevent dryness after washing.” When looking for a moisturizer, she says there are a lot of light, oil-free options on the market that will work for people with oily skin. 

Robinson seconds the use of hyaluronic acid. “After cleansing, you should apply hyaluronic acid, which will absorb into the clear, open pores to boost hydration and let the body know it can produce less of its own (since sebum production works in a supply/demand model),” she says. 

What are ingredients to avoid when buying a face wash for oily skin?

Robinson says that people with oily skin should avoid oils, harsh particle scrubs, and astringent alcohols. Zubritsky seconds this, telling us that using a face wash containing oil and alcohol can clog pores and lead to breakouts. 

What are some ways to prevent oily skin?

Oily skin can be due in part to a number of factors that you simply can’t control, such as genetics, hormones, weather, and more. The best way to keep oily skin at bay is by using the right beauty products. In addition to using a face wash targeted for oily skin, both Zubritsky and Leger recommend using makeup that is compatible with oily skin. 

“I recommend choosing makeup that is oil-free or water-based and avoiding any oil products on the skin,” says Zubritsky. Leger says the same goes for the sunscreen you use on your face daily too. 

Zubrisky also suggests using blotting papers throughout the day, a practice that the American Academy of Dermatology Association approves of as well, and to avoid falling asleep in your makeup or touching your face throughout the day. With blotting papers, just make sure to wait a couple of seconds for the oil to be absorbed onto the paper once applied, and avoid rubbing your face with the paper.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Center, a lifelong lover of all things fashion and beauty and a product review home writer for Real Simple. She spent hours researching all the components that make the best face washes for oily skin, ultimately choosing the products in this list based on ingredients, application type, and effectiveness. She also sought the advice of Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology, Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky of Premier Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center, and Dr. Marie Leger of Entière Dermatology

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