The 15 Best Drugstore Moisturizers for Oily Skin of 2023

Our best overall pick is the Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer

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The 13 Best Drugstore Moisturizers for Oily Skin of 2022

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Look, we totally get it—if you happen to be dealing with the plight that is perpetually oily skin, moisturizing is likely the last thing you want to do. After all, your goal is to remove excess oil, not add more, right? Breaking news, though: Oily skin still needs moisture, and if you skip moisturizer, it's believed that your oil glands may potentially go into overdrive, producing more oil. As Alanis so eloquently said, isn’t it ironic? 

"Many of those with oily skin do not realize that they still need to moisturize to help with the overall health, texture, and appearance of their skin," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Marchbein. "Not to mention that many moisturizers contain sunscreen, antioxidants, and anti-pollutants for an extra-protective barrier. For oily skin, and especially those who are acne-prone, it’s important to look for moisturizers labeled as oil-free or non-comedogenic.” The bottom line: You need to use a moisturizer regularly, no matter your skin type. The nuance lies in finding the right formula for you, particularly if you have an oily complexion.

We conducted hours of research to find the best drugstore moisturizers for oily skin, choosing our options based on their key ingredients and skin benefits, as well as their ability to regulate oil. With expert recommendations from dermatologists and after considering many formulas, we landed on these high-quality picks.

Best Overall

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30

4.8
Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30

Amazon

What We Like
  • Light feel

  • Helps control oil

  • Inexpensive

  • SPF 30

What We Don't Like
  • Contains triethanolamine

Not only is this option super lightweight and non-comedogenic (aka it won’t clog pores), it also touts micro pearl technology, which works to absorb excess oil on the surface of the skin and leave a matte finish. It has the added benefit of delivering your daily dose of necessary broad-spectrum SPF 30 sun protection, too. And, in true Cetaphil fashion, it’s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, so you don’t have to worry about irritation if you also have sensitive skin.

Omar Noor, MD, FAAD, of Rao Dermatology is also a fan. "An individual, man or woman, has to appreciate that not all products work at the same intensity level and therefore can be too rough or irritating to their skin," he says. "This is why I like Cetaphil's Pro Dermacontrol Oil Absorbing Moisturizer. It is a balance of effectiveness while still having an elegant vehicle to deliver that effectiveness."

Price at time of publish: $17

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 4 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Budget

Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer

4.4
Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer

Walmart

What We Like
  • Won't cause breakouts

  • Oil-free

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Has fragrance

  • Can be drying

Even drugstore products can get pricy, but this pick is a great price and still high in quality. Oily skin and breakouts often (and unfortunately) go hand-in-hand—but that’s not an issue when you use this. First and foremost, it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, both non-negotiables when you’re battling blemishes. Aside from that, though, it has the added benefit of containing a small amount of salicylic acid, an oil-dissolving ingredient that can both help treat existing pimples and keep future ones from forming.

Price at time of publish: $8

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 4 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Mattifying

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer

4.4
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Reduces shine

  • Wears well under makeup

  • Helps calm acne

What We Don't Like
  • Contains triethanolamine

Yes, this is an oil-free formula, but the benefits for oily skin don’t stop there. The formula features a unique sebulyse (say that three times fast) technology, which the brand claims both mattifies your complexion and helps tighten pores, as well as a form of zinc, which it credits to further neutralizing shine. The result: skin that feels hydrated but looks matte. Try making this your morning moisturizer, since it helps create the perfect canvas for makeup.

It's also got an expert's seal of approval, specifically Dr. Adam Friedman, associate professor of dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine. He loves this La Roche-Posay moisturizer for oily skin, as well as the former Cetaphil pick. "Both are designed specifically for oilier skin, with ingredients that can bind or break up sebum like diisopropyl sebacate, silicates, and starches to help reduce shine rather than contribute to it," he says. "Both are produced by companies that have a long-standing history of supporting their marketing claims with scientific evidence, which is my general rule for recommended products: Go with the brands that can put their money where the science is."

Price at time of publish: $32

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, dimethicone, salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1.4 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Gel

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

4.2
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Water Gel Face Moisturizer

Neutrogena

What We Like
  • Absorbs quickly

  • Lightweight

  • Hydrates with hyaluronic acid

What We Don't Like
  • Not for ultra-dry skin

  • Strong scent

Key Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.

Gel moisturizers are an innately great pick for oily skin types; they contain a higher content of water rather than relying on richer oils and butters. This one also uses hyaluronic acid, which attracts water to and holds it in the skin, both hydrating and helping to improve skin elasticity. Super lightweight, it absorbs quickly without leaving behind any greasy residue. Follow our lead and stash it in the fridge so that it feels extra cooling and delightful when applied.

Price at time of publish: $19

Active Ingredients: Dimethicone, glycerin, polyacrylamide | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What Our Testers Say

"I think this moisturizer is a solid choice to hydrate without being heavy." — Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best Lightweight

L'Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care for Normal to Oily Skin

L'Oreal Paris Skincare Hydra Genius Daily Liquid

Amazon

What We Like
  • Clean feeling

  • Lightweight

  • Wears well under makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Contains parabens

  • Not for acne-prone skin

Granted, none of these picks are particularly heavy or rich, but if you’re on the hunt for a super featherweight formula, this one takes the cake. It’s water-based and made with aloe water and hyaluronic acid, delivering lasting yet undetectable hydration. It glides on silky smooth and melts into skin almost immediately, and also touts mattifying benefits to help remove unwanted oil.

Price at time of publish: $14

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, dimethicone, aloe leaf juice | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Anti-Aging

Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer

Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer, 1.7 Ounce

Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight yet hydrating

  • A little goes a long way

  • Plumps skin

  • No fragrance

What We Don't Like
  • Small bottle

Fine lines and wrinkles are often associated with dry skin, but that’s not always the case. This featherweight formula (which, fun fact, took 10 years to develop) has the same anti-aging prowess as the beloved Olay Regenerist Serum and contains a complex of peptides that, according to the brand, can have a youth-boosting effect. Still, the whipped texture absorbs into skin lightning-fast, thanks to a special technology that transforms it from cream to liquid upon contact with your skin. It leaves your complexion smooth, silky, and matte, the perfect prep step pre-makeup.

Price at time of publish: $30

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, palmitoyl dipeptide-7 | Skin Type: Mature | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Combination Skin

CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

 Amazon

What We Like
  • SPF 30

  • Mattifies

  • Contains ceramides

What We Don't Like
  • Can pill when used with other skincare

Key Ingredients

Ceramides are a part of a complex family of fats or lipids called a sphingolipid. They work to restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture.

If you’re oily in certain spots but dry in others, reach for this pick. It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, a major win for the oily parts, but also has the added benefit of containing ceramides and hyaluronic acid, a win for the dry parts. Even better? You get your necessary SPF, too.

Price at time of publish: $15

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: No

Best with Antioxidants

Avalon Organics Gel Cream Moisturizer with Vitamin C

Avalon Organics Gel Cream Moisturizer with Vitamin C

Amazon

What We Like
  • Helps fade dark spots

  • Antioxidant-rich formula

  • Organic ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Not the best value

Key Ingredients

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, including the skin, but we cannot produce it on our own. For the skin, it helps to boost collagen, lighten discoloration, and fight free radicals.

To score a little more bang for your buck, seek out a moisturizer that contains skin-protecting antioxidants. We especially like this one, which touts one of the most potent and effective antioxidants out there—vitamin C. The skincare superstar not only helps neutralize pesky free radicals formed by exposure to UV rays and pollution, but it can also help fade dark spots and stimulate collagen production. This particular pick contains two different forms of the vitamin, all in a fast-absorbing, oil-free formula.

Price at time of publish: $17

Active Ingredients: Aloe leaf juice, ascorbic acid | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Multi-Tasking

Garnier SkinActive Balancing 3-in-1 Face Moisturizer with Green Tea

Garnier SkinActive Balancing 3-in-1 Face Moisturizer with Green Tea

Amazon

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Great value

  • Rich formula

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a little heavy

Slather this on during the day when you need an effective mattifying moisturizer, use it overnight for a hydrating though non-greasy night cream, or leave on a thin layer for 10 minutes as a nourishing mask. Either way, you get plenty of good-for-your-skin ingredients—97 percent of which are naturally derived—and no mineral oil, parabens, silicones, or dyes. Plus, it contains salicylic acid.

Price at time of publish: $8

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter | Skin Type: Balanced | Size: 6.8 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No

Best with SPF

Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30

Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30

Walmart

What We Like
  • Ideal for acne-prone skin

  • Absorbs oil

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Contains triethanolamine

In case you missed it, wearing sunscreen daily (a broad-spectrum formula with at least an SPF 30) is an absolute must. And yes, we’ve heard the “sunscreen makes me break out” excuse, but that doesn’t fly when you can use this guy. It was dermatologist-formulated specifically for acne-prone skin. The result is non-greasy, non-pore-clogging formula that also contains micro pearl technology to absorb excess oil.

Price at time of publish: $16

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 4 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Hyperpigmentation

Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer

5
Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Helps even out skin tone

  • 2-in-1 product

  • Dries clear

What We Don't Like
  • Small bottle

Here's another moisturizer that packs on the SPF without leaving a greasy residue. Not only does it protect against UV damage, but the formula also helps to fade dark spots for a more even skin tone. Users say that after consistent use of this moisturizer, they saw improved texture and a brighter complexion.

Price at time of publish: $27

Active Ingredients: Homosalate, octisalate, avobenzone, octocrylene | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Oil Free Moisturizer

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Oil Free Moisturizer

Kohls

What We Like
  • Good value

  • Antioxidant-rich formula

  • Encourages skin cell turnover

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it has a strong smell

Yes, sensitivity is more likely to occur in those with dryer skin, but that doesn’t mean that oily skin can’t also be sensitive. This is both oil-free and hypoallergenic and doesn’t contain parabens, phthalates, dyes, or synthetic fragrance, all common irritants for the sensitive set. Green tea delivers a dose of antioxidants, while aloe and cucumber work to soothe skin.

Price at time of publish: $17

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, octyl palmitate, aloe leaf juice | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Cream

Botanics Revive & Protect Postbiotic Moisturizer

Botanics Revive & Protect Postbiotic Moisturizer

Walgreens

What We Like
  • Creamy formula

  • Contains probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics

  • Shields skin from pollution

What We Don't Like
  • Contains alcohol

If you crave a little bit more hydration, reach for this creamy (yet fast-absorbing) option. Granted, it’s not oil-free, but it is formulated for all skin types—oily included. Packed with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics, as well as black tea kombucha, this antioxidant-rich formula aims to shield skin from pollution and environmental stressors while keeping it healthy and vibrant.

Price at time of publish: $14

Active Ingredients: Black tea kombucha | Skin Type: Dry, combination, oily | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Texture

ROSEN Skincare Tropics Moisturizer

ROSEN Skincare Tropics Moisturizer

Target

What We Like
  • Brightening

  • Smooths skin texture

  • Paraben-free

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it can be grainy

If you have oily and textured skin, this moisturizer is the perfect pick for you. Not only is it able to regulate oil with hydrating hyaluronic acid and exfoliating enzymes, but it also uses kojic acid to fade acne scars and smooth skin texture. Reviewers mentioned that it kept their skin plump and moisturized without causing breakouts or a greats complexion.

Price at time of publish: $21

Active Ingredients: Pineapple extract, kojic acid, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Combination, oily, acne-prone | Size: 2 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Gentle Formula

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin

Walgreens

What We Like
  • Unscented

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • May be too light for a night moisturizer

Neutrogena has always been a popular brand for drugstore skincare, but this gentle oil-free moisturizer might just take the cake. Specifically formulated for sensitive skin types, it has a lightweight but hydrating formula that won't clog pores or feel heavy on the skin. Even better—it's dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic and fragrance free, meaning there's an extremely low chance that it'll irritate your skin.

Price at time of publish: $11

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, dimethicone, petrolatum | Skin Type: Oily, sensitive | Size: 4 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No

Final Verdict 

You better believe you still need to use a moisturizer if you have oily skin, so why not make it one of the great, affordable options found at the drugstore? Case in point: Cetaphil's DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30 offers the hydration you need (and SPF, too) but also absorbs excess oil in the process. We also love the extremely inexpensive Neutrogena Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit Acne Face Moisturizer, which is great at battling blemishes and oily skin.

Meet the Expert

Shari Marchbein is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City specializing in cosmetic and medical dermatology. Her academic and clinical interests include the treatment of acne, in particular adult female acne, acne scarring, and rosacea.


Omar Noor is a dermatologist and part of the Rao Dermatology New Jersey team. His interests include skin cancer and medical dermatology with a special interest in cosmetic dermatology.


Adam Friedman is a board-certified dermatologist, professor, and Interim Chair of Dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine. His clinical interests include acne, eczema, and psoriasis, among others.

What to Look For in a Drugstore Moisturizer for Oily Skin

Oil-free

It should go without saying that if you have oily skin, you do still need to use a moisturizer. However, you likely don’t need extra oil, so Dr. Marchbein recommends seeking out an oil-free formula. However, not all oils are created equal, and those that are generally considered non-comedogenic can also be a beneficial option—but more on those below.

Non-comedogenic

Since oily skin is more prone to clogged pores and breakouts, make sure the moisturizer you pick is also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t gunk up your pores. If you do choose a formula that contains oil, Dr. Marchbein says to opt for oils that fall into this category. "Testing for comedogenicity is not standardized; however, certain oils like mineral oil and jojoba are virtually non-comedogenic, while others, like coconut oil, are extremely comedogenic," she says. With that in mind, definitely skip coconut oil-based formulas.

Lighter moisturizing ingredients

Rather than richer oils (remember, you’re going oil-free!) or butter, Dr. Marchbein says to seek out hydrating ingredients that are lighter in texture and feel. "Look for ceramides, glycerin, dimethicone, shea butter, petrolatum, and hyaluronic acid in the list of ingredients, as these are deeply hydrating even in a lighter lotion formulation," she says. Many of these ingredients work by attracting water to the skin and trapping it in without feeling too greasy or heavy. 

FAQ
  • How do I moisturize oily skin?

    “By moisturizing, you can actually control the production of oil, but you should always choose a moisturizer that has been designed specifically for oily skin,” says Hassan El Husseini, M.D., a dermatologist at Dr Kayle Aesthetic Clinic Dubai. “I recommend water-based moisturizers for those with oily skin as they tend to hydrate the skin without adding any extra oils. They will also penetrate the skin easily, rather than sitting on top of it and blocking the pores.” Dr. El Husseini also suggests using hyaluronic acid: a key component in moisture retention for your skin. “Research shows that it has the potential to be of real benefit to oilier skin types.”

  • Is moisturizing good for oily skin?

    There’s a common misconception that oily skin needs to be deprived of moisture but that can actually cause more oil to be produced. Dr. El Husseini explains: “The regular use of cleansers and face washes can strip the skin of moisture, leading to dehydrated skin. This, in turn, can cause the skin to over-produce sebum in an effort to lubricate the skin. So, it’s fair to say that all skin types—including oily—need hydration, and moisturizer can provide this.”

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has more than a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough drugstore moisturizers from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP. 

Updated by Shannon Stubbs
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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