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As anyone with oily skin will tell you, dealing with a consistently slick complexion can be a full-time job, requiring multiple different products and seemingly constant attention. Just like you can’t control your eye color or hair color, some people are simply born with more sebaceous glands, resulting in an overproduction of oil. While we naturally produce oil in order to keep our skin soft and supple, too much of it results in that perpetually shiny and greasy look.
There are other external factors that play a role, too. While high temperatures and high humidity levels won’t necessarily make you produce more oil, they can make you sweat more; once that sweat mixes with oil, your complexion can look and start to feel greasy. The good news is there are plenty of oil-fighting products out there, but here’s the thing: If you don’t lay the proper foundation by using the right cleanser, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle from the very beginning. Choose from any one of our picks for top face washes to buy for oily skin to stop oil in its tracks.
Best Overall: Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser
Clay is to oily skin what kryptonite is to Superman; few ingredients are better at removing and absorbing excess oil. This formula uses not one but two types of clay, specifically kaolin and green clays, which act like magnets to pull out unwanted sebum. But the oil-fighting benefits don’t stop there: A trio of astringent sambucus, ivy, and lemon extracts also help mattify skin. Plus, cucumber and sage deliver soothing benefits.
Best Budget: Clean & Clear Advantage Oil-Absorbing Cream Cleanser
Opting for a cream cleanser may sound counterintuitive when talking about oily skin, but this wallet-friendly product is the exception. Thanks to its unique Powderparticles technology, it not only absorbs oil while you’re washing, but long after, too. That means you get the clean, dry, powdery feel, without any risk of the caking or creasing that can come when you apply actual powder on oily skin. The dual-action formula also touts salicylic acid, a top-notch oil-dissolving beta-hydroxy acid, choice for helping keep pores clear.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Facial Cleanser
Having oily skin doesn’t necessarily make you more likely to have acne, but the two do often go hand-in-hand. No matter your issue, this blemish-busting face wash is the solution. The star of the show is two-percent salicylic acid (the maximum strength you can get in an over-the-counter product), one of the best acne-fighting ingredients out there, known for its ability to dissolve oil to keep pores clear and breakouts at bay. True to its name, it does have a refreshingly citrus-y grapefruit scent, but that grapefruit does more than just smell nice. It’s also a great source of vitamin C, an excellent skin-brightening ingredient.
Best Natural: NutraNuva Face Food All-in-One Cleanser, Exfoliator, and Toner
What you will find in this multi-tasker: A laundry list of natural ingredients that work to sop up excess oil, tamp down shine, and so much more. Think oil-absorbing kaolin clay and purifying white charcoal powder, coupled with hydrating glycerin to keep skin balanced, and naturally anti-bacterial and antiseptic ingredients like cinnamon bark and lavender oil.
What you won’t find: Parabens, dyes, petrochemicals, or GMO ingredients, just to name a few. Gentle enough to use daily, it not only cleanses your skin but acts as an exfoliator and toner too, helping to tighten pores and balance the pH of your skin. To reap the maximum benefits, gently massage it onto wet skin and let it sit for 20 to 30 seconds before rinsing.
Best Drugstore: Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Face Wash
The original Cetaphil cleanser may be a cult classic, but this version, specifically formulated for oily skin types, is just as worthy of skincare superstar status. The hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, oil-free formula strikes the perfect balance, gently foaming to help dissolve excess oil, without ever leaving your complexion feeling tight or stripped afterward. Also nice: There’s an oil-free, SPF 30 moisturizer in this line too, and the two work especially well when used together.
Best Micellar Water: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash
Micellar waters are fan favorites among both sensitive and oily skin types; the former appreciate that they’re free of potentially irritating detergents, while the latter like that they’re oil-free and don’t leave behind any residue. They work thanks to micelles, tiny particles that attach to and whisk away dirt, oil, and other grime.
This particular option is especially great for oily skin since it has the added benefit of foaming up ever so slightly, leaving your complexion feeling extra clean, though still soft and hydrated. It’s also gentle enough to use on eyes and lips, and requires no rinsing—simply dab some onto a cotton pad and swipe it across your entire face.
Best Shine-Stopping Formula: Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser
If your skin veers toward oily, odds are you’re also constantly trying to tamp down shine, too. This foaming formula combines skin-clearing saw palmetto with pore-minimizing salicylic acid to reduce both excess oil and shine in one easy step. And thanks to the addition of cooling mint, it also feels pleasantly refreshing, a top pick for muggy summer days.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular face wash for oily skin on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different face washes overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 10 of the face washes themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.