Sorry oily skin types, but you’re not exempt from moisturizing just because your skin produces more sebum than others. Everyone—we repeat, everyone—should moisturize daily to prevent dehydration, and that includes oily-skinned folks, too. Leave the rich creams to your dry skin friends, and opt for a lightweight mattifying moisturizer that can keep excess grease under control while balancing the skin’s moisture barrier.
To help you out, we researched the best moisturizers for oily skin on the market and then put them to the test. We tried out 29 moisturizers at our lab in NYC for consistency, absorption, oiliness, appearance, and value — and we’re sharing our findings with you. Ultimately, our favorite oily skin-friendly moisturizer is Tatcha’s cult-favorite The Water Cream. It scored high ratings across the board and delivered hydration while feeling lightweight on the skin.
Keep reading to discover the best moisturizers for oily skin.
Tatcha The Water Cream
Hydrating and calming
Leaves skin feeling supple
A dollop goes a long way
Comes with a spatula
The tub is bulky
Drawing inspiration from Japanese geishas and their iconic beauty rituals, Vicky Tsai founded Tatcha with the goal of balancing timeless Japanese botanicals and clinically proven skincare ingredients. The Water Cream, one of the brand’s most popular products and our best-performing moisturizer, is the perfect example of that.
The formula contains a proprietary blend of twice-fermented rice, green tea, and algae, plus Japanese wild rose and leopard lily to refine skin, reduce oil production, and keep everything calm. True to its name, the gel-meets-cream lovechild seamlessly melts into skin, leaving it refreshed and soothed on contact. The reason it’s so great for oily skin is that it doesn’t leave residue or a shiny-looking film in its wake. Instead, those with oily skin should expect to feel hydrated (and maybe even a little bit dewy) but certainly not greasy. The formula does impart a subtle, shine-free glow, but it’s one that makes skin look more supple.
Our tester was also impressed by the functionality of the packaging. The tub looks gorgeous on any vanity (despite being bulky for travel) and comes equipped with a spatula that slips right into the top for safekeeping. A small scoop goes a long way, ensuring you’ll really get your money’s worth out of this moisturizer.
Price at time of publish: $70
Ingredients: Japanese wild rose, Leopard lily, Green tea, Rice, Algae | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 0.34, 1.7, or 2.5 oz.| SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“It sinks into skin instantly, but in the sense you can still feel the hydration without the sticky or greasy residue.” — Shannon M. Bauer, Senior Beauty Commerce Editor
La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Matte Moisturizer
Gently eliminates shine
Oily skin folks, listen up: Don’t compromise your skin barrier by leaving moisturizer out of your routine. This gel-cream moisturizer from La Roche-Posay is designed to hydrate the skin without added shine. Despite being somewhat hefty straight out of the bottle, the formula dries down almost immediately after coming into contact with the skin. The formula includes a high concentration of antioxidant-rich La Roche-Posay prebiotic thermal water, three hydrating ceramides, inflammatory-reducing niacinamide, and moisture-retaining glycerin, each of which works to balance and mattify oily skin while leaving it nourished. One thing to keep in mind: It can pill if you apply sunscreen on top right away. To avoid pilling, we recommend waiting 10 minutes between moisturizer and sunscreen application.
Price at time of publish: $21
Ingredients: Niacinamide, Glycerin | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 2.5 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
“It absorbs really quickly (within a minute or two) and leaves skin with a matte finish. I was surprised how quickly it mattified my skin, since it's a fairly thick cream and looked dewy on immediate application.” — Shannon Bauer, Senior Commerce Editor
Best for Uneven Texture
Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer
Doubles as a primer
It makes you more susceptible to sunburn
There’s so much to love about this one from Tata Harper. For one, it has naturally-derived ingredients like pomegranate spheres, orange blossom peptides, and hyaluronic acid that work together to lock in moisture, support a hydrated skin barrier, and leave behind a healthy-looking glow. It also contains lactic acid to help gently exfoliate the top layer of skin, ultimately improving texture and tone over time. Secondly, it doubles as a silicone-free primer, so you can slather it on and go about the rest of your makeup routine knowing it’ll stay put for hours. It doesn’t pill underneath makeup, but rather serves as a smooth, silky base for foundation and concealer. When you inevitably run out, you can refill your empty jar with a recyclable pod—a win for you and the environment.
Keep in mind that since there are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in the formula, it can increase your sensitivity to the sun and the likelihood of a sunburn. Be sure to use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this moisturizer.
Price at time of publish: $68
Ingredients: Pomegranate spheres, Orange blossom peptides, Hyaluronic and lactic acids | Skin Type: Oily, Combination | Size: 1.7 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“My skin doesn’t look oily or greasy after using, and it feels noticeably hydrated and way softer than usual.”
— Mariah Freire, Tester
Best for Acne
Caudalie Vinopure Moisturizing Mattifying Fluid
Not a miracle worker
When you have oily, acne-prone skin, chances are you’ve questioned if moisturizer is really necessary. As it turns out, moisturizer is actually key to helping the skin heal. The last thing you want, however, is to slather a pore-clogging moisturizer all over your face, exacerbating the issue even further. Enter: Caudalie Vinopure Oil-Control Moisturizer for Acne Prone Skin.
Loaded with silica powder and java tea extract to mattify and target sebum, olive squalane to hydrate, and polyphenols to reduce blackheads, this moisturizer is an all-in-one formula that acne-prone skin types won’t want to skip. Testers found the moisturizer extremely lightweight with a gel-like consistency that melted right into pores. And, best of all, it didn’t leave behind an oily sheen; in fact, our tester noted that she walked out with super matte skin. It’s not a miracle worker, though. Sure, it sopped up extra oil lingering on top of our tester’s skin, but she did say that her existing redness looked the same.
Price at time of publish: $38
Ingredients: Grape seed polyphenols, Silica powder, Java tea extract, Olive squalane | Skin Type: Oily, Combination | Size: 1.35 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Enlarged Pores
Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel
Hydrates without shine
Can cause irritation when paired with active ingredients
As the name suggests, the Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel is, well, invisible. Though you can’t see it, the moisturizer works overtime to provide hydration, minimize the look of pores and defend the skin from environmental aggressors. Thanks to niacinamide (an anti-inflammatory and pore-tightening ingredient) and age-fighting antioxidants, you can expect your skin to feel silky smooth and your pores—and fine lines— to look a lot less pronounced. Our tester was obsessed with it and even shared that her skin absorbed it in seconds, leaving behind a glow without a trace of shine in sight. Use it day or night, just be sure to follow up with an SPF of 30 or more during the daytime to reap the full benefits of this moisturizer. Though niacinamide is generally a calming ingredient, it can cause irritation when combined with other active ingredients, especially if you have super sensitive skin. Just to be safe, try performing a patch test on a small area of skin to see how well your skin reacts to the moisturizer.
Price at time of publish: $33
Ingredients: Niacinamide, Algae extract, Wheat germ oil | Skin Type: Oily, Combination | Size: 2 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“A little goes a long way to make my pores smaller in size, and my skin noticeably smoother and hydrated. With a price tag like this one, it feels like a steal.” — Mads Jensen, Tester
Best for Discoloration
Mele Plump It Up Nourishing Facial Cream
Formulated by dermatologists of color for people of color
Fights dark spots and hyperpigmentation
Visibly plumps skin
Subtle floral fragrance
Whether it’s due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (otherwise known as PIH), or exposure to the sun, dark spots can happen, regardless of your skin type. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people who have melanin-rich skin tend to be more prone to dark spots and patches as their skin can produce extra melanin when triggered by things like pimples, wounds, hormonal changes, and more. Melē, a brand dedicated to formulating skincare products for people of color by dermatologists of color, created an all-in-one product for those dealing with both oily skin and discoloration. Plump It Up Nourishing Facial Cream is a non-greasy hydrating cream that works to even out skin tone without adding any extra oil or shine. The formula includes skin conditioning agents (like plant-based squalane), niacinamide and vitamin B5 to fight discoloration and plump the skin all at once, all you have to do is massage the silky cream onto your face. We’d be remiss not to share the fact that it has a subtle floral fragrance, but according to our tester, it isn’t strong and shouldn’t bother most people. However, if you’re easily irritated by fragrances or have an allergy, you should avoid this one.
Price at time of publish: $19
Ingredients: Niacinamide, Vitamin B5, Amino acids, Plant-based squalane | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 1.35 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Retinol
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
Great for sandwiching
It can take time to absorb
If you’re using a retinoid (like tretinoin or retinol), a good moisturizer is your best friend. Like peanut butter and jelly, retinoids and moisturizers go hand and hand, especially when it comes to keeping your skin free from irritation. Since retinoids are powerful and can cause a whole slew of issues—like dryness, for instance—if you don’t use it correctly, dermatologists will usually recommend you use the sandwich method. In simple terms, the sandwich method entails applying a layer of moisturizer before going in with your retinol. Then, after you give the retinol time to absorb, you finish everything off with another layer of moisturizer.
While any moisturizer is better than none, for best results, a rich and silky one is key. The SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 wowed testers with how easy it was to massage all over the skin without feeling greasy. One tester noted that it “definitely takes time to absorb,” but that’s because it contains rich emollients and lipids, proving it to be a great option for nighttime (aka when you’ll be using retinol).
Price at time of publish: $136
Ingredients: Lipids, Vitamin E | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 1.6 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Basebutter Balancing Gel Facial Moisturizer
Won’t clog pores
Has a subtly minty feel
Designed with oily skin types in mind, the Balancing Gel Facial Moisturizer from basebutter is a great option for those prone to clogged pores. Packed with nourishing ingredients like anti-inflammatory aloe leaf juice, hydrating shea butter, and pore-refining witch hazel, the lightweight gel works to hydrate, balance, and prevent breakouts. Testers loved how it reduced overall oiliness throughout the day (even in a humid environment) and were impressed by how quickly it absorbed into their skin. One tester did note that it felt “minty” and somewhat cooling on contact, which is likely due to the large amount of aloe vera present in the formula. This isn’t a dealbreaker for everyone, but it’s worth mentioning in case that’s not your thing.
Price at time of publish: $29
Ingredients: Aloe leaf juice, Shea butter, Evening primrose oil, Witch hazel | Skin Type: Oily, Combination | Size: 2 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
innisfree Green Tea Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Moisturizer
A daily moisturizer, the innisfree Green Tea Seed Intensive Hydrating Cream Face Moisturizer is exactly what it sounds like: A hydrator powered by green tea. The USDA Certified Organic green tea used in the product is rich in both antioxidants and amino acids, both of which deliver skin-quenching hydration to the skin. Despite its super strong green tea fragrance (which the tester didn’t expect), it goes on sheer. And, although it’s lightweight, a little goes a long way, so you can get the most out of the tub. It’s by no means mattifying, so if you’re really oily, you may not be as pleased with this one. Nonetheless, our tester shared that her skin felt hydrated and that it would be ideal for cold, windy days when skin needs a little boost.
Price at time of publish: $24
Ingredients: Green tea extract, Green tea seed oil, Panthenol | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 1.69 fl. oz.| SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Kopari Moisture Whipped Ceramide Cream
Layers well underneath makeup and sunscreen
Some potential pore-clogging ingredients
Those looking for a vegan option should consider their search complete. The Kopari Moisture Whipped Ceramide Cream is formulated with clean, vegan ingredients (its main ingredients are glycerin, shea butter, and coconut fruit extract), and has a whipped butter-like texture that feels luxurious while applying. It’s on the thicker side, so our tester was surprised at how her oily skin didn’t look greasy after she rubbed across her face. After a few minutes, it gave her skin a smooth-looking finish. That said, this option isn’t exactly mattifying, but it’s a great choice for someone who appreciates a natural-looking glow. She especially appreciated the fact that it blended effortlessly into her Black skin, no white sheen in sight.
Something to note: If you have acne-prone skin, you may want to be weary of this option. The formula is clean, but ingredients like shea butter and coconut extract do have the potential to clog pores.
Price at time of publish: $42
Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Whipped coconut milk, Seed oil milk| Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 2.1 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Shani Darden Skin Care Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer
Might not be hydrating enough for combination skin
Shani Darden’s Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer checks off a lot of boxes, and then some. If your prerequisites for a moisturizer are that they feel lightweight, don’t leave behind residue, and don’t contain any oil, this one’s for you. Ideal for oily skin, the moisturizer offers optimal hydration without clogging pores or contributing to shine. It has a milky texture and applies thinly, according to our tester, but that doesn’t mean it lacks hydration. She said her oily skin drank up the product almost right away and made it feel fresh and glowy, rather than greasy and slippery. It also lays beautifully underneath makeup, making it a great daytime option. It’s not super rich, so if your skin skews more towards combination, this might not be your favorite. But if you find yourself reaching for a blotting paper midday, you’ll love this one.
Price at time of publish: $48
Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Hydrolyzed collagen, Red algae extract | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 2.5 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
When it comes to moisturizing oily skin while reducing shine, we’re giving top honors to Tatcha Water Cream. The formula, which contains twice-fermented rice, green tea, and algae, refines skin and helps reduce oil production. Another favorite of our testers is the Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel, a lightweight gel option that defends the skin against aging and environmental aggressors. And finally, we have to give it up for the fan-favorite SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. The ceramide-based cream is great for sandwiching active ingredients and proves that ample hydration is possible without feeling heavy.
How We Tested
Byrdie editors did extensive research on popular moisturizers for oily skin, taking expert recommendations and consumer reviews into account before choosing 29 to test out first-hand. Our testers assessed each one based on consistency, absorption, oiliness, performance, and value, before deciding on a rating from one to five. Those with the highest scores made the list. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.
Testing the Best Face Moisturizers for Oily Skin
Meet the Expert
Dr. Amy Ross is a board-certified dermatologist based in Tampa, Florida whose expertise include Mohs micrographic surgery and laser treatment of skin and hair disorders. She’s the founder of Palm Harbor Dermatology, Tampa’s largest dermatology practice, where she also specializes in skin cancer treatment.
What to Look for in a Moisturizer for Oily Skin
Oil-Free and Non-Comedogenic Formulas
Not all oils are necessarily bad for oily or acne-prone skin (the Kopari Moisture Whipped Ceramide Cream option listed above contains oils). But as a general rule of thumb, board-certified dermatologist Amy Ross, M.D., recommends looking for moisturizers that are both oil-free and non-comedogenic if you’re on the oily side and are prone to breakouts. “These types of moisturizers won’t clog pores or add a heavy occlusive feeling to already oily skin,” she says. One of our favorite oil-free options is the Shani Darden Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer.
Another thing to look out for per Ross’s advice is a product that moisturizes while simultaneously absorbing excess oil—a favorite of ours being the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Matte Face Moisturizer. “These products can reduce shine while keeping skin hydrated,” she says. As you know, oily skin 100% still needs moisture, so make sure you’re not using a product that’s solely drying it out.
Finally, when it comes to moisturizing oily skin, Ross suggests opting for products that are lightweight in texture and feel. Think gel-based and water cream formulas (like the Tatcha Water Cream) that hydrate with weightless ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Anything too heavy or that leaves behind too much residue will only contribute to more shine as the day goes on.
Is moisturizing good for oily skin?
Of course! Oily skin, like any other skin type, needs to maintain hydration. If your skin is dehydrated, it will likely produce more sebum to try and compensate for the lack of moisture. According to Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D., it’s best to avoid heavier creams and oils. “Though not all oils are bad for oily skin, it’s best to proceed with caution and read ingredients carefully before,” he says. “I often recommend gel moisturizers for those especially prone to acne.”
When should you apply moisturizer for oily skin?
Moisturizer is the last step in your skincare routine, so you should always apply it after cleansing and using your serums, treatments, essences, etc. It’s best applied on damp skin to seal in moisture. If you’re using retinol or any ingredient that increases cell turnover, your dermatologist may recommend you use the sandwich method, which involves applying a layer of moisturizer before and after the treatment containing an active ingredient.
Can you use a moisturizer for oil skin everyday?
As a general rule, you should apply your moisturizer of choice twice a day—once in the morning, and once at night. Doing this will help the skin maintain hydration throughout the day.
What Is Byrdie Verified?
Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.
Why Trust Byrdie
Caitlyn Martyn is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has tested dozens of moisturizers for oily skin — including several on this list. Caitlyn has been a writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.