The 10 Best Face Washes for Oily Skin

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If you carry around an endless supply of oil-blotting papers and mattifying powder, you probably have an oily skin type. There’s definitely no harm in using additional products to combat midday shine but starting with the right cleanser can eliminate the need to carry around compacts or blotting papers (and think about how light your handbag will be).

First, it’s important to note that sebum (aka the greasy, waxy substance we typically refer to as oil) isn’t a bad thing. It helps hydrate the skin, protect it from environmental aggressors and—bonus!—oily skin types are less prone to fine lines and wrinkles than a dry complexion. But if your skin makes too much sebum, it can often lead to things like clogged pores and acne. The key is to find a skincare routine that helps regulate the production of sebum, without stripping skin of its natural hydration, because that can cause your body to create even more oil.

Not sure where to start? Here are ten stellar face washes for oily skin.

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1. Best Overall Face Wash For Oily Skin: Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser

Behold: The Holy Grail of face washes for oily skin. This Dermalogica formula combines two types of grease-fighting clay—kaolin and green—to lightly exfoliate, soak up excess oil and remove acne-causing buildup after just a few washes. Plus, the addition of menthol makes it feel so soothing and cooling on skin, while cucumber fruit extract hydrates and reduces irritation, redness and inflammation to round out the benefits.

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2. Best Face Wash For Sensitive Oily Skin: Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser

Just because your skin is oily, doesn’t mean it can’t be sensitive, too. And that’s why you should give this cleanser a try. Its non-irritating, fragrance-free formula sweeps on to gently remove dirt, excess oil and dead skin cells without stripping skin or compromising the skin barrier. And although it helps eliminate shiny areas, it’s still moisturizing, so there’s never any of that tight feeling post-cleanse.


3. Best Drugstore Face Wash For Oily Skin: Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser

You don’t have to spend the big bucks to get a clear, shine-free complexion. Case in point: This $11 foaming cleanser from Aveeno that you can score from nearly any drugstore. In addition to leaving skin squeaky clean and preventing breakouts, it visibly improves tone and texture for a brighter, more radiant complexion—all without over-drying or stripping skin of its natural hydration.

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4. Best Non-toxic Face Wash For Oily Skin: Tata Harper Purifying Pore Detox Cleanser

Tata Harper makes some of the best clean skincare out there, and this shine-reducing cleanser is no exception. It’s made with natural ingredients like purple clay complex, which absorbs oil and dirt without stripping the skin’s natural moisture and papaya enzymes, whose acids exfoliate skin to minimize the look of clogged pores. All that is packed into an innovative gel-to-oil cleanser that also purges pores of buildup and fights free radical damage.

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5. Best Face Wash For Acne-prone Oily Skin: Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash

If you’re equally concerned about shine as you are about acne flare ups, good old Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash should do the trick. It’s been around for years for one great reason: it actually works. It’s the number one dermatologist recommended acne-fighting cleanser, thanks to a small amount of salicylic acid, which helps to fight current blemishes and prevent future breakouts, without robbing oily skin of much-needed moisture.

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6. Best Gel Face Wash For Oily Skin: Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

Not only is this cleanser effective at quelling excess oil, it’s also tough enough to remove eye makeup without stinging or burning, thanks to a blend of mild surfactants and emollients. It goes on like a gel, but lathers into a nice foam that clings to oil, makeup and grime and washes them down the drain. It doesn’t hurt that the packaging is super cute, too.

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7. Best Clay Face Wash For Oily Skin: First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser With Red Clay

There’s a reason clay masks are so popular: They absorb excess oil and minimize the appearance of pores. But they can sometimes cause skin to feel tight and dry. Not this clay cleanser. It’s actually a gel infused with red clay and rosemary leaf oil, which work to clear skin and balance sebum production without any harsh side effects. Bonus: It’s ideal for sensitive skin, because it’s free of parabens, sulfates and artificial fragrances, which can often cause irritation.

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8. Best Foaming Face Wash For Oily Skin: Innisfree Volcanic Clusters Pore Clearing Facial Foam

This isn’t your average foaming face wash—it’s made with micro-bubbles that create a dense lather, while Jeju Volcanic Clusters, aka particles smaller than pores, trap and absorb excess oil. It’s like a clay cleanser on steroids, except it’s free of harmful toxins and delivered in recyclable packaging.

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9. Best Soap-free Face Wash For Oily Skin: La Roche-posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Soap-free Cleanser

Don’t let this product’s name fool you. It’s free of harsh soaps, but it doesn’t skimp on the cleansing factor. Instead, ceramides help reinforce the skin barrier, while niacinamide works to lower sebum production and antioxidants fight age-accelerating free-radicals for a shine-free, youthful complexion—and that’s all before you even get to the rest of your skincare routine.

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10. Best Exfoliating Face Wash For Oily Skin: Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser

Consider this exfoliating cleanser the oil-fighting sister to Meghan Markle’s favorite The Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder. It starts off as a gel and lathers into a creamy foam to dissolve dirt, oil and grime without over-drying skin in the process. Japanese luffa fruit exfoliates to increase cell turnover and decongest pores, while amino acids from silk gently cleanse skin and Japanese leopard lily sweeps in to absorb excess oil.

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Brianna Lapolla formerly held the role of Senior Commerce Editor at PureWow covering all things shopping across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Now, she's putting her 12 years of...