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The best face wash for oily skin to leave you looking fresh and clean instead of like a grease magnet

Add to cart, immediately: Cerave, PCA Skin, Bioré, Glow Recipe and more cleansers to tame breakouts and kick sebum to the curb

Our picks for the best face cleansers for oily skin comes from Bioderma, CeraVe. Bioré and more (Amazon)
The best face cleansers for oily skin come from Bioderma, CeraVe. Bioré and more (Amazon)

Oily skin has its fair share of benefits and drawbacks. Those of us blessed to have oily or combination skin tend to have fewer wrinkles but might struggle with acne and clogged pores (it’s me, hi). This is why having the best face wash for oily skin at the ready is crucial. Think about it: All day long, your skin is a magnet for grime, collecting dirt, germs, bacteria, makeup, sweat, dead skin cells, pollution, and who knows what else. (Plus, there’s the issue of excess sebum!) Without proper cleansing, it's difficult to achieve clear skin: Not only is there a chance for your skin to get pissed off and break out, but environmental pollutants can cause oxidative damage, leading to wrinkles and accelerated skin aging.

Quick overview
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But don’t freak out and start washing your face 10 times a day — excessively cleansing your skin, no matter the type, can only irritate it and cause more damage and even dryness. Twice a day is usually fine, though you probably want to clean your face after sweaty activities like exercise or a hike. Now, the question is, what type of face wash is best for oily skin? The truth is, all face washes are not made equal. Sure, many skin-clearing cleansers work well for most skin types, but there are also cleansers with ingredients specially formulated for oily skin. With my combination and greasy T-zone skin, I’ve tested more face washes for oily skin than I can count. Keep reading to learn which ones I consider to be the best for any type of budget. I kept certain factors in mind, such as ingredients, benefits, formula and how well it removed grime and makeup.

​​Texture: Gel-to-foam | Size: 16 ounces | Skin Type: Normal, oily | Cruelty free: No | Active ingredients: Ceramides 1, 3, 6-II, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide

Featured on our best face wash of 2024 list, this Cerave foaming cleanser is adored by many for its ability to remove excess oil and sebum while still being gentle. While the foaming formula is ideal for oily skin, it does so without being overly aggressive. Harsh cleansers can sometimes backfire, causing your skin to over-produce sebum as a reaction to stripping ingredients. This can result in clogged pores, blackheads and acne.

This formula deeply cleanses and purifies the skin, while also incorporating ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to protect the skin's barrier and calm the skin, all while delivering powerful hydration and anti-aging benefits. You can’t go wrong with this affordable, fragrance-free cleanser.

Pros
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Developed by dermatologists
  • Fragrance-free
  • You get a good amount of product for the price
Cons
  • May not be good for dry or sensitive skin types
  • Doesn't appear to have acne-fighting ingredients
$15 at Amazon
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$21 at Ulta Beauty$19 at CVS Pharmacy

Texture: Gel | Size: 6.77 ounces | Cruelty free: Yes | Skin type: Combination, acne-prone, normal, oily | Active ingredients: Natural charcoal, salicylic acid

If you have big pores like me, a cleanser that focuses on deep cleaning is the way to go. Bioré is known for its pore-targeting products (quick hello to my good old friend, Bioré Pore Strips). This popular face wash contains natural charcoal, which is believed to draw out impurities from the skin (though, there still needs to be more research on that), and has salicylic acid, which is an ingredient that dermatologists recommend for oily skin. During my testing, I noticed fewer blackheads and clogged pores on my nose and cheeks, which was an instant win for me, not to mention the affordable price tag. Note: It has a light fragrance, which didn’t bother me, but might be a dealbreaker for some.

Pros
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Benzoyl peroxide-free (which can be harsh for some)
  • Has salicylic acid to treat existing acne
  • Free from parabens
  • Affordable
  • Dermatologist tested
Cons
  • Has a tingling effect that some people dislike
  • Contains sulfates which may be harsh for some
  • Has a scent
  • Not for eye makeup removal
$10 at Walmart
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$9 at CVS Pharmacy$7 at Target

Texture: Gel | Size: 7 ounces | Skin type: Oily and combination | Cruelty free: Yes | Active ingredients: Lactic acid, aloe vera leaf juice, gluconolactone

If your skin isn’t just oily but also problematic, i.e., prone to breakouts and clogged pores, this gel cleanser from PCA is one to add to your cart. It contains lactic acid, an AHA that gently exfoliates and buffs away dead skin cells while fighting breakouts. There’s also aloe vera extract and gluconolactone to help soothe inflammation and calm down red skin. And for a luxury brand, it’s a pretty decent price, especially as a little bit of the cleanser goes a long way.

Pros
  • Gently exfoliates
  • Controls oil
  • Removes makeup
  • Helps minimize breakouts
  • Soothing
  • Fragrance-free and paraben-free
Cons
  • Drying for some users
  • Not versatile for other skin types to use
  • Might be too strong for sensitive skin
$38 at Amazon
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$38 at Nordstrom$38 at BeautifiedYou.com

Texture: Cream-to-foam | Size: 5 ounces | Skin type: All | Cruelty free: Yes | Active ingredients: Aloe, green tea leaf, papaya enzymes, aloe, kaolin

If you’re looking for an oily skin-friendly face wash that’s free of harsh chemicals and made with lovely botanicals, try this K-beauty gem. Just don’t be intimidated by the mile-long ingredient list (especially because it’s made with 99% naturally derived ingredients like green tea leaf, papaya enzymes, kaolin, aloe, chamomile, etc.). The foamy cleanser mildly exfoliates the skin so you’re left with a super-soft canvas that feels nourished instead of stripped down. It became a fast favorite because of how effective it was in removing my makeup and cleaning my pores, especially after a long, sweaty day of wearing a full-coverage foundation!

Pros
  • Reduces appearance of pores
  • Free of at least 16 questionable chemicals like PEG, petrolatum, silicone
  • Gently exfoliates and deeply cleans
  • Made with 99% natural ingredients and botanicals
Cons
  • Some complain about the light citrusy scent
  • Can't easily remove really stubborn longwear lipstick
$20 at Amazon

I believe micellar water is one of the best inventions of the 21st century. It simplifies my skincare routine so much that I have no excuse to ever be lazy! Bioderma’s Sébium line is targeted at oily, combination, and acne-prone skin, effectively removing makeup and dirt through pure, soap-free science. When it comes in contact with the skin, it uses micelle molecules that encapsulate and remove dirt and you don’t even have to turn on the faucet! While it’s effective at removing heavy foundation, it isn’t as gentle on the eyes as Bioderma’s Sensibio, and some people complain about its fragrance.

$19 at Amazon

My skin absolutely loves this Glow Recipe cleanser, which can be used by all skin types. It has antioxidants that help protect against free radicals and hydrating hyaluronic acid. But specifically for us oily skin types, it contains a blend of AHAs (plant-derived lactic acid and glycolic acid) to gently exfoliate the skin, fight acne and reduce the appearance of pores. I love the light blueberry scent but it might be too much for sensitive noses.

$34 at Kohl's
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$34 at Sephora$35 at Amazon

According to the CDC, people touch their faces 23 times per hour, which is terrifying when you think about it. Needless to say, it’s important that we all wash our faces — and wash them the correct way! “Start with lukewarm water and apply the cleanser to a damp face; wash for about 30 seconds max," Dr. Ellen Marmur, a New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare, tells Yahoo. She says to avoid using brushes or harsh washcloths, and instead clean your hands first and then cleanse your face with your fingertips. “Massage the cleanser in the creases around the nose and in the eyebrows,” she adds. “Don’t let cleansers sit on the skin too long, and gently pat the face dry with a clean, gentle towel.”

After you're done washing, Dr. Marmur says to immediately apply a silky serum to the damp skin to increase the efficacy of the active ingredients and moisturizers — something we noted in our best hyaluronic acid serums of 2024 list.

When it comes to the best formulas for oily skin types, many of the experts I spoke with suggested using cleansers with a foam or gel-like consistency. Foaming cleansers lather and become bubbly, lifting dirt and grime from deep within the pores. Gel cleansers are lightweight and non-greasy and usually turn into a foamy lather, easily removing dirt and excess oil.

While dry skin types should look for formulas with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to lock in hydration, Dr. Marmur says salicylic acid-based cleansers are a great choice for people with oily skin. “This combination can help remove excess oils, unclog pores, and keep the skin hydrated,” she says.

Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, is also a proponent of salicylic acid for oily skin types since salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid, which is good for chemical exfoliation of the skin. “They dissolve the bonds that hold dull, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin so the skin will gently shed, revealing smoother, brighter skin underneath,” she says, adding that “BHAs are oil soluble so they can penetrate into pores so they are able to work on the surface of the skin as well as inside the pore.”

According to Dr. King, BHAs are often preferred for normal to oily skin that’s prone to acne and clogged pores. “BHAs can help reduce blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and milia,” she says. If you have oily skin that’s also sensitive, Dr. King points out that BHAs contain anti-inflammatory, skin-calming properties so they are gentle enough even for sensitive skin prone to redness and/or rosacea.

Glycolic acid is another favorite of our experts. Dr. Tess Mauricio, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills and San Diego, recommends opting for gel or foaming cleansers with ingredients like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. “Cleanser with glycolic acid is great for oily skin as it helps to chemically exfoliate and break down sebum,” adds Dr. Mara Weinstein Velez, a fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologist in Rochester, New York.

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD, Board-certified dermatologist

Hadley King, MD, Board-certified dermatologist

Tess Mauricio, MD, Board-certified dermatologist

Mara Weinstein Velez, MD, FAAD, Board-certified dermatologist