Best Face Wash for Oily Skin, According to 8 Experts

No one likes having an oily face, but more often than not, the products we use to try to combat the problem leads to the production of even more oil.

While we can’t change our genetics, we can definitely reduce the appearance of oily skin by using appropriate skin-care products that will target the problem.

So we asked experts to recommend some of the best face wash that will help control oil without stripping your skin of it.

Dr. Sheila Krishna, MD

Sheila Krishna

Board Certified Dermatologist | Advisory Board, Smart Style Today

Oily skin is caused by excess oil production from the sweat glands on the face. Oily skin can also be very sensitive and many individuals have both oil production and rough, sensitive areas.

It is important to not overdry oily skin in an attempt to remove oil; all skin types benefit from maintaining a healthy balance of natural oils on the skin to promote an even tone and texture.

The ideal face wash for oily skin should gently remove oil while also providing needed hydration.

La Roche Posay Foaming Cleanser

$15.19 ($1.13 / Fl Oz)
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09/28/2023 05:25 am GMT

This is ideal for oily skin. Formulated with spring water and gentle cleansers, this product is a balanced, simple cleanser for oily skin.

CeraVe Foaming Cleanser

$20.18 ($1.06 / Fl Oz)
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09/28/2023 06:00 am GMT

This also gently cleanses skin while providing hydration with ceramides, a naturally occurring oil on the skin that creates a smooth, even texture.

Neutrogena Hydroboost Cleanser

$9.49 ($1.58 / Fl Oz)
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09/27/2023 02:45 pm GMT

It is a hydrating cleanser that contains hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture into the skin.

Richard L. Torbeck III, M.D.

Richard L. Torbeck

Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Mount Sinai

That is a good question that I get asked all the time. I have incorporated this question into my acne patient exam. Depending on how the patient states there skin is oily, dry, or combination, I choose one soap over another.

Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid Wash

For oily skin, I recommend a patient select a benzoyl peroxide wash (like Panoxyl, Neutrogena Clear Pore(R)) or salicylic acid wash (less preferable in my eyes).

After selecting the type of antibacterial soap to control oil and acne-causing bacteria the next step is selecting the concentration. Usually, I recommend 4% or less for the benzoyl peroxide wash because they can be too drying but in a patient with oily skin, I say go somewhere between 5% but less than 10%.


$36.33 ($1.14 / Ounce)
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09/28/2023 06:20 am GMT

Other over the counter washes that help reduce oily skin are products like Cetaphil that are not harsh on the skin. Products I tell patients to avoid are tea tree oil, rosehip oil, and witch hazel because they can irritate the skin. These products dry up the oils but can cause unwanted redness and flaking of the skin.

Clindamycin Topical Solution

If the patient still states they are getting oily skin or feel shiny with those washes, I recommend a topical antibiotic prescription solution (alcohol base). Clindamycin topical solution works wonders in reducing the sheen and oiliness of the skin.

However, if the patient has combination skin I usually say not to use it every day.


I recommend retinol-based products prescription and over the counter to reduce oily skin over time. These products have not made it in to face washes and probably will not because of they area leave-on products.

They work to reduce oil production from the sebocytes (main oil-producing skin cells). However, each patient’s reaction to the retinol-based products is different causing some people to get red, dry, and flaky patches.

Nikki D. Hill, MD, FAAD

Nikki D. Hill

Board-Certified Dermatologist | Founder, SOCAH Center

Neutrogena Foaming Gentle Cleanser

$14.24 ($1.19 / Fl Oz)
Buy on Amazon
09/28/2023 06:30 am GMT

I recommend Neutrogena Foaming Gentle Cleanser for my patients suffering from oily skin.

It is a mild cleanser that gently removes away dirt and debris without over stripping your natural oils. Contrary to belief, oily skin is actually dry skin. Your skin’s feedback to dryness is to make more oil as a barrier to keep the remaining water sealed inside your skin.

I also counsel patients to also avoid salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, alcohol, and other drying agents while we restore their moisture balance.

Rina Allawh, MD, FAAD

Rina Allawh

Board-Certified Dermatologist, Montgomery Dermatology, LLC

Finding a gentle face wash for oily and/or acne-prone skin may pose a challenge for some. The key is to find a face wash that is gentle and maintains hydration while not being too drying or leaving a greasy residue behind.

There are numerous facial cleansers that claim to be excellent for acne-prone and oily skin; however, consumers may find these products irritating, drying and contain natural botanicals that may trigger a rash (allergic or irritant dermatitis).

La Roche Posay Foaming Cleanser

$15.19 ($1.13 / Fl Oz)
Buy on Amazon
09/28/2023 05:25 am GMT

The ingredients are safe and effective and gentle for patients with sensitive, oily and acne-prone skin. It contains zinc pidolate, an ingredient that effectively cleanses debris and debris on the face while maintaining the skin’s natural pH.

Fragrance-free and noncomedogenic, I find that this product successfully removes excess oils that create that “shiny” appearance of the skin.

CeraVe Foaming Cleanser

$20.18 ($1.06 / Fl Oz)
Buy on Amazon
09/28/2023 06:00 am GMT

Containing hyaluronic acid, this cleanser maintains the moisture and integrity of the protective skin barrier while effectively removes excess oils. It is also non-comedogenic and non-irritating.

Carolyn Baker

Board-Certified Physician Assistant, Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants

The truth of the matter is that there is no face wash that can actually change the amount of oil that your skin produces. Of course, using a gentle, oil-free face wash such as Cetaphil or Cerave is a good start.


The most important part of a skincare regimen for oily skin, however, is using a retinoid on the face daily. Retinoids are a class of medication (also available over-the-counter in various preparations but most recently as Differin 0.1% [adapalene], which used to be available by Rx only) that actually help to decrease the output of the sebaceous glands which produce the oil on our skin.

Retinoids should be applied to the entire face nightly – avoiding the eyelids – and an oil-free moisturizer containing an SPF should be applied every morning.

Higher-strength, prescription retinoids are often necessary for those with very oily skin. An added benefit of retinoids is that they stimulate collagen production, improving the overall tone and appearance of the skin.

Heather McKay

Cosmetic Formulation Chemist, Onoxa

Oil-based cleansers are ideal for people with oily skin, as counterintuitive as it may seem

These cleansers work to attract “bad” oils and dissolve pore-clogging agents like sebum, makeup, and other products without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

Oil cleansers don’t make the skin oily, but they do tend to absorb and remain on the skin more effectively. The myth that suggests oil makes the skin greasy is just that – a myth

Skin “greasiness” is often predetermined by the skin’s natural composition and oil cleansers, when used correctly, can combat the appearance of grease for a cleaner, smoother, healthier complexion.

Erica Jabali

Erica Jabali

Former Make-up Artist | Beauty and Lifestyle Blogger, I Spy Fabulous

When you’re struggling with oily skin, the first thought might be to use a face wash that will strip away all of that oil. The problem with this approach is that oil stripping cleansers will actually dry out your skin, causing your skin to overreact and produce more oil than ever!

To help your skin naturally balance it’s oil levels, use a gentle, gel face wash such Cetaphil, which is recommended by many dermatologists, or a clean face wash such as Honest Gentle Gel Cleanser, which will even remove your makeup without stripping the skin and leaving it tight and dry.

If your skin still feels like an oil slick, you can follow your face wash with a gentle toner, such as Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel. Thayer’s is alcohol-free and includes rose water to improve hydration.

Related: Best Foundation for Oily SkinBest Primers for Oily Skin

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a face wash and a cleanser for oily skin?

A face wash and a cleanser for oily skin are similar in that they both cleanse the skin and help to control oil production. However, a face wash is a low-lather, gel-based product that removes makeup and impurities. While a cleanser is a more traditional soap-based product used to cleanse the skin. Choose the product that works best for your skin type and preferences.

Why is it important to use a face wash specifically for oily skin?

A face wash specifically designed for oily skin is essential because it helps control excess oil production and prevent skin breakouts. Oily skin can be prone to clogged pores, blackheads, and pimples, and a good face wash can help keep these problems at bay. In addition, face washes for oily skin often contain ingredients that can help to exfoliate the skin, leaving it feeling fresh and clean.

How often should I use a face wash for oily skin?

Using a face wash for oily skin is recommended twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. This will help control oil production and prevent clogged pores throughout the day and night. However, it’s important to listen to your skin and adjust the frequency of use as needed. If your skin becomes dry or irritated, you may need to use the face wash less frequently.

Can a face wash for oily skin also help with acne?

A face wash for oily skin can also help with acne. For example, products containing salicylic acid and tea tree oil are effective at unclogging pores and reducing the appearance of breakouts. However, it’s important to remember that while a face wash can help manage acne, it’s not a cure and should be used with other treatments recommended by a dermatologist.

Can I use a face wash for oily skin if I have sensitive skin?

It’s possible to use a face wash for oily skin if you have sensitive skin, but it’s important to choose a gentle product free of harsh ingredients. Look for face washes labeled “for sensitive skin” containing nourishing ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. If you need clarification on whether a face wash suits your skin, it’s best to ask your dermatologist for advice.

Can I use a face wash for oily skin if I also have combination skin?

Yes, you can use a face wash for oily skin if you also have combination skin. However, it’s important to choose a product that is gentle and non-drying, as combination skin can be prone to dryness in certain areas. If you’re unsure what face wash to use, consider consulting a dermatologist for personalized recommendations.

Can I use a face wash for oily skin if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

It’s always best to speak with a doctor or dermatologist before using any new skin care product, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Some ingredients in face washes for oily skin, such as salicylic acid, may not be safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Your doctor can recommend alternative products you can use safely and effectively during this time.

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