The Best Products to Tackle Oily Skin for Good

Updated: Apr. 20, 2021

You can easily give greasy-looking skin a dewy glow—here's what our experts recommend for lasting skin solutions.

Skincare beauty products
July Prokopiv/shutterstock

Why go oil-free?

Face oils like Superfood by Elemis are a big beauty trend. But many oils and products that use them are comedogenic—they can clog pores and aggravate conditions like acne, according to Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, and President and Co-Founder of Modern Dermatology. “I recommend oil-free products to my patients who struggle with acne, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions.” Still, you don’t want to skip hydration especially if you’re acne prone! “While acne-prone skin may appear oily, using a hydrating serum or lotion that leverages hyaluronic acid, and other hydrating ingredients from nature such as cucumber extract can actually help the skin to regulate its own oil production and improve acne flare-ups.”

If you’re not ready to go oil-free, at least make sure you’re using the best face oil for your skin type.

philosophy clear days ahead

Best cleansers for oily skin

The first step in absorbing oils is choosing the right cleanser. According to RealSelf contributor Michele Green, MD, if you have oily skin you should use a cleanser which contains one of the following:

Salicylic acid: It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It also exfoliates and unclogs the pores.

Retinol: It helps reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles and tightens the pores, which makes oily skin look less shiny.

Glycolic acid: It reduces excess sebum production

Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Cleanser is a great option.

pure bioderm

Best serums for oily skin

Developed by Dr. Mraz Robinson and Rhonda Klein, MD, PURE BioDerm B5 Hydrating Serum is a multitasking facial gel that addresses hydration levels, skin tone, and texture. It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to help moisturize as it tackles fine lines and wrinkles. Luzern Labs Serum Absolut Clarify is another derm-backed pick. “It’s an oil-free, lightweight formula that delivers plant-derived salicylic acid and probiotics to promote clear, healthy-looking skin,” says the brand’s director of education, Lisamarie Garguilo. “Many suffering from acne-prone skin can be paranoid about using moisturizers, but failing to do so will cause you to have dehydrated skin and guess what? When oily skin gets dehydrated, it tends to break out!”

Check out the seven secrets women with oily skin should memorize.

intense defense oil free moisturizer

Best moisturizing lotions for oily skin

Key ingredients to look for here, according to Dr. Green, are alpha hydroxy acids—which gently exfoliate the skin—and hyaluronic acid—a lightweight moisturizer that hydrates the skin. If you’re looking for an oil-free anti-aging product, she underlines that you should choose products formulated with vitamin C, retinol, green tea, or caffeine-like Avalon Organics Intense Defense with Vitamin C Oil-Free Moisturizer. Sejal Shah, MD, the founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology, also singles out Eve Lom Rescue Oil-Free Moisturizer. “It’s a lightweight hydrating fluid that contains salicylic acid and botanical extracts to sap excess oil.

shiseido pureness blotting paper

Best blotting papers for oily skin

Blotting papers are oily skin’s best friend since they can be used throughout the day to sop up excess oil. “This is key because it will prevent your pores from clogging while giving your skin a matte finish,” says Dr. Green. She likes Shiseido blotting papers, which are coated with a powerful oil-absorbing agent. Boscia Black Charcoal Blotting Linens also work well according to Dr. Shah. “They’re made of Abaca tree fiber which is woven into a soft fabric that is excellent at absorbing excess oil. They are also infused with charcoal to help absorb excess oil and mattify the skin.” Anna Karp, MD, seconds those picks and adds that using daily glycolic acid wipes likes these from Glycolix, can also be very helpful.

dr brandt lotion

Best anti-aging lotions for oily skin

Dr. Brandt Pores No More Anti-Aging Mattifying Lotion is a great pick because it contains retinol and apple stem cells for cell renewal and cell turnover to minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles,” says Dr. Shah. “It also contains alpine extract to reduce shine and micronized powder to absorb oils and provide a matte finish.”

Here are some all-natural anti-aging secrets from a plastic surgeon.

dior forever perfect makeup

Best foundations for oily skin

We all want a foundation that lasts all day, and that can be a problem with oily skin. Make sure that the foundation you’re applying is non-comedogenic. Dr. Green recommends Dior Forever Foundation and Kat Von D Lock it Foundation, while Dr. Shah singles out Hourglass Immaculate Foundation, which has a unique liquid to powder formula that absorbs oil and provides a matte finish. Powdered makeup like Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place is also a good alternative according to Dr. Karp.

murad powder

Best way to set makeup for oily skin

Most people have oily spots and dry ones, which is why you might want to consider Murad MattEffect Blotting Perfector. “It’s a compact that instantly mattifies, refreshes, and sets makeup with a translucent, liquid blotting formula,” says Howard Murad, MD. “It allows you to choose the areas you want shine-free and can be used to set makeup, touch up throughout the day, or use on bare skin for a natural, matte look—without over-drying the complexion.”

murad acne control mask

Best face mask for oily skin

People with oily skin are often afraid of over-moisturizing with masks, but even though your skin looks “moist” it could still be missing key lipids to maintain your skin’s barrier. “In fact, in order to control the natural oils that your skin produces, you need a moisturizer to properly hydrate skin,” says Dr. Murad. In addition to using serums and moisturizers, consider using Murad InstaMatte Oil Control Mask to boost hydration while controlling oil. “It’s a deep cleansing, moisturizing, three-minute mask that helps dissolve excess oil and impurities, and provide a long-lasting matte finish.” Try applying it once a week.

FAB facial radiance pads

Best face pads for oily skin

Exfoliating face pads are key for blemish-free skin. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads pack a one-two punch with lactic and glycolic acids to gently remove dead skin cells to prevent the acne-causing clogged pores that oily skin is so often prone to.

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