Combination skin getting you down? Having a skincare routine that uses products that have been specifically designed for your skin type is one of the best ways to eliminate excess oil and reduce the appearance of spot-prone or blemish-prone skin.
From why you need to cleanse to which ingredients you should be looking out for, here’s our guide to the best cleansers for oily skin.
Oily skin is quite easy to spot. The main tell-tale signs are:1
Yes, absolutely, but not just any cleanser. The best cleansers for oily skin are gentle on the skin, i.e. won’t dry it out or remove too much natural oil.2
Drying your skin out can compromise your skin barrier, which can lead to it producing even more oil. Cleansers for oily skin need to clean skin, but also maintain natural oil levels while also moisturising, but not over-moisturising. As for what these cleansers are, keep reading, we’ve listed 10 examples down below….
Cleansing is perhaps the most crucial step in caring for your skin and should definitely be something you do – regardless of your skin type!
For people with particularly oily skin, though, cleansing is even more critical. That’s because it helps clean out your pores and remove any excess sebum, dirt or make-up that could go on to cause breakouts or blackheads.
Depending on the ingredients, your cleanser may also help your skin cells to regenerate, in addition to offering them protection against things like harmful UV rays and pollution.
There are a few different things you should keep in mind when choosing a cleanser. If you have oily skin, it's important to look for these 5 main ingredients.
Like many things, not all cleansers are created equal! Luckily, there are lots of different options out there that come packed with beneficial ingredients for those who struggle with greasiness or breakouts. Here’s what to look out for in the best cleansers for oily skin:
Antioxidants are great for the entire body, not just the skin. Put simply, they’re molecules that help with the negative effects of free radicals – compounds that could potentially harm your cells and lead to various skin concerns.3 When it comes to skincare, antioxidants can help purify your skin, reduce sensitivity, and even brighten up your complexion.4 Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant that features in many cleansers for oily skin.5
This form of beta hydroxy acid is a common ingredient in many skincare products, not just cleanser. Why? As an exfoliator, it’s able to penetrate deep into the skin and unblock pores that may have become clogged with dead skin, oil and other nasties.6 To keep on top of your oily skin, try cleansing twice a day. You should follow this up with a lightweight, oil-free moisturiser that will smooth out and hydrate your skin without re-clogging your pores.
Lots of people with oily skin mistakenly think their skin isn’t dry, but that oil isn’t the same as moisture. This means oily skin can actually be crying out for some moisture, but not the type that’s too rich and heavy and leads to blocked pores and suffocates oily skin.7
Light, yet deeply enriching moisture is what’s needed, which is precisely what hyaluronic acid provides. Look for oil-free moisturisers that contain hyaluronic acid, which happens to be intensely hydrating as well as lightweight.
Handpicked content: The best hyaluronic acid products for skin
Retinol (or Vitamin A) is great for oily skin because it helps keep pores tight. In doing so, this means they create and secrete less oil. So, as well as helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes and age spots, retinol can also help keep oil control in check too.8
Handpicked content: Is retinol good for skin?
Here’s another ‘acid’ to add to your oily skin checklist! Face washes, lotions and creams that contain glycolic acid are great for reducing excessive oil and preventing pores from getting clogged with oil. It works by helping to keep the top layer of skin exfoliated, leading to smooth and more balanced skin in the process. 9
Now you know what you should be looking out for in your hunt for the best cleanser for oily skin, it’s worth learning what you should avoid too.10
Occlusive ingredients, such as paraffin, lanolin and petroleum, are specifically designed to tackle dry skin, but they’re way too thick for oily skin to handle.
These heavier ingredients can quickly lead to increased blocked pores and prevent any moisture from evaporating, which can be a pore-clogging nightmare.
Natural oils do work for some people with oily skin. But on the whole, they’re highly prone to clogging pores, especially oils with a high oleic content, such as coconut or hazelnut oil. The fatty acids within these oils simply sit on the skin’s surface and cause pore blockages.
Oily skin gets on much better with natural oils with a higher linoleic content, such as rosehip or primrose oil.
Some alcohol based products are designed to provide skin hydration and some are aimed at cleansing skin. Steer clear of cleansers that contain high levels of alcohol, as it’s highly likely that, over time, they’ll strip your skin of its natural moisture.
Then, because your skin is dry, it’ll wind up overproducing oil, which can lead to having excessively oily skin.
It can be hard knowing where to start when you're looking for new beauty products.
Luckily, we've rounded up 9 of the best cleansers for oily skin, along with what our customers have to say about them.
Using cleanser regularly is one of the best ways to take care of your skin, even if it’s oily. Just be sure to use the right type of cleanser for your skin, which will give it the moisture it needs without impacting your natural oil levels.
Remember, oily skin isn’t necessarily oily, it can be skin that’s been stripped of its natural oil and overcompensating by producing more oil than it usually would.
Use products that have been specifically designed for oilier skin, including the 9 cleansers we’ve listed above.
Last updated: 28 May 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019
BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science
Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.
After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.