Anyone struggling with oily skin knows it’s a full-time job. Just like your hair or eye color, the texture of your skin is something you’re born with. While all oils aren’t bad, having an excess typically leads to more acne, greasy skin, and blackheads. Most people want to avoid those.
But how can you treat your extra oily skin? A lot of people think there are too many expensive products or time-consuming skincare routines for them to bother.
But what if we told you that all you really need is a face wash or cleanser that targets oily skin directly? Applying it takes less than five minutes—that’s right. It takes only five minutes a day to reduce your skin’s oil production, acne breakouts, and that greasy look. What’s not to like about that?
We’ve hand-chosen the 15 best face washes for oily skin, so you don’t need to test and research countless products yourself. Just sit back and choose the option that sounds like it will best fit your skin.
How We Picked Our Top Choices
It feels like there are a million different skincare products out there. If you have especially oily skin, that usually means it’s sensitive as well, which makes it that much more difficult to find a product that works for you. Thankfully, throughout our research, we learned a few different things that a skincare product should (and shouldn’t have). Here’s what we looked at when creating our list of the 15 best face washes for oily skin:
Like anything you’re putting on your skin, the ingredients make or break the product. For especially oily skin, we recommend products that contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid breaks down oil, also called sebum in the dermatology world, and helps keep your pores open.
If you want a product with more natural ingredients, we recommend looking for charcoal, sulfur, and clay. Each of these ingredients absorbs extra oil and dead skin cells that block pores and cause acne. For a more powerful boost to prevent acne and other skin imperfections, purchase an exfoliator with tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide.
When choosing a facial cleanser to get rid of oily skin, it’s important to avoid drying agents such as fragrances and alcohol. If these ingredients don’t agree with your skin, they’ll do the opposite of what you want—increasing oil production, acne, and clogged pores.
Sulfates have a bad rep in the skincare world—and it’s for good reason! The main reason they’re used is to produce a foamy consistency. And while foam is good for a lot of reasons, there’s a limit. Simply said, a little foam goes a long way.
If you use a product that’s too foamy and has a lot of sulfates, it can end up drying out your skin. While this may not sound like the worst problem in the world, it will actually kick your sebum glands into overdrive, and you’ll start producing even more oils. So, we recommend avoiding products with sulfates altogether.
Foam vs. Gel
As we just mentioned, most foam cleansers are made with sulfates, which are worse for people with sensitive skin. That said, if your skin isn’t sensitive, foam face washes are more effective at limiting built-up oil because they can penetrate deeper into the pores than a gel cleanser. That doesn’t mean that gel face washes are ineffective, however. Actually, gel face washes are strong enough to remove grime from the face and hydrate the skin more effectively.
Our Top 15 Face Washes for Oily Skin in 2023
Now that you know how we picked our top 15 face washes for oily skin, it’s time to reveal our choices. On this list, you’ll find a variety of options—from drugstore cleansers to high-end, top-of-the-line face washes from notable skincare brands.
Our favorite face wash that we tested for oily skin was Blu Atlas’s Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser. Blu Atlas, a New York-based men’s skincare brand, makes all its products without artificial or synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and animal cruelty. Their brand is also vegan, and their face cleanser is made with 98% all-natural ingredients.
When we focus on the ingredients, Blu Atlas includes a few unique choices. For starters, the brand uses volcanic ash as an exfoliator. Compared to a traditional sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) that’s used to exfoliate the skin, Blu Atlas chooses the natural route. Volcanic ash has highly absorbent micro-particles that soak up excess oil, tightening pores.
Secondly, this facial cleanser uses lactobacillus ferment filtrate, which, research proves, rebuilds the skin’s natural barrier. This protects your face against environmental stressors and calmly soothes it—making it an ideal choice for someone with sensitive skin.
The final unique ingredient they include is pomegranate seed oil. Thanks to its high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, it has anti-aging and inflammatory properties. Additionally, it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids that help increase blood flow and stabilize collagen and oil production.
Overall, we think Blu Atlas has the best well-rounded face wash. It’s great for oily and sensitive skin but also works as a preventative for acne and potential inflammation. The price is affordable, and compared to other choices with the same benefits, it’s on the more affordable side!
2. First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser With Red Clay
Second on our list is a deep-cleaning face wash from First Aid Beauty. Made with red clay and other clean ingredients (we’ll go over these next), it’s perfect for absorbing oils, drawing out impurities, smoothing the skin, and unclogging your pores. For only a little bit more than the Blu Atlas face wash, it has just as many benefits.
This product is free from gluten, parabens, soy, nuts, fragrances, phthalates, sulfates, alcohol, and animal cruelty. There are other things it’s free from as well—but these are the ingredients we’re most worried about.
The other main ingredient worth mentioning is rosemary leaf oil. When red clay is combined with rosemary oil, it has antibacterial properties that balance your sebum production. After using First Aid Beauty’s deep cleanser regularly, you should notice that your skin is less oily.
The product also uses its patented FAB antioxidant blend. Just like Blu Atlas, the high amount of antioxidants help to protect your skin from environmental aggressors. We think that First Aid Beauty’s choice is perfect—but for a few dollars cheaper, you can buy Blu Atlas’s product that provides the same benefits.
3. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser
The first gel on our list comes from La Roche-Posay, a L’Oréal owned skincare brand. It’s been clinically tested on acne-prone skin and is safe to use for those with sensitive skin. We recommend using this product if traditional foaming cleansers don’t agree with you.
This purifying gel cleanser uses zinc picolinate, a soothing face scrub that respects the pH balance of your skin. While our first two options leveraged ingredients high in antioxidants, this gel cleanser focuses more on cleaning your skin than normalizing your sebum production. We think this is best for people with just a moderate level of oil on their skin—and not those suffering from excess oil.
While it’s a cheaper option and one found at everyday pharmacies in France, La Roche-Posay can be drying on the skin. This is due to the fragrances (noted as the last ingredient) included in the cleanser. Additionally, there’s nothing mentioned about sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or animal cruelty in the product.
We recommend this product for people who want a cheap option and aren’t too particular about their skincare routine. It’s a good choice for a first facial cleanser as you can learn what you like and dislike about a face wash. However, you’d probably be happier purchasing one of our top two options listed above.
4. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
CeraVe is a huge name in skincare—and it’s for good reason. Their products actually hold two spots on this list. We like that CeraVe creates affordable products that can be found in your local drugstore while managing to keep things simple. Their products aren’t packed with harmful chemicals like other drugstore choices, and they work for people with sensitive skin.
Like all CeraVe products, their product has three important ceramides that improve the natural health of your skin. Their foaming facial cleanser in particular includes hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. While both of these ingredients have intimidating names, we’re happy to say that both are beneficial and won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Hyaluronic acid is a sugar that’s naturally found in the body. It’s responsible for your skin’s plumpness and hydration. When used in a face wash, hyaluronic acid is a non-comedogenic moisturizer—meaning it won’t clog your pores. As you grow older, your natural production of hyaluronic acid slows, hence why your skin starts to sag and wrinkle.
Niacinamide is part of the vitamin B family. It’s used in skincare products to calm the skin, even skin tone, and boost hydration. Overall, the CeraVe Facial Foaming Cleanser is a perfect budget-friendly face wash. Its only downside is that it’s not specifically made for those with oily skin.
5. AcneFree Blackhead Removing Scrub
Face washes come in all forms: foaming cleansers, gels, and even scrubs. This blackhead-removing face wash by AcneFree is the latter of the three—a scrub. It uses two of our star ingredients, salicylic acid and charcoal, to physically exfoliate the skin. Even though it’s one of the cheapest options on our list, it’s highly capable of removing excess oil and preventing future breakouts.
AcneFree’s entire brand is dedicated to people who suffer from acne. Their products all work in a two-step process. First, they treat the problem—in this case, with salicylic acid applied in a scrub—which sheds dead skin cells, decreases redness, and removes blackheads. Once your pores and skin are clean, the scrub transitions to the second half of its process: care.
The care process is where the charcoal comes in. Combined with jojoba oil, the face scrub soaks up sebum while simultaneously hydrating and soothing the skin. Due to the nature of this two-step process, you won’t need to apply a moisturizer after scrubbing your face. Rather AcneFree offers you a one-stop shop to clean and care for your skin.
6. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash with Salicylic Acid
Another huge name in the skincare world is Neutrogena. With over 90 years in business, Neutrogena has had plenty of time to experiment with its products. Their oil-free acne wash is one of the best-selling face washes of all time and is especially popular as a budget-friendly option for people with acne.
This product contains 2% salicylic acid—the most that a skincare product can contain without requiring a prescription. As we’ve already mentioned, salicylic acid is one of the most popular ingredients to fight and prevent acne. Combined with Neutrogena’s MicroClear technology, this product helps strengthen the acne-fighting acid to clear up breakouts quicker than other brands.
Face washes without oil are best for people with a high count of sebum glands. The product is dermatologist tested to show visible changes in a week—even though our research has proven it takes up to six weeks. We recommend this product for someone looking for a quick fix, since you can typically find it at any of your local drugstores.
7. NutraNuva Face Food All-in-One Cleanser, Exfoliator, and Toner
As the title suggests, NutraNuva’s face wash is an extreme multitasker. Not only does it cleanse your face of excess oil, but it also exfoliates the skin and evens out your skin tone. Did we mention it’s made with 100% all-natural ingredients as well?
This product is more expensive than other options on our list, but it’s made with high-quality ingredients you can trust. Just like our top choice, Blu Atlas, it doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates, dyes, GMOs, and gluten. It’s completely vegan, cruelty free, and loaded with antioxidants, nutrients, and ingredients with anti-aging properties.
Unlike some all-natural formulas, NutraNuva’s product is gentle enough to be used daily. And even though it’s pricier than other options, in the long run, you’ll save money by using this as an exfoliator, face wash, and toner.
We recommend this product for people who have a wider budget and are concerned about what they’re putting in their body. It works for people with all different skin types thanks to soothing ingredients such as chamomile, comfrey, Iceland moss, persimmon, peppermint, and charcoal.
8. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
Yes, we did add two Neutrogena products to this list. Being such a notable brand with so many well-reviewed products, it’s hard not to give them the space they deserve. While our first product was an all-around foaming facial cleanser, our second choice is a bit more niche. Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is for those with sensitive and dry skin.
People who know their skincare products tend to have a negative opinion about anything that’s cheaper than $10. While we agree that cheaper products are usually made with less sustainable and more irritating ingredients, that’s not exclusive. In fact, Neutrogena does a great job at breaking that myth.
Neutrogena keeps things simple with this safe-for-sensitive-skin product. There are two notable ingredients: a polyglycerin formula and cetearyl alcohol. The polyglycerin formula is all about hydration. It takes water particles out of the air and draws them into your skin—keeping it moisturized for longer than a traditional facial cream.
The cetearyl alcohol helps soften and keep excess oil off the skin. It doesn’t cause dryness or redness like other alcohols.
9. iNNBEAUTY PROJECT Foam Around Clarifying Daily Cleanser
At number nine, this foaming face cleanser won’t dry out your skin. We’re talking about iNNBEAUTY PROJECT’s daily cleanser. The key behind this foaming face wash is that it doesn’t contain any drying alcohols or sulfates. It keeps your skin well moisturized by adding natural sugars to increase the plumpness of your skin.
In our opinion, using a foaming face wash is a bit more satisfying. It may be the placebo effect, but we think it gets our face cleaner. Thankfully, iNNBEAUTY PROJECT has found a way to create a foaming face wash without all the disadvantages. Instead, this product has plenty of benefits, like preventing blemishes, reducing oil levels, and brightening your skin tone.
To make all these benefits happen, iNNBEAUTY PROJECT uses a combination of salicylic and glycolic acids. While the glycolic acid hydrates the skin, the salicylic acid dissolves the oils around the skin and balances your pH level.
For the best results, it’s recommended to use this product in the morning and at night. We didn’t notice any irritation after using it twice a day, but those with extremely sensitive skin may want to proceed with caution.
10. Atticus Mineral Cleanser
Atticus Mineral Cleanser uses rare clays and arctic roots to stabilize your skin’s pH, sebum, and collagen production. While this product also cleans and unclogs your pores, it takes things to the next level by fighting oily skin in the long term. After using this face wash regularly, you’ll slowly notice that your skin is becoming less sensitive and more resistant to environmental stressors.
We really enjoyed the two types of clay that soak up and restore our sebum production. Both bentonite and kaolin clay are naturally and sustainably sourced, meaning you won’t have this product weighing on your conscience.
Something that’s unique about Atticus’s face cleanser (and our number one choice, Blu Atlas) is that you can purchase it on a subscription plan. Not only will you never have to worry about running out, but you’ll also receive the product at a discounted rate. This is ideal if you find yourself falling in love with this face wash.
11. CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
Just like Neutrogena, CeraVe is such a notable brand that we included two of their products. While this product contains the same three ceramides that all CeraVe products have, it also adds hyaluronic and amino acids. Compared to the other CeraVe face wash on this list, this choice is more gentle and hydrating.
We think that this more hydrating option is better for daily use. It’ll leave your skin feeling softer and silkier. This CeraVe face cleanser does a great job of preventing the effects of environmental stress. Other than harsh sun rays, which cause discoloration on the skin, changes in humidity can also cause dryness.
The only major downside to CeraVe products, and most big-brand products, is their lack of clean and ethically sourced ingredients. Even though it’s a gentle and soothing product, there are sulfates and parabens used in their products. However, if these things don’t concern you, CeraVe’s line of face washes are high performing and will get the job done.
12. Ghost Democracy Transparent Gentle Exfoliating Daily Cleanser
One of the most expensive options on our list is from Ghost Democracy—a vegan and cruelty-free skincare brand. Unlike many other exfoliators, this cleanser is able to deeply clean the pores without sapping their natural moisture. That means you’ll be able to use this face wash daily without any irritation, dryness, or redness.
We’re happy to say that Ghost Democracy is free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, silicones, essential oils, drying alcohols, fragrances, synthetic dyes, and a few other things. Their main ingredient, glycolic acid, comes from sugar cane and gently breaks down skin cells to unclog each pore.
The second main ingredient in this face wash is mandelic acid. Mandelic acid is a natural antioxidant that has antibacterial properties. It works in conjunction with glycolic acid to accelerate cell turnover, which eventually reduces blemishes and dark marks on the skin.
With a wealth of benefits, Ghost Democracy’s face cleanser is a win in our books. However, we don’t recommend using it for sensitive skin.
13. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water is the prime choice for someone with ultra-sensitive skin. While its traditional use is to remove makeup, it can also be used as a daily face wash. Micellar water doesn’t contain any fragrances, botanicals, or sulfates, which is partially why it works so well for people with sensitive skin.
Garnier’s micellar water only contains a few ingredients. Thanks to the glycerin in it, it’s able to clean your skin without removing its natural hydration. Additionally, it contains small balls of oil that lift the dirt and grime away from your skin.
While the micellar water is a great product to keep on your shelf, you may need an additional exfoliant. The micellar water, while it has many benefits, can’t penetrate deeply into the pores to remove oils. If you’re prone to acne, you’ll probably want to avoid this product and purchase something with more power.
14. Paula’s Choice Resist Perfectly Balanced Cleanser
Paula’s Choice has a lightweight face wash that is made for people with combination skin. If you suffer from excess oil, frequent acne or blackheads, and fine lines, you may have combination skin. Thankfully Paul’s Choice face wash is made to rid your skin of excess oils while providing plenty of hydration.
We thought the ingredients list from this face wash was pretty impressive. It features a wealth of hydrating ones, like glycerin, ceramides, aloe extract, and sunflower oil. We know you should normally avoid oils in your daily cleansers, but sunflower oil is non-comedogenic.
The brand advertises its product as pore-reducing. While it’s physically impossible to change the size of your pores, you can clear out those pores, which makes them appear smaller. Thanks to the lack of fragrances, you can use this cleanser for sensitive skin without a problem.
15. Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser
Last on our list is an exfoliator that provides a deeper clean and can be used daily. Coming from the high-end, high-quality brand Tatcha, this face wash exfoliates each pore directly, removing any dirt, grime, or excess oil causing a buildup.
Since exfoliating can cause general irritation, it’s only recommended to use it a few times per week. However, for those dealing with oily skin, it’s best to do it more often. We found that Tatcha’s product allows you to exfoliate daily without drying or irritating your skin. We think it’s thanks to the product’s main ingredient: Japanese luffa fruit.
In fact, the product uses three all-natural ingredients that come from Japan. They are the luffa fruit, wild rose, and leopard lily. Together when they’re combined, they break down individual oils while rejuvenating your skin. It combats dry skin with a multi-faceted approach, meaning your skin will stay hydrated.
If you want to avoid a face wash that uses alcohol, steer clear of Tatcha’s exfoliator. Even though it’s the most expensive option on the list, to get that deep clean, it uses alcohol. For people with sensitive skin, this can cause general irritation and redness.