Look, we totally get itâ€”if you happen to be dealing with the plight that is perpetually oily skin, moisturizing is likely the last thing you want to do. After all, your goal is to remove excess oil, not add more, right? Breaking news, though: Oily skin still needs moisture, and if you skip moisturizer, it's believed that your oil glands may potentially go into overdrive, producing more oil. As Alanis so eloquently said, isnâ€™t it ironic?
Ahead, the best drugstore moisturizers for oily skin that fit the bill.
- Our Picks
- Final Verdict
- What to Look For
- Why Trust ishonest?
- How We Test
Best Overall: Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30
Helps control oil
Not only is this option super lightweight and non-comedogenic (aka it wonâ€™t clog pores), it also touts micro pearl technology, which works to absorb excess oil on the surface of the skin and leave a matte finish. It has the added benefit of delivering your daily dose of necessary broad-spectrum SPF 30 sun protection, too. And, in true Cetaphil fashion, itâ€™s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, so you donâ€™t have to worry about irritation if you also have sensitive skin.
Omar Noor, MD, FAAD, of Rao Dermatology is also a fan. "An individual, man or woman, has to appreciate that not all products work at the same intensity level and therefore can be too rough or irritating to their skin," he says. "This is why I like Cetaphil's Pro Dermacontrol Oil Absorbing Moisturizer. It is a balance of effectiveness while still having an elegant vehicle to deliver that effectiveness."
Best Mattifying: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer
Wears well under makeup
Helps calm acne
Yes, this is an oil-free formula, but the benefits for oily skin donâ€™t stop there. The formula features a unique sebulyse (say that three times fast) technology, which the brand claims both mattifies your complexion and helps tighten pores, as well as a form of zinc, which it credits to further neutralizing shine. The result: skin that feels hydrated but looks matte. Try making this your morning moisturizer, since it helps create the perfect canvas for makeup.
It's also got an expert's seal of approval, specifically Dr. Adam Friedman, associate professor of dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine. He loves this La Roche-Posay moisturizer for oily skin, as well as the former Cetaphil pick. "Both are designed specifically for oilier skin, with ingredients that can bind or break up sebum like diisopropyl sebacate, silicates, and starches to help reduce shine rather than contribute to it," he says. "Both are produced by companies that have a long-standing history of supporting their marketing claims with scientific evidence, which is my general rule for recommended products: Go with the brands that can put their money where the science is."
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, dimethicone, salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1.4 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Gel: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel
Hydrates with hyaluronic acid
Not for ultra-dry skin
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
Gel moisturizers are an innately great pick for oily skin types; they contain a higher content of water rather than relying on richer oils and butters. This one also uses hyaluronic acid, which attracts water to and holds it in the skin, both hydrating and helping to improve skin elasticity. Super lightweight, it absorbs quickly without leaving behind any greasy residue. Follow our lead and stash it in the fridge so that it feels extra cooling and delightful when applied.
Active Ingredients: Dimethicone, glycerin, polyacrylamide | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
"I think this moisturizer is a solid choice to hydrate without being heavy." â€” Joline Buscemi, Product Tester
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Neutrogena Non-Comedogenic Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit Acne Face Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid
Won't cause breakouts
Oily skin and breakouts often (and unfortunately) go hand-in-hand. But thatâ€™s not an issue when you use this moisturizer. First and foremost, itâ€™s oil-free and non-comedogenic, both non-negotiables when youâ€™re battling blemishes. Aside from that, though, it has the added benefit of containing a small amount of salicylic acid, an oil-dissolving ingredient that can both help treat existing pimples and keep future ones from forming.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 4 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Lightweight: L'OrÃ©al Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care Normal/Oily Skin
Wears well under makeup
Contains triethanolamine and parabens
Not for acne-prone skin
Granted, none of these picks are particularly heavy or rich, but if youâ€™re on the hunt for a super featherweight formula, this one takes the cake. Itâ€™s water- based and made with aloe water and hyaluronic acid, delivering lasting yet undetectable hydration. It glides on silky smooth and melts into skin almost immediately, and also touts mattifying benefits to help remove unwanted oil.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, dimethicone, aloe leaf juice | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Anti-Aging: Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer
Lightweight yet hydrating
A little goes a long way
Fine lines and wrinkles are often associated with dry skin, but thatâ€™s not always the case. This featherweight formula (which, fun fact, took 10 years to develop) has the same anti-aging prowess as the beloved Olay Regenerist Serum and contains a complex of peptides that, according to the brand, can have a youth-boosting effect. Still, the whipped texture absorbs into skin lightning- fast, thanks to a special technology that transforms it from cream to liquid upon contact with your skin. It leaves your complexion smooth, silky, and matte, the perfect prep step pre-makeup.
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, palmitoyl dipeptide-7 | Skin Type: Mature | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Combination Skin: CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Can pill when used with other skincare
Ceramides are a part of a complex family of fats or lipids called a sphingolipid. They work to restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture.
If youâ€™re oily in certain spots but dry in others, reach for this pick. Itâ€™s oil-free and non-comedogenic, a major win for the oily parts, but also has the added benefit of containing ceramides and hyaluronic acid, a win for the dry parts. Even better? You get your necessary SPF, too.
Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | ishonest Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best with Antioxidants: Avalon Organics Intense Defense Oil-Free Moisturizer
Helps fade dark spots
Not the best value
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, including the skin, but we cannot produce it on our own. For the skin, it helps to boost collagen, lighten discoloration, and fight free radicals.
To score a little more bang for your buck, seek out a moisturizer that contains skin-protecting antioxidants. We especially like this one, which touts one of the most potent and effective antioxidants out thereâ€”vitamin C. The skincare superstar not only helps neutralize pesky free radicals formed by exposure to UV rays and pollution, it can also help fade dark spots and stimulate collagen production. This particular pick contains two different forms of the vitamin, all in a fast-absorbing, oil-free formula.
Active Ingredients: Aloe leaf juice, ascorbic acid | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Multi-Tasking: Garnier SkinActive Balancing 3-in-1 Face Moisturizer with Green Tea
Can be a little heavy
Slather this on during the day when you need an effective mattifying moisturizer, use it overnight for a hydrating though non-greasy night cream, or leave on a thin layer for 10 minutes as a nourishing mask. Either way, you get plenty of good-for-your-skin ingredientsâ€”97% of which are naturally derivedâ€”and no mineral oil, parabens, silicones, or dyes. Plus, it contains salicylic acid.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter | Skin Type: Balanced | Size: 6.8 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best with SPF: Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30
Ideal for acne-prone skin
In case you missed it, wearing sunscreen daily (a broad-spectrum formula with at least an SPF 30) is an absolute must. And yes, weâ€™ve heard the â€œsunscreen makes me break outâ€ excuse, but that doesnâ€™t fly when you can use this guy. It was dermatologist-formulated specifically for acne-prone skin. The result is non- greasy, non-pore-clogging formula that also contains micro pearl technology to absorb excess oil.
Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene | Skin Type: Oily, acne- prone | Size: 4 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | ishonest Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Hyperpigmentation: Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer
Helps even out skin tone
Expensive per ounce
Here's another moisturizer that packs on the SPF without leaving a greasy residue. Not only does it protect against UV damage, but the formula also helps to fade dark spots for a more even skin tone. Users say that after consistent use of this moisturizer, they saw improved texture and a brighter complexion.
Active Ingredients: Homosalate, octisalate, avobenzone, octocrylene | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | ishonest Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin: Alba Botanica Hawaiian Oil Free Moisturizer
Encourages skin cell turnover
Yes, sensitivity is more likely to occur in those with dryer skin, but that doesnâ€™t mean that oily skin canâ€™t also be sensitive. This is both oil-free and hypoallergenic and doesnâ€™t contain parabens, phthalates, dyes, or synthetic fragrance, all common irritants for the sensitive set. Green tea delivers a dose of antioxidants,while aloe and cucumber work to soothe skin.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, octyl palmitate, aloe leaf juice | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Cream: Botanics Revive & Protect Postbiotic Moisturizer
Contains probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics
Shields skin from pollution
If you crave a little bit more hydration, reach for this creamy (yet fast- absorbing) option. Granted, itâ€™s not oil-free, but it is formulated for all skin typesâ€”oily included. Packed with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics, as well as black tea kombucha, this antioxidant-rich formula aims to shield skin from pollution and environmental stressors while keeping it healthy and vibrant.
Active Ingredients: Black tea kombucha | Skin Type: Dry, combination, oily | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: None | ishonest Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
You better believe you still need to use a moisturizer if you have oily skin, so why not make it one of the great, affordable options found at the drugstore? Case in point: Cetaphil's DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30 offers the hydration you need (and SPF, too) but also absorbs excess oil in the process. If youâ€™re after some anti-aging benefits, try the Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer, which has the same wrinkle-reducing prowess as the beloved serum in a lighter-than-air cream. Bolden's SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer is our top choice for anyone trying to fade spots, while Neutrogena's Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit Acne Face Moisturizer earns our vote for those battling blemishes and oily skin.
Why Trust ishonest?
ishonest contributor Melanie Rud has more than a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there.
Meet the Expert
â€¢ Omar Noor is a dermatologist and part of the Rao Dermatology New Jersey team. His interests include skin cancer and medical dermatology with a special interest in cosmetic dermatology.
â€¢ Adam Friedman is a board-certified dermatologist, professor, and Interim Chair of Dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine. His clinical interests include acne, eczema, and psoriasis, among others.
How We Test Drugstore Moisturizers for Oily Skin
Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.
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