Skincare Products » Best Face Washes & Cleansers » Best Face Washes for Oily Skin

Best Face Washes for Oily Skin in 2023

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Are you looking for a face wash for oily skin? If so, this roundup of face cleansers for greasy skin can help. We’re getting deep into the nuances of what makes a face wash best for tackling dirt, grime, and oil on your skin.

If your skin produces a lot of sebum or your pores are on the larger side, that’s a sure sign you have an oily skin type. You might find yourself tempted to scrub it harshly to get rid of the offending oils, but the truth is that choosing a gentle cleanser with a few choice active ingredients is the way to go. 

We’ve selected the best cleansers for oily skin, keeping in mind the additional concerns and needs that may also affect your skin type. 

Best face wash for oily skin overview:

Our picks for the best face wash for oily skin

Best overall
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

What we love

  • Gentle, refreshing cleanse (especially helpful for sensitive skin)
  • Low pH keeps skin balanced and fortified
  • Includes gentle acne-fighting ingredients

What we don’t love

  • Not ideal for makeup removal
  • Medicinal tea tree smell

This COSRX cleanser is a light, sulfate-free gel that foams up quickly but not to an extreme. It leaves the skin feeling clean but not tight, which is ideal for most people with oily skin. It’s not enough to remove makeup on its own, but it’s excellent as a morning cleanser, second cleanser, or your only cleanser if you don’t wear makeup.

It also has a low pH that keeps the skin fortified and balanced, and it includes acne-fighting tea tree oil and betaine salicylate.

Type: Gel | Quantity: 5.07 fl oz | Key Ingredients: Tea tree oil and betaine salicylate | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best for acne
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

What we love

  • Contains one of the best acne-fighting actives
  • Creamy formula prevents dehydration
  • Niacinamide and glycolic acid further refine the skin

What we don’t love

  • Harsher formula
  • Not appropriate for the eyes
  • Must be used with sunscreen

It’s hard to pick just one CeraVe cleanser to feature since the brand has a remarkable range of options. However, if your oily skin is also acne-prone, a medicated cleanser is one of the best places to start treating blemishes. 

This formula is made with 4% benzoyl peroxide, an acne-fighting ingredient that kills bacteria and unclogs pores to reduce breakouts over time. It’s one of the best over-the-counter ingredients for acne, but it can also be harsh. You don’t want to use it around the eyes, and per the FDA, pairing it with sunscreen is a must since it may increase the skin’s sun sensitivity.

The texture of this cleanser mitigates some of the benzoyl peroxide’s harshness. Its creamy yet oil-free formula ensures the skin is nourished and hydrated, and the product even includes humectant glycerin. It contains pore-minimizing niacinamide and exfoliating glycolic acid for complete renewal.

Type: Cream to foam | Quantity: 5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best dermatologist-recommended
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Facial Cleanser

What we love

  • Often recommended by dermatologists
  • Very gentle for sensitive, oily skin
  • Can be used in conjunction with acne treatments

What we don’t love

  • No transformative ingredients

This is a dermatologist-favorite face wash for good reasons. La-Roche Posay is a French pharmacy brand that makes gentle, effective, and simple products that keep the skin healthy. It might be boring, but that’s what often works best for sensitive skin.

This dermatologist-tested cleanser was formulated with sensitive, oily skin in mind — it’s highly cleansing but also gentle and inert. It does contain some hydrating and soothing ingredients like glycerin, ceramides, and niacinamide, and it’s free from fragrances, sulfates, and other ingredients that might irritate.

Dermatologists like it because it’s easy to pair with strong prescription treatments that may be more intense. It’s so simple and gentle that it won’t transform your skin on its own, but sometimes that’s exactly what your skin needs.

Type: Gel | Quantity: 13.52 fl oz | Key ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best budget
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

What we love

  • Thoroughly cleanses
  • Features exfoliating salicylic acid
  • Low pH keeps skin balanced

What we don’t love

  • Unattractive bottle
  • May be irritating for some

Neutrogena’s range of oil-free face washes for oily skin may not work for everyone — some may find that regular use of this product can dry them out or cause irritation. But the original orange cleanser does have some unique features that make it stand out to us, despite its unattractive packaging.

The Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash is made with 2% salicylic acid, a beneficial yet gentle acne-clearing exfoliant. It’s also formulated with a low pH, so it’s an effective chemical exfoliant that unclogs pores and keeps the skin balanced.

The gel is thoroughly clarifying for oily skin and is not too harsh unless you’re prone to dehydration. For some, it can be too drying or irritating for daily use, especially for those with sensitive skin.

Type: Gel | Quantity: 6 fl oz | Key ingredients: Salicylic acid | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best active cleanser
Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + Niacinamide + AHA Cleanser

What we love

  • Excellent blend for sensitive, acne-prone skin
  • Niacinamide and azelaic acid address redness
  • Salicylic and glycolic acids exfoliate gently

What we don’t love

  • Niche benefits
  • Expensive

This cleanser features a unique blend of actives. It features salicylic acid (a BHA), our go-to exfoliant for acne-prone skin, and glycolic acid, which is slightly stronger. The formula also has Azelaic acid, which can help with redness, and niacinamide, which functions in various ways, including balancing the skin. 

This blend of actives is a lot to include in just one cleanser, but those with sensitive yet acne-prone skin will find that it cleans without causing irritation. The actual percentage of ingredients isn’t too high, and since it gets rinsed off, it’s actually a very gentle way of exfoliating and renewing the skin. 

If your skin can’t tolerate leave-on exfoliants or you’re already using a strong retinoid, it might be worth the splurge since it could be just the right level of exfoliation for you. 

Type: Gel | Quantity: 5 fl oz | Key ingredients: BHA, AHA, azelaic acid, niacinamide | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best probiotic
Tula The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser

What we love

  • Gentle formula purifies without stripping the skin
  • Probiotics reinforce skin microbiome
  • Plant extracts offer soothing effects

What we don’t love

  • Not ideal for those with fungal skin conditions
  • No actives to provide dramatic results

Gentle surfactants and a gel formula make this one of the best cleansers for oily skin. It’s a simple foaming cleanser without potent actives, so it’ll work even for those with sensitive skin. It includes a few soothing extracts, including green tea and turmeric, which may even help with redness. However, if you’re looking for a powerful treatment cleanser, this one won’t deliver dramatic results. 

The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser has a refreshing and purifying effect, leaving the skin feeling clean yet not stripped. It also includes probiotic ingredients that support the skin’s natural microflora to keep it strong, balanced, and hydrated. These probiotics, however, may not work for those who suspect that they’re suffering from seborrheic dermatitis or other fungal skin conditions. 

Tula’s Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser is a great cleanser to use before stronger active serums or toners.

Type: Gel | Quantity: 6.7 fl oz | Key Ingredients: Probiotics | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best mattifying
First Aid Beauty Deep Cleanser With Red Clay

What we love

  • Includes red clay to mattify the skin
  • Leaves skin very refreshed and clean
  • Elegant packaging and texture

What we don’t love

  • Contains a potentially irritating essential oil
  • Slightly high pH

This is a purifying and mattifying cleanser from First Aid Beauty (FAB) that feels luxurious on the skin. It’s a sulfate-free formula that still foams up nicely and includes red clay, which further mattifies the skin by absorbing oils. 

FAB has a reputation for being a sensitive skin-friendly company, but we actually wouldn’t recommend this cleanser if that’s one of your concerns. While the formula includes some skin-soothing ingredients, it has more potential to irritate the skin than something mild like a La Roche-Posay cleanser.

FAB’s Deep Cleanser contains a rosemary essential oil which, despite being a natural fragrance, can still irritate. Another potential downside is that the overall pH of the formula is a little higher than ideal for the skin. That said, if you don’t have sensitive skin and you love feeling clean, refreshed, and mattified after cleansing, this FAB face wash is a solid choice.

Type: Gel | Quantity: 4.7 oz | Key ingredients: Red clay and rosemary leaf oil | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best for makeup removal
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

What we love

  • Thoroughly removes makeup
  • Rinses completely and leaves oily skin feeling fresh
  • Excellent for sensitive or dehydrated skin

What we don’t love

  • Some may not like the balmy texture
  • Smell can be off-putting

While we think The Ordinary products can be hit or miss, this cleanser is a winner. It’s a light balm cleanser designed for all skin types. It may not smell amazing, but it leaves the skin feeling fresh yet soft. 

There are a few reasons why we think it’s one of the best face washes for oily skin, even though some may find the oily texture strange. Since it’s based on non-comedogenic squalane, it melts makeup down quickly. Once you add water, it emulsifies easily and rinses completely clean without leaving an oily residue (which can sometimes be an issue with other oil or balm formulas). 

This simple and gentle formula is especially suitable if you use powerful acne treatments that leave your skin feeling sensitive or dehydrated. If you have particularly oily skin, you may want to follow it up with a second gel cleanser, especially in the evenings — but it’s not a must.

Type: Balm | Quantity: 5 oz | Key ingredients: Squalane | Sulfate-free: No SLS/SLES

Best luxury
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash

What we love

  • Exfoliating ingredients gently resurface the skin
  • Formula foams to leave skin feeling purified
  • Great for texture issues

What we don’t love

  • Essential oils may irritate sensitive skin
  • Daily exfoliation isn’t for everyone
  • Not safe for the eyes

This daily cleanser is a prestige option that doubles as a chemical exfoliant. It’s made with glycolic acid and fruit enzymes, which gently encourage dead skin cells to shed on their own. This can help with texture and maybe even pore size.  

While it initially comes out of the tube creamy, this cleanser foams up easily with water to help purify the skin. Since it contains some citrus fruit essential oils, it also smells refreshing and uplifting, though the scent could cause issues for those with sensitive skin.

The ExfoliKate Cleanser is ideal for those with thick, oily skin who need added exfoliation. It may also help increase the effectiveness of other actives.

Type: Cream-to-foam | Quantity: 4 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycolic acid (AHA), enzymes | Sulfate-free: Yes

Best gentle
EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

What we love

  • Gentle, skin-renewing cleanser
  • Easy to use and rinse
  • Enzymes help to gently slough off dead skin

What we don’t love

  • Doesn’t remove heavy makeup by itself
  • Fragrance may not be ideal for everyone

If you prefer an efficient and simple cleansing process, this gentle product from EltaMD is an effective choice. It creates a soft, bubble foam to help remove every last speck of oil, sunscreen, and dirt without damaging the skin. It’s not quite powerful enough to remove heavy makeup on its own, but it works well as a second cleanser. 

It contains bromelain (the enzymes found in pineapples) to reduce inflammation, and the pH is nearly neutral — which is great if you find that highly acidic cleansers don’t work well for your skin. It’s also worth noting that this cleanser contains some fragrance, so keep that in mind when shopping for the best face wash for you.

Type: Foaming | Quantity: 7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Pineapple enzymes | Sulfate-free: Yes

How to pick the right oily skin facial cleanser for you

A great face wash is a must-have in every skincare routine for oily skin. But which of the options we’ve listed will work best for you? These factors will help you decide. 

Cleanser types

  • Gel. This is usually the best type of cleanser for oily skin. Gel cleansers are concentrated, so once you add water, they foam up nicely. Gels tend to provide the most thorough cleanse and do the best job of removing excess oil and impurities from the skin, although some formulas can be a little drying. They’re not great for makeup removal or use around the eyes. 
  • Cream. Cream cleansers are a little less harsh on the skin. They successfully break down oils while leaving behind a bit of their own moisturizing residue. They’re often a reliable delivery system for active ingredients that may irritate the skin since their gentle formula mitigates the harshness of those ingredients. 
  • Balm or oil. Balm and oil cleansers are made predominantly of oils or oil-like ingredients. They’re often the best option for removing makeup, so those with oily skin can use them as a “first cleanser,” followed by a wash with a gel formula. It’s essential to choose a balm cleanser that can rinse off once water is added, like our pick for The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser. 

Skin concerns

  • Greasiness. For those with oily skin, the sheen over the skin can be a cause of concern, especially if it veers from dewy to greasy. Most of the cleansers on our list, especially the gel ones, will help remove that excess oil and leave you looking more matte. Formulas with niacinamide, like our picks from CeraVe and La Roche-Posay, may also help control some excess oil production
  • Acne and clogged pores. If you have acne-prone skin, you can choose a cleanser with acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil. Many of our picks are excellent for acne-prone skin, but we especially recommend CeraVe, Neutrogena, and Skinfix. 
  • Dehydration. It’s not unusual for those with oily skin to also suffer from dehydration. If your skin feels tight or gets flaky, despite that sheen of sebum, it’s a sign that your skin lacks water (even though it’s producing a lot of oil). In that case, you’ll want to choose a cleanser that doesn’t leave your skin feeling tight. Look for moisture-binding ingredients like glycerin or non-comedogenic oils. Our picks from COSRX and The Ordinary are ideal places to start.  
  • Sensitive skin. If you have sensitive or redness-prone skin, choosing a non-irritating cleanser is crucial. You want to avoid fragrances, essential oils, and overly drying formulas. Our pick from La Roche-Posay is your best bet. 


What’s the best face wash for oily skin? 

In general, going with the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser is a safe choice. It’s our best overall pick because it’s gentle, thoroughly cleansing, and works well for most people with oily skin. However, all of the cleansers on our list are excellent choices, and you should select the one that’ll fit your unique needs. 

Which cleanser is best for oily and acne-prone skin?

If you’re dealing with both acne and oiliness, the best cleanser for you will include ingredients that unclog pores and help fade blemishes. CeraVe’s Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser is our top choice for acne because it contains benzoyl peroxide, a well-researched but slightly harsh anti-acne treatment. If you’d prefer something more gentle, our picks from Neutrogena and Skinfix include salicylic acid, a gentle exfoliant that can also help reduce and prevent breakouts

What’s the best dermatologist-recommended face wash?

CeraVe and La Roche-Posay are two of the top dermatologist-recommended brands in the U.S. Our recommended face wash from CeraVe is a medicated cleanser explicitly formulated to address acne. Our pick from La Roche-Posay is relatively mild, so dermatologists may recommend it because it’s easy to combine with leave-on anti-acne treatments.