Cleansers For Oily Skin: Your Complete Guide
Cleansers For Oily Skin: Your Complete Guide

Cleansers For Oily Skin: Your Complete Guide

6 minutes read

When you’re investing in a cleanser, it’s important to choose one that suits your skin type. And the right face wash for oily skin is one that won’t just instantly cleanse and mattify, but also keep the skin balanced and happy in the long run. 

Cleansing is the first step in your skincare routine, and arguably the most important one. There’s a lot at stake. If you don’t cleanse properly, you risk leaving oil, dirt and product residue on the skin, clogging up your pores. On the other hand, cleanse too vigorously and you may disrupt your skin barrier, causing irritation.  

So, how do you go about choosing the best face wash for oily skin? Allow us to break it down.

woman washing her face

Firstly, do you have an oily skin type?

Oily skin is a skin type. It occurs when your sebaceous glands are overactive and produce more oil than needed. Genetics are usually responsible for this, but some other factors like hormonal changes and diet can exacerbate it.

If you have oily skin, you may be familiar with a layer of shine spreading across your face merely 30 minutes after washing it. You probably also always keep a powder compact handy and whip it out for touch-ups more than once a day.

“With a clinical examination, a dermatologist can identify oily skin as it is quite noticeable (read: shiny) in certain areas of the face: the forehead, nasolabial folds and hairline,” says Dr Flávia Pretti Aslanian, consultant and cosmetic dermatologist at Parkside Hospital. These areas tend to have more sebaceous glands that produce a lot of sebum.

Sometimes, the excess oil could lead to acne breakouts, blackheads and general skin congestion. To avoid this and keep all that excess shine at bay, it’s important to carefully curate the skincare you use – and the right cleanser for oily skin will leave you with a perfectly prepped base for all the products that follow. 

What qualities define a good face wash for oily skin?

When your skin constantly feels greasy, it’s normal to reach for soaps that completely dry it out. But while they may provide instant gratification, they will make matters worse in the long run. 

“You don’t want to use anything that’s going to disrupt the balance of your skin,” says Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager. “A lot of people with oily skin tend to use very harsh cleansers. While that may immediately get rid of the oil and make you feel better, that feeling is temporary, because the skin’s reaction is to create more oil to compensate for the loss.”

Instead, a good facial cleanser for oily skin will mattify, without completely getting rid of your natural oils. 

If the oiliness is causing you problems other than just shine (including congestion, blackheads, and breakouts) use a cleanser with salicylic acid. It’s an oil soluble beta hydroxy acid that can break down oils deep in the pore and help alleviate breakouts, congestion and blackheads. 

Should you double cleanse?

Are two cleansers better than one? The short answer: yes, if you’re a make-up and/or SPF-wearer (and everyone needs SPF). Double cleansing will ensure you get rid of all the product, dirt and excess oil on your face.

McHale explains using an interesting shower analogy: “The first cleanse is like taking your clothes off before getting in the shower, and the second cleanse is the actual act of showering. Think of make-up and SPF as clothes. The skin underneath gets clean only with the second cleanse.” 

This is why you always need to do a double cleanse in the evening, but not necessarily in the morning. 

“In the morning, as long as you have thoroughly cleansed the night before, your skin is bare,” says McHale. But it will still have some sweat and excess oils that need to be cleaned. “Also, unless you change your sheets every night, they’re not the cleanest either. So, you still need to cleanse your face in the morning.”

For the AM, choose something milder with ingredients that cater to your skin type and concerns.

5 balancing and mattifying face washes for oily skin

1. Gentle Renewing Cleansing Mousse

cleansing mousse

If you have oily skin and enjoy using a foaming face wash, try the Gentle Renewing Cleansing Mousse, £26, a top rated face wash for oily skin. “It suits all skin types but works especially well for oily skin,” says McHale. 

Unlike traditional foaming cleansers, this one is free from drying cleansing agents like sulphates. Instead, it features organic saponaria, a plant extract that naturally lathers but is also gentle on the skin. Plus, it also stars tamarind pulp extract, a natural source of AHAs, that helps to sweep away dead skin cells. 

2. Total Cleansing Oil

cleansing oil

If you wear make-up or SPF, this is ideal for your first cleanse. The Total Cleansing Oil, £25, completely breaks down oils, dirt and make-up (even the waterproof kind).

We know what you’re thinking: is an oil cleanser a good idea for oily skin? Actually – it is. This one is formulated to suit all skin types. Although it applies like an oil at first, it transforms into a milk on contact with water.

3. Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser

foaming face wash

“I think the Total Cleansing Oil and the Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser, £24, are the perfect cleansing duo for oily skin,” says McHale. “Together, they ensure thorough eradication of anything on top of the skin and also gentle cleansing of the skin underneath.” 

The Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser is also one of Clarins’ SLS-free cleansers for oily skin. The blue granules in it contain salicylic acid that helps banish acne and congestion, and the meadowsweet extract helps mattify the skin. 

4. RE-MOVE Purifying Cleansing Gel

clarins re-move purifying cleansing gel

Many people with oily skin gravitate towards gel-based cleansers. If that’s you, this plant-based gel face wash is the one to try. Arguably the best cleanser for oily skin, the RE-MOVE Purifying Cleansing Gel, £18.50, is packed with skin-balancing ingredients like meadowsweet and moringa extract, which control excess sebum production, and bitter orange floral water that soothes the skin. 

5. Velvet Cleansing Milk

cleansing milk

The Velvet Cleansing Milk, £25, is a great face cleanser for oily skin, as it is a milky lotion that gently cleanses, without disrupting the balance of the skin’s microbiome. It’s perfect for the mornings or as a second cleanse in the evenings.  

“Sometimes the temptation is to steer away from a product like this when you’ve got an oily skin type, but it doesn’t work like that,” says McHale. “Cleansing is something you should do consistently to keep the skin clean, but it shouldn’t strip the skin completely of its oils.”  

A suitable post-cleanse routine

Cleansed and ready for the rest of your skincare routine now that you’ve discovered the best facial cleanser for oily skin? All the steps that follow matter too. Choose products that are formulated for your skin type and concerns.  

Read: A Derm-Approved Regime For Oily Skin 

McHale shares her top three post-cleanse tips for oily skin: 

Step 1: “Gently does it, when you’ve got oily skin. Be careful not to over-exfoliate the skin because that will also increase oil production.” 

Step 2: “Being oily doesn’t excuse you from dehydration, unfortunately. So you may want to follow up with a toner to prevent any uncomfortable tightness in the skin. The best one to choose would be the Purifying Toning Lotion, £25, which will hydrate but also help control the oil and balance the pH of the skin.”

Step 3: “I really recommend the Lotus Treatment Oil for anyone with oily skin. The lightweight oil helps tighten the pores and also protects against dehydration.” 

Next read: How To Deal With Your PCOS Acne, According To Experts  


Sign up for our newsletter

We will keep you in the loop for special offers, exclusive gifts and product news.

Hydra-Essentiel - 335 x 100
Hydra-Essentiel - 1180 x 200