We Found Them: The 13 Best Moisturizers For Oily Skin
Here's a not-so-surprising fact: Those with oily skin still need to moisturize daily. If you avoid moisturizing your skin, it will produce even more sebum (aka oil) to hydrate itself. As a result, that overproduction of sebum can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. Seems counterintuitive, doesn't it?
Instead, you should hydrate your skin right after cleansing to get ahead of this process. Whether you're oily all over, have oily and dry areas (i.e., combination skin), or are simply looking for a lighter formula to slather on during the warmer months, here are the very best hydrators that serve just the right amount of shine.
Ingredients to look for.
When we asked board-certified dermatologist Jenny Liu, M.D., FAAD, which ingredients are best for oily skin, she suggested looking for something with water-based ingredients, like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. These humectants are super lightweight and can add slip to the formula, which helps give it that airy feel.
In addition, ingredients like niacinamide, green tea, and salicylic acid can help control sebum production, Liu says. Niacinamide, in particular, helps balance sebum production and acne-prone skin (while oily skin doesn't automatically mean you're acne-prone, the skin types do tend to go hand in hand): One study showed that applying a topical formula of 4% niacinamide treated moderate acne just as well as 1% of a topical antibiotic.
Salicylic acid, of course, is the oil-soluble BHA we know and love: It can break through oily skin and penetrate deep inside the pores to help unclog them at the source. As a result, it can help exfoliate the skin and remove excess oil, as well as balance sebum levels in the skin.
How we picked:
We look for moisturizers with clean and naturally-derived ingredients that contribute to maintaining healthy skin. If there’s something in a formula we don’t love, we’ll call it out.
We consulted skin care experts to guide our picks. This way, we’re finding options with dermatologist-backed ingredients. Some of these picks have even been recommended directly by our expert source.
Our beauty team has tested a number of these products. When that wasn’t possible, we searched authenticated customer reviews to bring you accurate information about the sensorial experience.
While all of these picks are great for oily skin, some are better for certain skin concerns than others. Below you'll find picks for those with sensitive, acne-prone, and mature skin. In addition, we offer budget-friendly options for those looking to save without compromising on quality.
mbg's picks for the best moisturizers for oily skin:
Best overall: Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer
- Contains vitamins & antioxidants
- May not be the best for winter months
This award-winning moisturizer is packed to the brim with skin-loving ingredients that help balance combination and oily skin. The lightweight consistency truly resembles a whip rather than a cream, which those with excess oil production often crave. The quick-absorbing formula consists of hyaluronic acid to help retain moisture without leaving residue, green tea for an antioxidant boost, and vitamin-packed kale extract. All around, this one is a winner for us and countless YTP users who report an empty jar again and again.
- Tint helps even out complexion and texture
- Not suitable for vegans as it contains beeswax
If you want to combine a few steps into one, say hello to your dream product. This product contains SPF along with key hydrators, antioxidants, brightening extracts, and mineral SPF. The formula literally slips onto the skin, helping to mask uneven texture and tone. We love the wide shade range, dynamic formula, and blurring effect of this multifunctional product.
Best gel: Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer
- Doubles as makeup primer
- Strong fragrance may bother some
If you enjoy the sensorial experience of natural fragrance in skin care, you've got to try this one. The weightless formula soaks into the skin leaving behind a plump, hydrated look. What's more, the watermelon extract and other antioxidant ingredients help to brighten complexion over time, working as more than just a hydration boost. While this product is A+ for oily skin, it can also be used as a pre-moisturizing serum for those with dry skin or for someone looking for an extra boost of hydration in the wintertime.
- Complaints of a slightly sticky texture
We are obsessed with this budget-friendly pick. Hero ingredients include hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract, and green tea. (That's a pretty impressive trio for a product under $20.) The gel cream leaves the skin feeling as hydrated, cooled, and bouncy as ever without feeling too heavy. Upon application, it glides onto the skin like a feather yet still offers deep hydration that lasts. For those spending time in the sun, this moisturizer is a top pick for your post-sun skin care routine to help ease redness and restore the barrier thanks to aloe vera extract. What's more, the antioxidants found in green tea help to fight off free radicals.
- Great for makeup prep
- Contains silicones
If you're scanning the drugstore shelves for a lightweight moisturizer, reach for this water gel. The formula is lightweight but oh-so-hydrating. Hyaluronic acid works overtime in this product to deliver a bouncy, plump look after each use. Bonus: The finish is perfect to prep the skin for makeup. Just note that the formula does contain silicones, which may not be the best for acne-prone skin.
- Contains SPF
- Should be layered over another moisturizer
Some mattifying products can dry out the skin, but this sunscreen is an exception. The oil-free cream helps to absorb excess oil resulting in a balanced yet natural finish that's perfect for those days in the sun sans makeup. Plus, it contains wild butterfly ginger and bamboo extracts, which help protect the skin from blue light and free radicals in the environment. Just remember that this formula should be layered over another lightweight moisturizer to ensure the skin is hydrated—but it won't take away from the matte finish.
- Powerful antioxidant blend
While something lightweight may be your best bet for managing an oily complexion during the day, you should opt for something deeply hydrating in the evening. The beauty of this water cream is that it does both: While the consistency is lightweight, your skin will be drinking up essential nutrients. Tatcha's signature Hadasei-3 Complex includes a trio of antioxidant-rich Japanese superfoods that work in combination to detoxify the skin and replenish essential moisture.
Best for acne-prone skin: Skinfix Barrier+ Skin Barrier Niacinamide Restoring Gel Cream
- Helps balance the microbiome
- May not be hydrating enough for some
Selecting a moisturizer can be a fear-inducing process for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It's a valid concern, as there are plenty of common ingredients that can exacerbate breakouts—but none of those are in this moisturizer. In fact, this gel cream contains ingredients specifically chosen to help prevent more blemishes from popping up. Niacinamide helps to hydrate and brighten the skin while encouraging a healthy oil production balance. Saccharide Isomerate works as a humectant and emollient, encouraging a healthy skin barrier, while peptides maintain a healthy microbiome—all important factors when it comes to encouraging clear, hydrated skin.
Best water-based: Origins GinZing Oil-Free Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer
- Lightweight consistency
- Not the best for sensitive skin
This moisturizer feels like a breath of fresh air—and it's not just the aroma of citrus. The gel formula contains caffeine and ginseng to encourage a wide-awake look to the skin. Shea and jojoba butter work together to return moisture to the skin (and lock it in) without leaving behind a film. Plus, grapefruit and orange peel extracts help brighten the skin while also leaving behind a divine scent.
Best for sensitive skin: Eadem Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer
- Helps brighten dark spots
- Consistency may be too thick for some
Those with sensitive skin should avoid chemical exfoliants or intense brightening serums, as many of those formulas can cause irritation or reactive complexions. The downside? These ingredients often help combat dark spots. Luckily, Eadem created a powerful product that combats dark spots without harsh ingredients. A blend of three different plant ceramides and peptides helps to restore the barrier, lighten dark spots, and visibly brighten and even skin tone, ever-so-gently. Those prone to shine should also consider this formula; a boost of niacinamide absorbs excess oil, keeping skin balanced.
Best splurge: SkinCeuticals Daily Moisturizer
- Helps minimize the appearance of pores
Like all products by SkinCeuticals, this moisturizer is an investment—but it's well worth the price tag. Formulated with normal and oily skin in mind, the lightweight daily moisturizer both minimizes the appearance of pores and balances excess sebum to reduce shine. The hydrators? A trio blend of algae extracts that helps to nourish and hydrate the skin; a botanical extract cocktail that supports a smooth complexion; and panthenol and hyaluronic help to ease and hydrate stressed-out skin without leaving a greasy residue. Bonus: This one is safe for acne-prone skin as well.
Best for mature skin: Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer
- Great antioxidant blend
- Not the best for acne-prone skin
Accelerated skin aging can be caused by a number of factors, including keeping the skin in an extended state of oxidative stress. To mitigate this, we call upon antioxidant-free-radical fighters. In this moisturizer, papaya and moringa extracts do just that, making it a great pick for mature skin. Galacturonic acid and niacinamide balance and absorb oil, while hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid plump the skin for a visibly hydrated, youthful glow. The result? A moisturizer so good that one editor can't stop raving about it.
Best for enlarged pores: Olehenriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturizer
- Exfoliating ingredients
- Not the best for sensitive skin
Olehenriksen's entire balance line is a dream for oily skin, including this moisturizer. The formula helps to clear pores while balancing the complexion. Salicylic acid helps to loosen pore-clogging dead skin cells while a blend of botanicals like green tea, algae, and moss extracts helps to absorb excess oil. Worried about a shiny finish? Alpine Willow extracts have you covered; they deeply nourish the skin without adding a sheen.
Even though it may not feel like it, oily skin does need proper hydration. When looking for a moisturizer, keep an eye out for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to hydrate and balance the skin. And if you want even more top-tier moisturizers fit for every skin type, check out this roundup.
Heal Your Skin.
Receive your FREE Doctor-Approved Beauty Guide