The Best Moisturizers for Oily Skin That Won’t Leave a Greasy Film

Shani Darden Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer delivers a dose of hydration without clogging pores.

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Best Moisturizers for Oily Skin

Biossance

Finding a moisturizer for oily skin can be a daunting task. There’s a perpetual fear that adding anything to your oily skin will make you more oily or even worse — breakout. But is it true?  You may be thinking ‘Why even apply moisturizer anyway?’ — it’s lunch and your oils are breaking through your foundation. Thankfully, there are moisturizers designed specifically to combat oily skin. Thirst-quenching actives like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and niacinamide lock in moisture and balance sebum (oil) production. These powerhouse ingredients are essential for keeping oil production in check. 

From stress to food, and hormonal fluctuations there are many reasons why skin can run on the oilier side — to help you navigate and balance your skin we asked a panel of dermatologists to recommend the best moisturizers for oily skin. The one that stole the show — Shani Darden Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer for its lightweight feel and matte finish. 

These are the best moisturizers for oily skin.

Best Overall: Shani Darden Skin Care Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer

Shani Darden

What We Love: It’s a lightweight moisturizer without a greasy feel. 

What We Don’t Love: We wish it came in a bigger bottle. 

Wake up every morning to balanced and nourished skin. Ticking all the boxes, this oil-free, weightless, non-comedogenic moisturizer was designed to keep skin super hydrated without clogging pores or causing breakouts. Celebrity aesthetician, Shani Darden delivers a quick absorbing moisturizer that easily glides on skin without leaving an oily shine. A trifecta of hydrolyzed collagen, red algae and hyaluronic acid hydrate and soothe skin while locking in moisture — making it the best overall moisturizer if you run slightly to very oily. Dispensed in a pump (which we love), use morning and night — and don’t forget to apply it to your neck and chest, too.. 

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Red Algae | Size: 2.5 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Value: La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Matte Moisturizer

best moisturizers for oily skin
Amazon.

What We Love: It restores your skin barrier in one hour. 

What We Don’t Love: It can feel sticky after first applying.

This lightweight gel moisturizer provides hydration all day without the added shine. Antioxidant rich selenium and prebiotics protect skin, niacinamide and ceramides lock in moisture and restore the skin barrier within an impressive 60 minutes. Suitable for sensitive skin, this dermatologist tested, oil-free moisturizer leaves your skin with a matte finish while improving the look of pores and fine lines.

Active Ingredients: Prebiotic Thermal Water, Ceramide-3, Nicaminade | Size: 2.5 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Splurge: Rose Ingleton Signature Moisturizer

best moisturizers for oily skin
Sephora.

What We Love: The formula is packed with peptides and antioxidants.

What We Don’t Love: It’d be nice if it came with a pump.

Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Ingleton drew on her decades of experience treating oily skin when formulating this moisturizer. Even better, she takes us on a little trip to the beaches of Jamaica in the process. This non-comedogenic formula has three types of ceramides to repair your skin barrier — your frontline defense against pollutants and germs. A little goes a long way thanks to the signature Jamaican Superfood Blend, which refines pore size, softens skin, and improves texture and tone. Worth the splurge, it's a facial in a jar-packed with vitamins, peptides, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin and balance oil production all day long. 

Active Ingredients: Jamaican Superfood Blend, Nicaminade, Ceramides | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream

Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream

Ulta

What We Love: It's a cooling moisturizer with two sizes of hyaluronic acid to really hydrate.

What We Don’t Love: It can feel greasy right after applying. 

Looking for a moisturizer that cools skin? Joie Tavernise, master aesthetician and founder of Jtav Clinical Skincare in NYC, recommends this hydro-gel cream. Two forms of hyaluronic acid with different molecular weights — important to penetrate different layers of the skin — lock in moisture while brightening your complexion. An added bonus, due to its swoon worthy combination of squalane and jojoba, you will also notice visibly firmer skin and less fine lines.  Tavernise says to “use a nickel-size amount of product for your face. If you are applying it to the neck and décolleté — double that amount.” 

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Squalane, Jojoba Esters | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin: EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer

Elta AM Therapy Face Moisturizer

What We Love: The formula gently exfoliates and reduces pores without irritation. 

What We Don’t Love: We wish it had more actives for the price point.

Sheer, lightweight and oil-free, this gentle moisturizer is calming enough for sensitive skin while still delivering soothing results. Made with Willow bark, a natural source of salicylic acid, it stimulates cell turnover relieving oily skin from the burden of congestion and enlarged pores. Mixed with calming niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to replenish moisture — all while evening skin tone and balancing oil production. This moisturizer comes in a pump and sits well under makeup. And don’t be fooled by its name, you can use it in the PM too.

Active Ingredients: Willow Bark, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone: Eminence Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer

best moisturizers for oily skin

Amazon

What We Love: This formula clears skin without being overly drying.   

What We Don’t Love: The scent might not be for everyone.

Probiotics work wonders for acne-prone skin. As a medical aesthetician, health coach, and founder of Behrhaus, I personally love this organic blend bursting with superfoods — cucumber juice soothes and hydrates skin while yogurt calms inflammation and eliminates bacteria. Willow bark and tea tree work in synergy to improve the appearance of pore size and decrease oil production. This fan favorite probiotic moisturizer is the perfect way to drench your skin in hydration, while also clearing breakouts. If you run very oily, add a few drops of water to your hands before you apply to lighten the consistency. 

Active Ingredients: Cucumber, Willow Bark, Jojoba Esters | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Fragrance Free: No

Best Lightweight: Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer

best moisturizers for oily skin

Dermstore

What We Love: It comes in an airtight container that lets you get out every drop. 

What We Don’t Love: It might be irritating for sensitive skin.

This best selling, oil-free moisturizer firms and hydrates skin and leaves behind a matte finish. Kate Somerville’s clinically proven formula is packed with amino acids and red algae to tone, plump, and brighten skin. Developed to balance oil production and protect the skin barrier, we love this airy moisturizer that leaves your skin feeling flawless all day. 

Active Ingredients: Amino Acids, Red Algae, Hyaluronic Acid | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Anti-Aging: Humanrace Humidifying Face Cream

Humanrace Humidifying Face Cream

Humanrace

What We Love: Leaves your skin quenched and supple.   

What We Don’t Love: It may feel too heavy for someone extremely oily.

This unique lightweight formula transports you to a tropical oasis — hydrated skin included. It’s no surprise Pharrell and Elena Jones, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in NYC created a moisturizer that replicates the natural effect of humidity (the good part that is) locking in moisture from plant-derived squalane and hyaluronic acid. What makes this cream so special? Snow mushroom, small in molecular weight, sinks into pores and drips hydration through multiple layers of the skin. This adaptogenic blend drives hydration where you need it most with anti-aging benefits. Apply morning and night and let the molecules work their magic. It gets better, there’s a refill system — simply discard the insert when you’re done and keep the bright island green container for your refill.

Active Ingredients: Snow Mushroom, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid | Size: 2.1 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best for Mattifying: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Love: It controls oil and you're left with a matte finish.

What We Don't Love: The formula pills easily.

Say goodbye to blotting sheets. This La Roche Posay moisturizer uses “Sebulyse Technology” to quickly dissolve excess oil and minimize the appearance of pore size. Perlite, made from volcanic rock, absorbs oil leaving a filter matte finish. Glycerin, a humectant, draws moisture from the air while thermal water rich in antioxidants and minerals hydrate and balance skin. Dermatologist-tested — this mattifying moisturizer is an excellent option for someone with enlarged pores. 

Active Ingredients: Thermal Spring Water, Lipo Hydroxy Acid, Glycerin | Size: 1.35 fl oz | Fragrance Free: No

Best with SPF: Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA +++

What We Love: This broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen doesn't leave a white cast. 

What We Don’t Love: It’s not water resistant.

A mineral sunscreen that doubles as a moisturizer? Add to cart. This non-nano zinc spf 30 offers broad spectrum protection from both UVA + UVB rays and is great for oily skin. The sheer formula quickly absorbs and cools distressed skin, while reflecting the sun's rays. Infused with squalane (derived from sugarcane) and water lily to hydrate and replenish moisture without making your skin appear ghostly. Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure and don’t forget to reapply every two hours.

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Squalane, Water Lily | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

What to Keep in Mind

Ingredients

Ingredients matter — especially when it comes to oily skin. While not all moisturizers are created equal, using a daily moisturizer is important to balance oil production and hydrate skin. David Colbert, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of New York Dermatology Group, says to avoid heavy oils and look for hyaluronic acid-based products. Moisturizers with hyaluronic acid lock in moisture — one trend we’re starting to see is products that have various molecular sizes or types of hyaluronic acid to ensure hydration is being delivered to every layer of the skin. 

To slow down oil production, also look for salicylic acid, which also helps reduce pore size. Ceramides replenish moisture and repair the skin barrier. Niacinamide, a water-soluble vitamin B derivative, soothes skin and evens skin tone. 

Consistency

Say it with me — lightweight, weightless, oil-free! Water based formulations are the gatekeepers of hydration and help to balance your natural oil production. “Those with oilier skin typically benefit from lightweight gels or lotions, says  Elyse Love, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Glowderm in NYC. These gels and lotions easily glide on oily skin and often incorporate cooling properties to nourish skin without a greasy finish. 

“Stay away from heavy creams that can clog your pores. Add more humectants than occlusives and emulsions,” says Cynthia Almonor, licensed aesthetician and founder of Cynthia Aesthetics. That’s because occlusives can be too heavy for oily skin, clogging pores or causing breakouts. Lightweight humectants, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, provide ample amounts of hydration instantly. 

Your Questions, Answered

Is moisturizing good for oily skin?

Moisturizers are a must for all skin types. The role of a moisturizer is “to seal and protect the skin barrier,'' says Dr. Love. When the skin barrier is not balanced, it can become inflamed, and you may experience increased oil production and breakouts. 

Dr. Colbert says “skin can be oily and dry at the same time.” When we deprive skin of moisture, it often overcompensates and produces more oil, this can lead to clogged pores, breakouts and an oily sheen. Moisturizers carry hydration, which in turn, stops sebaceous glands (oil glands) from overproducing. 

When should you apply moisturizer to oily skin?

In order for products to effectively penetrate skin Tavernise says moisturizers should be applied to a clean face. “It is important to cleanse to remove dirt, oil, and debris so that your moisturizer does not trap that on your skin.” For best results apply moisturizer to damp skin morning and night or any time after you cleanse your face, like after a workout or outdoor activities. During the day, put on sunscreen after (or instead of) your moisturizer, even if it’s cloudy, rainy, or wintertime.

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