7 Balancing Cleansers That Are Kind To Oily Skin

by Deanna McCormack

The backbone of any balancing skin care routine is, without a doubt, a great cleanser. The best cleansers for oily skin are hard-working enough to remove a day or night's worth of product buildup and excess oil, but they're also gentle enough that they won't cause irritation or strip the skin of important natural oils. It may not be the most glamorous part of your routine, but thorough (yet gentle) cleansing is an integral part of keeping your skin balanced and healthy.

While the most important thing is that your cleanser leaves your skin balanced, you should also consider the other sides of your skin's personality when choosing a product. If your skin also happens to be very sensitive, it's best to look for cleansers that are free of fragrance, alcohol, and harsh chemical exfoliants. In addition, cleansers with detoxifying and drying ingredients like clay and bamboo can help soak up some of the excess sebum on the surface of your skin.

And if you have acne-prone skin, try a cleanser that contains skin-clearing ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or tea tree oil. But keep in mind that if your skin feels dry or tight after cleansing, you're probably washing with a product that's too harsh, which might actually trigger your skin to produce more oil.

Like any skin care product, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cleanser for oily skin types — but these seven are some of the best out there.


A Daily Clarifying Gel With Salicylic & Glycolic Acids

Vichy Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel Acne Face Wash, $18, Amazon

If you have oily, acne-prone skin and want an everyday cleanser that gently removes oils but also works hard to clear breakouts, Vichy's Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel Acne Face Wash is a clear winner. It lathers nicely to remove excess oils and contains a gentle dose of salicylic and glycolic to dissolve blackheads and slough off dead skin cells.

This paraben-, soap-, and alcohol-free formula is a fan-favorite that’s been tested by dermatologists and is safe for sensitive skin, as well. So whether your skin is oily, oily and acne-prone, or the trifecta, oily, acne-prone, and sensitive, this cleanser is a great pick.


A Refining Cream-To-Foam Cleanser That's Safe For Sensitive Skin

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser, $25, Amazon

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser is a fragrance-free, non-irritating cleanser that starts as a cream and foams into a light lather to remove excess oils and unclog pores. It leaves skin feeling clean, smooth, and soft without any of the dryness that can lead to unwanted oil production. It also contains aloe to soothe irritation and acne.

One fan raves, “We've all heard about "gentle" cleansers and skin care products, but this is seriously gentle. I can actually rub this cleanser all over my eyelids without getting any discomfort... It controls oil better than any other product I've ever used.”


A Bamboo & Clay Bar Cleanser That Gently Exfoliates While You Cleanse

Drunk Elephant JuJu Bar, $28, Amazon

While many bar cleansers have a tendency to over-dry the skin, Drunk Elephant JuJu Bar is a soap-free, solid bar that behaves like a liquid on the skin. Perfect for sensitive skin, it's formulated with botanical ingredients, like bamboo and clay, that gently remove dead skin, makeup, and excess oils. And, because it's a solid, it's TSA-friendly and won't make a mess in your bag.

It’s also fragrance-free and has a lower pH-level than traditional soap (6.34 compared to over 9 in traditional bar soap), which means this cleansing bar soap less likely to irritate your skin or strip it of any of its essential nutrients.


A pH-Balancing Cleanser With Tea Tree Oil & Natural BHA

COSRX Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, $10, Amazon

COSRX's Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser gently removes dirt and oil without leaving your skin dry or tight. Cleansing with water can leave skin's pH out of whack, but this face wash has a low pH that counteracts the effects of the water on your skin, resulting in balanced skin that has an easier time fighting off acne-causing bacteria. It's also formulated with BHA and tea tree oil, which help keep skin clear.

And, at just $10 for 150-milliliter of cleanser, this is the most affordable option on the list. But, fans of the formula agree that just because it’s less expensive doesn’t mean you sacrifice quality: Barely ever write amazon reviews, but was completely blown away by how effective and affordable this product is. A tiny glob goes a longggg way.”


A Unique Foaming Clay That Provides A Deeper Cleanse

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip, $45, Amazon

Marrying science, super high-quality ingredients, and modern packaging Sunday Riley's Ceramic Slip is one of many Sunday Riley products that outshines its competition by doing far more than you'd expect. Two types of clay soak up excess oils and soften skin, vitamin C brightens and evens the skin, and sweet-smelling neroli oil fends of irritation with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.

Simply dole two or three pumps into your hands, depending on your preference, and apply generously to your skin. And, because you can use this on both dry and wet skin, you can use it as a daily cleanser, or as a makeup remover. And while it comes at a higher price point than others on this list, fans say it’s well worth the money: “Thorough, non-drying cleanser for my oily skin. It's challenging to find a balance between over cleansing and stripping the natural oils and cleansers that don't cut through the pore clogging oil. This cleanser does a wonderful job of removing oil without stripping.”


A Light Cleansing Oil That Removes Makeup, Sunscreen, & Excess Oils

Shu Uemura Skin Purifier Porefinist Anti-Shine Fresh Cleansing Oil, $72, Amazon

Oil for oily skin? It works, especially with a lightweight oily-skin specific formula like Shu Uemura's Skin Purifier Porefinist Anti-Shine Fresh Cleansing Oil. This luxury cleansing oil gently unclogs pores, removes makeup, and promises to help regulate oil production with cinnamon bark extract. A little of this concentrated formula goes a very long way.

This cleanser is the most expensive on this list, but with good reason. Fans with oily skin are quick to call it “the best cleanser I have ever used.” One goes on to say, “(I) never break out from it (and EVERYTHING breaks me out... It cleans my skin nicely, removes makeup, does not irritate my skin, and it feels and smells great.”


A Gentle, Non-Drying Cleanser With Vitamin C

Perricone MD Citrus Facial Wash, $40, Amazon

Ideal for oily skin, Perricone MD's Citrus Facial Wash gently cleanses and removes all traces of makeup while treating skin with vitamin C Ester — a mild, non-drying vitamin C formula that reduces redness and evens tone and texture. The formula also contains DMAE, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which adds moisture and luminosity without increasing oil buildup.

Reviewers rave that this cleanser is the total package: “I have very oily t-zone, especially forehead. I wash my face every morning and night with sponge... My skin is soft, smooth, complection is even, I have not had any breakout ever since i started using it.”

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