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If you have oily skin, you may be familiar with the accompanying shiny T-zone and acne breakouts. It might seem as though adding a moisturizer to your skin care routine is counterintuitive, but it’s actually one of the most important steps — even if you have excess oil.

If you frequently use products to manage acne and breakouts, they may actually strip the skin of necessary oils. This can lead your face to overcompensate by producing more oil — possibly also leading to dryness and irritation along the way.

As with other skin types and conditions, not everyone’s issues with oiliness are created equal. In choosing our picks for the best moisturizers, we considered:

  • active ingredients
  • product volume
  • oil-free options

We also considered common skin conditions that coincide with oily skin, such as acne.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$50
  • $$$ = over $50

Best overall

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: water, glycerin, dimethicone
  • Size: 1.7 ounces (oz.)
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: fragrance-free, oil-free, dye-free, noncomedogenic
  • Pros: lightweight, plumps skin
  • Cons: not as suitable for dry skin

Dermatologists often recommend Neutrogena since the company tends to be transparent in its ingredients lists.

The gold-standard drugstore brand also prioritizes safety in product testing and consistently updates its products with well-researched additives.

The Hydro Boost Gel-Cream is a great option for those who have oily skin because it manages to hydrate the skin without feeling heavy.

Made with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to lock in moisture, this gel-cream is oil-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free to keep sensitive skin calm while also helping prevent additional breakouts.

Best anti-aging formula

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed silk (a derivative of silk that leaves skin feeling smooth), pentavitin (an ingredient that provides moisture and hydration in the skin)
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: oil-free, alcohol-free, fragrance-free
  • Pros: absorbs quickly, dries clear, suitable for all skin types
  • Cons: pricier than similar options

Although this product from Peter Thomas Roth is pricier than other options on this list, this moisturizer had us at “cloud cream.”

Reviewers say this cream is lightweight while still packing in plenty of hydrating power thanks to its concentration of 30 percent hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that helps lock in moisture and address fine lines and wrinkles.

It can also be a great pro-aging option for treating fine lines and wrinkles. This is thanks to ceramides, which are a type of lipid or fatty acid that is naturally found in skin cells. Ceramides make up about 50 percent of your outer skin layer and work to lock in moisture.

This cream also contains elderberry, which has antioxidants to help your skin stay young-looking.

Best for acne

Origins Clear Improvement Moisturizer

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid, bamboo charcoal (a natural “dirt magnet” that clears pores), witch hazel extract (a toning ingredient)
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: oil-free, paraben-free
  • Pros: exfoliates, may help calm acne, wears well under makeup
  • Cons: strong charcoal scent

If you commonly experience acne, you’re definitely not alone. It makes sense to seek out skin care products that may prevent breakouts, which is why the Origins Clear Improvement Moisturizer may be a good option.

The formula contains salicylic acid, which can exfoliate your skin and help keep pores clear.

This paraben-free and oil-free moisturizer also contains bamboo charcoal, a natural exfoliant that may help absorb dirt and clean clogged pores.

In combination with salicylic acid, this moisturizer keeps skin refreshed, hydrated, and bouncy, say reviewers.

Best vegan formula

Yes To Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: tomato extract, watermelon extract, lycopene
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: paraben-free, no SLS or silicones, Leaping Bunny
  • Pros: antioxidant-rich formula, may help control oil
  • Cons: fully vegan formula may not last very long

If you prefer to use natural products that contain organic ingredients, this budget-friendly drugstore find is for you. It contains natural additives, like tomatoes, watermelon, and red tea, along with antioxidants and sebum-fighting absorbers to combat acne-causing oil.

The formula even has lycopene, most commonly found in red fruits and vegetables, which has antioxidants to detoxify free radicals.

Best fragrance-free formula

BeautyStat Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, ganoderma (a mushroom extract that helps with signs of aging), bifida extract (a probiotic that helps heal, soothe, and protect the skin)
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: fragrance-free, cruelty-free
  • Pros: contains probiotics, fragrance-free, creamy formula
  • Cons: may not provide the best value for the price

This fragrance-free moisturizer from BeautyStat can be a great buy if you’re looking to avoid irritants found in artificial scents.

This product can help skin stay smooth and supple thanks to soothing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and probiotics, which has been found to help balance your microbiome, which may help reduce skin issues like dryness, acne, and wrinkles.

The formula is regarded as being safe for all skin types, plus it’s cruelty-free and dermatologist approved.

Best nighttime moisturizer

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, niacinamide (an ingredient that helps calm skin), glycerin
  • Size: 3 oz.
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: fragrance-free, paraben-free, oil-free, noncomedogenic, allergy tested
  • Pros: good value, gentle, may help restore skin barrier
  • Cons: not cruelty-free

Nighttime is the prime time to promote skin health. In the evening, focus on repairing any damage done throughout the day by applying thicker products to lock in hydration.

CeraVe is an affordable brand commonly touted by dermatologists thanks to its gentle formulas and transparent ingredients.

This oil-free nighttime lotion aims to moisturize your skin as you sleep.

The formula includes Multivesicular Emulsion (MVE) technology, which slowly releases key ingredients over time to absorb into the skin to hydrate, repair, restore, and maintain the skin’s natural barrier. There are also ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

Best lightweight moisturizer

SkinMedica Ultra Sheer Moisturizer

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, tocopherol (a natural form of vitamin E), tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (a form of vitamin C)
  • Size: 2 oz.
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: none
  • Pros: lightweight, a little goes a long way, noncomedogenic
  • Cons: pricier than other similar options

Although this moisturizer is more of a splurge, its price point is for good reason. If you often feel as though your skin is greasy, this formula from SkinMedica is designed to be super sheer.

It’s made with hyaluronic acid and vitamins C and E to stave off pollutants in the environment.

The brand recommends applying the moisturizer twice per day after cleansing, toning, and acne treatments for optimal results.

Best tinted moisturizer

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: water, glycerin, stearic acid (a fatty acid that can protect the skin’s surface against water loss)
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • SPF: yes
  • Certifications: oil-free, vegan
  • Pros: 2-in-1 product, vitamin-rich formula
  • Cons: limited shade options

If you regularly wear makeup, the thought of layering foundation with a moisturizer probably sounds less than appealing, especially if oily skin is a concern.

Luckily, this tinted moisturizer is a multiuse product: It can cover breakouts, redness, and acne scars, and also works to prevent fine lines and wrinkles with vitamins C and E. Even better, the formula protects the skin from the sun with SPF 20.

It also contains chamomile, which may help soothe sensitive skin.

The formula is made to be lightweight and is vegan, oil-free, and dermatologist tested. It contains vitamins E, A, and C, along with mineral pigments that help soften the skin.

Best moisturizer with SPF

Cetaphil Pro Oil Absorbing Moisturizer

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: avobenzone (a water-soluble that absorbs UV rays), octocrylene (another ingredient that protects the skin from sun damage), glycerin
  • Size: 4 oz.
  • SPF: yes
  • Certifications: oil-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic
  • Pros: absorbs quickly, mattifies, budget friendly
  • Cons: not cruelty-free

This affordable moisturizer from Cetaphil does it all. It can help reduce oil and shine while still managing to hydrate and protect the skin with SPF 30.

This lightweight moisturizer is fragrance-free. It works to absorb surface oil and provide a mattifying effect, so it may be good for people with oily and sensitive skin.

It’s also been clinically tested and is hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, which means it won’t irritate the skin or clog pores.

Best budget buy

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: ceramides, hyaluronic acid
  • Size: 19 oz.
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance, fragrance-free, paraben-free, allergy-tested, noncomedogenic
  • Pros: ultra-hydrating, great value, gentle
  • Cons: unhygienic container

This moisturizer will give you the most bang for your buck since it can be used on the face, hands, and body to prevent acne and dryness. Its gentle formula may even help relieve eczema.

Suitable for all skin types, this rich but mild cream is allergy-tested, fragrance-free, and paraben-free. It works to maintain the all-important skin’s barrier without leaving you greasy.

If you have oily skin, you’re most likely to benefit from using lighter moisturizers that are water-based.

Certain ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin are a good choice for oily skin because they are known for being lightweight yet moisturizing. But there’s a wide variety of moisturizers to choose from, even when you’ve nailed down your skin care goals.

When shopping, consider the following:

  • Other skin issues you may experience, like acne or redness. You may want to steer clear from ingredients that clog pores or cause breakouts.
  • If you’re sensitive to certain ingredients. If you’re unsure, you can always perform a patch test. You can apply the product to your hand or inner wrist to see how your skin reacts.
  • How much you want to spend on a moisturizer. If a specific formula works well for you, you’ll probably continue buying it, so you may want to consider price point.

Applying moisturizer is fairly straightforward. It’s recommended to apply twice daily: once in the morning and once at night before bed.

Simply wash your hands and face before applying a light layer directly to your skin. If you’re using other products, like a spot cream or astringent to treat acne, apply them before adding your moisturizer.

You may also be wondering what makes daytime and nighttime products different. Daytime moisturizers are often lighter and contain SPF to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Nighttime products may be thicker and contain additional ingredients to address fine lines and wrinkles and reduce dead skin cells while you sleep.

Is moisturizer good for oily skin?

Yes. Moisturizer is a necessity in any skin care routine. When your skin is properly hydrated, its natural response is to stop producing extra sebum (aka oil).

Look out for lightweight, oil-free, noncomedogenic moisturizers that are formulated for oily skin types.

What other ingredients or products can be good for oily skin?

If you have oily skin, you may benefit from adding a retinol into your skin care routine. Retinol can help with oil regulation, acne relief, and wrinkle reduction.

Salicylic acid is another great ingredient for oily skin, especially if you’re experiencing breakouts as a result of excess oil.

Clay is another top-notch ingredient for oily skin. Clay works by soaking up excess oil from the surface of your skin and deep inside your pores to give your skin a less shiny, matte appearance. You can typically find clay in masks and cleansers.

If you have oily skin, having an appropriate skin care routine is vital. In addition to applying treatments to minimize oiliness and breakouts, using a moisturizer is just as important as any other skin care product.

By being mindful of your primary skin concerns and ingredients that may exacerbate them, you can choose the right moisturizer to keep your skin healthy and glowing — while also keeping shininess in check.


Emilia Benton is a freelance writer and editor based in Houston, Texas. She’s also a nine-time marathoner, avid baker, and frequent traveler.