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Skin care professionals advise that a good facial cleanser should remove excess bacteria, dirt, sebum, and oil from your pores. This will help keep your skin healthy and clean.

If you have oily (and acne-prone) skin, it’s important to pay attention to ingredients when selecting skin care products.

Seborrhea, for example, is a chronic skin condition defined by greasy swollen skin and redness. The National Eczema Association suggests that ingredients such as zinc pyrithione and salicylic acid in low concentrations are helpful. A 2013 study suggests zinc coceth sulfate and glycerin may keep skin irritation low and help skin retain moisture.

So, if you have seborrhea, you might look for products that have these ingredients in them.

We chose the best cleansers for oily skin based on:

  • recommendations from our medical review team
  • ingredients identified as effective in clinical studies
  • customer reviews

Every product we recommend undergoes a thorough vetting process that looks at its medical credibility, the brand’s reputation, and the brand’s business practices. This helps us ensure we’re only recommending products and brands that you can trust to positively influence your health.

A note on price

Like many skin care products, facial cleansers have a wide range of prices that vary based on ingredients, brand recognition, and other factors. Facial cleansers overall can range from $5 to $90 or more for the same amount of product, though most face washes are priced in the $10 to $30 range.

The price points for our picks are indicated by:

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = over $15

Best cleanser for acne-prone skin

PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, Benzoyl Peroxide 4%

  • Price: $
  • Why we chose it: well-balanced formula
  • Who it’s best for: teenagers with acne

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most commonly used ingredients when managing skin oiliness and breakouts. It works by removing the bacteria that cause acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

While the AAD recommends starting with a small amount of product containing 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide to help clear up your skin, this PanOxyl face wash uses 4 percent benzoyl peroxide.

It’s true that a higher concentration of benzoyl peroxide can be a bit too irritating for those with extremely sensitive skin. But this product has the advantage of a creamy texture and a pH-balanced formula that’s filled with humectants and emollients.

These ingredients will help keep your skin hydrated and free of redness.

Pros

  • removes dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from your skin
  • fights acne-causing bacteria
  • great for sensitive skin

Cons

  • can stain or bleach clothing and towels

Best face wash for oily skin and large pores

Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Why we chose it: helps unclog pores
  • Who it’s best for: people without any allergies

Salicylic acid is another ingredient to consider when you have oily skin. The AAD suggests it unclogs pores and prevents new breakouts.

This Kiehl’s wash uses salicylic acid — a chemical exfoliator — to clear out your pores. If your pores are on the larger side, it can help reduce their appearance.

The formula also has ingredients like zinc oxide and diotamaceous earth to help wash away and absorb oils.

Note that this product does contain oat kernel flour. Though it’s soothing for some skin types, this ingredient may act as an irritant for people with an oat allergy.

Pros

  • gentle
  • exfoliates and softens
  • good for both oily and normal skin
  • fragrance-free

Cons

  • may not be strong enough for extremely oily skin

Best sensitive skin cleanser

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Why we chose it: paraben-free
  • Who it’s best for: people looking for a natural option

This Vanicream cleanser is made without fragrances and parabens, which are chemical preservatives that increase a product’s shelf life. These two common product additives are harsh on your skin, according to the Environmental Working Group.

You might want to avoid these products if you have sensitive skin. And because sensitive skin is on the delicate side, it’s wise to talk with a board certified dermatologist before using any kind of cleanser.

Although a product may claim to be a dermatologist-tested product, you still can’t be sure how your skin will respond to it. Your dermatologist can advise you on whether a cleanser is right for you and, if so, which type to choose.

Pros

  • natural option that’s paraben-free
  • hydrating
  • boosts skin firmness, radiance, and smoothness

Cons

  • can cause itching, rash, or swelling on skin

Best cleanser for combination skin

SkinMedica Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Why we chose it: highly recommended by dermatologists
  • Who it’s best for: people with dry or sensitive skin

Combination skin, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is defined by a combination of oily, normal, and dry skin areas.

So, if you have combination skin, it’s important to select a wash suitable for all skin types. This ensures that you can address an oily T-zone and a dry forehead simultaneously, without disturbing your skin.

This SkinMedica face wash has panthenol (vitamin B5) as an ingredient. It acts as a lubricant on your skin and can soften your skin’s appearance.

It also contains Camellia oleifera extract, which comes from a green tea plant. Green tea has been studied and is thought to have qualities that can protect your skin from sun damage.

One downside: This isn’t the most budget-friendly cleanser on our list. While it’s a favorite of many estheticians and dermatologists, you can find dermatologist-recommended products for a lower price.

Pros

  • great for sensitive skin
  • helps remove dirt and impurities
  • helps replenish hydration
  • calming and soothing to skin

Cons

  • can dry out your skin if used too often (multiple times a day)
  • container can be difficult to use

Best aloe vera face wash

Holika Holika Aloe Facial Cleansing Foam

  • Price: $
  • Why we chose it: budget-friendly option
  • Who it’s best for: anyone dealing with breakouts

Aloe vera can be a good ingredient to use when you’re combating inflammation caused by breakouts. This Holika Holika foam uses pure aloe vera to gently cleanse your face without stripping it of moisture.

The product’s inexpensive price tag may be attractive to your budget, too.

But if you’re looking to avoid added fragrances, this product may not be the right one for you.

Pros

  • rich hydration
  • removes dead skin, impurities, and makeup

Cons

  • fragrance can cause irritation

Best face wash for oily skin in summer

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash

  • Price: $
  • Why we chose it: won’t clog your pores
  • Who it’s best for: anyone building a comprehensive, multi-step skin care routine

Summer can definitely spell trouble for oily skin because the heat and humidity can lead to more slick spots around your face.

With this in mind, you might want to try a foaming wash that incorporates oil-free ingredients. It may help keep grease and shine to a minimum.

This Cetaphil cleanser is oil-free and noncomedogenic, which means it won’t clog your pores. The foam can help gently cleanse your face, while ingredients like zinc soak up excess oils.

This could be a good bathroom staple to invest in: It gives you 8 ounces of product at a good price.

But because this wash can be on the clarifying side, you might experience dryness from daily use. In that case, you may want to rotate it with a more hydrating facial cleanser.

Pros

  • inexpensive, accessible option
  • nondrying and nonirritating
  • safe to use alongside acne medications like topical retinoids

Cons

  • difficult to rinse off
  • may not cut through makeup or heavy grime
  • fragrance is overpowering for some

Best face wash for oily skin in winter

Acwell Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Why we chose it: great formula for colder months
  • Who it’s best for: people who are prone to acne recurrences

The cold winter air tends to dry out skin, making gentle face washes that contain a low pH level especially helpful.

A 2017 observational study suggested that increased pH levels on facial skin could contribute to acne breakouts and recurrences. This highlights the importance of choosing pH-balanced products that won’t disrupt your skin.

This Acwell wash keeps its pH level on the low side (5.5), making it a good product to consider during the winter. Plus, it resolves oiliness using a formula enriched with aloe and salicylic acid, which won’t leave your skin red and inflamed.

The price tag is the main drawback of this pH-balanced face wash.

Pros

  • made with hypoallergenic ingredients
  • can be used both morning and night

Cons

  • strong scent of tea tree
  • does not remove makeup well

Best makeup-removing cleanser for oily skin

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash

  • Price: $
  • Why we chose it: ultra-gentle on all skin types
  • Who it’s best for: people who wear makeup and travel often

If you have oily skin, it’s not enough to simply use makeup products that are noncomedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores. How you remove that makeup is just as important.

This Garnier foaming face wash was designed to gently remove makeup and greasiness from your face.

Keep in mind that some water-resistant makeup formulas may require an additional step: cleansing with wipes or cleansing balms. Waterproof eyeliners and mascaras can be particularly hard to remove with micellar water alone.

Pros

  • good for all skin types
  • fragrance-free

Cons

  • may dry out skin too much

Best for normal to oily skin

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Why we chose it: developed with dermatologists
  • Who it’s best for: anyone looking for a drugstore option

Developed in partnership with dermatologists, this foaming facial cleanser from CeraVe is a good fit for people that have average to oily skin. The foaming gel cleanses and removes oil from your skin without disrupting the protective skin barrier. Meanwhile, the cleanser’s unique formula includes three ceramides (lipids that hold your skin cells together) that help lock in moisture.

Pros

  • thoroughly cleanses and gets rid of oils
  • hydrating and fragrance-free
  • affordable, accessible option

Cons

  • not for those who are sensitive to niacinamide and hyaluronic acid

Best for exfoliating

Skinmedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

  • Price: $$$
  • Why we chose it: contains naturally derived ingredients
  • Who it’s best for: people looking for a multi-use product

The AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser created by Skinmedica is designed to improve your skin tone, texture, and appearance. The cleanser thoroughly and gently exfoliates your skin, using ingredients such as natural acids and jojoba oil to hydrate and refresh.

You can use this cleanser as the first product in your morning and evening skin care routine.

Pros

  • enhances skin tone, texture, and appearance
  • removes makeup, excess oil, and dead skin
  • hydrates and refreshes skin

Cons

  • increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunburn

Best for dry skin

Aloderma Soothing Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Why we chose it: product is vegan and cruelty-free
  • Who it’s best for: people looking to decrease appearance of fine lines

This aloe soothing cleanser is nonfoaming and PH-balanced to gently remove dirt and excess oil while soothing and repairing damaged skin, creating a protective barrier that leaves your skin hydrated, soft and healthy. The cleanser contains 76% fresh organic aloe juice.

The brand advises using this cleanser twice a day for best results.

Pros

  • gently cleanses and exfoliates
  • hydrates skin
  • unscented

Cons

  • leaves skin feeling dry
  • has a strong scent despite being labeled as unscented

PriceHighlightsActive ingredients
PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, Benzoyl Peroxide 4%$removes dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from your skinbenzoyl peroxide
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser$$gently removes oil, dirt, and toxinsAmazonian white clay, aloe barbadensis
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser$boosts skin firmness, radiance, and smoothnesspurified water, glycerin, coco glucoside
SkinMedica Facial Cleanse$$calms and soothes the skinpanthenol (pro-vitamin B5), camellia oleifera leaf extract
Holika Holika Aloe Facial Cleansing Foam$rRemoves dead skin, impurities, and makeupaloe vera leaf juice
Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash$can safely use with acne medications like topical retinoidswater, zinc coceth sulfate, glycerin
Acwell Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser$$hydrates dry skinhyaluronic acid, elderflower extract, licorice extract
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash$good for all skin typeswater, glycerin, citric acid
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser$thoroughly cleanses and gets rid of oilsniacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides
Skinmedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser$$$enhances skin tone, texture, and appearancelactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, malic acid, jojoba oil, salicylic acid
Aloderma Soothing Facial Cleanser$gently cleanses and exfoliatesaloe vera juice

Using a facial cleanser is a great foundation for healthy hygiene. Many washes, foams, and gel-based products work well to remove irritants, dirt, and bacteria from your skin and pores.

When choosing a product, it’s important to keep in mind:

  • cost
  • product ingredients
  • your skin type
  • the pH-level of the product formula

Product labels are also worth taking into consideration. The AAD suggests many terms included on cleanser product packaging can be very misleading. These include phrases such as “for sensitive skin” and “hypoallergenic,” because they aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The AAD also advises being wary of product labels that claim a product is “all-natural.” A cleanser that contains some natural ingredients can also be combined with preservatives or other unwanted ingredients.

Although using a face wash seems pretty straightforward, how you cleanse your face can vary depending on your skin type and concerns.

For example, a 2011 review suggests that patients living with atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema) should wash twice daily with alkaline soap, while those with sensitive skin should use liquid-based cleansers that contain mild cleansing agents.

Whether you are living with balanced or acne-prone skin, it’s typically best to wash or rinse your face twice a day. This helps keep your skin free of dirt and bacteria that can collect in your pores.

If you want more personalized insight on what ingredients and products are best suited for your skin, it can be helpful to book an appointment with a board certified dermatologist. They can help you develop a sound and simple skin care regimen that works well for your skin type.

Is cleanser or face wash better for oily skin?

If you have oily skin, face wash is typically a better choice than cleanser. Cleansers hydrate and moisturize your skin, but if your skin is already oily, it won’t need much more hydration. A face wash will also help prevent breakouts and acne.

Is face wash necessary for oily skin?

Face wash is extremely helpful for oily skin. A good face wash will help to remove excess oil that might clog your pores and cause acne. If you stay on top of your skin care and use face wash daily, your skin will be much healthier overall.

Is cleansing good for oily skin?

Yes, cleansing is good for oily skin. Just make sure you select a cleanser that’s formulated for oily skin.

Many face wash products continue to flood the market. So, before you actually buy one, you might want to figure out your skin type, your budget, and which product ingredients you want to look for or avoid. Keep in mind that many terms used on product labels aren’t regulated.

When it’s time to actually cleanse your face, it’s helpful to wash twice daily. Use a cleanser that contains the right ingredients for your skin care concerns.

It’s always a good idea to book an appointment with a board certified dermatologist to get a professional opinion before selecting your go-to product.