12 Facial Cleansers Perfect For Oily Skin

I feel like when it comes to oily skin I say this often, you can’t use just anything on oily skin. I guess I say often because it took me years to figure that out and I want to help others with oily skin by sharing what I’ve learned.

For my oily skin, it’s been beneficial for me to use cleansers that are specifically designed and formulated for oily skin. Cleaners for oily skin have ingredients to help control oil production and unclog pores.

Looking at oily skin facial cleaners you can break them out into five categories

white woman washing her oily face with a foaming face wash
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5 types of cleansers for oily skin

1. Salicylic Acid Cleansers help to exfoliate the skin and unclog pores which can be particularly effective for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

2. Glycolic Acid Cleansers also help with exfoliating which can unclog pores and reduce oiliness. One watch out is the cleanser having a low percentage of glycolic acid to avoid over-drying your skin.

3. Clay Cleansers absorb excess oil and remove impurities from the skin. Kaolin clay is a particularly good option for oily skin.

4. Foaming Cleansers are really effective at removing excess oil and dirt from the skin. Look for a formula that is oil-free and non-comedogenic.

5. Charcoal Cleansers can help to draw out impurities and absorb excess oil from the skin.

Sometimes there can be cross-over in the categories, such as a foaming face wash that can also have salicylic acid in it. So don’t feel like you need to try really hard to stick to one specific category.

Facial cleansers good for oily skin

Now that we know what types of facial cleansers are good for oily skin, let’s talk about some specific products

The great thing is we with oily skin have lots of options when it comes to facial cleansers. There are so many great skincare brands out there, some that have been around for a while and risen from obscurity, and others who are newer to the skincare scene.

Salicylic Acid Cleansers

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser
This is one brand that has risen from obscurity to being pretty popular. I never heard of this brand before but now it’s all over social media.

This medicated gel cleanser from La Roche-Posay contains 2% salicylic acid to gently exfoliate, unclog pores, reduce excess oil, and clear acne breakouts. In fact, it’s clinically tested to reduce excess surface oil by up to 47%.

It's gentle enough twice a day, every day, and won't over-dry the skin.

You can find this La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser at

Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser
I’ve never used Aveeno products but they seem to be pretty effective so I decided to include this one on the list.

Yes, this is a foaming cleanser but it contains 2% salicylic acid so I decided to note it in the salicylic acid group. As I mentioned before some cleansers can fall into more than one of the five categories.

The salicylic acid in the cleanser helps clear up and prevent breakouts. It's gentle enough for daily use and won't over-dry the skin.

You can find the Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser at

Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser
I used Murad back when I had some serious bad acne right after I graduated college. Murad helped to clear up my skin and set it on the right path.

I don’t remember exactly which Murad cleanser I used, I think it was the Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser but even if it wasn’t this is a good cleanser for oily skin for many reasons
  • It has two types of salicylic acid—a free form that starts treating immediately and an encapsulated form that continues treating even after rinsing
  • The green tea extract it contains helps soothe and calm irritation
  • Plus in a 3-day clinical study, 97% said this face wash dissolves excess oil

You can find the Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser at

Glycolic Acid Cleansers

Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel
I’ve never used a Peter Thomas Roth product before, mostly because of the price, but I’ve heard some good things about the brand.

Now, this cleansing gel from Peter Thomas Roth contains glycolic acid and also salicylic acid because they are brightening botanicals that help exfoliate and clarify the skin, leaving it ultra clean, refined, and revitalized.

As an added benefit this facial cleanser contains a blend of anti-aging ingredients to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.

One thing to keep in mind with this cleanser is it contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterward.

You can find the Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel at

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
This exfoliating cleanser from Murad contains a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, including glycolic acid, to help exfoliate and unclog pores. It's also formulated with jojoba beads to physically exfoliate the skin and remove impurities.

It also includes sodium PCA to optimize the skin’s ability to attract and hold moisture which isn’t a bad thing for oily skin, especially after exfoliating.

This cleanser is only meant to be used a few times a week, it’s not for daily use.

You can find it at

Clay Cleansers

L'Oreal Paris Pure Clay Detox & Brighten Cleanser
This daily cleanser contains three types of pure clay and charcoal to help draw out impurities and excess oil from the skin.

This cleanser goes beyond daily cleansing to clarify and detoxify so the skin can breathe better which makes me think it does a really good job of clearing out the pores. The great thing is it doesn’t make the skin feel stripped or dry.

You can find the L'Oreal Paris Pure Clay Detox & Brighten Cleanser at

Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser
This brand has a lot of great skincare products like this daily cleanser that contains Amazonian white clay. The clay helps absorb excess oil and draw out impurities. It's also formulated with aloe vera and glycerin to hydrate and soothe the skin.

It’s gentle on the skin and doesn’t strip the skin leaving it feeling dry.

You can find Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser at
  • The Kiehl’s website https://rstyle.me/+fnnATd8yFzhwzYyKr_4eIw
  • Ulta https://rstyle.me/+VroriUZ7LAyzpy0vewTcPw

Foaming Cleansers

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Foam Wash
I currently use a Cetaphil face wash, not this one, and I really like the brand. It’s got great products for all skin types.

This specific foam facial wash from Cetaphil is specifically designed for oily and acne-prone skin. It contains zinc technology to help reduces surface oil and shine while calming and soothing skin.

This Cetaphil foaming face wash also helps defend against 5 signs of skin sensitivity including dryness, irritation, roughness, tightness, and a weakened skin barrier.

You can find the Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Foam Wash at

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser
This foaming gel cleanser from La Roche-Posay contains zinc as a key ingredient for purifying and removing excess oil.

Another key ingredient is La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water which is a soothing water sourced in the town of La Roche-Posay in France and a core ingredient in most of this brand's products. It contains a unique combination of minerals, trace elements, and a high selenium concentration, a natural antioxidant.

This foaming cleanser is gentle enough for daily use and won't leave skin feeling dry or tight.

You can find the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser at

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser
Another brand that has risen from obscurity is Paula’s Choice. It’s gained some popularity with the Gen Z crowd through some Tik Tok reviews.

This cleanser oil-reducing cleanser is formulated with gentle, non-irritating ingredients to help remove excess oil and impurities from the skin. It's fragrance-free and suitable for all skin types, but particularly good for oily and combination skin.

The gentle foaming formula works to improve the appearance of enlarged, congested pores. It leaves skin feeling exceptionally clean, smooth, and balanced without any dryness or a tight feel.

You can purchase the Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser at

Charcoal Cleanser

Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser
This cleanser from Biore contains natural charcoal to penetrate pores to help absorb excess oil and impurities. Plus it contains 1% salicylic acid to help fight acne, prevent future breakouts, and clean deep in the pores. It’s gentle enough to be used daily.

You can find the Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser at

Yes To Tomatoes Daily Foaming Cleanser With Charcoal
I’ve used a few cleansers and moisturizers from this brand and like them but I will caution it’s hard to find in stores.

This cleanser from Yes To contains antioxidant-rich Tomato Extract, Charcoal, and Glycerin to detoxify, clean, and clarify your skin while balancing the moisture level.

You can find the Yes To Tomatoes Daily Foaming Cleanser With Charcoal at Amazon.

Final thoughts

As I’ve tried multiple facial cleansers over the years I’ve learned it's important to
  • Choose one that is gentle and won't strip your skin of its natural oils
  • Test them out by only using them once during the day or buying the travel size

What facial cleansers do you use on your oily skin?


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