For those of us with oily skin, things like blotting papers, translucent powder and mattifying primers are a necessity. When your skin produces too much oil (or sebum, if you prefer the more technical term), it can be seemingly impossible to mattify your complexion, keep makeup in place and control acne flare-ups. When it comes to trying to control excess oil, taking note of your diet is important, but using the right products is also key. The ideal cleanser strikes a balance between being gentle, hydrating and effective. To save you from too much trial and error, we reached out to a few dermatologists and skincare experts so they could provide their recommendations. Keep reading for the best face washes for oily skin.
Dermatologist Sonia Batra, MD, MSc, MPH, recommends cleansing with a foamy formula if you're dealing with excess oil. "Foaming cleansers often work well for oily skin because they help break apart and dissolve oil on the skin surface," she says. This one works extra hard thanks to the zinc found inside, which helps regulate oil.
Along with kaolin, green clay, charcoal and witch hazel, Batra recommends this Avène pick. It's formulated with glutamic acid, which gently clears away extra sebum. As a bonus (we're speaking from experience here), it feels like a cloud against your skin and smells just as fresh.
"It seems counterintuitive, but I recommend a double cleanse starting with an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser that contains salicylic or glycolic acid," says Batra. "The concept is based on the chemistry property that like dissolves like. Oil-based cleansers help break up the oils that accrue on your face throughout the day in addition to dissolving makeup or creams.
"Many people are hesitant to use anything with oil in it since their skin may already be oily, but this is a misconception. Oil-based cleansers are more gentle on the skin and won't cause breakouts. The second step is a water-based cleanser that helps rinse sweat and dirt as well as gently exfoliates the skin." For the second step, try this classic salicylic wash from Super Facialist.
Oily skin breeds bacteria, which leads to breakouts, so dermatologists recommend washing oily skin twice (if not three times!) a day. Just be sure to not dry your skin out with sulphates and detergents that can irritate dry skin. This antimicrobial peppermint cleanser is gentle enough to use multiple times a day.
Have sensitive skin? Try this super-lightweight, non-irritating pick. It's free of parabens, harsh chemicals, alcohol, mineral oils and silicone. Oh, and it's hypoallergenic and cruelty-free.
Fenton calls this longtime drugstore favourite a "good choice for those with oily skin." It's formulated with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, so even though you're clearing away extra dirt and oil, your skin will stay hydrated (thus preventing the vicious cycle of overdriving oil production). Thanks to its silky formula, you won't be left with that dry, squeaky feeling after you rinse.
"You need a wash to clean but not strip the skin; otherwise your skin ends up in a bad cycle overproducing oil, and it'll get worse," says Abigail James, facialist and wellbeing expert. "I'd recommend Medik8 Gentle Cleanse for a deep, thorough wash."
Ksenia Selivanova, co-founder of London-based skincare consultancy clinic Lion/Ne, suggests using a foam-based cleanser in the morning and double-cleansing again in the evening: "The key for oily skins is to be gentle with your skin and use the right products at the right time to keep everything balanced. Avoid fragrances and colours, especially if you're skin is breaking out. Avoid cream and moisturising cleansers, as you don't want to overfeed your skin." Gallinée Foaming Facial Cleanser is great for oily and sensitive skin, as it supports skin's flora, contains 98% natural ingredients and is fragrance-free.
"This first big mistake people usually make is overusing harsh abrasive exfoliants, peels and deep cleansers. Using harsh products daily will reduce skin's ability to regenerate by itself," says Selivanova. This multitasking gentle cleanser is great as it will do the job of cleansing and toning the skin efficiently in just one step. All you have to do is use it with warm water, leave it for 30 seconds and then wash it away.
Fenton often recommends salicylic acid for patients with oily skin. It can help exfoliate the skin while it cleans," he says. This formula from Dermalogica combines salicylic acid with antiseptic extracts for a deep-down exfoliation without needing to scrub. It also cools inflammation and clears clogged pores to prevent future breakouts.
Opening Image: @emmahoareau