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Finding the best moisturizer for oily skin can be a daunting feat. It’s tempting, in fact, to eschew the quest altogether. After all, if one has oily skin, wouldn’t moisturizer make for a shinier complexion? As it turns out, no.
“All skin types, including oily skin, benefit from using moisturizer,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ashley Magovern. “Moisturizer replenishes the skin with hydration, not to be confused with oil or sebum. Unlike sebum, which in excess can clog the pores and cause acne, moisturizer boosts the skin’s water supply and visibly plumps the appearance of skin.” What’s more, a regular moisturizing routine can reduce irritation and inflammation, which often results from oily skin. For those with sebum production that never quits, “you just need to select the correct formulation,” Dr. Magovern concludes.
To whittle down the best moisturizers for oily skin, I interviewed three board-certified dermatologists and two medical aestheticians. Ahead, find 15 of the best go-to moisturizers for oily skin, including mattifying products that are also beauty-editor-approved.
The Water Cream
Tatcha’s cult-loved water cream has the prettiest packaging— all gilded accents and sky-blue hues— but what’s inside is even lovelier. Infused with Japanese superfoods and wild rose, the oil-free cream tightens pores, boosts radiance, and hydrates like a dream. It delivers dewy hydration on contact, making the skin instantly silkier. Plus, it’s oil-free.
Key ingredients: Japanese wild rose, Japanese leopard lily, Tatcha’s Hadasei-3 complex
Size: 1.7 oz
Sephora rating: 4/5 stars
A Sephora reviewer says: “Best moisturizer ever! It really feels luxurious as you put it on. It’s a bit pricey but I think it’s worth it — it lasted me for almost a year, and I put it on morning and night.”
Oil Control Moisturizer with Niacinamide
This vegan cream is a balm for blemishes. Azelaic acid tames redness while clearing out the pores, and grapeseed oil unclogs them even more. The cream doesn’t just clear breakouts but also delivers facial-quality benefits. Squalane hydrates and plumps the complexion, while niacinamide promotes a brighter, more even skin tone. All that, and it’s fragrance-free.
Key ingredients: Niacinamide, azelaic acid, squalane
Size: 1.7 fl oz
Community Sixty-Six rating: 5/5 stars
A Community Sixty-Six reviewer says: “Best moisturizer for my combo skin. I’m getting lots of compliments on how youthful and soft my skin looks.”
Night Ritual Vitamin A Cream
Medik8’s hydrating cream contains encapsulated retinol. The anti-aging ingredient works the graveyard shift so that you can wake up to dewier, more radiant skin.
Key ingredients: 0.2% retinol, Vitamin E, dragon fruit extract
Size: 1.7 oz
Dermstore rating: 5/5 stars
Our expert says: “At night, I recommend a moisturizer with stronger ingredients, such as retinol, to increase cell turnover while you sleep. Don’t forget to apply it on your neck and décolletage.”—Dr. Ashley Magovern
Oil Free Moisturizer
Infused with oil-absorbing spheres, Kate Somerville’s moisturizer is a powerhouse for toning and tightening. It draws on red marine algae to firm the skin and boost elasticity, as amino-acid derivatives smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. What’s more, the clever packaging guarantees the perfect amount of product with each pump.
Key ingredients: Essential amino-acid derivatives, red marine algae, algae-based tighteners, oil-absorbing spheres
Size: 1.7 oz
Nordstrom rating: 4.6/5 stars
A Nordstrom reviewer says: “My skin tone looks healthier, my pores seem smaller, and my breakouts have reduced.”
The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb
Oily-skinned folks should stock up on this cream, which helps the skin retain moisture for 26 hours. The lightweight formula also soothes the skin, perfect for any post-treatment care.
Key ingredients: Comfrey leaf, oak husk, panthenol
Size: 1.68 fl oz
Amazon rating: 4/7/5 stars
Our expert says: “For about $50, you get amazing lightweight, oil-free moisturization, which is ideal for those who are worried about excess oil. The gel-based formula swipes on with a refreshing, cooling tingle. Plus, it has ceramides and glycerin to condition the skin. It’s my absolute favorite.”—Kristin Gunn, Texas-based medical esthetician
Effaclar Mat Daily Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin
Gunn’s also quick to recommend this French pharmacy classic. Its star ingredient is thermal spring water sourced from an idyllic French town. Packed with antioxidants, the ingredient works soothing wonders on the skin.
Key ingredients: Sebulyse (sebum-regulating) technology, lipo-hydroxy acid, thermal spring water
Size: 1.35 fl oz
Ulta rating: 4.3/ 5 stars
An Ulta reviewer says: “While its primary goal is to reduce oiliness and excess sebum, this moisturizer is specifically formulated with a gentle, oil-free composition. Also, it won’t aggravate sensitive skin.”—Kristin Gunn
AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
This SPF 30 moisturizer is a major steal. While the lightweight drugstore pick's main function is sun protection, it also helps strengthen the skin's barrier and boost moisture via ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
Key ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid
Size: 3 fl oz
CeraVe rating: 4.2/5 stars
Our expert says: “Containing ceramides, B vitamins, and hyaluronic acid, it offers hydration and essential skin-barrier protection without adding excess oil.”—Dr. Gendai Echezona, triple-board-certified physician and medical esthetician
Megadose Super Antioxidant Face Moisturizer
“I spent years as a dermatologist bothered that there was no great antioxidant moisturizer to recommend to my patients,” says board-certified dermatologist and Skincare Junkie founder Dr. Blair Murphy. To fill the white space, she concocted this antioxidant, anti-pollution, and anti-aging moisturizer. Its silky, oil-free formulation was designed for oily skin and won’t clog pores. Fueled with a clinically tested blend of Coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, and green tea, it also has vitamin C to brighten the skin tone. As an added perk, the cute pink packaging makes moisturizing all the more cheerful.
Key ingredients: Centella asiatica, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, vitamin C
Size: 1.69 oz
Skincare Junkie rating: 5/5 stars
A Skincare Junkie reviewer said: “Finally found the perfect moisturizer that hydrates without breaking me out.”
Oil and Pore Control Mattifying Face Sunscreen SPF 45 PA++++
Murad’s SPF moisturizer “has matifying agents to remove excess oil and reduce breakouts,” Dr. Murphy explains. The cruelty-free formulation contains avocado and bark extracts, which reduce pore size and minimize oil production. That doesn’t mean it’s drying, though—the broad-spectrum SPF contains balancing hydrators, which make it equally effective on normal or dry skin.
Key ingredients: Oil-trapping microspheres, avocado and African Yellow Wood bark extracts, chemical sunscreens
Size: 1.7 oz
Sephora rating: 3.9/5 stars
A Sephora reviewer says: “I have oily skin, especially in the humid summer. This gives a powdery soft finish all day.”
Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Face Moisturizer Gel-Cream
Dr. Noelani González, a board-certified dermatologist, steers oily-skinned patients toward gel-based moisturizers. This drugstore pick from Neutrogena—infused with hyaluronic acid—feels as refreshing as dunking your face into ice-cold water for a quick pick-me-up, san the shrieking, chilling, and regret.
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid
Size: 1.7 oz
Amazon rating: 4.6/5 stars
An Amazon reviewer says: “This will help moisturize their skin without feeling too heavy. feels very hydrating but smooth and light at the same time,” she continues. “It’s ideal for oily skin.”—Dr. Noelani González, board-certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai
Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Refillable Moisturizer
A longtime favorite amongst beauty editors, the K-Beauty staple is a hydrating salve for oily complexions. Formulated with watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, the oil-free moisturizer leaves skin with a radiant glow. The Pink Juice Moisturizer also tames redness, promotes a more even skin tone, and has a fruity scent reminiscent of a mouth-watering watermelon lollipop (the fragrance-adverse may disagree).
Key ingredients: Watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, glycerin
Size: 1.7 oz
Sephora rating: 4.4/ 5 stars
A Sephora reviewer says: “This is great for oily skin! It has a thin and smooth consistency. It is hydrating, and absorbs quickly.”
Omega Water Cream Oil-Free Moisturizer + Niacinamide
Though it’s budget-friendly, this Inkey List cream doesn’t skimp on ingredients. This Sephora bestseller contains five percent niacinamide, which helps even out the skin tone and mattify shine. It’s also formulated with a ceramide complex that hydrates and supports the skin barrier. The product size is small—a pea-sized amount delivers a lasting moisture surge—but a little goes a long way.
Key ingredients: Ceramide complex, niacinamide
Size: 1.7 fl oz
Amazon rating: 4.3/5 stars
An Amazon reviewer says: “Fantastic moisturizer for oily skin. It doesn’t break me out and actually leaves my skin feeling moisturized.”
Active Algae Lightweight Moisturizer
Miranda Kerr’s certified organic brand designed this lightweight gel moisturizer for acne-prone skin. Despite its airy texture, it delivers deep hydration, using green algae, green tea, and Alpine rose to calm and soothe the complexion. The good vibes are a bonus: all of Kora’s products are filtered through rose crystals to infuse them with the vibration of self-love.
Key ingredients: Microalgae, aloe, green tea, Alpine rose
Size: 1.69 fl oz
Kora rating: 4.7/ 5 stars
A Kora reviewer says: “This moisturizer soaks right in. I have baby-smooth skin and it has not caused a breakout.”
Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer (1.6 oz.)
True to its name, the cream has a light, whipped-from-air texture that sinks right into the skin. Even better, it's also plumping and infused with antioxidant-rich elderberries to help diminish the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, elderberry
Size: 1.6 fl oz
Dermstore rating: 4.6/5 stars
Our expert says: “This moisturizer has two of my favorite ingredients for oily skin: hyaluronic acid, which provides hydration, and ceramides to lock in that moisture and repair the skin.”—Dr. Ashley Magovern
Extracts from botanicals and algae swirl in this silky formulation, which restores tired-looking skin with a plump, dewy glow. Perfect as a makeup primer, the lightweight cream sinks into the skin with no greasy residue. Dr. Magovern, who's a huge fan of this moisturizer, notes: “This lightweight daily moisturizer helps balance oil production and refine pores.”
Key ingredients: Algae extracts, botanical extracts
Size: 2 fl oz
Dermstore rating: 4.6/ 5 stars
A Dermstore reviewer says: “Shortly after switching to this moisturizer I noticed my face looked more dewy and youthful. People are always surprised to hear I’m almost 60 because it doesn’t show in my skin. I love it! ”
Meet the Experts
Kristin Gunn is an Austin, Texas-based medical aesthetician.
Dr. Gendai Echezona is a triple-board-certified physician and a medical aesthetician.
Dr. Blair Murphy Rose is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Skincare Junkie.
Dr. Noelani González is a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mt. Sinai.
Dr. Ashley Magovern is a board-certified dermatologist and a medical advisor for Dermstore.
Which moisturizer ingredients are best for oily skin?
“In general, oily skin reacts well to humectants, aka ingredients that draw moisture to the top layer of skin from the dermis,” adds Dr. Magovern. “Humectants include popular skincare ingredients hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Other ingredients to look for are ceramides, which I love because they can repair and moisturize the skin. If you struggle with acne, niacinamide is another amazing ingredient that helps calm inflammation, acne, and hyperpigmentation.”
“Moisturizers with acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid are another great option for oily skin,” adds Dr. González. And as a rule, “always look for ‘oil-free’ and ‘non-comedogenic’ on the product label.”
Which moisturizer ingredients are problematic for oily skin?
We all love to smell good, but sometimes, forgoing scent in your skin care can be more beneficial. “People with oily skin should avoid products with fragrances, as they can cause irritation to the skin and do not benefit the integrity of the product,” suggests Dr. Magovern. Word of advice: the heavier the ingredient, the higher the potential to clog your pores. “Other ingredients to avoid include comedogenic ingredients like coconut oil and cocoa butter that clog the pores and cause breakouts.”
What moisturizer formulation is best for oily skin?
“Cream-based products can feel heavy on oily skin,” says Dr. González. “Instead, opt for gels or lotions.”
How should moisturizer be incorporated into a skincare routine for oily skin?
“Moisturizer can be incorporated after cleansing your face and right before your sunscreen in the morning, and after applying your actives—any medications or retinols/retinoids—in the evening,” says Dr. González. “In the summertime or warmer climates, it might be ok to skip that morning application and only apply it at night.”
What’s the best way to test out a moisturizer?
When it comes to introducing any skin care product into your routine, a patch test is the best way to start. “If you have sensitive skin, it’s always smart to try a test spot and make sure you don’t react to it,” advises Dr. González. “Apply the same amount and thickness you’d usually apply to a spot where it won’t get washed away easily for a period of seven to 10 days. If you don’t see any reactions, then it’s safe to apply to the rest of your face.”
Why Trust Elle Beauty
As a leading publisher of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty content, ELLE.com is committed to highlighting the best products in various categories by personally testing the latest and most innovative products, interviewing countless experts, and vetting customer-loved items. For this piece, ELLE.com contributor Jenny Berg interviewed top dermatologists and medical aestheticians about the best-in-class moisturizers for oily skin. She also personally tested several of the products and crawled through reviews to find the moisturizers that oily-skinned customers love.
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