How to Choose the Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin

At first, the "best moisturizer for oily skin" sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn't it? Especially if you're amongst the oily skinned beauties who are appalled at the idea of adding even more moisture to your already sufficiently oily skin.

It may feel like carrying coal to Newcastle but it's not - your skin needs moisturizing. Newcastle does not need coal.

Moisturizers actually doesn't make oily skin worse - in fact, as long as you choose the right type of moisturizer for oily skin, it can help tame those oil glands that are over-producing while simultaneously hydrating your skin.

Don't confuse the oil with the water that your skin cells need to function properly. Your face becomes dehydrated after you scrub and scrub that oil off of your face. Your skin sends out an alarm to the oil glands. They come to the rescue, overproducing, and there you are right back where you started.

When your skin is properly moisturized, your oil glands can kick back and relax for a while. Moisturizers create a film barrier that keeps naturally produced water from evaporating, draws water from the atmosphere to the upper layer of skin. That barrier also protects against bacteria and environmental impurities from entering your pores. And then there's the soft, smooth feel and look of your skin.

Believe it or not, moisturizers cut down on the visible grease and shine.

So, you see, moisturizer is your oily skin's friend. But just like you choose your friends, you need to choose the right moisturizer for oily skin.

Avoid those heavy creams that people with dry skin need. They may feel wonderful going on, but they suffocate your skin, clog your pores, and bring out that shine that you hate.

Ingredients that you want to avoid include:

  • Mineral oil
  • Petroleum/Petrolatum
  • Coconut oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Lanolin and its derivatives
  • Paraffin

Look for moisturizers that are non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) and oil free. Once you find those, check the ingredients. Cosmetic companies can claim whatever they want. They can't, however, fudge on the ingredients. Of course, personal skin chemistry comes into play, as with any skin care product, but a good start would be with a water-based moisturizer.

Among the preferred ingredients for oily skin moisturizers are...

  • Humectants

Humectants that are intensely hydrating due to their ability to draw water molecules from the environment. Humectants include panthenol, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, sorbitol, and alpha hydroxy acids. Honey and aloe are also humectants. Any ingredient that ends in “icone” is a silicone-based humectant.

Dimethicone is an excellent example and one of the most common ingredients in moisturizers for oily skin since it mimics oil to provide moisture and nourishment without clogging your pores. It leaves your skin feeling supple and healthy, yet dry after use, which is a winner when it comes to oily skin.

Note: If you hate the feeling of thick, heavy products on your skin, hyaluronic acid may become your new BFF since it's intensely hydrating yet lightweight, meaning it'll thoroughly moisturize and nourish without suffocating your skin.

  • Emollients

Emollients that improve the appearance and texture of skin. They fill in the crevices that appear in the uppermost layer of the skin that wards off bacteria and pollutants, and they keep the skin supple. Emollients also contribute to hydration by preventing the evaporation of the skin's natural moisture.

Dimethicone is a double threat (to the forces that make our skin oily), because it also acts as an emollient. Other emollients beneficial to oily skin include stearic acid, propylene glycol, and octyl stearate. Essential fatty acids found in various natural oils are emollients.

  • Occlusives

Occlusives that help seal in moisture. The problem with occlusives is that many of them are greasy, such as petrolatum, lanolin, and paraffin—the things we've already warned you against. You need to find occlusives that are derived from silicone but not combined with petrolatum.

Turns out dimethicone is actually a triple threat. Add “occlusive” to its accolades. Another occlusive ingredient to look for is cyclomethicone.

Most moisturizers rely on a combination of humectants, emollients, and occlusives to hydrate, repair, and improve the texture of the skin. Some moisturizers contain talc, which very nicely controls the shine that stands out like a neon sign to you, blinking “Oily skin! Oily skin!”

Now that you know what to avoid and what to embrace when it comes to oily skin moisturizers, it's time to choose one and get to properly hydrating your lovely skin.

To make things easier, here's a roundup of the best moisturizers for oily skin currently on the market. They're all non-comedogenic, oil free, free of parabens, and free of harmful synthetic preservatives. Extra perk? They're not tested on animals. 

Acure Oil Control Facial Moisturizer

best lotion for oily skin

Acure Oil Control Facial Moisturizer, $12

This ultralight moisturizer is known as the “vegan moisturizer.” It is jam-packed with natural ingredients. Acure's signature “curoxidant blend” includes five organic fruits and herbs: acai berry, blackberries, rosehips, pomegranate, and rooibos (red tea).

The unique “4 Phase Skin Immune Complex” contains white horehound stem cells, resveratrol probiotics, olive leaf, and argan oil. The high antioxidant content of this complex reverses the signs of aging and strengthens and moisturizes your skin.

We have the advantage of the great strides made in scientific research. Scientists can now extract stem cells from plants; those stem cells provide 1000 times the beneficial properties of the plant. Lilac extract is an antioxidant and it aids in regulating the production of oil. Think how much more effective lilac stem cells are.

The Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) is derived from the nuclei of a single-cell green algae. It contains vitamins, nucleic acids, amino acids, and peptides that nourish and replenish skin. CGF also rebuilds and protects collagen and elastin fibers that keep the skin firm and supple.

This moisturizer absorbs easily, improves the texture and tone of the skin, and minimizes the appearance of pores. It's gentle enough to be used day and night and versatile enough to make skin less oily in the summer and hydrate it during cold, dry winters.


LAVO Daily Moisturizing Cream

face moisturizer for oily skin

Lavo Daily Moisturizing Cream, $21

The natural and botanical ingredients in this moisturizer hydrate and protect the skin, while improving the skin's elasticity and tone and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to the exceptional moisture-keeping properties of hyaluronic acid, there are the moisture-keeping properties of hazelnut, wheat germ, safflower, and avocado oils. You have a super-hydrating moisturizer!

Azulene (from the chamomile plant), an antioxidant, creates an ultra thin layer of protection against damage from free radicals, bacteria, and pollutants. It also rejuvenates skin cells, addresses cellular damage, and impedes the premature onset of fine lines and wrinkles. Azulene also helps prevent skin discolorations due to overexposure to the sun. Hops, rosemary, sage, and ginseng extracts tone and refine the skin and tighten pores. Allantoin and aloe vera soothe and heal.

Your skin will feel smoother, softer, fresher. And have a matte finish that makes a great primer for your makeup.


Body Shop Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion

best face moisturizer for oily skin

The Body Shop Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion, $9

If you're on the hunt for a lightweight, mattifying lotion that will keep oil production in check and clear up blemishes - look no further than The Body Shop's Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion. This is one of the best moisturizers for oily, acne prone skin with blemish-fighting ingredients like tea tree oil and willow bark extract. 

The only downside is that this moisturizer can be drying - even for very oily skin so use sparingly or save it for the oiliest T-zone areas, especially in the drying winter months!


La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat

facial moisturizer for oily skin
face moisturizer for oily skin

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat, $32

Effaclar Mat is an oil-free moisturizer that contains Sebulyse, a dual-action, oil-targeting ingredient that mattifies and hydrates your skin while visibly tightening pores. In addition, Effclar Mat has lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA) with its micro-exfoliating properties, zinc pidolate that neutralizes the shine immediately upon contact, and vitamins C and E that shield the skin from environmental impurities and bacteria.

Effaclar Mat has a gel-like consistency that is refreshingly cool upon application. It leaves your skin silky smooth, and the long-lasting matte finish is a super base for your makeup.


Pevonia Mattifying Oily Skin Cream

best lotion for oily skin
good moisturizer for oily skin

Pevonia Mattifying Oily Skin Cream, $27

This is another moisturizer that's brimming with natural ingredients. Sorbitol, derived from sugar alcohol and a humectant, controls oil and normalizes the skin. Panthenol, a form of vitamin B, is also a humectant, attracting moisture to the skin and preventing it from evaporating. Lemon extract, lactic acid, aloe, and geranium essential oil work together to ensure a refined, matte complexion, free of oil and clogged pores. Grapefruit and pine oils assist in improving skin texture.

It's a very lightweight formula, but you need only a small amount to cover your face. Try just a dab and see what we mean. It feels refreshing and has a light, delicious scent. And it provides SPF 15 protection.


Mario Badescu Control Moisturizer

best moisturizers for oily skin

Mario Badescu Control Moisturizer, $18

This moisturizer is lightweight and easily absorbed, and it is SPF 30, protecting your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. It contains green tea, a powerful antioxidant. Aloe vera hydrates and softens the skin. St John's Wort soothes and repairs cell damage.

Balsam of Peru, a resin extracted from a South American evergreen tree, is an excellent moisturizer and gives the product a wonderful earthy-sweet fragrance. Panthenol both hydrates and revitalizes your complexion.

The lightly nourishing action of the ingredients provides the necessary balance to oily skin after cleansing.


Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion

best moisturizers for oily skin

Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion, $35

This ultralight and gentle lotion hydrates and improves the texture and feel of the skin while minimizing the appearance of pores. Panthenol attracts moisture to the skin and retains it deep in the skin's tissues. Honey extract also hydrates. Allantoin and arnica, herbal extracts, soothe the skin and support healthy cell function that results in smoother skin. Retinol and Queen of Meadow extract both reduce oil production and refine pores.

This lotion is especially beneficial in balancing oily and dry zones, controlling oil and shine - all while keeping your skin supple and youthful.


Naturally, what works on one person's skin may not work on another's. Your personal experience may be different through no fault of the product. If you try a little of the moisturizer and find it harmful, most merchants will allow you to exchange it for another product.

We hope you are now armed with enough knowledge and infused with enough confidence to get out there and seek your perfect moisturizer to hydrate and control oily skin!

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