Many people think you don't need a moisturizer if you already have oily skin, but many experts disagree, pointing out that oil and hydration are two very different things. In addition, people with oily skin tend to treat it very roughly, scrubbing and using harsher cleansers. The right moisturizer can go a long way toward repairing some of that damage. You'll need to look for a light moisturizers that is noncomedogenic, in other words, that won't clog your pores, especially if you're also acne prone.
Unless your skin turns into an oil slick within an hour or two of the time you wash your face, it's likely that you just have combination skin and will be better served with a facial moisturizer for normal skin. If you're very prone to redness in addition to oily skin, there are some facial moisturizers for dry/sensitive skin that are also made in formulations for oily/sensitive skin. Also, many people with oily complexions are also acne-prone, so you will want to pair your moisturizer with a good acne treatment.
Gels are often recommended for people with oily skin, and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (Est. $25 for 4.2 oz.) is at the top of many expert and user lists for its light, silky feel that absorbs quickly and does not exacerbate the oils in your skin. They say it even works very well under makeup, with quite a few consumer reviewers saying it doesn't cause your foundation to slide off.
Clinique Moisturizing gel is oil-free, fragrance free and does not contain any sunscreen, which is something experts don't recommend, but is one of the factors many users say led them to this product. It includes dimethicone and glycerin to provide lightweight moisture, and has a small amount of antioxidants, including Vitamin E. It also includes anti-irritants that may help prevent breakouts.
Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 (Est. $15 for 2.5 oz.) is also an option for slightly oily skin. Editors of Allure and Real Simple magazines laud it for containing soy and light diffusers to even out skin tone.
Reviewers at MakeupAlley.com and TotalBeauty.com like the high SPF that Aveeno provides. Many also appreciate the natural glow that it gives to skin -- likely due to the light diffusers. Some say that it's a bit thick for their oily skin, however, and others say it doesn't provide quite enough moisture. That just goes to show that results vary from one person to the next, and that it might take some trial and error to find a product that works well for you.
One other product that appears on several list as good for oily skin is Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture, Combination Skin (Est. $10 for 4 oz.). It's alcohol and fragrance-free, and is reported to be very gentle -- a boon for those with oil skin that is also sensitive. It lacks a sunscreen, which is a plus in many users' opinions, but a minus in the view of many experts. Many people with combination skin who are sensitive to sunscreen say that this is one of the few moisturizers that will keep the skin of their face balanced without causing breakouts. Nonetheless, there are a few complaints of breakouts or a burning feeling, just as we see with every facial moisturizer. In spite of it being a lotion, users say Neutrogena Oil-Free glides on more like a gel and feels very light and absorbs quickly.
If you have truly oily skin, there's no doubt that Clinique Moisturizing Gel has the track record for us to recommend that you give it a try, even though it's the priciest option in this category (users do say a little goes a long way!). If you prefer sun protection, give Aveeno a try, and if your skin is more combination oily, or oily and sensitive, Neutrogena Oil-Free is worth a look.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best reviewed facial moisturizers
The best facial moisturizers (and an acne treatment) you can buy today as identified in reviews and our editors' analysis.
Best facial moisturizers for normal skin
These facial moisturizers will give your skin all-day protection and nourishment.
Facial moisturizers for dry/sensitive skin
The best moisturizers for dry or sensitive skin are highly emollient, yet gentle.
Best tinted moisturizers
A relative newcomer to the skincare market, these are foundation and moisturizers in one.
Best night creams
These rich, emollient creams will heal and nourish your skin while you sleep.
Best acne treatments
Take a two-pronged approach to treating acne, with an all-over product and a spot treatment.
Don't go shopping for a facial moisturizer without learning what you need to know first. Our Buying Guide how to determine the best type of facial moisturizer for you.
Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the top facial moisturizers and acne treatments, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.