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Best Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin

By: Angela Stringfellow on May 09, 2018

Oily skin types still need a quality moisturizer

Many people think that having oily skin means you don't need a moisturizer, but experts disagree. After all, 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 that damage. Look for light face creams that are noncomedogenic (won't clog your pores), especially if you're also acne-prone. 

A moisturizer, sunscreen and anti-aging serum in one, Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream SPF 30 (Est. $25 for 1.7 oz.) earns props from Good Housekeeping for its anti-aging benefits. Testers said its non-greasy formulation absorbs readily into the skin, leaving a brighter, smoother complexion. In tests, the Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab found that it "increased moisture levels in skin by 31%, more than any facial SPF 30 previously evaluated."

Skincare experts at Beautypedia award Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream a coveted five-star rating, praising its "elegant, smooth texture that's usually seen in pricier moisturizers." It contains several anti-aging ingredients, including niacinamide, peptides and antioxidants, and it "sets to a satin finish that doesn't feel the least bit greasy," making it ideal for applying under makeup. Its pump-style packaging is not only convenient, but also serves to protect the moisturizer from light and air, which can diminish the effectiveness of certain ingredients.

Olay Regenerist is minimally fragranced with what users describe as a light floral scent, on which opinions are mixed. Some reviewers say it's subtle and not overpowering, while others find it too strong – and a few who have sensitive skin found it irritating. That said, many users with sensitive skin report using this product with no redness, stinging or irritation. Several reviewers say this is the only face moisturizer they've tried that doesn't leave their skin feeling greasy and doesn't cause breakouts.

Another good oil-free moisturizer is Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture (Est. $10 for 4 oz.) sensitive skin ultra-gentle facial moisturizer. It's oil-free, alcohol-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, with SPF 15 protection from the sun. All that adds up to a formula that won't leave your oily skin feeling greasy (unless you overdo it). In tests, the Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab found that it "moisturizes skin up to 24 hours yet absorbs quickly and is suitable for sensitive skin."

Neutrogena's Oil-Free Moisture also works well for dry and acne-prone skin, with one exception: super-dry winter skin. Users say it just isn't emollient enough for that, but it's that very non-greasy lightness that makes it suitable for oily skin. It might feel a little heavy when it first goes on, but it'll soak in within a minute or two and leave you with a healthy glow without the shine of excess oil, and it works well with or without makeup. We read several reports from users who say that it doesn't clog pores and actually seemed to help clear up their acne.

Experts at Beautypedia say that it contains some helpful emollients and water-binding agents that make it suitable for those with sensitive skin, but beyond those attributes, there's not much to get excited about. The only real complaint we saw from users is that the pump in the bottle doesn't work so well, which can make it hard to get the last third or so of the bottle out -- but the product's performance is otherwise so great that it's worth starting another bottle, then combining the two once there's room. However, we also note that Neutrogena's Oil-Free Moisture has several types of parabens in it. For an oil-free moisturizer that's paraben-free, try Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Cream (Est. $20 for 1.7oz.), another excellent oil-free cream that we address in our section on moisturizers for sensitive skin.

If acne is your biggest concern, Cetaphil Dermacontrol (Est. $15 for 4 oz.) is an option worth consideration. Experts at Beautypedia say it's a three-in-one product for those with oily skin, offering protection and shine control in addition to hydration. Packaged in a convenient pump-style dispenser, it's fragrance-free, lightweight and offers broad-spectrum sun protection. However, its particular blend of absorbent and film-forming agents actually make it fall short on the hydration spectrum, editors say.

Cetaphil Dermacontrol also falls short in antioxidants, as well as in anti-irritants and other ingredients that can help to soothe and calm red, irritated skin. It does have small amounts of vitamin E, the anti-irritant allantoin and zinc gluconate, Beautypedia's editors say, but in such small amounts that they're not likely to make a difference. While most say it's gentle and non-irritating, a few reviewers report breakouts and irritation – and several warn that it stings if applied too close to the eyes. Overall, it's a good choice for those with oily, acne-prone skin, although it may be too harsh for those with sensitive skin. 

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Facial Moisturizers buying guide

What every best Facial Moisturizers has:

  • A combination of moisturizing and water-binding ingredients as well as humectants.
  • Soothing agents and anti-irritants.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).

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