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Best Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin

By: Lisa Maloney on May 16, 2017

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.  

Most face moisturizers intended for use on oily skin are, themselves, oil-free. One of the best 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). It also works well for sensitive, dry and acne-prone skin.

The one skin type Neutrogena's Oil-Free Moisture doesn't work for is 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. "It's a lightweight, non-smelly, no-fuss moisturizer at a good price point," writes Natalie Matthews, senior editor of Elle.com.

The only real complaint we saw is that the pump in the bottle doesn't work so well, and 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. $17 for 1.7oz.), another excellent oil-free cream that we address in our section on moisturizers for sensitive skin.

If your skin is particularly acne-prone, our recommended product is La Roche-Posay Toleriane Fluide (Est. $30 for 1.35 oz.). Based on extensive user feedback, TotalBeauty.com named this their number one favorite face moisturizer. It is oil-free, preservative-free and also fragrance-free, all of which means it works well for a wide variety of skin types that are prone to acne breakouts, including oily skin, sensitive skin, and "problem" skin concerns including rosacea.

The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Fluide moisturizer formula feels lightweight and, most importantly according to readers with sensitive, acne-prone skin, it doesn't sting or worsen redness when it goes on. In fact, sometimes it even helps reduce skin redness. It's also available in a cream  that users say is especially helpful for very dry skin, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche Daily Soothing Nourishing Face Cream for Sensitive Skin (Est. $30 for 1.35 oz.).

If you prefer sticking to products made of natural ingredients, the 99 percent natural Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions (Est. $18 for 2 oz.) daily moisturizer also draws good reviews from users with acne-prone skin. It contains 1 percent salicylic acid and natural BHA (a pore-cleansing exfoliant) from willow bark extract. It does contain sunflower seed oil, so it's too heavy for oily skin. But if your skin is dry or normal, users say that this product can help soothe away acne breakouts while also giving your skin a dewy glow.

Once Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions soaks in, it'll give you a nice, dewy glow. But heads up: Users say this product can feel a little heavy or even greasy on your skin at first, so always err on the side of using it sparingly -- and if you're planning to wear it under makeup, do a practice run first to make sure it won't change the color or texture of your makeup. The natural fragrance is a potential irritant that keeps us from recommending this for sensitive skin, and has been described variously as smelling like citronella or simply "weird." It's light enough, however, that even users who don't love the scent are willing to cope, as long as this product helps with their acne breakouts.

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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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