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Oily Skin? These 13 Moisturizers Deliver Hydration Without The Shine

mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

By Hannah Frye

mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.

Image by PeopleImages / iStock

Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

July 27, 2022

Here’s a not-so-surprising fact: Those with oily skin still need to moisturize daily. If you avoid moisturizing your skin, it will produce even more sebum (aka oil) to hydrate itself. As a result, that overproduction of sebum can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

Instead, you should hydrate your skin right after cleansing to get ahead of this process. Whether you’re oily all over, have oily and dry areas (i.e. combination skin), or are simply looking for a lighter formula to slather on during the warmer months, here are the very best hydrators that serve just the right amount of shine.

Ingredients to look for:

When we asked board-certified dermatologist Jenny Liu, M.D., FAAD, which ingredients are best for oily skin, she suggested looking for something with water-based ingredients, like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. These humectants are super lightweight and can add slip to the formula, which helps give it that airy feel.

In addition, ingredients like niacinamide, green tea, and salicylic acid can help control sebum production, Liu says. Niacinamide, in particular, helps balance sebum production and acne-prone skin (while oily skin doesn’t automatically mean you’re acne-prone, the skin types do tend to go hand in hand): One study showed that applying a topical formula of 4% niacinamide treated moderate acne just as well as 1% of a topical antibiotic.

Salicylic acid, of course, is the oil-soluble BHA we know and love: It can break through oily skin and penetrate deep inside the pores to help unclog them at the source. As a result, it can help exfoliate the skin and remove excess oil, as well as balance sebum levels in the skin.

How we picked:

Clean + effective ingredients

We look for moisturizers with clean and naturally-derived ingredients that contribute to maintaining healthy skin. If there’s something in a formula we don’t love, we’ll call it out.

Expert-guided

We consulted skin care experts to guide our picks. This way, we’re finding options with dermatologist-backed ingredients. Some of these picks have even been recommended directly by our expert source.

Tried + tested

Our beauty team has tested a number of these products. When that wasn’t possible, we searched authenticated customer reviews to bring you accurate information about the sensorial experience.

Variety

While all of these picks are great for oily skin, some are better for certain skin concerns than others. Below you’ll find picks for those with sensitive, acne-prone, and mature skin. In addition, we offer budget-friendly options for those looking to save without compromising on quality.

mbg’s picks for the best moisturizers for oily skin

Best overall: Youth to The People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

Youth to The People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

VIEW ON Youth to The People | $48VIEW ON Sephora | $48

Pro:

Contains vitamins & antioxidants

Con:

May not be the best for winter months

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Green tea, Vitamins C, E, & K

Formula & finish: Gel cream, Natural

This award-winning moisturizer is packed to the brim with skin-loving ingredients that help balance combination and oily skin. The lightweight consistency truly resembles a whip rather than a cream, which those with excess oil production often crave. The quick-absorbing formula consists of hyaluronic acid to help retain moisture without leaving residue, green tea for an antioxidant boost, and vitamin-packed kale extract. All around, this one is a winner for us and countless YTP users who report an empty jar again and again.

Best tinted: Saie Beauty Slip Tint

Saie Beauty Slip Tint

VIEW ON Saie Beauty | $35VIEW ON Sephora | $35

Pro:

Tint helps even out complexion and texture

Con:

Not suitable for vegans as it contains beeswax

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Pansy flower, Licorice root extract

Formula & finish: Liquid, Dewey

If you want to combine a few steps into one, say hello to your dream product. This product contains SPF along with key hydrators, antioxidants, brightening extracts, and mineral SPF. The formula literally slips onto the skin, helping to mask uneven texture and tone. We love the wide shade range, dynamic formula, and blurring effect of this multifunctional product.

Best gel: Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer

Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer

VIEW ON Sephora | $39VIEW ON Glow Recipe | $39

Pro:

Doubles as makeup primer

Con:

Strong fragrance may bother some

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Licorice root extract, Watermelon extract

Formula & finish: Natural

If you enjoy the sensorial experience of natural fragrance in skin care, you’ve got to try this one. The weightless formula soaks into the skin leaving behind a plump, hydrated look. What’s more, the watermelon extract and other antioxidant ingredients help to brighten complexion over time, working as more than just a hydration boost. While this product is A+ for oily skin, it can also be used as a pre-moisturizing serum for those with dry skin or for someone looking for an extra boost of hydration in the wintertime.

Best budget: Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel Cream

Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel Cream

VIEW ON Versed | $15VIEW ON Target | $15

Pro

Affordable

Con

Complaints of a slightly sticky texture

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Green tea, Aloe vera

Formula & finish: Gel cream, Dewey

We are obsessed with this budget-friendly pick. Hero ingredients include hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract, and green tea. (That’s a pretty impressive trio for a product under $20.) The gel cream leaves the skin feeling as hydrated, cooled, and bouncy as ever without feeling too heavy. Upon application, it glides onto the skin like a feather, yet still offers deep hydration that lasts. For those spending time in the sun, this moisturizer is a top pick for your post-sun skin care routine to help ease redness and restore the barrier thanks to aloe vera extract. What’s more, the antioxidants found in green tea help to fight off free radicals.

Best drugstore pick: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

VIEW ON Amazon | $20VIEW ON Neutrogena | $24

Pro:

Great for makeup prep

Con:

Contains silicones

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

Formula & finish: Natural, Gel

If you’re scanning the drugstore shelves for a lightweight moisturizer, reach for this water gel. The formula is lightweight but oh-so-hydrating. Hyaluronic acid works overtime in this product to deliver a bouncy, plump look after each use. Bonus: The finish is perfect to prep the skin for makeup. Just note that the formula does contain silicones, which may not be the best for acne-prone skin.

Best with SPF: Supergoop Matte Screen

Supergoop Matte Screen

VIEW ON Supergoop | $38VIEW ON Sephora | $38

Pro

Contains SPF

Con

Should be layered over another moisturizer

Key Ingredients: Reef-safe mineral SPF 40, Wild butterfly ginger, Bamboo extract

Formula & finish: Cream, Matte

Some mattifying products can dry out the skin, but this sunscreen is an exception. The oil-free cream helps to absorb excess oil resulting in a balanced yet natural finish that’s perfect for those days in the sun sans makeup. Plus, it contains wild butterfly ginger and bamboo extracts, which help protect the skin from blue light and free radicals in the environment. Just remember that this formula should be layered over another lightweight moisturizer to ensure the skin is hydrated–but it won’t take away from the matte finish.

Best night cream: Tatcha The Water Cream

Tatcha The Water Cream

VIEW ON Tatcha | $69VIEW ON Sephora | $69

Pro:

Powerful antioxidant blend

Con:

Expensive

Key Ingredients: Hadasei-3 Complex, Japanese Leopard Lily, Japanese Wild Rose

Formula & finish: Natural, Cream

While something lightweight may be your best bet for managing an oily complexion during the day, you should opt for something deeply hydrating in the evening. The beauty of this water cream is that it does both: While the consistency is lightweight, your skin will be drinking up essential nutrients. Tatcha’s signature Hadasei-3 Complex includes a trio of antioxidant-rich Japanese superfoods that work in combination to detoxify the skin and replenish essential moisture.

Best for acne-prone skin: Skinfix Barrier+ Skin Barrier Niacinamide Restoring Gel Cream

Skinfix Barrier+ Skin Barrier Niacinamide Restoring Gel Cream

VIEW ON Sephora | $48

Pro:

Helps balance the microbiome

Con:

May not be hydrating enough for some

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Zinc PCA, Peptides

Formula & finish: Gel cream, Natural to matte

Selecting a moisturizer can be a fear-inducing process for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It’s a valid concern, as there are plenty of common ingredients that can exacerbate breakouts–but none of those are in this moisturizer. In fact, this gel cream contains ingredients specifically chosen to help prevent more blemishes from popping up. Niacinamide helps to hydrate and brighten the skin while encouraging a healthy oil production balance. Saccharide Isomerate works as a humectant and emollient, encouraging a healthy skin barrier while peptides maintain a healthy microbiome–all important factors when it comes to encouraging clear, hydrated skin.

Best water-based: Origins GinZing Oil-Free Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer

Origins GinZing Oil-Free Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer

VIEW ON Origins | $36VIEW ON Sephora | from $24

Pro:

Lightweight consistancy

Con:

Not the best for sensitive skin

Key Ingredients: Caffine, Ginseng, Jojoba butter

Formula & finish: Natural, Gel

This moisturizer feels like a breath of fresh air–and it’s not just the aroma of citrus. The gel formula contains caffeine and ginseng to encourage a wide-awake look to the skin. Shea and jojoba butter work together to return moisture to the skin (and lock it in) without leaving behind a film. Plus, grapefruit and orange peel extracts help brighten the skin while also leaving behind a divine scent.

Best for sensitive skin: Eadem Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer

Eadem Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer

VIEW ON Eadem | $58VIEW ON Sephora | $58

Pro:

Helps brighten dark spots

Con:

Consistency may be too thick for some

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Peptides, Phytoceramides

Formula & finish: Natural, Cream

Those with sensitive skin should avoid chemical exfoliants or intense brightening serums, as many of those formulas can cause irritation or reactive complexions. The downside? These ingredients often help combat dark spots. Luckily, Eadem created a powerful product that combats dark spots without harsh ingredients. A blend of three different plant ceramides and peptides help to restore the barrier, lighten dark spots, and visibly brighten and even skin tone, ever-so-gently. Those prone to shine should also consider this formula; a boost of niacinamide absorb excess oil, keeping skin balanced.

Best splurge: SkinCeuticals Daily Moisturizer

SkinCeuticals Daily Moisturizer

VIEW ON SkinCeuticals | $66VIEW ON Blue Mercury | $66

Pro:

Helps minimize the appearance of pores

Con:

Expensive

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Panthenol, Algae extracts

Formula & finish: Natural, Cream

Like all products by SkinCeuticals, this moisturize is an investment–but it’s well worth the price tag. Formulated with normal and oily skin in mind, the lightweight daily moisturizer both minimizes the appearance of pores and balances excess sebum to reduce shine. The hydrators? A trio blend of algae extracts that helps to nourish and hydrate the skin; a botanical extract cocktail that supports a smooth complexion; and panthenol and hyaluronic help to ease and hydrate stressed-out skin without leaving a greasy residue. Bonus: This one is safe for acne-prone skin as well.

Best for mature skin: Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer

Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer

VIEW ON Farmacy | $42VIEW ON Amazon | $42

Pro:

Great antioxidant blend

Con:

Not the best for acne-prone skin

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide, Antioxidants

Formula & finish: Dewey, Gel

Accelerated skin aging can be caused by a number of factors, including keeping the skin in an extended state of oxidative stress. To mitigate this, we call upon antioxidant-free-radical fighters. In this moisturizer, papaya and moringa extracts do just that, making it a great pick for mature skin. Galacturonic acid and niacinamide balance and absorb oil, while hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid plump the skin for a visibly hydrated, youthful glow. The result? A moisturizer so good that one editor can’t stop raving about it.

Best for enlarged pores: Olehenriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturizer

Olehenriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturizer

VIEW ON Olehenriksen | $46VIEW ON Sephora | $46

Pro:

Exfoliating ingredients

Con:

Not the best for sensitive skin

Key Ingredients: Green tea, Salicylic acid, Alpine Willow extract

Formula & finish: Natural, Cream

Olehenriksen’s entire balance line is a dream for oily skin, including this moisturizer. The formula helps to clear pores while balancing the complexion. Salicylic acid helps to loosen pore-clogging dead skin cells while a blend of botanicals like green tea, algae, and moss extracts helps to absorb excess oil. Worried about a shiny finish? Alpine Willow extracts has you covered; it deeply nourish the skin without adding a sheen.

The takeaway.

Even though it may not feel like it, oily skin does need proper hydration. When looking for a moisturizer, keep an eye out for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to hydrate and balance the skin. And if you want even more top-tier moisturizers fit for every skin type, check out this roundup.

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