10 Of The Most Effective Cleansers For Oily Skin, Starting From Under £10

·8-min read
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We’d be naive to think acne and breakouts are limited to our teenage years; it can still plague many well into adulthood, especially if you have oilier skin.

Sound familiar? It might be time to take a look at your cleansing routine. We’ve found the best cleansers for oily skin designed to combat greasy T-zones, be kind to blemish-prone skin, and even help calm redness.

Take a look at our top recommendations:

The best cleansers for oily skin

What causes oily skin?

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why some have desert-dry skin while others struggle with oiliness. Hormones will always play a part, especially if you’re changing contraception or going through menopause.

"Hormones in the body - particularly progesterone and testosterone - have a significant effect on sebum production in the skin at different points in the menstrual cycle,” explains Dr Ejikeme, Founder and Medical Director of Adonia Medical Clinic.

“Most notably in the second half of the cycle when progesterone rises, leading to an increase in sebum. Right before menstruation, oestrogen and progesterone fall and testosterone predominates, which can also increase sebum production in the skin. During the menopause, there are a number of changes in the hormones which can lead to breakouts."

Acne and oily skin can go hand in hand, too. Dr Ejikeme explains what can make it worse: “Acne is primarily driven by genetics but there are environmental aspects that can precipitate or aggravate it. These include occlusive oils, over exfoliation, stress, poor sleep and high sugar diets. When spots do occur, touching and squeezing them can make things worse,”

What ingredients help prevent oily skin?

If you suffer from spots at that time of the month, or you can’t seem to mattify your t-zone no matter the weather, chances are you’re going to need a cleanser that caters specifically to oily skin.

If you don’t want to overcomplicate things, there’s one ingredient you should look out for: salicylic acid.

Dr Ejikeme advises choosing a cleanser with this skincare ingredient: “salicylic acid is a key ingredient for acne. Choose 2% cleansers and use through the week ensuring you do not over-strip the skin”.

How often should you cleanse your face if you have oily skin?

It might be tempting to over-wash your face to prevent a greasy t-zone but cleansing too often can cause damage. Vigorously scrubbing or washing your skin can lead to stripping, which in turn makes your skin produce even more oil.

More oil ultimately ends up in a breakout, so it’s a chicken and egg situation. “Acne is not caused by unclean skin. If you have acne-prone skin you should cleanse just as much as everyone else. Twice a day for 30 seconds. It’s important to effectively cleanse to ensure makeup, sunscreen, sweat, pollution and debris are removed from the skin, reducing the risk of these leading to inflammation or occlusion of a pore” says Dr Ejikeme.

How we test

In the Women’s Health Lab, our panel of over 470 testers with mild to extremely oily, blemished skin tried 34 brands of face wash formulated for all ages and skin types for four weeks.

They assessed the quality of the product, how clean it left skin, how well it helped control oil and blemishes, and whether it left the skin feeling dehydrated. They also assessed the packaging and how easy it was to use.

10 of the best cleansers for oily skin

1. Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser

Best for oil control


We want to look glowing, not oily - big difference. This helped banish excess oiliness and remove any dead skin cells, to leave testers with smoother skin. Overall, they spotted healthier, clearer skin with excess sebum being kept at bay - so much so that testers stopped getting shiny throughout the day. You can thank us later.

Key specifications
Volume:
175ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
Yes
Best suited to:
Oily skin


2. Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Purifying Cleansing Gel

Best for blemish control

Created to slough away everything from dust to dirt to pollution particles, testers loved this cleanser’s gel texture for how fresh it left faces feeling. After continued use, testers said skin looked clearer and they experienced less dreaded breakouts by the end of the trial. It also helped rebalance oiliness and improve texture, without leaving skin uncomfortable or dry.

Key specifications
Volume: 200ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
Yes
Best suited to:
Oily or sensitive skin

3. CeraVe Foaming Cleanser

Best foaming cleanser

You don’t have to be an avid TikTok-er to know this brand delivers good-skin results. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid and three essential ceramides, to help protect the skin’s delicate barrier, while niacinamide targets pesky breakouts. It gently foams up to wash away oil and dirt and testers found it helped clear any blemishes and left skin feeling restored. All for under a tenner - not bad!

Key specifications
Volume: 136ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
No
Best suited to:
Normal to oily skin

4. Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel

Best for calming redness

If breakouts aren't bad enough, the resulting redness can also add to frustrations. This calming cleanser creates a creamy lather, which doesn’t leave skin feeling stripped, and soothes inflammation and spots. Testers saw some added plumpness to skin, too (which is always a welcomed bonus!).

Key specifications
Volume: 200ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
No
Best suited to:
Oily skin

5. Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Gel Cleanser

Best for sensitive skin

This one includes salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the skin and work to minimise the appearance of blemishes. It’s a thicker texture than others here but created a rich lather once applied, which testers said provided a luxe feeling. It was gentle, yet provided results almost immediately on reducing shine, and left testers with clearer, healthier skin by the end of the trial.

Key specifications
Volume:
150ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
Yes
Best suited to:
Oily

6. Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

Best for rebalancing

This mix of aloe vera, chamomile and salicylic acid aims to balance the skin while calming any redness. When massaged into the skin, it creates an almost silk-like texture, which did a great job at melting away leftover make-up. It rebalanced combination skin, leaving a radiant finish, without leaving testers looking greasy.

Key specifications
Volume: 177ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
Yes
Best suited to:
Oily, acne-prone

7. REN Clearcalm Clarifying Clay Cleanser

Best for minimising the look of pores

As much as we would love it to be true, it’s a beauty myth that you can shrink the size of your pores. But what can you do to minimise their appearance? This cleanser claims to have the answer with kaolin clay, which removes dirt, and willow bark extract, which targets the pores. We found it really did have an effect on how noticeable pores looked and it quickly helped clear up blemishes and excess oil. Overall, skin was left purified and brighter.

Key specifications
Volume:
150ml
Texture:
Liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
No
Best suited to:
Oily

8. Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash

Best exfoliating cleanser

Here, the exfoliating duo of salicylic acid and beta hydroxy acid work to unclog pores and lift any dead skin cells, while balm mint and tea tree oil target blemishes - resulting in one powerful oil-combatting formula! Testers loved how soft it left skin feeling and the added plumpness it provided. When it came to redness, testers noticed spots reduced in size, leaving them with smoother skin, with no tightness in sight.

Key specifications
Volume:
250ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
Yes
Best suited to:
Mature skin

9. Kate Somerville Eradikate Daily Foaming Cleanse

Best for a second cleanse

If you love the foaming sensation of a face wash, try this hardworking cleanser. The mousse-like texture provided skin with a deep cleanse - so much so that it managed to remove any traces of make-up. It helped improve oil-slick t-zones too, all while reducing redness and adding glow. Testers also noticed less breakouts by the end of the trial.

Key specifications
Volume: 120ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
No
Best suited to:
Oily skin

10. Murad Clarifying Cleanser

Best for a deep cleanse

We want our faces to feel clean but not tight and uncomfortable. This cleanser has found a great middle ground, helping to remove dirt and oil while leaving skin feeling fresh and moisturised. It provided a thorough cleanse that managed to control oiliness, which as a result helped tackle any giant spots that were previously seen as untouchable.

Key specifications
Volume: 200ml
Texture:
Foaming liquid-gel
Exfoliating:
Yes
Best suited to:
Oily skin

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