You really shouldn’t wash your face more than twice a day. Though, when you have oily skin, that feels like an impossible scenario. You constantly want to cleanse, because you constantly need to.
Two things: First, you can train your skin to produce less oil…by washing it less. The same can be done on your scalp, by shampooing less. Really. It takes some patience for the first few weeks, but the skin does respond instinctively. If you keep removing oil, its intuition is to produce more. So you need to wash it without completely drying it out. Which leads to the second point: You should get a cleanser that is specially formulated to help oily skin. It will rinse away excess dirt and grim, unclog pores, and keep your complexion from looking like a reflection.
Here are six of our favorites for the task. They each take their own approach to the matter, but they all set you up for a more manageable experience of living with oily skin.
(Just follow them with the right oil-balancing toner and hydrating or mattifying moisturizer to further prevent shine.)
Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser
Kaolin clay seems like an odd ingredient for a cleanser, until you remember it’s also the foundation of many deep-cleaning facial masks. Jack Black combines the oil-absorbing kingpin with volcanic ash to help scrub dead cells from the surface of your skin; then, glycolic acid dissolves additional dead cells for the freshest, brightest reflection your mirror has seen. And, go figure: You can also leave the product on your face for five minutes as a deep-cleaning mask.
SiO Cleansing Discs
Swab a cleansing disc across your face for a 2-in-1 refresh: They’re loaded with glycolic and lactic acids to gently exfoliate the skin and rid pores of excess buildup. They’re alcohol free, and leave your skin hydrated and healthy despite the heavy-duty clean. If you want the full SiO experience, follow with the brand’s skin-smoothing patches to combat signs of aging—though the exfoliation from these cleansing discs helps do the same.
Aesop Amazing Face Cleanser
Lavender oil, mandarin rind, and ylang ylang are the core ingredients in Aesop’s balancing cleanser. They work in tandem to pull excess oil from the skin without compromising natural moisture levels. If you have combination skin or live in a humid climate (and thus have a persistent sweaty glow), it’s also an effective option. Round it out with the brand’s bitter orange toner and lightweight hydrating serum for a complete oil-balancing regimen.
Dove Men+Care Oil Control Body and Face Bar
Don’t you forget it: When it comes to hydrating cleansers, Dove soap is one of the best (and cheapest) options. Its Men+Care line includes this oil-controlling bar, which works as many wonders on the face as it does on the rest of you. It doubles down on excess oil and grime, but without any excess drying. That’s because Dove’s 1/4-moisturizing formula restores hydration while the soap itself cleans.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser
Oily skin can be just as sensitive as dry skin, since it’s always a balancing act as you try to maintain stasis. If you haven’t found a cleanser that keeps blemishes and oil in check, try a gentle foaming one, like Aveeno’s. It’s a soy-enriched formula that also balances the skin’s complexion, and it’s certified non-comedogenic, meaning it’s been proven to *not* clog the pores. (Believe it or not, some cleansing products out there cause more harm than good—this is not one of them.)
Vichy Pureté Thermale Foaming Cleansing Cream
Another foaming cleanser that is gentle enough for sensitive skin, though this one goes on like a hydrating cream. Vichy is known for its makeup-removing powers, so you can imagine how effective it is on dirt. It preserves the moisture levels in your skin and even combats the effects of hard water, making it as much a moisturizer as it is a cleanser. (Though you should still follow it with a hydrator, of which Vichy has a handful of excellent options.)
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