There’s a fine line between dewy supermodel skin and a slick of sheen. Especially when that greasy mess gets worse as the day wears on, leaving planet-sized pores in its wake. One way to outsmart oily skin is to re-evaluate your skincare. It makes sense that the best moisturiser for oily skin should be water-based and light enough to be inspired by K-beauty’s gels.
‘Combatting oiliness is a tricky business,’ explains dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. ‘If in doubt, look for the words ‘oil-free’ and ‘non-comedogenic’ on the packaging as this means it won’t clog pores.’
Water-based skincare is a good option
Moisturising may seem counterintuitive, but oily skin can still get dehydrated. This is especially true if you are also using acne products to quell breakouts.
‘Many anti-acne products dry out the skin,’ explains consultant dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong. ‘It’s important to rehydrate it in order to prevent sebum levels going into overdrive to compensate for this dryness.’
Enter this option: water-packed gels, which never suffocate the skin.
‘What the water does is act as a vehicle to transport other actives in the product so they penetrate the skin better,’ says Benedicte Le Bris, head of research and development at L’Occitane. ‘At the same time, the gel traps the water so it doesn’t evaporate at room temperature.’
Another benefit of gels is that the watery consistency delivers a hit of hydration without blocking pores. Something that makes it ideal for acne sufferers but also helps along all skins prone to oiliness. ‘This is because gels are free from the fatty ingredients that normally make moisturisers creamy,’ explains Le Bris.
Many also boast sponge-like ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. These are oily skin saviours as they hold on to vast amounts of water, effectively plumping up fine lines and shuttling lost moisture back into dry skin.
And the icing on the cake? Gels play well under make-up, leaving no sticky residue on the skin.
Best moisturiser for oily skin and open pores
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about this gel-cream formula is that it dampens shine but still leaves skin with a hint of dewiness. It’s spiked with a marine extract to reduce oiliness, while willow bark and niacinamide get to work improving the appearance of gaping pores. Side bar: if your pores are very large it may be worth looking into microdermabrasion if you’re keen to reduce their noticeability for the long-term.
Best moisturiser for oily skin with SPF
A non-greasy moisturiser with a decent SPF is like the unicorn of skincare. This one tops our wishlist as it is a fast absorbing gel that is also oil-free, non-comedogenic and contains hyaluronic acid, which hydrates without heavy emollients.
So if the thought of treating oily skin makes you break out in a sweat, this tailored arsenal of skincare will help…
More of the best moisturisers for oily skin
Much like a souffle in texture, it's packed with ceramides to lock in moisture, and antioxidants to protect against pollution. Afterwards, skin glows rather than shines.
At one time, oils were your go-to for locking in hydration. Now water treated with a special solution of amino acids and osmolytes (compounds used by cells to hold on to fluid) draws moisture to the skin like a magnet for up to five days.
This hydrating gel hits the sweetspot with hydrating glycerin and cactus flower plus a consistency that liquifies and sinks into the skin the more you swirl it around your face.
Serious about hydration but not keen on the oily side effects? Here a calcium-rich mineral water, which controls the skin’s sebum, joins forces with hyaluronic acid and glycerin for moisture with zero shine.
Laura Mercier's primers are world famous for creating a fresh matte finish. So it makes sense that the brand has created an oil-mopping moisturiser to work alongside them (or replace them if you prefer a minimal approach to make-up). The water-based formula feels instantly cooling to the touch and smells heavenly thanks to the French lavender floral water and honey, which control surface oil.
This offers the best of all worlds. Capsules in the cream burst on contact with skin, allowing powdered clay, sea minerals and kelp to defy grease and tiny spheres of moisture to be propelled into the deep layers. Win-win.
The translucent formula may be lightweight but the ingredients certainly aren’t. No fewer than 5,000 teeny droplets encapsulate fresh camellia cells in their purest form until the moment of application.
Hyaluronic acid molecules in varying sizes work even harder on every skin level when paired with pure water sourced from Korea’s volcanic Jeju Island. Consider this your antidote to winter Shar Pei skin.
This works quickly on contact with the skin to beat shine. Avocado lightly hydrates while
oil-absorbing powders prevent the re-appearance of a greasy T-zone for up to 10 hours.
Shisedo's Waso range is aimed at younger skin. But, honestly, anyone will reap the mattifying benefits of this gel with a sebum-absorbing powder inside.
Once you get past the strangely addictive elastic texture, a combination of sparkling water and alpinia galangal – an aqueous extract from the leaves of an Asian plant – restores bounce to crumpled complexions.
The light matte finish is all the more impressive thanks to La Roche-Posay’s ‘sebulyse technology’, which targets excess oil, perlite to mop it up and a lightly exfoliating hydroxy acid to keep pores clear.
Trust us when we say the price tag is totally worth it here. 100% natural and made with 40 high-performance ingredients, the lightweight formula works to clarify the surface layers of oily skin.
Deeply rooted in Korean tradition, this cream uses natural Korean bamboo powder to create a velvety matte finish while also protecting the skin barrier from drying out.
If you have oily skin, chances are you also suffer from regular spots. Vichy's day moisturiser contains glycolic acid to exfoliate, while salicylic acid works as an antiseptic to reduce the inflammation of a zit.
Excessive oiliness can indicate that your skin is out of whack after using an overly harsh anti-ageing product. This weightless formula delivers everything skin needs to get back on track: antioxidants and niacinamide to protect skin from environmental stressors and minimise the appearance of pores.
Imagine having moisturised skin three days after washing your face. Actually you don’t have to – Clinique has made it happen with a formula rich in aloe water, hyaluronic acid and an invisible film over the skin’s surface to seal everything in.