These might just be the perfect start to your skincare routine

If you find that you often have a build-up of foundation, SPF and oil that you can’t wait to get rid of at the end of the day, cleansing is probably the skincare step that you most look forward to! But it can be tricky to find a cleanser that’s up to the job, and that will really cut through the oil leaving your skin feeling fresh.

What causes oily skin?

“Oily, greasy skin is caused by overactivity of the sebaceous glands,” says Dr Derrick Phillips, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in London. “These are the oil-producing glands found in the skin, in close proximity to hair follicles. The volume of sebum (oil) produced varies between individuals and is likely to be influenced by genetic factors.”

“The sebaceous glands are stimulated by testosterone and the female hormone, progesterone. This explains the tendency towards a characteristically oily complexion during the teenage years and the inclination for acne to flare up in some women before menstruation. They may also be activated by products that cause excess drying of the skin.”

How often do I need to cleanse if I have oily skin?

In terms of how often you should cleanse, aesthetic doctor, Dr Barbara Kubicka advises that “with oily skin you should cleanse twice a day, but at a minimum once in the evening before going to sleep. If you opt to cleanse twice a day, use different cleansers. In the evening, an exfoliating cleanser (one that would typically be labelled as being for oily, combination or acne-prone skin) and something more calming and hydrating for the morning.”

How do I find a cleanser that’s right for me?

Cleansers for oily skin come in different formats from gels to foams, but most are rinse-off formulas. “Look for exfoliating cleansers that use organic fruit acids like glycolic, lactic and mandelic,” says Dr Kubicka. “Salicylic acid is another key ingredient in terms of its action in reducing sebum production, however it needs to be used with caution as it can dry out the skin causing sebum overproduction over a period of time,” she continues.

Here are some of our favourites.

Discover more great face washes for oily skin here and if you often experience breakouts, you may find our guide to the best cleansers for acne-prone skin helpful too.


Try: Clinique All About Clean Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser

• Size: 150ml

A huge win for both oily and combination skin, this foaming cream-mousse cleanser with added chamomile leaves our faces feeling clean and fresh. We love the pink packaging too.

Try: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish 100ml Starter Kit

• Size: 100ml

• Cruelty-free

An absolute classic in the world of cleansers, this pick leaves skin squeaky clean, but not stripped – all thanks to ingredients like chamomile, rose and eucalyptus which tone, soothe and purify. And, as well as eliminating excess oil and daily grime, it can even remove stubborn mascara.

Try: Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser 236ml

• Size: 236ml

• Non-comedogenic

• Soap-free

If you have oily skin and are looking for a daily cleanser, this is a great option. It removes surface oil, dirt, dead skin cells and light make-up with a gentle foaming action. Simple but effective.

Try: Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser

• Size: 147ml

Finding balance in life can be a bit tricky but, thanks to this cleanser, finding balance in your skin is more than achievable. Featuring both glycolic and lactic acid to lift dead skin cells, its deep cleansing action helps unclog pores without stripping skin. We recommend using it in the morning so that its eucalyptus scent can invigorate your senses!

Try: Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Intensive Purifying Gel

• Size: 200ml

Enriched with salicylic acid to deal with excess sebum and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, this face wash is a go-to for anyone with oily skin.

Try: Garnier Pure Active Anti-Blackhead Deep Pore Wash

• Size: 150ml

Blemishes that can be caused by having oily skin may have met their match with this face wash. It’s formulated with zinc and salicylic acid to keep them in check!

Try: Bioderma Sébium Foaming Gel

• Size: 200ml

• Non-comedogenic

• Soap-free

This face wash’s soft lather works a treat on excess sebum. A gentle – and excellent – choice for oily skin types.

Try: Kiehl's Oil Eliminator

• Size: 200ml

• Oil-free

• Non-comedogenic

Formulated for men with oily skin, this face wash contains crushed apricot seeds to gently exfoliate and reduce excess oil, dialing down shine and reducing the appearance of enlarged pores in the process.

Try: Boots Ingredients Salicylic Acid Cleanser

• Size: 50ml

• Cruelty-free

Refresh your routine with a deep cleanse and leave your skin looking visibly less oily. Just a small amount goes a long way with this non-drying formula.

Try: Boots Skin Clear Cleanser with Salicylic Acid

• Size: 145ml

• Vegan

A gentle sweep with a cotton pad over blemish-prone skin with this cleanser will leave your face feeling fresher. Ideal for removing make-up and giving the appearance of tighter pores.