Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Gopika Suresh (Journalist) on 20th Oct 2020

How to choose the best moisturizer for oily skin 

choose the best moisturizer

Why must you use a moisturizer?  

Moisturiser keeps your skin healthy and hydrated as it forms a protective barrier. Although there is a ton of talk about moisturizer usage, most experts recommend its daily use. Along with having a good diet, exercise, and less stress, it is essential to pick a moisturizer that matches your skin tone and hydrates your skin. It is necessary for an efficient skincare regime.  

Should you moisturize oily skin?  

According to Dr. Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and author of Skin Rules.

Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, although oily skin requires the least moisture, it is still important to moisturize and hydrate it.  

What are the different skin types, and which one are you?  

For maintaining a good skincare regimen, one must apply moisturizer everyday and sunscreen, too, for protection against free radicals and the ultraviolet rays from the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using moisturizer on damp skin; this helps to lock the moisture.

However, your skincare regime (including moisturizer) must be altered according to your skin type. It depends on several factors, like genetics and diet.

There exist five main categories of skin types, one of which is yours. The most common skin type is combination skin type. It is essential to be aware of what you are applying to your face; it could be a bad idea to slather a heavy moisturizer on oily skin. Instead, you may opt for a lighter one as you already have more than enough sebum production on your skin.  

Determine your skin type: 

  • Dry skin - Those with dry skin will benefit from using an oil-based and heavier moisturizer   
  • Oily skin - Those with oily skin look for water-based, lighter moisturizers  
  • Mature skin - This skin type requires oil-based moisturizers that will lock the moisture when the skin has aged 
  • Sensitive skin - Those with sensitive skin should look for soothing ingredients like aloe vera and others that will not be harsh on the skin  
  • Normal/Combination skin - It is best to stick to a light, water-based moisturizer if you have combination or normal skin  

You don't need to worry if you're not sure about what your skin type is. You could do this simple test - press a tissue paper piece to different regions on your face. After you notice how much oil is on the paper, you could determine your skin type.  

What kind of moisturizers and ingredients must those with oily skin use?

Dr. Jaliman says that a lighter product like a hydrating lotion or serum may work better on oily skin than heavier creams. Even if it is a lightweight moisturizer, you will have to look into whether it will suit your oily skin type. Look for effective ingredients that can hydrate your skin without causing excess production of sebum.

One of Dr. Jaliman's favorite moisturizing ingredients for oily skin is hyaluronic acid. It is called one of the most natural moisturizers. It is lightweight—hyaluronic acid attracts moisture to the skin without clogging pores, resulting in smoother, supple, and softer looking skin.

You may also look for products made of niacinamide. It does wonders for oily skin and is recommended by several experts. Salicylic acid also helps with the control of excess sebum.  

Exclusive Minimalist advice:

Use Salicylic Acid before bed.
Start with a small frequency, around once every two days. After this, you may use it every day.

Niacinamide can be used daily.
For those who suffer from oily, acne-prone skin with scars, Kojic acid can be used daily. However, use it only if you have spots.

Check out Minimalist's 2% Salicylic acid that acts as a daily gentle exfoliator leaving your skin squeaky clean. 

Choosing between fragrance-free vs. unscented moisturizers


A fragrance-free product means that no additional fragrances have been added. However, even in the case of fragrance-free products, they are not 100% fragrance-free. For example, manufacturing products like essential oils, the natural fragrances present are not listed. Most perfumes in the market are synthetically made and don't reveal toxins that could cause adverse skin allergies and reactions.   


Unscented products may also have fragrances. Sometimes, to compensate for unpleasant odors of chemicals, other synthetic scents may be added. However, in a few people, they could trigger allergic reactions. Several so-called "natural" ingredients may also be present on the ingredient list as disguised as fragrances.  

Active vs. Inactive Ingredients

Active ingredients, in simple words, do what the product is intended to. A moisturizer that claims to contain sun protection factor may contain titanium oxide, which acts as a protectant from harmful UV rays. In the same example, inactive ingredients help but don't necessarily block out the sun rays. Instead, they assist in the creation of the final product.

Why should those with oily skin go for non-comedogenic moisturizers?  

If you have oily skin, it is crucial to look for a non-comedogenic moisturizer. A product that claims that it is non-clogging or oil-free is non-comedogenic. This product would be capable of moisturizing your skin without clogging pores.  

Choosing hypoallergenic moisturizers for oily skin  

Hypoallergenic products are those that cause fewer allergic reactions among consumers. Moreover, do not get too excited if you see this word. It does not guarantee 100% safety. In some cases, products that do not claim hypoallergenic may be safer than those that do. Most of the time, cosmetic guidelines are not as rigid as they should be. When products claim to be hypoallergenic, the FDA doesn't require them to prove the claims.

So, if you've had a common reaction in the past from using specific ingredients, check for them every time you buy a new product. By law, manufacturers are required to mention all their ingredients on the label. Hence, you could avoid the allergic ones.  

Minimalist tips on moisturizing oily skin

We understand that managing oily skin is tricky, and there may be times you prayed for a different skin type. But, remember that oily skin has a huge plus - while your dry skin counterparts may show wrinkles, you can go a long time without those!  

Yes, oily skin ages slower and much better! So, if you take care of the breakouts, excess oil production, whiteheads and blackheads, you are good to go.  

We guided you as to how to pick a moisturizer for oily skin. Check out the following tips.  

Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet 

Although you may have heard this since times immemorial, this rule has stuck around for a good reason. Water detoxifies your skin, and it is crucial to flush out toxins from the body. Whatever skincare you invest in, not having a great diet and dehydration will show its signs as it makes the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to grow. So remember to have healthy, nutritious food and at least three to four liters of water a day. 

Clean makeup brushes and pillowcases

Make it a point to regularly clean up your makeup tools and brushes, sponges, and pillowcases. These are breeding grounds for bacteria that can clog your pores, resulting in breakouts. So, do what you can to avoid acne, remove the dirt from the above three.

Sometimes, you may follow all the above tips and still suffer from acne. There is a possibility that this could be due to stress, hormonal imbalance, and environmental factors, which lead to excess oil production. So, make it a pointer to surround yourself with a clean environment both mentally and physically. It may sometimes be challenging, with the lifestyle that most of us share today. However, remember to live life with a positive mindset as much as possible, not just for the skin but your whole body.