Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser Review and Ingredients Analysis

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser is basically the oily skin version of its famous Gentle Skin Cleanser, and if you've read my previous review on Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, you'll know that I hold it in high regard for being exactly what it says on the bottle - a gentle cleanser suitable for sensitive skin. I've been trying the Oily Skin Cleanser lately, and I'm glad to say, it also lives up to its expectations too!

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser: The oily-skin version of Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

I've been a diehard user of the original Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser over the years, and the Oily Skin Cleanser was a newer addition to my skincare routine. Like the original Gentle Skin Cleanser, the Oily Skin Cleanser also isn't harsh, and also a pretty good choice for sensitive skin, too. But, there are some differences between the two, which we'll explore in a bit more detail as we move through the review.

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser Review
Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser: Like the Gentle version, it cleanses without being harsh

Of course, we're going to begin this review by looking at the ingredients list, in order to better understand what's in the cleanser and how it works!

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser Ingredients
Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser Ingredients

The ingredients in the Oily Skin Cleanser are water, surfactants (PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Laureth Sulphate), which are basically your cleansing agents. These are gentle surfactants, and some of them have emollient properties and can also serve as thickeners, too. So as far as cleansing power goes, this isn't going to be a harsh or stripping cleanser - it's probably going to be fairly mild.

There are also other functional ingredients like thickeners (Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer) to get the texture of the cleanser right, and humectants (Glycerin, Butylene Glycol), skin conditioning agents (Panthenol), and emollients (Hydrogenated Castor Oil), which impart moisturizing properties to the product. Lastly there are also viscosity controlling agents (Disodium EDTA), which aid in product texture, and preservatives (Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben), which are necessary for the product to remain safe to use without spoiling.

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser pH Test
Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser has a pH of 5.5, which is close to the skin's own pH

To be doubly-sure that the Oily Skin Cleanser wasn't going to be harsh on skin, I also subjected it to a pH test with my handy pH strips! As you know, water has a neutral pH of 7, while anything with a higher pH is alkaline, and thus could be harsh on our skin, which is slightly acidic with a pH of around 5.5. Cleansers are often alkaline because of the detergents in them, so for some people, particularly those with skins that are sensitive to high pH cleansers, finding a cleanser with the right pH can be a challenge, as high pH cleansers can disrupt the acid mantle of the skin.

I tested the Oily Skin Cleanser's pH both by itself straight out of the bottle, as well as mixed in with some tap water (to mimic actual use), and both times, the pH of the Oily Skin Cleanser was 5.5 This is fantastic for a cleanser, and definitely surpassed my expectations! So kudos to Cetaphil for producing a cleanser with a pH that's pretty much identical to the natural pH of our skin! So if you have sensitive skin, this is a cleanser that won't cause any issues.

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser Review Face Wash
Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser: A clear water-based lotion that lathers and rinses off cleanly

Now that we've looked at the formula and the ingredients of the Oily Skin Cleanser, let's take a look at the actual aesthetics of the product! The cleanser itself is actually a clear water-based lotion, which is different from the Gentle Skin Cleanser which is opaque and a bit more like a moisturizer in texture. This has a texture that is more in line with what you might expect a cleanser to look like.

When I used the Oily Skin Cleanser, I did find that it was surprisingly good at removing light makeup, although if you are wearing heavier makeup you might wish to use a separate makeup remover to save you some time. It definitely has stronger cleansing powers than the Gentle Skin Cleanser, but doesn't strip my skin or leave it feeling tight and dry. I also found that it foams and lathers pretty well, which is also something different from the Gentle Skin Cleanser, which doesn't lather much. It also rinses off cleanly, without leaving any residue on my skin. So this is perfect for people with combination to oily skin that requires a greater cleansing power, but still needs the gentle treatment of sensitive skin. It's also a great fuss-free cleanser too, since it lathers easily, has a light water-based lotion texture, and is easily rinsed off with no residue.

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser Review Open
Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser: A great cleanser that balances the need for removing dirt and oils, with the need to treat sensitive skin gently

Would I recommend the Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser? I certainly would. This is a cleanser that strikes a great balance all around - it does work to clean and remove oils and dirt from the skin quite effectively, yet unlike most cleansers for oily skin it is also quite gentle, with gentle surfactants, and a pH of 5.5, which is close to the skin's own pH. It also is quite aesthetically elegant to use, as it rinses well and does foam when used. Often, people with oily skin tend to face some challenges when finding a good cleanser - normal cleansers might not provide enough cleansing power, but at the same time, some cleansers for oily skin can be too harsh. The Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser really does a good job of balancing both considerations, making it good for people with oily, sensitive skin. And it's easily available and affordable as well, making this a great daily staple even if you're on a budget.
Recommended? Formulation Packaging Ease of Use Effectiveness
Yes, a great cleanser for oily, sensitive skin 9/10 8/10 9/10 9/10
The Bottom Line: Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser is formulated to remove dirt and oil effectively. It is also gentle enough for sensitive skin, making it a great staple for oily, sensitive skin.

(This is a sponsored review. Review is my complete and honest opinion.)


  1. My sister swears by Cetaphil since she has extremely sensitive skin. I did not know that they had a cleanser designed for oily skin, though! Shall definitely be looking into it. Thanks for the article!

  2. This I got to try. I have sensitive skin and having a hard time finding a cleanser that won't harm my skin. I will be checking on this.......

  3. I've tried the gentle cleanser but it causing me to have lots of whiteheads. So, will this actually suit me better?

    1. @fadhlina: If you were getting white heads because the gentle cleanser wasn't "cleanin" sufficiently, then you could see an improvement with the oily version of the cleanser as it has stronger cleansing power. Hope this helps! :)

  4. Thank you so much! Will get myself the oily version of this later..

  5. Can we mix this cleanser with moisturizer from others product?

    1. @Aina: Yes you certainly can :) hope this helps!

  6. I have combination type of skin. Would you suggest to use the Cetaphil Gentle cleanser or Oily Cleanser?

    Thank you in advance 😊

    1. @Cetaphil User-to-be: I do use and have both, but generally recommend the Oily version, just because a lot of people find the "normal" version not strong enough, and they may not be used to the non-foaming feel of the normal version. So I think the oily version is easier to get used to in general. I think if you have very dry and/or sensitive skin, then the normal version is fine, but for oily or combination skin, I'd recommend the oily version. Hope this helps!

  7. Can I ask a question? Should I dampen my face first before applying the cetaphil cleanser then rinse it off? Or should I apply the cetaphil with my face dry then rinse it off? (I know the existence of using without water but im not a fan of that)

    1. @no no: I personally prefer to dampen my face first too! You could probably try it without water (maybe not the oily version but the original Cetaphil) but I'm just not used to it lol. Feels weird to me!

  8. I have oily skin and the pores are getting obvious. Ive just started using cetaphil for oily skin. Hope it helps. Thank you for the review.


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