As a general rule, men with oily skin should look for moisturizers that are oil-free, water-based and noncomedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores [source: Mayo Clinic]. Understand, however, that these phrases aren't necessarily backed up by scientific studies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes moisturizers as cosmetics and doesn't test products to verify health claims before they go to market. The burden lies squarely on the consumer to read the ingredient list carefully and know which items are safe for men with oily skin and those that are risky.
There are two basic types of moisturizers on the market: occlusives and humectants. Occlusives use oils like petrolatum, lanolin, coconut oil and other artificial or plant-derived fats to create a seal on the skin that traps in moisture. Since occlusives are oil-based, they should be avoided by men with oily skin.
Humectants, on the other hand, use ingredients that draw moisture from the air into the skin. Common ingredients to look for in humectants are glycerin (glycerol), alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and urea [source: Kraft]. Most moisturizers use a combination of occulants and humectants to draw in moisture and then seal it in the skin. If you have oily skin, you'll want to seek out products that rely exclusively on humectants.
To maximize the effectivenes of a humectant-based moisturizer, apply the product right after you cleanse your skin and while your skin is still slightly damp. This way your skin can soak up the excess moisture [source: Mayo Clinic].
The new generation of mattifying moisturizers employs a third set of ingredients designed to soak up oil as other ingredients help replenish moisture levels. A moisturizer called the Matte for Men Complete Face and Head Care Lotion relies on the natural oil-soaking abilities of oats [source: Newman]. The All-Day Oil-Control Lotion from men's skin care company Jack Black includes particles of China clay (Kaolin), cotton and Nylon 12, an artificial polymer, to "absorb facial oils," according to its product description.
Whatever moisturizing product you choose, look for one that includes at least SPF 15 sun protection. If you have fair skin or spend a lot of time outdoors, go for SPF 30. And make sure the sunscreen offers "full-spectrum" coverage, meaning it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. Oily skin is a problem, but skin cancer is an epidemic, with 1 million new cases reported each year -- 8,000 of them fatal [source: Sine].
For much more information on moisturizers and skin types, take a look at the links on the next page.