Do comedogenic ingredients make comedogenic products?

HIGHLIGHTS

 

  • Comedogenic ratings are helpful but don't forget that they are approximate.
  • Acne breakout is not the same as a comedogenic breakout; they look different, and they are caused by other ingredients that react to a specific skin type.
  • Don't be scared if you see a product formulated that includes comedogenic oils as well. If they are listed at the end of the ingredients INCI, they are in low concentration, making the product not particularly comedogenic.
  • Thick oils do not always equal high comedogenicity.

 

 

WHAT IS NON COMEDOGENIC SKINCARE?

In a nutshell, non-comedogenic skincare is a cosmetic formulated with ingredients that don't clog pores and lead to blackheads, whiteheads or breakouts.

So the logic goes - the more comedogenic ingredients in a skincare product, the higher the chance to break out, especially if you are prone to acne or have oily skin. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it's not quite that simple.

This article wants to share our findings and recommendations, hoping to help you identify how to avoid breakouts using the wrong facial oil or skincare product.

Let's dig more on:

  • The difference between acnegenic and comedogenic ingredients
  • Why the concentration and combination of comedogenic ingredients is so important in any skincare products
  • Two key Fatty Acids and their role in skincare and comedogenicity
  • How to pick the correct non-comedogenic skincare by skin type
  • A comprehensive list of natural skincare ingredients (wholesome and naturally derived) and their tentative comedogenic classification
  • How to evaluate if a cosmetic is comedogenic from the label

 

WHY COMEDIGENICITY RATINGS ARE APPROXIMATE

Comedogenicity ratings of a specific fatty acid or skincare ingredient will always be approximate because:

  1. Comedogenic tests have been carried out mainly on rabbits and inside the human hear; therefore; results may differ quite a lot from exposed human skin;
  2. There is minimal research on comedogenicity. Only a fraction of carrier oils and skincare ingredients used in skincare have been tested.
  3. When testing natural fatty oils, the concentration of fatty acids of the same type of oil or butter varies depending on the source and harvest, impacting the final evaluation of comedogenicity.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACNE AND COMEDONES?

Acne is a skin condition that happens when sebaceous glands are infected; the skin develops red bumps around the infected area. A Comedo is a very dilated pore (the 'hole' surrounding a hair follicle - with or without hair) filled with dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum. If a comedo is open, the pore will look like a blackhead; if it is closed (so the skin covers it), it can cause inflammation, pimples, and whiteheads. It is the first step towards acne.

 

An Acnegenic ingredient can cause a general worsening of pre-existing acne.
A Comedogenic ingredient acts like glue on the skin's surface: dead skin cells will stick together more and more, causing blackheads and whiteheads, not acne.

 

 

 

 

CONCENTRATION AND COMBINATION OF COMEDOGENIC INGREDIENTS CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING

 

 

Take SHAANT, our richest oil. It is a blend of highly nourishing oils and its viscosity (thickness) is higher than our two other facial oils in our collection, AZUR or KORU. You may think that it's a highly comedogenic oil, but in reality it has an approximate comedogenic rating of only 1.65. This is because it's a balanced formulation of comedogenic and non comedogenic ingredients.

 

Shop Shaant Face Oil

 

 

 

Key fact 1 | even if an ingredient is comedogenic on its own, if blended in low concentration (less than 5%) in a product, it might not make that product comedogenic overall

Key fact 2 | even if a product is formulated without any known comedogenic ingredients, it can still be mildly comedogenic on the skin for some people.

Key fact 3 | when non-comedogenic skincare ingredients are blended, the combination could sometimes be more comedogenic than the single ingredients themselves.

Key fact 4 | the thickness of a plant oil does not always equal very high comedogenicity (Castor oil, for example, is very thick yet minimally comedogenic)

Key fact 5 | Water-based skincare formulations (moisturizers, creams, serums, lotions) have higher water content and are less likely to clog pores; however, they can contain some non 'oily' ingredients that can be comedogenic too.

Key fact 6 | Rinse off products (exfoliants, masks, cleansing balms or oils) formulated with comedogenic ingredients are not very occlusive and will not clog the pores.

 

 

KORU is a facial oil blended with low comedogenic oils with a very balanced concentration of ingredients - its comedogenic rating is 0.30.

 

 

Shop Koru Face Oil

 

 

 

 

 

TWO FATTY ACIDS THAT MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

 

 

 

Fatty acids are the main constituents of vegetable oils, but two are the primary focus for skincare - Linoleic acid and Oleic acid. The ratio of these often determines how comedogenic or non-comedogenic an oil or a butter is for different skin types.

Linoleic acid is an essential building block for ceramides, one of the skin's main moisturizing element + strengthens the skin barrier. Oleic acid nourishes, repairs, and soothes the skin barrier.

Linoleic acid is ideal for acne-prone and oily skin because it supplements Linoleic acid deficiency on this skin types kin's surface, contributing to clogged pores. Oleic acid tends to be protective so, ideal for dry skin, but it is more occlusive for the pores.

 

Oils very rich (>50%) in Linoleic acid, with low comedogenicity: Sacha Inchi. Broccoli, Castor, Cucumber, Squalane, Hemp, Hazelnut, Kiwi, Passion fruit, Safflower, Raspberry, Pumpkin, Grapeseed, Pomegranate, Watermelon.

Oils rich (30% - 50%) in Linoleic acid, with very low comedogenicity: Argan, Jojoba, Prickly Pear, Sea Buckthorn, Shea butter, Mango butter, Cacay, Chia, Moringa, Neem, Plum, Pumpkin, Rice Bran, S. Almond, Rosehip, Tamanu.

 

Oils very rich (>50%) in Oleic acid, comedogenic: Wheatgerm, Coconut, Palm, Cocoa butter, Cupuacu butter, Soybean.

Oils rich (30% - 50%) in Oleic acid, mildly comedogenic: Apricot, Avocado, Marula, Camellia, Evening Primrose, Macadamia, Olive, Buriti, Carrot seed.

 

Take AZUR, a very light yet nourishing oil formulated with balanced oils (similar ratio Oleic and Linoleic acid) such as Argan, Cacay and non comedogenic oils such as Sacha Inchi, Watermelon, Hazelnut (high in Linoleic acid).

 

 

    Coconut oil and Palm oil have a unique profile - low Oleic acid, but high Lauric acid. They have antibacterial properties but are very comedogenic.

     

    As a general rule, oils rich in Linoleic acid are lower on the comedogenic scale than those with higher Oleic acid, except for Coconut oil and Palm oil (which are highly comedogenic).

     

     

    Shop AZUR Face Oil

     

     

    PICK THE RIGHT OILS AND BUTTERS FOR YOUR SKIN

    The best way to identify which oils will work best for you is to know your skin type. There are five main skin types: oily, combination, sensitive, normal and dry. Then you need to take into account your skin condition. Your age will be a third factor to consider after 1) skin type 2) skin condition.

     

    Native Essentials Skin Care Plant Oils Comedogenic scale

    COMEDOGENIC SCALE OF OILS AND BUTTERS

     

    Ingredients are generally ranked as follows:

    • 0 – NON-COMEDOGENIC (do not clog pores)
    • 1 – SLIGHTLY COMEDOGENIC (very low chance of clogging pores)
    • 2 – MODERATELY COMEDOGENIC (may clog pores for some but be fine for most)
    • 3 – COMEDOGENIC (will clog acne prone/oily skin type)
    • 4 – FAIRLY HIGH COMEDOGENIC (will clog pores for almost all skin types)
    • 5 – HIGHLY COMEDOGENIC (will clog pores)

     

    IMPORTANT - The ratings below represents a range, not definitive rules. All oils / butters have been classified in their virgin state and using samples from various suppliers.

     

    PLANT OIL

    RANGE

    SKIN TYPE

    Abyssinian (Crambe) Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Acai Berry Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Almond Oil, Sweet 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Amla (Gooseberry) oil 1 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Andiroba Seed Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Apricot Kernel Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Argan Oil 1 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Avocado Oil 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Babassu Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Bacuri Butter 4 VERY DRY
    Baobob seed Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Black Cumin (Nigella) Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Black Currant Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Blackberry Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Blueberry Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Borage Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Borage CO2 2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Brazil Nut Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Broccoli Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Buriti Oil 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Cacay oil 1-2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Camellia (oleifera) seed Oil 1-2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Camellia (oleifera) seed Oil - high oleic acid 3 DRY SKIN
    Carrot Seed Oil 3-4 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Castor Oil 0-1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Cherry Kernel Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Chia seed Oil 3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Chia seed CO2 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Cloudberry Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Cocoa Butter 4 VERY DRY
    Coconut Oil 4 VERY DRY
    Coconut Oil, Fractionated 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Cottonseed Oil 3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Cranberry Seed Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Cucumber Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Cupuacu butter 4 VERY DRY
    Echium Seed Oil 1-2 DRY, AGENING
    Elderberry Seed Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Evening Primrose Oil 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Flax Seed Oil (Linseed) 4 VERY DRY
    Goji Berry Seed Oil 0-1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Grapeseed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Guava Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Hazelnut Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Hemp Seed Oil 0-1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Isoamyl laurate 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Jojoba Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Kigelia africana seed oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Kiwi Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Kukui Nut Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Macadamia Nut Oil 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Mango Butter 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Mango Seed Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Marula Oil 3-4 ALL SKIN TYPES, DRY
    Meadowfoam Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Moringa Oil 3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Murumuru Butter 2-3 NORMAL, DRY
    Neem Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Oat Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Olive Oil 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Palm Oil 4 VERY DRY
    Papaya Seed Oil 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Passionfruit (Maracuja) Seed Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Peach Kernel Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Peanut Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Pequi Oil 3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Perilla Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Plum Kernel Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Pomegranate Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Poppy seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Prickly Pear Seed Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Pumpkin Seed Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Raspberry Seed Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Red Raspberry Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Rice Bran Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Rosehip Oil (seed) 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Rosehip CO2 (seed) 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Rosehip Oil (pulp) 1-2 COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Rosehip CO2 (pulp) 1-2 COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Sacha Inci 0-1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Safflower Oil (High Linoliec) 0 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Sea Buckthorn Oil (pulp) 2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Sea Buckthorn CO2 (pulp) 2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Sea Buckthorn Oil (seed) 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Sesame Seed Oil 3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Shea Butter 0-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Soybean Oil 4-5 VERY DRY
    Squalane 0-1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Strawberry Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Sunflower Seed Oil 1-2 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Tacuma Butter 2-3 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Tamanu Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Tomato Seed Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Ucuuba Butter 4 DRY
    Vitamin E (tocopherol) 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Walnut Seed Oil 2 ALL SKIN TYPES
    Watermelon Seed Oil 1 OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL
    Wheat Germ Oil 5 VERY DRY

     

    ONE EXCEPTION - RINSE OFF PRODUCTS

     

    Rinse-off products (Exfoliants, Masks, Cleansing balms and oils) formulated with occlusive butters and oils and at times with mild surfactants (soap) usually fit in the 'no-no' category of comedogenic skincare. However, because they are combined with a surfactant and rinsed off, they do not clog pores and actually are a good alternative to harsh cleansing products that tend to leave the skin very dry and strip off much sebum.

     

    Take our SOLE, an exfoliant mask formulated with Olive oil, a comedogenic ingredient. Because SOLE is a rinse-off exfoliant and the concentration of Olive oil is less than 5%, we have rated SOLE comedogenic rating 0.20.

     

     

     

    Shop SOLE exfoliant

     

    OTHER COMEDOGENIC INGREDIENTS USED IN WATER-BASED SKINCARE

    Some fatty alcohols (used as emulsifiers) can be comedogenic - (Hexadecyl Alcohol,Oleyl Alcohol, Socetyl alcohol, Isocetyl Stearate, Propylene glycol monostearate, Glyceryl-3-Diisostearate, Polyglyceryl-3-diisostearate,Octyl stearate.)

    Other water-soluble comedogenic ingredients are: Algae, Carrageenan (gum), Sodium chloride (salt), Potassium Chloride, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), Steareth 10, Lanolin, Aluminum (used in antiperspirant deodorants), Isopropyl Palmitate, Decyl oleate, Mineral oils.

     

    TIPS FOR AVOIDING COMEDOGENIC SKINCARE INGREDIENTS:

    • Pick the correct oils and skincare products by skin type, then condition.
    • Read the labels - the lowest concentration of ingredients is listed for last. Use the above chart to identify comedogenic ingredients and sum them up.
    • Very highly comedogenic oils, if used in very low concentrations when blended with other ingredients, (less than 5%) have a little or negligible comedogenic effect.
    • To determine the comedogenic rate of a single plant oil, look at the total concentration of Oleic acid; the highest Oleic acid % means higher comedogenic value.
    • Thick oils do not equal high comedogenicity; it's down to the fatty acid composition.
    • Coloured cosmetics and makeup, such as foundations, primers, creamy eyeshadows, can be formulated with highly comedogenic ingredients.

     

    And lastly

     

    Sometimes you may have a breakout yet have no idea what's causing it. If you don't exfoliate your skin regularly, the chances are that even non-comedogenic skincare may occasionally clog your pores.

     

    SHOP NATIVE ESSENTIALS NON-COMEDOGENIC SKINCARE

    Shop The Face Serum Collection

    Shop The Face Oil Collection

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Resources:

      http://www.nononsensecosmethic.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Comedogenicity-and-irritacy-of-commonly-used-ingredients.pdf

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6240277/

      https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/543668

      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272670322_Noni_Seed_Oil_Topical_Safety_Efficacy_and_Potential_Mechanisms_of_Action

      Tags: SKIN

      Comments

      • Posted by Native Essentials on

        Hello Mery,
        Moringa oil has a very high content of Oleic acid (up to 75%) so this makes it quite a nourishing yer comedogenic oil. Hope this helps.

      • Posted by Native Essentials on

        Hello Letrecia,
        to answer your questions:
        1) why would you mix comedogenic and non-comedogenic oils/ butters —> that is what skincare formulation is all about. Comedogenic oils do tend to clog pores but have lots of other very useful benefits so to cut the overall comedogenicity, a variety of oils is blended.
        2) if you infuse any oils with herbs / any plant matter, its comedogenicity does not change. So if you infuse Coconut oil with Frangipani, it will still be very comedogenic. If you infuse Argan oil with any herbs, it will still have low comedogenicity.
        I hope this helps.

      • Posted by Native Essentials on

        Dear Jodie,

        the way to determine an approximate comedogenic index for any ingredients is to look at their fatty acid profiles. We mentioned the oleic acid ‘general rule’ but if you want to be very precise, you need to take into consideration all the other fatty acids. For instance, Argan oil has a high oleic acid content (up to 45%) but it also has a similar amount of Linoleic acid, therefore the comedogenicity is very low. Hope this helps.

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