Do comedogenic ingredients make comedogenic products?
COMEDOGENIC RATING: too many different charts available online and often not the best advice on how to look and avoid comedogenic ingredients in a skincare product. let's try to understand more.
Comedogenicity is generally defined as the ability of an ingredient to clog pores and cause pimples. So the logic goes - the more comedogenic ingredients in a product, the higher the chance to break out, especially if you are prone to acne or you have oily skin. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it’s not quite that simple…
In this article you will learn:
- The difference between acneic and comedogenic ingredients
- Why concentration and combination of comedogenic ingredients is so important
- Fatty acids and their role in skincare and comedogenicity or how much they clog pores
- Comedogenic rating definition
- A comprehensive list of natural skincare ingredients and their tentative comedogenic classification
WHAT IS A COMEDO?
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.
ACNEGEIC VS COMEDOGENIC INGREDIENTS
An Acnegenic ingredient can cause a general worsening of pre-existing acne. Some examples: Alcohol, mineral oils, Lanolin, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, many essential oils...
A Comedogenic ingredient acts like glue: dead skin cells will stick together more and more, causing blackheads and whiteheads, not acne. Some examples: Coconut oil, Neem oil, Cocoa butter, Shea butter...
IS THERE ANY 100% RELIABLE CLINICAL TESTS TO RATE COMEDOGENIC INGREDIENTS?
Several tests were made applying different comedogenic ingredients on rabbit ears. Because rabbit ears are more sensitive than human skin, they reacted to comedogenic ingredients faster, and the results were not 100% applicable to human skin. Therefore, all ratings are not backed by complete clinical trials on human skin (this would be a mammoth task!) and the effects may vary from person to person.
One of the most reliable studies was done by Dr. Fulton's 1989, professor of Chemistry at UCLA: "Comedogenicity and irritancy of commonly used ingredients in skincare products" but many natural carrier oils like Argan, Rosehip, Avocado... were not tested.
CONCENTRATION AND COMBINATION OF COMEDOGENIC INGREDIENTS CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING
Key fact 1) even if an ingredient is comedogenic on its own, if blended in with the correct low concentration 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 comedogenic on the skin for many.
Key fact 3) when non-comedogenic skincare ingredients are blended together, the combination could sometimes be more comedogenic than the single ingredients themselves.
Key fact 4) How a skincare ingredient is dissolved in a formulation can also change the overall comedogenic rate of the final product.
Key fact 5) the thickness of a plant oil does not always equal to very high comedogenicity (Castor oil, for example, is very thick yet minimally comedogenic)
Our KORU is a good example of a low comedogenic blend of balancing and clarifying oils with the correct concentration of ingredients. Here is the balanced composition of the main cold pressed and CO2 oils:
Low to moderately comedogenic oils yet important for their vitamins and minerals (Caprylic/capric triglycerite or franctioned Coconut oil, Avocado oil, Isoamyl laurate, Apricot oil, Chia seed oil)
Very slightly comedogenic Squalane, Raspberry oil, Tamanu oil.
Fairly high comedogenic Moringa oil (very small percentage)
ARE ONLY COLD PRESSED OILS, NATURAL BUTTERS AND WAXES COMEDOGENIC?
Definitely not. The list of synthetic cosmetic ingredients with high comedogenicity is very long! Some examples: Isopropyl palmitate, Decyl oleate, Capric acid, Octyldodecanol, Mineral oils...
FATTY ACIDS WITH HIGH COMOGENICITY PROPERTIES AND FATTY ACIDS WITH LOW COMOGENICITY
Fatty acids are the main constituents of cold-pressed oils.
Oleic acid is more occlusive and tends to clog pores. Olis rich is Oleic acid are heavier, richer and suitable for dry skin. (Olive oil, Camellia oil, Sweet Almond oil, Avocado oil, Hazelnut oil...)
Linoleic acid is way lighter, absorbs fast and does not clog pores. Oils rich in Linoleic acid are thinner, and they work very well with oily and acneic skin. (Borage oil, Evening Primrose oil, Grapeseed oil, Pumpkin oil...)
GENERAL COMEDOGENIC RATING FOR COLD PRESSED OILS
Ingredients are generally ranked as follows:
- 0 – NON-COMEDOGENIC (do not clog pores)
- 1 – SLIGHTLY COMEDOGENIC (very low chance of clogging pores)
- 2 – MODERATELY LOW COMEDOGENIC (may clog pores for some but be fine for most)
- 3 – MODERATELY COMEDOGENIC (will clog acne prone/oily skin type)
- 4 – FAIRLY HIGH COMEDOGENIC (will clog pores for most people)
- 5 – HIGHLY COMEDOGENIC (will clog pores for most people)
IMPORTANT - The rating below represents more tendencies, not definitive rules.
NON TO SLIGHTLY COMEDOGENIC OILS/BUTTERS
LOW TO MODERATELY COMEDOGENIC OILS / BUTTERS
FAIRLY HIGH COMEDOGENIC OILS / BUTTERS
|SKIN TYPES: OILY, BLEMISHED, COMBINATION, NORMAL||SKIN TYPES: NORMAL, DRY, MATURE, DULL||SKIN TYPES: VERY DRY SKIN *** USE IN LOW CONCENTRATION|
|Safflower Oil||0-1||Acai Berry Oil||2||Coconut Oil||4|
|Goji Berry Seed Oil||0-1||Almond Oil, Sweet||2||Cupuacu butter||4|
|Sacha Inci Oil||0-1||Andiroba Seed Oil||2||Flax Seed Oil (Linseed)||4|
|Squalane||0-1||Argan Oil||2||Palm Oil||4|
|Castor Oil||0-1||Babassu Oil||2||Cocoa Butter||4|
|Abyssinian Seed Oil||1||Baobob Seed Oil||2||Coconut Butter||4|
|Black Currant Seed Oil||1||Black Cumin Seed Oil||2||Soybean Oil||4-5|
|Blackberry Seed Oil||1||Brazil Nut Oil||2||Wheat Germ Oil||5|
|Blueberry Seed Oil||1||Cherry Kernel Oil||2|
|Borage Oil||1||Chia Seed Oil||2|
|Broccoli Seed Oil||1||Cranberry Seed Oil||2|
|Cloudberry Seed Oil||1||Jojoba Oil||2|
|Cucumber Seed Oil||1||Kukui Nut Oil||2|
|Grapeseed Oil||1||Mango Seed Oil||2|
|Hazelnut Oil||1||Peach Kernel Oil||2|
|Hemp Seed Oil||1||Peanut Oil||2|
|Kiwi Seed Oil||1||Pumpkin Seed Oil||2|
|Meadowfoam Seed Oil||1||Rice Bran Oil||2|
|Pomegranate Seed Oil||1||Tamanu Oil||2|
|Poppy seed Oil||1||Tomato Seed Oil||2|
|Red Raspberry Seed Oil||1||Cacay oil||2|
|Rosehip Seed Oil||1||Walnut Seed Oil||2|
|Sea Buckthorn Oil||1||Apricot Kernel Oil||2-3|
|Strawberry Seed Oil||1||Buriti Oil||2-3|
|Watermelon Seed Oil||1||Coconut Oil, Fractionated||2-3|
|Raspberry Seed Oil||1-2||Evening Primrose Oil||2-3|
|Elderberry Seed Oil||1-2||Macadamia Nut Oil||2-3|
|Guava Seed Oil||1-2||Mango Butter||2-3|
|Oat Oil||1-2||Papaya Seed Oil||2-3|
|Passionfruit (Maracuja) Seed Oil||1-2||Avocado Oil||3|
|Perilla Oil||1-2||Camellia Seed Oil||3|
|Plum Kernel Oil||1-2||Cottonseed Oil||3|
|Prickly Pear Seed Oil||1-2||Pequi Oil||3|
|Sunflower Seed Oil||1-2||Sesame Seed Oil||3|
|Carrot Seed Oil||3-4|