• Comedogenic vs non-comedogenic: skin deep


    comedogenic vs non-comedogenic skin care products


    A label fact that rapidly increases a product’s reliability: “non-comedogenic”. This often helps you decide in favor of a certain skincare product when you buy it and it is, next to “oil free”, the formula that sells well. Usually, you see this on labels of moisturizers, foundations (liquid and powder), concealers and various make up products. These are the products that, normally, are most likely to contain comedogenic ingredients; including them in the “non- comedogenic” class makes them safe for problem skin and generally all types of skin.We can define “comedogenic” as the tendency of a topical ingredient/formula to increase the buildup of dead cells in follicles, eventually leading to comedone formation and acne eruptions. Clogged pores develop comedones under the skin surface and these are the starting point of breakouts, blackheads and other skin problems.
    The black list of ingredients that are often comedogenic is not short at all:
    Emollients – With waxy or sebum like textures, these ingredients are actually derived from fats/waxes of both animal and vegetable origin. They have a heavy texture and this makes them not suitable for skin, as it already produces its own sebum. 


    Radiant Skin Renewal Kit (4 piece)

    Related Product: Radiant Skin Renewal Kit (4 piece)

    Rejuvenate your skin with Murad Radiant Renewal Kit. Each product contains active brightening ingredients including a powerful vitamin C complex and works to even and improve skin texture. With continued use you will begin to notice a healthier and glowing complexion. Radiant Renewal Kit includes: Essential-C Cleanser Active Radiance Serum Essential-C Day Moisture SPF 30 Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel


    Oils (natural and artificial) – Often used as moisturizing agents in various skin care products. Most of them, either vegetable or animal, ARE comedogenic. Some of the most harmful are coconut and cocoa butter, grape seed oil, olive oil, sesame oil and to a lesser degree safflower oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil.
    “Oil Free” cosmetics promise to offer you an oil free product but this can be easily misleading. It might be the preferred selling line of cosmetics producers but the reality is that natural oils are often replaced by synthetic oils that may harm the skin even more than natural ones like mineral oils or sunflower oil (which are non-comedogenic). However both groups present comedogenicity potential and ingredients must be carefully analyzed. Wheat Germ oil is one of the most comedogenic natural oils

    Other Waxes /Fats – Beeswax, Lanolin Wax… they are comedogenic and should be used with precautions in skincare especially by people with acne problems. Petrolatum is non comedogenic.

    Botanicals – You thought botanicals are the ideal ingredient for your skin? There are botanical ingredients that cause comedone formation so you should avoid them especially algae extracts and chamomile. Rely on Aloe instead; Aloe gels are excellent for all types of skin.

    Fatty Acids – This is the most comedogenic group of cosmetic ingredients. They are used to give products a creamy fluid consistency. Fatty acids examples: lauric acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, capric acid.

    Esters – These derive from the combination of alcohols with fatty acids. Their presence can be quite tricky as they don’t feel as oily as fatty acids, in a product formula . A rather scientific list of esters includes: isopropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate, sorbitan oleate, octyl palmitate, isopropyl linoleate, etc

    Lanolin – It is sheep sebum extracted from wool. A very common ingredient in cosmetics mostly used for its excellent emollient properties. The Fatty Acids in lanolin can cause acne eruptions especially to those with acne prone complexion but as long as it is used in diluted concentrations it should not cause problems to normal skin. The most dangerous are the lanolin derivatives (lanolate)

    Red Dyes (D&C Dyes) -Red tints and pigments in cosmetics (blush, eye shadow, lipstick, skincare products, powder ) are the most troublesome ingredients. Apparently not harmful, they are very comedogenic as they technically derive from coal tar. They are labeled with numbers e.g. D&C Red # 3, #4, #16 etc. Almost every dye of this type is comedogenic. The more red the color,the more red dye used. Because of the irritant potential, coal tars are not used in eye shadow and should not be used around eyes. It is better to avoid cosmetics containing such ingredients and prefer the organic pigments (carmine). Most of the organic pigments and extracts are non comedogenic.
    Acne Cosmetica (=cosmetic acne) is the name for acne caused by the use of comedogenic skincare & cosmetic products. Red dyes often cause this type of acne – people who use blush, they are more likely to have bumpy skin on the cheeks.

    Add to your black list -vitamin E (tocopherols), vitamin A Palmitate, emollient pressing agents (the ones used to make pressed powders, blush, etc), fatty alcohols, Azulene (derived from Chamomile), Talc.
    Safe list – Parabens (preservatives used in cosmetics) are not comedogenic and have a low irritation potential ; Glycerin, Allantoin, Propylene Glycol, Iron Oxides, Kaolin, Zinc Stereate, Jojoba Oil, Oxybenzone (sunscreen), Sorbitol (sugar alcohol); some of these are only mildly comedogenic and generally would not cause problems to normal skin types.


    • good article! i didnt know about the dyes, that is news to me but it now makes sense why cheeks get more pimples than the rest of the face
      and those oils who would have thought :-0 thanks

    • I just started using “mineral” makeup. Since I started, I’ve been encountering so many more blackheads on my nose and chin, relentlessly!

      Has anyone else seen this? I hadn’t been using a base at all, so I figured this was the best way to do it. I don’t really want to start using the liquid foundations.

      Anyone have some input to this one? Is this a “comedogenic” issue? What should I do?

    • Mineral makeup can still be comedogenic. Though the mineral compounds are not considered comedogenic, check the label for other elements like binding ingredients which usually are made of fatty substances (their role is to help the powder spread and adhere to the skin)

    • This article is so misleading, and its only purpose is to justify the products you’re using in your cosmetics!
      Mineral oin not comedogenic? Natural?
      Jeah right! Mineral oil is paraffinum liquidum, obtained by refining petroleum! Highly comedogenic and possibly cancerogenus! Nothing natural about it (petroleum is mineral, or isn’t it?)!!!!
      Natural oils are: avocado oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, sunflower oil…etc…and they are so less comedogenic…to the level that they are not comedogenic at all! Besides, they contain vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids, which are essential in skin metabolisam !

    • I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site? Thank you in advance.

    • As an aesthetician, and many years of research I found there is a science that needs to be recognized. You can educate yourself about the components for optimal results, as many ingredients may be inferior due to the inability to penetrate the dermis (the deep layers of the skin), this is a due to the molecular makeup in each product. This should be the most important concern, in choosing a skin care regimen. There are expensive and drug store varieties available. Read the ingredients and you will find what will work for you. Murad may be advertising, but the honest information is both ethical, moral and a helpful guide.
      In response to comments made previously I have a thought for you to consider. Negativity is the result of a glass half empty. Listen and learn facts of life, and your fear will go away. I hope that you can keep your mind open and informed, as there is peace and a healthier self image waiting for you. You may want to learn humility as well. Many years ago I had someone very wise teach me, it a priority in my life, and has been a wonderful gift. Blessings.

    • hello, nice article but I would like to ask a question.
      Can a product that uses comedogenic ingredients be labeled non comedogenic? For example, olay has isopropyl palmitate, but it is labeled as non comedogenic. And since olay is a well known brand and would be afraid of getting sued and stuff, should we assume they’re not lying?


    • Well… I’m an Esthetician too, and I also believe the way this article is worded is far too broad for the average uneducated consumer. There are some ingredients that are far less comedogenic than others, and after cleansing it is appropriate to balance the skin again with a moisturizer. And I agree, the oils the author wrote as being the worst are some of the best known as being the most packed with vitamins and nutrients the skin needs.

      And Karen, if humility is telling others that they need to be more like you to be better, I don’t want any part of it. Seems like you still have a few more facts of life to learn.

    • I find it funny that your ‘safe’ list names items that the Organic Consumers Association lists as toxic or potentially toxic, including: Parabens, Propylene Glycol and Petrolatum. If these are BANNED in Europe, why are they allowed here? Because American manufacturers are all about the dollar, producing cheap products with cheap ingredients. You might want to research these things a bit more….

    • This is only about comedogenic products and not about their safety for health…i would appreciate most of them are not healthy at all!

    • Wow, then what the hell ARE we supposed to put on our skin to protect it? :/


    • Your article avocado oil, jojoba oil & grape seed oil ARE comedogenic. But they are classified as NON comedogenic everywhere else. IS this an error?

      • Hi Nick,
        any oil is comedogenic. Some types of skin, especially the dry types, seem to tolerate all oils. Our reasearch was based on successful esthetician and dermatologist books.

    • Wow this is so misleading. I recently started going organic on everything for my skin. I have combination skin and break out a lot. I read all that I could get my hands on. One of my routines now is applying jojoba oil and a tea tree oil mixture to my skin. It keeps it moisturised and my skin does not appear oily all day. Below is an extract of what I found out on jojoba oil. How can parabens be on a safe list? There is research linking this to cancer. I have started using only organic oils and conditioners in my hair and paraben, petrolatum and sulfate free products. Whoever these estheticians books are please let me know so I could avoid reading them!
      Jojoba oil is structurally and chemically very similar to the human sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin because sebum is also largely comprised of wax mono esters. In most cases, it can act as a substitute while giving similar or added benefits compared to sebum.

    • IMO it not a question of natural or organic, it is about ingredients. Not all oils are equally comedogenic. For someone with lipid dry skin oil is not a problem. For blemish prone sensitive people I recommend avoiding those comedogenic and irritating ingredients. Some are far worse than others. Dr. Fulton published a study in the 70′s giving most every ingredient commonly found in cosmetics a grade for comedogenity, 1-5, 5 being the worst. Some ingredients are equally irritating, the study also gave each a grade 1-5.
      If I remember correctly jojoba oil received a grade of 3. Others like coconut oil, peanut oil, corn oil, and cocoa butter received a grade of 5.

      In my experience the only oils that are not comedogenic are sunflower and safflower oil.

    • I just came accross this article helpful and may of the ingredients referenced in this article have been rated consistently across many other websites and articles I have been researching. In my personal experience as somone without normal skin, w moderate acne: all oils no matter how natual or plant based are comedogenic. I have tried the oils on my self, jojoba, the murad acne products that contain oil as well that broke me out, so did tea tree oil. Many consumers don’t undertand that people with acne have skin that doesn’t shed it’s cells an renew it self as fast as people with normal skin. this also leads to clogged pores and any oils will exacerbate this. The FDA has the most lenient regulations in regards to the cosmetic industry. They can claim to have certain effects on skin this is allowed even if not true as long as don’t contain toxic ingredients, Check out FDA’s website section on cosmetic regulations. As for products labeled ” oil free” and “noncomedogenic”, I have come across products that have “hydrogenated oil” and are labeled oil free; example Eucarin Brand and many more. I checked with my dermatologist to see if hydrogonated oils are safe; her professional opinion is “they will cause break outs”. Oil free and non acnegenic/noncomedogic labeled products may contain other acids and ingredients that clog pores and therefore breakouts in acne prone individuals so read your labels and do your research, It’s hard I will admit because a lot of anti acne products out there contain ingredients that clog pores and lead to acne. In regards to parabens they are not nautural but neccessary because they prevent your skin products from giving you skin infections and spoiling. A skin infection would deffinately be worse than acne. In regards to mineral makeup I had been using it for 8 years and recently stopped when I read an article stating that bismuth oxychloride causes cytic acne the worst type. I did develop this while using bare escentuals by bare minerals. I never noticed I developed my cyctic acne in my 20′s when I began using mineral makeup because although it got rid of my whiteheads and blackheads once a month a huge cyst would appear, cysts leave scars and indentations that never go away, so much worse than regular acne. I am gklad now I know, but the mioneral makeup, and organic skincare industry is very misleading because it contains ingredients like bismuth oxycloride which also contain lead and legal allowable levels of arsenic an acutual poison.

    • I wrote a post about comedogenic ingredients too. I like the fact you didn`t just post a list like everyone else because long lists are impossible to remember.

    Write a comment

© Balley Direct 2011 . All rights reserved.