Comedogenic Ingredients

Picture this: you buy the trendiest skincare product *yes, the ones all celebs recommend* and, after using it, you end up with a nasty acne breakout. If this has happened to you, it probably means that the oh-so-famous product has comedogenic ingredients. 

Even though it may sound like we’re speaking a foreign language to you, comedogenic just means pore-clogging ingredients that, instead of being absorbed by your skin, block your pores, causing you pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. 

But, how can you avoid them? In this blog post we’ll teach you everything you need to know about comedogenic ingredients, why they are a big no-no, and some tips on identifying them. 

What is comedogenic?  

Acne is a serious concern that affects many people, and although acne can have many causes, comedogenic ingredients are a common culprit. It sounds like something out of a biology class, but in skincare, it just refers to substances that clog up your pores and cause comedones (blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples). So, in a nutshell, they make your pores go mental!

These types of ingredients are created from fat, waxes, silicones, and oils derived from animals or plants and form a barrier on the skin, trapping bacteria and clogging pores—the perfect recipe for acne breakouts!

Decoding the comedogenic rating

The comedogenic rating is like a secret code for deciphering the contents of your beauty products. Every product has its own set of ingredients, and these ratings can give you an indication of which ones may have a higher risk of clogging your pores and leading to breakouts. The rating system ranks ingredients from 0 to 5, with 0 being the least likely to cause problems and 5 being the most likely. 

Learning the comedogenic rating for different ingredients is essential for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin who takes skincare seriously and wants to avoid pore-clogging products. In other words, it's a way to make sure you don't end up with a pie face!

5 Comedogenic tips you need to know

Trying to unravel which skincare ingredients should be avoided can seem like an impossible task. After all, it's not practical to expect everyone to learn the Latin names of every ingredient in their bathroom cabinets! Fortunately, there are some helpful tips to identify comedogenic ingredients that could potentially clog your pores.

1. Check the labels on skincare products

Trying to identify whether an ingredient is comedogenic can seem like a daunting task! But, don’t fear – with a little bit of time and research, you can become an ace in determining which ingredients are likely to cause breakouts. If there's an ingredient you're unsure about, the best thing to do is look up its comedogenic rating. This means looking through some skin care websites or journal articles and seeing if they list the ingredient as comedogenic on a scale from 0-5. A score of 4-5 is most likely to clog your pores, while those scoring in the teens are usually considered safe bets.

So, the next time you're picking up an oil or cream, just plug in the list of ingredients, and you'll quickly find out if it will cause breakouts.

2. Bear in mind that not everyone breaks out with comedogenics

It's a common misconception that comedogenic ingredients will trigger breakouts for everyone. In reality, whether or not your skin reacts to a comedogenic ingredient depends on multiple factors, like skin type, age, skin sensitivity, among others. For example, people with naturally oily skin are generally more prone to clogged pores than those with dry skin, and if the product has a high concentration of the ingredient, it may be more likely to cause breakouts. 

So while your best friend may experience the dreaded "purge" when they use a comedogenic oil-containing face wash, you might be perfectly fine with the same product! The takeaway? Listen to your own skin and find out what works best for you.

What skin types are more likely to react to comedogenic ingredients?

  • Oily skin: primarily those with oily skin, as they produce more oil sebum and secretion than other skin types, making it easier for comedogenic ingredients to become trapped in pores.
  • Acne-prone skin: since this skin type is already prone to developing acne, adding comedogenic ingredients to the mix can be the perfect formula for disaster. This is because acne-prone skin is extra sensitive and reactive to certain ingredients in beauty products, such as those classed as comedogenic.
  • Combination skin: the pores on combination skin range in size, with some larger (oily side) and some smaller (dry size). The bigger the pore, the higher chance of clogging when exposed to certain ingredients - so comedogenic ingredients may end up resulting in breakouts in the oilier parts of your skin! 
  • Sensitive skin: sensitive skin is more prone to reacting to comedogenic ingredients because it is more reactive in general. This means that something which someone with normal skin might be able to tolerate just fine can trigger a reaction in sensitive skin. It isn't only comedogenic ingredients that can cause issues, any ingredient at all can really be a trigger and bring on a potential breakout. 

So, does that mean that people with dry or normal skin don’t react to comedogenic ingredients? It depends. Believe it or not, there are people with these skin types that can use comedogenics like coconut oil without breaking out. 

However, while some ingredients may not directly increase the risk of acne, they may still contribute to other problems like irritation, flaking, and dehydration if they contain comedogenic ingredients. This means that while they won't necessarily give you breakouts, the comedogenic ingredients can still affect your skin's oil balance in a negative way - leading to bigger issues than just acne. 

3. Not all oils and waxes are comedogenic

Even though there are many oils and waxes that can clog your pores and cause acne, this is not always the case. In fact, there are some oils, like jojoba, sunflower, and grapeseed oil, that are actually good for those with acne-prone and oily skin since they can cleanse the skin and reduce pimples. 

All in all, the fact that a skincare product contains oils, doesn’t always mean that they’re comedogenic. So, you can include oils in your skincare routine, just make sure to research their comedogenic rating. 

4. Do a patch test when in doubt

Doing a patch test is an important part of effectively using new skincare and makeup products that contain comedogenic ingredients. A patch test is the act of applying a small sample of the product to your skin and waiting 24-48 hours to see if any irritation occurs. 

Once you apply a bit of the product to your arm or another sensitive area, make sure to set a reminder for yourself so you can check after 48 hours. If no irritation or inflammation has happened, then you know it’s safe for use! Making sure to regularly do patch tests before trying out any new products is key for maintaining healthy skin and avoiding breakouts caused by comedogenic ingredients. 

5. Beware of untested oils

While there is an extensive list of oils known to be comedogenic and widely studied, it can be hard to find good information about the untested oils available on the market. 

So, for example, there are oils with unknown comedogenic ratings, like: argan, macadamia, walnut, and rosehip oils. It’s better to avoid these ingredients if you’re sensitive to comedogenics until there’s more information to determine if they’re pore-clogging ingredients or not. 

The 5 most common comedogenic skincare and makeup ingredients

Whether you're scanning labels in a store or researching online, look out comedogenic ingredients in skin care and makeup products:

1. Coconut oil

Coconut oil has become a popular hair and skin product in recent years, thanks to its rich composition of fatty acids and antioxidants. 

Despite its amazing properties, it can have a downside – because of its high concentration of certain fats, when used on the skin, it can clog your pores and cause comedogenic acne. 

This means that while the smooth consistency of coconut oil feels luxurious going on the skin, those same ingredients can be responsible for those pesky pimples that follow. 

Comedogenic rating: 4

2. Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is a popular ingredient in many skincare products due to its well-known moisturizing properties. However, it is not all sweetness and light with cocoa butter—it can actually be comedogenic, meaning it can increase acne breakouts. This is because it is a thick wax that doesn't easily penetrate deep into the skin so instead just blocks the pores.

Comedogenic rating: 4

3. Algae extracts

Algae extract is a special type of seaweed that has invaded the skincare industry. Not only does it provide rich hydration, vitamins, and minerals to the skin, it has become known as a source of comedogenicity. This means that algae extract can block the pores and cause breakouts in some people. 

But why does this happen? Algae extract consists of long chains of sugar molecules which are lipophilic (attracted to oil). When these molecules come into contact with facial oil, they can clump together and lodge themselves inside the pores, blocking them off and leading to breakouts. 

More often than not, algae extract labeled as Alginate, Seaweed Polysaccaride Acids

Comedogenic rating: 4

4. Palm oil

The answer to why palm oil is comedogenic comes down to its molecular structure. As it turns out, molecules of palm oil are big enough to clog our pores, leading to a not-so-cute complexion! While not everyone's skin will react the same way, for some it's key to avoid ingredients like this that just don't go hand in hand with having healthy skin.

Comedogenic rating: 4

5. Flax seed oil 

There are a few reasons why flaxseed oil is so problematic for the skin. First, it's highly refined and processed, which strips away many of the beneficial compounds that make it good for our health. 

Second, it contains a high amount of linoleic acid, which can be drying and irritating for some people. And lastly, flaxseed oil is very thick and sticky, which can make it difficult to wash off and can clog pores. 

Comedogenic rating: 4

Now, what does noncomedogenic mean?

The term non-comedogenic is music to the ears of those with acne-prone skin. Translated to ordinary English, it simply means that the product won't clog your pores! Non-comedogenic products get their name from the word "comedo", which refers to a type of pimple that can form when oils and debris become trapped in your pores. 

By avoiding these comedones, your skin will be in much better shape than if you used comedogenic products. 

Our fave non comedogenic skincare ingredients

We all want to keep our skin looking its best, and the ingredients in our skincare products can make or break our success. Non-comedogenic ingredients are great to look for when you're on the hunt for a new skincare product, as this helps reduce acne-causing buildup of skin oils. 

Some of our favorite non-comedogenic skincare ingredients include: 

1. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is known for its many healing, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties, can be used to help treat many different skin ailments, and it’s non-comedogenic. This is great news for those with acne-prone or oily skin, as the oil will actually help reduce sebum production and keep breakouts at bay. 

Comedogenic rating: 1

Sheet Mask
Airy Fit Tea Tree Sheet Mask
Sheet Mask Airy Fit Sheet Mask (Tea Tree)
Sale price$4.00

2. Aloe vera

This slimy green plant is proving to be quite the miracle worker when it comes to its ability to combat skincare woes. Not only can aloe vera keep your skin moisturized and refreshing, but it can also help with acne breakouts and texture issues. Plus, its gel-like texture is considered non-comedogenic

Comedogenic rating: 0

Soothing Aloe Vera Gel - Asian Beauty Essentials
Moisturizer Soothing Aloe Vera Gel
Sale price$14.00

Bath Care
Aloe Clean Water Formula 92% Shower Gel
Bath Care Aloe Clean Water Formula 92% Shower Gel
Sale price$12.00

3. Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a popular choice for those looking to unclog their pores and clear up acne, as it has been proven effective in breaking down oils and unclogging dirt from pores. 

In this sense, salicylic acid is incredibly effective in treating acne without clogging pores. Firstly, it works as an exfoliant, removing the top layer of skin with dead cells. Secondly, because salicylic acid is oil-soluble, it has the ability to penetrate your pores and sweep away trapped dirt and oils that can lead to breakouts. 

Comedogenic rating: 0

Facial Toner
AHA BHA PHA 30Days Miracle Toner
Facial Toner Aha-BHA-PHA 30days Miracle Toner
Sale price$22.00

Facial Cleanser
Bye Bye Blackhead 30 Days Miracle Green Tea Tox Bubble Cleanser - Asian Beauty Essentials
Facial Cleanser Bye Bye Blackhead 30 Days Miracle Green Tea Tox Bubble Cleanser
Sale price$22.00

4. Niacinamide

Niacinamide is a highly effective skin care ingredient known for its ability to reduce inflammation, control sebum production, repair moisture balance and even help lighten pigment spots.

Comedogenic rating: 0

5. Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil does not contain components that would clog pores or increase sebum production, making it a great choice for skin types prone to breakouts. Plus, it is packed with vitamins like A, B6, and E that stimulate cell renewal and keeps your skin free from blemishes. 

Comedogenic rating: 2

6. Calendula oil

While it's often referred to as a "wonder oil," one of its most touted benefits is that it's non comedogenic, meaning that it won't clog pores or cause breakouts. This gorgeous yellow flower has been used in skin care for centuries and the oil made from its petals can clear away blemishes, calm irritation, and more. 

Comedogenic rating: 1

Where to find non comedogenic skincare products?

Now that you know what ingredients are comedogenic and how to identify them, it’s time to find the best non-comedogenic goodies to give your skin some TLC without ending with a pizza-like face! 

If you’re looking for skincare or makeup products with non-comedogenic cosmetic ingredients, visit Asian Beauty Essentials! In our store we fully display the ingredients list of every product, so it will be easier for you to check which ones could cause you to breakout and which ones won’t. Plus, we have anti-acne and oily skin collections with carefully curated products to treat your skin woes. 

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