Education, Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Are your Skincare products actually non-comedogenic?

Here’s what it means and how to tell.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Sep 14, 2021

Fact: the wrong formula or ingredients in some skincare products can aggravate some skin, or even be the root cause of breakouts. To combat this, experts suggest “non-comedogenic” products. But what exactly does that mean? And how can you tell if something is noncomedogenic? We’re here to help, let’s break it down below.


What is non-comedogenic?

The root word, comedo, refers to any type of blocked pore (blackheads, acne lesions, whiteheads). Non-comedogenic, or products that don’t contain pore-clogging ingredients, won’t cause oil backup or dead skin cells. A product is measured by the non-comedogenic scale (below) with low numbers meaning it’s passed the test, and five being the most pore-clogging.

  • 0: Not pore-clogging
  • 1: Very low chance that it’s pore-clogging
  • 2: Somewhat low chance that it’s pore-clogging
  • 3: Moderate chance that it’s pore-clogging
  • 4: Somewhat high chance that it’s pore-clogging
  • 5: Very high chance that it’s pore-clogging


Unfortunately, much like the terms “green” and “natural“, non-comedogenic often falls into greenwashing as there is no regulations. Translation: a brand doesn’t have to prove their claims and no one enforces it. So just because it says it’s non-comedogenic, doesn’t mean you won’t experience breakouts. And vice versa, just because it says it is comedogenic, doesn’t mean it will cause breakouts. In fact, there is no federal definition from the FDA for the term, so the hope is that brands are on the honor system and only label products non-comedogenic if they actually are.


What ingredients should I avoid?

If you have acne prone or oily skin, paying attention to ingredients will be paramount to maintaining clear, healthy skin. Avoid the comedogenic ingredients below:

  • Avocado oil
  • Carrot seed oil
  • Chia seed oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Date seed oil
  • Germ oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Flaxseed oil (linseed oil)
  • Marula oil
  • Mink oil
  • Moringa oil
  • Palm oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Wheat germ oil


The final takeaway

If you can’t find if an ingredient’s comedogenic online, you can always feel the texture. As a rule of thumb: thick creams and heavy oils tend to clog the pores. It could be a good thing to check the products you use daily – your facial cleanser, sunscreen, and moisturizer.


Like all things, if you are unsure about the product you can always patch test first. Place a small amount of your jawline or neck and give your skin a day or two to react. Obviously here you are looking for zero to no reactions. And if you’re still unsure, speak to a dermatologist.


Interested in more ingredients and soft skin? Isoparaffin might be the next one to tackle for you. And here are 7 solutions for oily skin.