Feb 242014
 
What is Comedogenic?

Comedogenic refers to substances/ingredients which cause a comedo – a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. Combination of oil and keratin (skin debris) blocks the follicle, causing blackheads, whiteheads and acne as a result of infection.

How can I know if my cosmetic product is comedogenic?

As a rule of thumb: read the ingredients list. Just as with toxic ingredients you should avoid in your cosmetic products, you should apply the same approach with comedogenic ingredients: learn about them and then avoid them.

Are all ingredients on comedogenic list of ingredients equally comedogenic for everyone?

No. For example, coconut oil is an excellent ingredient on itself and in combination with other ingredients; a great emollient, moisturizer, used in skin care, body care and hair care products. However, if you have an acne prone skin, coconut oil may very well prove to be comedogenic for you and thus you should avoid the products which contain coconut oil.
There’s a general list of comedogenic ingredients, and while most of them are synthetic ingredients, some natural ingredients may be found on that list. What may suit your skin, may not suit someone else’s skin. Coconut oil may be comedogenic when used on the face, but not when used on the body and hair.

So, not only synthetic ingredients, but some natural ingredients can be comedogenic, too?

Yes. It should be noted, that for a long time, it was said that vegetable oils are not for oily and/or acne prone skin. That is not true. Some vegetable oils can be comedogenic for some people, but not all vegetable oils are comedogenic for all people. Before I learned about cosmetic ingredients and therefore started using natural organic cosmetic products, I believed that, for example, olive oil causes acne and should be avoided by those who have oily skin. In my case, that proved not to be the case. I’ve been using olive oil alone and as an ingredient in many natural organic cosmetic products with no problem at all.

The label on a product says it’s non-comedogenic. Is it really?

No. Companies put all sorts of high-flying claims on their products (we’ve talked about greenwashing in the Intro Guide article “What’s the difference between Natural, Organic, Bio, Eco?”). Just because a label on a cosmetic product says it’s natural and/or organic, you shouldn’t believe it is until you’ve read the ingredients list; the same should be applied when a product says it’s non-comedogenic. You’d be surprised to learn just how many products, which advertise themselves as non-comedogenic contain comedogenic ingredients. Or even worse – products, advertised as anti-acne treatments – contain, actually, comedogenic ingredients!
And even if there’s no typical comedogenic ingredient in the product, a certain ingredient may very well clog your pores – for a simple reason – everyone’s skin is different. So, ingredients list + necessary testing of a cosmetic product may be in order for your to discover if the product suits your skin.

I have normal/dry skin. Should I worry about comedogenic ingredients?

Maybe. As previously said, everyone’s skin is different. While those (lucky ones) who have normal skin, will not have that many problems with comedogenic ingredients, likewise those, who have dry skin, again – short of testing which ingredients are not suitable for your skin, it’s hard to apply a general rule. Dry skin or not, you should avoid toxic ingredients (and quite a number of comedogenic ingredients fall under toxic ingredients) such as petrolatum because even those, who have dry skin may have sensitive (easily irritated) skin as well, so while an ingredient may not clog your pores, it may be irritating to your skin.

If one ingredient is comedogenic when used on a face and/or neck is it also comedogenic when used on a body?

Not necessarily. Coconut oil or cocoa butter may be comedogenic when used on acne prone skin on the face, but perfectly suitable when used as a body lotion (unless the skin on your body suffers from acne as well); alone or mixed with other ingredients.

Is an ingredient still comedogenic if farther down the ingredients list?

Yes. While the ingredients farther down the list they are listed, less of a concentration a product consists of it and thus has less effect, most comedogenic ingredients may still very well cause clogged pores – again, depending on your skin. However, you should keep one thing in mind; just as there’s a problem with a buildup of toxic ingredients, so there is a problem with a buildup of comedogenic ingredients. Think about it: if a comedogenic ingredient is listed farther down the ingredient list and thus is less concentration, you use a toner, then serum, maybe moisturizer, then foundation and blush, all containing comedogenic ingredients in less concentration – but the buildup of comedogenic ingredients is substantial.

So, where’s the list with comedogenic ingredients? Glad you asked.

Here’s the list of typical comedogenic ingredients, short explanation, followed by comedogenic scale (1 – irritating, 2 – highly irritating, 3 – comedogenic, 4 – highly comedogenic, 5 – extremely comedogenic) and a link to EWG (click on the name of the ingredient) for you to do some more research on the given ingredient, including toxicity of the cosmetic ingredient.

 

Comedogenic Ingredients:

 

Isopropyl isostearate

Function: emollient
Used in: lipstick, foundation, concealer, lip gloss, eye shadow, bronzer, facial powder, CC cream, lip liner, eye liner, skin care (moisturizer, anti-aging treatments, sunscreen, around eye cream, body firming lotion, after-shave, baby oil, …
Scale: 5

Isopropyl myristate

Function: emollient, solvent, fragrance ingredient
Used in: foundation, eye shadow, blush, lip gloss, eye liner, lip balm, bronzer, concealer, moisturizer, anti-aging treatment, moisturizer, lip balm, facial cleanser, anti-acne treatments (!), hand cream, shampoo, body oil, body spray, hair spray, damaged skin treatments (!)
Scale: 5

Laureth-4

Function: emulsifying agent
Used in: foundation, concealer, eye liner, sunscreen, anti-acne treatment (!), anti-aging treatment, moisturizer, shampoo, body wash,…
Scale: 5

Myristyl myristate

Function: emollient
Used in: lipstick, foundation, concealer, eye liner, sunscreen, moisturizer, lip balm,…
Scale: 5

Oleth-3

Function: fragrance ingredient, emulsifying agent
Used in: sunscreen, anti-aging treatments, styling gel
Scale: 5

Acetylated lanolin (alcohol)

Function: emollient, emulsifying agent
Used in: lip gloss, eye shadow, lipstick, lip balm, blush, foundation, sunscreen, moisturizer, anti-acne treatment (!),…
Scale: 4

Cetearyl alcohol

Function: emollient, emulsifying agent
Used in: moisturizer , anti-aging, facial cleanser, sunscreen, around-eye cream, exfoliant, anti-acne treatment (!), lip balm, foundation, concealer, lipstick, eye liner, mascara, conditioner, shampoo, baby lotion…
Scale: 4

Ceteareth 20

Function: surfactant
Used in: moisturizer, anti-aging, facial cleanser, exfoliant, anti-acne treatment (!), sunscreen, foundation, concealer, conditioner, shampoo, baby lotion,
Scale: 4

Cocoa butter

Function: emollient
Used in: moisturizer, sunscreen, shaving cream, lip balm, lip gloss, lipstick, body wash, body lotion, body oil, conditioner, shampoo, baby lotion,…
Scale: 4

Coconut butter

Function: fragrance ingredient, emollient
Used in: moisturizer, lip balm, exfoliant, sunscreen, shaving cream, lipstick, lip gloss, bar soap, body wash, body lotion, body oil, conditioner, shampoo,…
Scale: 4

Isostearyl isostearate

Function: emollient
Used in: moisturizer, lip balm, facial cleanser, exfoliant, anti-aging, lipstick, lip gloss, eye shadow, bronzer, mascara,…
Scale: 4

Isopropyl palmitate

Function: fragrance ingredient, emollient
Used in: moisturizer, anti-aging, sunscreen, facial cleanser, exfoliant, lipstick, eye shadow, eye liner, foundation, concealer, bronzer, lipstick, lip gloss, body spray, body lotion, conditioner, shampoo, baby lotion,…
Scale: 4

Lauric acid

Function: fragrance ingredient, emulsifying agent, surfactant
Used in: moisturizer, toner, facial cleanser, sunscreen, exfoliant, anti-aging, anti-acne treatment (!), body wash, bar soap, deodorant, foundation, eye shadow, hair color, shampoo, conditioner,…
Scale: 4

Myristyl lactate

Function: emollient
Used in: moisturizer, sunscreen, lipstick, lip gloss, lip liner, eye liner, blush, concealer, foundation,…
Scale: 4

Stearyl heptanoate

Function: emollient
Used in: moisturizer, sunscreen, toner, anti-aging, eye liner, lip liner,…
Scale: 4

Butyl stearate

Function: fragrance ingredient, emollient
Used in: moisturizer, lip balm, lip liner, eye liner, lipstick, bronzer, body oil, styling gel,…
Scale: 3

Decyl oleate

Function: emollient
Used in: moisturizer, anti-aging, exfoliant, sunscreen, foundation, concealer, conditioner, styling gel, hair color, baby lotion,
Scale: 3

Glyceryl stearate SE

Function: emulsifying agent, surfactant
Used in: moisturizer, anti-acne treatment (!), anti-aging, lip balm, toner, facial cleanser, sunscreen, exfoliant, mascara, eye liner, body wash, conditioner, hair color, styling gel, shampoo, baby lotion,…
Scale: 3

Isostearyl neopentanoate

Function: emollient
Used in: moisturizer, sunscreen, facial cleanser, foundation, eye shadow, concealer, blush, eye liner, lipstick, shampoo, conditioner, baby lotion,…
Scale: 3

Laureth-23

Function: surfactant
Used in: moisturizer, anti-aging, sunscreen, blush, mascara, body wash, deodorant, conditioner, hair color, shampoo, baby lotion,…
Scale: 3

Myristic acid

Function: emulsifying agent, surfactant, fragrance ingredient
Used in: moisturizer, anti-acne treatment (!), facial cleanser, sunscreen, exfoliant, anti-aging, mascara, eye shadow, body wash, conditioner, shampoo,
Scale: 3

Stearic acid

Function: emollient
Used in: moisturizer, sunscreen, lipstick, lip gloss, foundation, concealer, hair color,
Scale: 3

 

Other comedogenic ingredients:

Benzoic Acid; Cetyl Acetate; Cetyl Alcohol; Colloidal Sulfur; Dioctyl Succinate; Disodium; Monooleamido PEG 2-Sulfosuccinate; Ethoxylated Lanolin; Ethylhexyl Palmitate; Glyceryl-3-Diisosterate; Hexadecyl Alcohol; Isocetyl Alcohol; Isocetyl Stearate; Isodecyl Oleate; Isopropyl Linolate; Octyl Palmitate; Octyl Stearate; Oleyl Alcohol; PEG 150 Distearate; PEG 200 Dilaurate; PEG 8 Stearate; PEG 16 Lanolin; Polyglyceryl-3-Diisosterate; Potassium Chloride; Propylene Glycol Monostearate; Red Algae; Sodium Chloride; Sodium Lauryl Suflate; Solulan 16; Steareth 10; Syearyl Heptanoate; Xylene

Natural ingredients that may be comedogenic:

Algae Extract, Almond Oil; Apricot Kernel Oil; Cocoa butter; Coconut Butter; Coconut Oil; Sandelwood Seed Oil; Sesame Oil; Wheat Germ Oil

 

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  One Response to “Comedogenic Ingredients

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