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Comedogenic And Pore-Clogging Ingredients To Avoid In Skincare Products

If your skin is oily and prone to acne, you know very well the importance of avoiding comedogenic ingredients. Comedogenic describes compounds that tend to block the pores and cause blackheads when applied to the skin. Because people with oily and acne-prone skin usually have larger and wider pores, they’re more predisposed to break out from using comedogenic ingredients.

To eliminate any potential acne trigger from your skincare routine, you need to be aware of the following comedogenic ingredients. They’re given a score between 1 and 5, with 1 meaning it’s unlikely to clog the pores and 5 that it is highly possible to block the pores. 

If your skin is normal or dry and doesn’t usually break out, you can use ingredients that score as high as 4 and even 5. However, those with oily, combination or breakout-prone skin must steer clear of ingredients with a comedogenic score higher than 2 to avoid acne. 

List of comedogenic ingredients

1 Comedogenic score

  • Anhydrous lanolin
  • Lanolin oil 
  • Caprylic acid
  • Cetyl ester NF
  • Butylene glycol
  • Propanediol dicaprylate/caprate (alcohol)
  • Sorbitan laurate
  • Sorbitan sesquinoleat
  • Sorbitan isostearate
  • Glyceryl stearate NSE
  • Glyceryl tricapylo/caprate
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • PEG 20 stearate
  • Candelilla wax
  • Carnuba wax
  • Lanolin wax
  • Carboxypropylcellul (thickener)
  • Hydroxypropylcellulose (thickener)
  • Carbomer 940 (thickener)
  • Talc (thickener)
  • Castor oil 
  • Hydrogenated castor oil
  • Chaulmoogra oil 
  • Babassu oil 
  • Simethicone (silicones)
  • Dimethicone (silicones)
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Lithium stearate 
  • Magnesium stearate 
  • Zinc oxide
  • Squalane

Comedogenic score

  • Capric acid (fatty acid)
  • Palmitic acid (fatty acid)
  • Stearic acid (fatty acid)
  • Eicosanoic acid (fatty acid)
  • Ascorbyl palmitate (fatty acid)
  • Ethylhexyl pelargonate (fatty acid)
  • Isodecyl oleate (fatty acid)
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Ceteareth-20 
  • Propanediol dipelargonate 
  • Propanediol caprylate/caprate
  • PEG 150 distearate
  • Steareth-2
  • Steareth-20
  • Oleth- 10
  • Oleth-3 phosphate
  • Laneth- 10
  • Beeswax (actually, the comedogenic score is between 0-2)
  • Jojoba oil (actually, the comedogenic score is between 0-2)
  • Olive oil 
  • Sandalwood seed oil
  • Almond oil
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Mineral oil (actually, the comedogenic score is between 0-2)
  • Phytantriol 
  • Triethanolamine

3 Comedogenic score

  • Myristic acid
  • Butyl stearate
  • Decyl oleate
  • Dioctyl malate
  • Dioctyl succinate
  • Isostearyl neopentanoate
  • Sorbitan oleate 
  • Glyceryl stearate SE
  • Wheat germ glyceride
  • PEG-8 stearate 
  • PEG 200 dilaurate
  • Laureth-23
  • Oleth-5 
  • Myristyl propionate
  • PPG-10 cetyl ether
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil 
  • Corn oil 
  • Avocado oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Mink oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Shark liver oil
  • Cotton seed oil
  • Tocopherol (actually, the comedogenic score is between 0-3)
  • Stearic acid
  • Algae extract

4-5 Comedogenic score

  • Acetylated lanolin alcohol
  • Lauric acid 
  • Cetyl acetate
  • Ethylhexyl palmitate
  • Isopropylinolate 
  • Isopropyl palmitate
  • Isostearyl isostearate
  • Myristyl lactate
  • Stearyl heptanoate
  • Isocetyl alcohol
  • Oleyl alcohol
  • Glyceryl-3-diisostearate
  • Polyglyceryl-3-diisostearate
  • Steareth-10 
  • PPG-5-Ceteth-10 Phosphate
  • Cocoa butter 
  • Coconut butter
  • Xylene
  • Isopropyl isostearate
  • Myristyl myristate
  • Laureth-4 
  • Oleth-3

Footnotes

The list of comedogenic ingredients was retrieved from the Journal Of The Society Of Cosmetic Chemists, “Comedogenicity and irritancy of commonly used ingredients in skin care products“, Acne Research Institute, 1236 Somer, November/December 1989.

If you don’t find an ingredient in the above list, it means it is not comedogenic, and you can safely use it.

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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