Comedogenic Ratings and Why they Matter

September 02, 2019

Comedogenic Ratings and Why they Matter

We often hear the same response when we talk about oil in skincare products: won’t they clog my pores? This is actually a legitimate concern. Natural oil on the skin is healthy, but applying excess oil or the wrong types of oils can have a comedogenic effect, potentially causing clogged pores, blackheads, and more. 

Yet avoiding natural essential oils and carrier oils in skincare is likely a mistake. Many natural oils do not clog pores and in fact may help to combat common skin concerns such as acne. With this in mind, today we will be discussing the comedogenic scale and how this information can help you to make informed decisions when shopping for skincare products.

What is the Comedogenic Scale?

The comedogenic scale is a method of measuring how much a particular ingredient or product will have a comedogenic impact on your skin. In other words, the comedogenic rating of an ingredient refers to the likelihood that it will lead to clogged pores and/or blackheads.

Comedogenic Ratings and Why they Matter

The comedogenic scale runs from zero (0) to five (5):

  • Comedogenic rating of 0: the ingredient is extremely unlikely to cause clogged pores
  • Comedogenic rating of 1: there is a low chance of clogged pores
  • Comedogenic rating of 2: low to average risk of clogged pores
  • Comedogenic rating of 3: average risk of clogged pores
  • Comedogenic rating of 4: high risk of clogged pores
  • Comedogenic rating of 5: these ingredients have the highest risk of clogged pores

Comedogenic Ratings and Acne

Many acne products will have the words “non-comedogenic” on the label. There are few things to keep in mind here:

  1. There are no strict regulations that must be met in order for a product to claim that it is non-comedogenic.
  2. Non-comedogenic products are likely water-based and oil-free.
  3. Non-comedogenic products are not necessarily more effective for treating acne.

It is important to understand that acne is not always caused by surface oil. The Mayo Clinic lists clogged excess sebum production, clogged hair follicles, skin bacteria, and excess androgen hormones as acne causes. 

Mild cases of acne may even improve with the use of natural oils with low comedogenic ratings. Many essential oils have antibacterial and/or anti-inflammatory properties which may help. If you have questions or concerns, speaking to a dermatologist is always recommended.

Natural Oils with Low Comedogenic Ratings

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is an oil which is extracted from seeds of a hemp plant. This oil is lightweight, has a perfect 0 on the comedogenic scale, and is safe for topical use and as part of the diet. There is also virtually no risk of any THC or CBD causing the user to feel any psychoactive effects. 

Sunflower Oil

The oil from the classic summertime treat also scores a 0 on the comedogenic scale. Sunflower oil is sometimes used to fight against common conditions such as athlete’s foot, arthritis, psoriasis, and more. Sunflower oil is also used in cooking and is rich in essential fatty acids.

Argan Oil

Perhaps the most well known of the “light oils”, argan oil is incredibly versatile as a skincare ingredient. It can be used in soaps, shampoos, and even as the primary ingredient in argan face oil products

Shea Butter

Shea butter is a well known ingredient in hair care and skin care. Shea butter is a naturally sourced oil which is great for all skin types due to its low comedogenic score and powerful cleansing, moisturizing, and rejuvenating properties.

Comedogenic Ratings and Why they Matter

Oils and Clogged Pores FAQs

Does a high comedogenic score mean I shouldn’t use a particular oil?

Not necessarily. For example, coconut oil has a relatively high comedogenic score, but it is widely used as a topical skincare ingredient. Those with naturally oily skin or sensitive skin may want to avoid coconut oil for “leave-in” applications like moisturizers or face masks, whereas soaps and cleansers shouldn’t cause any problems. A higher comedogenic score simply means that those with concerns about clogged pores may want to use them in moderation.

Do clogged pores cause acne?

They can, but clogged pores are not the only cause of acne. It is important to understand what is causing your individual acne issues in order to best treat and reverse acne symptoms. For example, acne caused by bacteria may require a vastly different treatment method than acne caused by clogged hair follicles.

Are face oils okay for regular use?

Absolutely! Face oils with low comedogenic scores are perfect for daily use because they are lightweight, moisturizing, and they are easy on the skin. The key is to look for face oils with natural ingredients that are free of fillers such as synthetic chemicals, parabens, and sulfates.

Comedogenic Ratings and Why they Matter

The Yellow Bird Offers Skincare Products for all Skin Types

At The Yellow Bird, we strive to utilize the natural power of essential oils and carrier oils to deliver high quality products. Our skincare, hair care, and general use products are always free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, and GMOs. 

If you are looking for natural skincare products which are effective, gentle on the skin, and will not clog your pores, please consider the following!




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