Beauty Insider Comedogenic

Why COMEDOGENIC RATING can’t be a good guideline

Why COMEDOGENIC RATING can’t be a good guideline

Original Author: Fira Syafiqah

When it comes to any kind of skincare, even when the product is claimed to be “NATURAL”, knowing a bit more about the composition of what you are using can be really helpful. One of the things to consider when choosing the ingredients is to make sure the product contains NON-COMEDOGENIC ingredient.

Let’s check it out what’s comedogenic is all about in this post!

What is Comedogenic?

Comedo refers to a single lesion of acne. Comedones are the skin-coloured, small bumps (papules) usually can be found on the forehead, nose and chin of those with acne. Open comedones are known as blackheads. The black colour comes from surface pigment (melanin) instead of dirt while closed comedones are known as whiteheads where the the follicle is completely blocked.

Comedogenic rating ranks cosmetic ingredient on their likelihood to clog your pores while comedogen is the ingredient that clog your pores. To check for the probability to get our pores clogged, we just simply skim through ingredient list and assume it will cause acne or clog pores because it contains a comedogenic ingredient or two. You can usually find them on cosdna or incidecoder

The picture below shows the comedogenic scale where this number indicates the probability to get clogged pores.

  •  0 – will not clog pores
  • 1 – slight chance oil will clog pores
  • 2 – will not clog pores for most
  • 3 – will clog pores for some, but not all
  • 4 – clog pores for most
  • 5 – will clog pores
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Comedogenic Ingredient is NOT the only culprit!

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When talking about the causes to clogged pores, COMEDOGEN is not the only culprit. Keep in mind, there are many factors which can contribute to this skin issue.

Let’s remember that we all have our own unique skin anatomy. Factors such as environment, illness, pregnancy, allergies can also play role on how your skin and pores react to certain ingredients. There is no one size fits all in treating our skin concern. Hence, the word, YMMV. What works for you may not work for the others.

This provides the strong reason why you cannot blame your skincare product solely because the acne that appears on your skin. Things can get hard in the journey but if you really consistent and trust the process, you will make through it someday.

Comedogenic Rating is actually UNRELIABLE

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All this time, you might be using this comedogenic rating as guideline before making a skincare product purchase. Truth to be told, the presented comedogenic rating is actually UNRELIABLE because the research that validates the result was not done on human facial skin. In other words, the methodology used for the tests performed on these ingredients have strong limitations and drawbacks. 

Till now, there is NO STANDARDIZED METHOD about comedogenic rating because research made in 1970s by Albert Klingman and James Fulton is based on follicle dilation and hyperkeratosis of rabbit ear model (REM) and evaluation of whole follicular content from back skin of black males. These two skin anatomy is totally different from our facial skin so this research is UNRELIABLE as we put our skincare products on human’s face , not on rabbit which has more sensitive skin. This research also used 100% concentration of ingredient to be tested on the sample.

Read more on the research paper here:

Concentration Does Matter

Look at the concentration of the so-called-comedogenic ingredient in the formulation.

A pure comedogenic substance at 100% concentration on the skin is VERY different than a finished product formulation that contains only a minute amount of that same comedogenic oil in a formulation. We also dilute the ingredient using Aqua/Water so the concentration of the pure raw material might differ. This indicates that the final formulation MAY NOT BE comedogenic at all even though it contains comedogenic or pore-clogging ingredients.

Even in some cases, a combination of non-comedogenic ingredients within a formula can create a comedogenic finished product. In other words, some ingredients that are not usually comedogenic can also be comedogenic in certain combinations and mixture of ingredients. ⠀

Quick Tips to Avoid Clogged Pores

Ultimately, you have to try out products to know for sure how it will react with your own individual skin but here are some quick tips on how to prevent and treat clogged pores (since many of us must have experienced this issue). Remember, the comedogenic rating can still be your guideline when choosing a product, but the reaction of the formulation with every human’s skin may vary. Only you know your skin better. 

  • Read the ingredients list before making a purchase! Since ingredients list are listed based on concentration, consider avoid buying the product which has oil at the top 5 in the list
  • Avoid using one type of comedogenic ingredients at 100% concentration. This can be usually found in plant oil including pure essential oil. For a mixture of oil like cleansing oil and face oil, consider buying if the oil in the list has lower comedogenicity.
  • Do a patch test to make sure you can tolerate with the whole product formulation or not
  • Exfoliate 2 to 3 times per week to remove dead skin cells
  • Cleansing oil does help in unclogging pores
  • Consider using clay mask as it can reduce excess sebum and offer deep cleansing
  • A beginner can opt for cleanser or toner containing BHA such as salicylic acid
  • Don’t use NOSE STRIP to remove dirt in pores

Opt for Low Concentration of Oil

In the case of cleansing oil and face oil, consider to buy them if the oil in the list has low comedogenicity. The comedogenic rating might be true to a certain extent and you can use it as your guideline when choosing a product. Remember to always listen to your skin when trying out new skincare in your routine.

Our Repairing and Soothing Facial Serum contains 1% rosehip oil, 0.03% damask rose essential oil and 0.01% tea tree oil. These oil are also diluted with major portion of the serum which is water, so this serum is most unlikely to clog your pores but YMMV. Your skincare products in your routine can also contribute to clogged pores formation. 


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