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Q: What Makes a Product Non-Comedogenic?

By Mercedes Taylor

With a love for cosmetics from a young age, my curiosity knew that there was much more to the goop inside the jar than meets the eye. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Analytical Chemistry and moved to California to chase my dreams of becoming a cosmetic chemist, passionate about developing results-driven skincare. Now, I am the Product Innovation Manager for Youth To The People. My primary experience is in research and development, with a focus on both sustainability and the formulation of skincare, bringing natural ingredients to the forefront of the cosmetics market. I’m here to answer all your skincare questions.

Question: What makes a product non-comedogenic?

Answer: It’s really based entirely on how the product is formulated. Commonly, products meant for the face will typically be formulated without ingredients like mineral oil, coconut oil, and the animal byproduct lanolin. These ingredients are both incredibly occlusive and have the potential to oxidize on the skin, which increases the potential for these oils to settle in pores and cause blackheads or inflammation. But not all skin reacts the same. 

Sometimes skin can handle—or react—to these ingredients depending on the concentration within the product. Importantly, products can also be formulated entirely without these common occlusive ingredients and still subject the user to comedogenic symptoms, like blackheads, white heads, and clogged pores. In the search for non-comedogenic products, it’s best to take a closer look at an ingredients list.

The important thing is less about avoiding certain ingredients; rather, it’s about knowing what ingredients are best for you. If you have oily skin, you shouldn’t avoid moisturizers, or even facial oils for that matter. [Click here to learn why topical hydration is essential.] Consider opting for facial oils that have emollients like dicaprylyl carbonate, squalane, and capric/caprylic triglycerides. These emollients do not oxidize on the skin and will continue to moisturize without clogging the pores. They also tend to help prevent transepidermal water loss without feeling suffocating or greasy. 

If you find yourself feeling reactive to products like your cleansers or makeup removers, consider opting for a soap-free, gentle cleanser without active ingredients. Avoid formulas with ingredients like potassium cocoate and sodium laureth sulfate because these soaps have a high pH range that can disturb the skin’s acid mantle. They result in a squeaky-clean but entirely stripped feeling. High-pH soaps raise our skin’s environmental pH because they disturb the microbiome (or acid mantle) and lipid barrier, leaving our skin in distress. No matter what comes next, the damage has been done. That is why it’s important to opt for cleansers that are pH-balanced. They will be far less likely to clog pores, and will ensure that the rest of the products in your routine are delivered effectively to  achieve your skincare goals. 

Choosing hydrating, pH balanced formulas with high-quality, clean ingredients is the key to making sure products are non-comedogenic, and won’t clog pores.




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