You may have heard the term comedogenic rating or comedogenic scale in reference to ingredients used in your skincare and wondered what to make of this information.
In today’s skincare guide, I’ll introduce you to comedogenic ratings, show you why they are important to look for and how you can customise your skincare to your needs with this information.
What comedogenic ratings or scales mean
Simply put, comedogenic ratings indicate the likelihood that an ingredient will clog the pores of your skin. Oils contain fatty acids, and this makeup determines their comedogenicity.
Ratings go as follows:
- Will not clog skin pores: Jojoba oil, Hempseed oil for example
- Low probability
- Moderately low probability
- Moderate probability
- Fairly high probability
- Very likely to clog skin pores
When looking at the ingredients inside a product, you’ll want to look at the overall because even if a few of the ingredients are comedogenic, the end product may not be, depending on what function each of the ingredients performs.
For example, we use coconut oil in our soap. Although it has a comedogenic rating of 4 (for our virgin organic coconut oil – the type matters), it is fully saponified (turned into soap) in the end product so it does not stay on your skin.
The quantities used in the formulation will inform you here on whether the overall product is likely comedogenic. To figure out how much of any ingredient there is, take a look at the label and check where it is in the ingredients list (tip: the earlier the larger the quantity in the formula)
What skin pores are and what they do
What you most notice when looking at your skin are your pores. They are everywhere, and they have a very important role to play in maintaining the health of your skin. It’s the hair follicle in each of the pores that allow the oil & sweat generated by the skin’s sebaceous (oil) & sudoriferous (sweat) glands to come to the surface. This process helps your body regulate heat, eliminate toxins and lubricate your skin by creating sebum.
When your pores are healthy and working to carry out their key functions, dirt and dry skin cells get swept away when you cleanse your skin – more on the importance of cleansing your skin here. However, when the pores get clogged, they look visibly darker and bacteria makes its way to the blockage causing inflammation, and acne.
Prodding the pores is not effective as it can further irritate the pores and skin, usually making the situation worse. Closing the pores prevents them from performing their proper function so it is not recommended either.
Not all oils clog skin pores
This is where comedogenic ratings bear real interest. First, I hold the belief that all skin should be treated with the highest level of care – so I don’t believe that if we don’t have sensitive skin we should be using harsher products. After all, why risk introducing skin sensitivity? Sensitive skin products are formulated to avoid triggers and to improve the long-term health of the skin. If it’s good for sensitive skin, it is likely a good bet even if your skin is not sensitive.
For oily & acne-prone skin
If your skin is oily, or for combination skin if you want to treat areas that are oily, oil overproduction tends to be genetic however you can help your skin stay healthy to prevent bacterial infections, inflammation and acne. You’ll want to refer to comedogenic ratings to make sure your products include non-comedogenic ingredients. How low the rating needs to be for your skin will depend on how oily your skin is, so you’ll want to experiment a little and that can take time.
The best thing for oily skin is to respect the process – to not further irritate it with opening up the pores, producing the skin and using harsh cleansing methods. Gentle yet effective cleansing is very important – double cleansing is appropriate if you are using kind to skin products. In time, caring for your skin in this way will make a huge difference and keep your skin healthy & happy.
For dry skin
If your skin is too dry, this means that it is not retaining moisture well. Understanding comedogenic ratings can help you introduce more non-pore-clogging oils to your skin which in turns protects it by retaining moisture more effectively. You will still need to introduce moisture, but combining the two your skin will feel less dry and regulate better. I’ve previously written a post on the best times to moisturise your skin which you may find useful as it’s not only about introducing moisture but also maximising efficacy.
For dry skin, comedogenic ratings will help you in finding oils and butter that will aid the skin in a similar way as its natural sebum – I recommend Jojoba oil, for example, because it is composed of liquid wax esters rather than oil which act as a kind of natural moisturiser and environmental barrier for the skin. Hempseed oil as well is excellent because its composition makes it an excellent moisturiser and softener. You’ll want to use products that both moisturise and help the skin maintain its sebum barrier – to lock in the moisture. You’ll also want to look for oils & butters high in oleic acid as it is more occlusive (it locks in hydration).
I hope this post helps you in better understanding your skin needs and knowing what to look out for in your skincare routine. As always, if you have comments or questions, ask below! And if you know someone who could use this information, sharing is caring.
Until next time,