Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ingredients Exposed #2: Comedogenic Critters

Well hello, and welcome back to part two of my 'Ingredients Exposed' series. If you missed part 1 then you can get the low-down on the chemical nasties in our beauty products by clicking here.
Today the spotlight is on natural skincare, and the comedogenic critters that get into our pores, clog them up and cause breakouts - which, let's be honest, nobody wants. Now, I'm not trying to put anyone off anything here, and as you know, I'm a big fan of natural skincare myself. However, recently, after twenty-something years of pretty well-behaved skin, I suddenly began suffering from quite intense breakouts on my chin, and after a bit of digging I was able to shed some light on one or two ingredients that might well have been the culprits. In doing so, I discovered a whole host of other potentially comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients that are often found in skincare, so I thought it was a good idea to get them out in the open.
Before we get started, I'd just like to point out that not all of these ingredients are definitely going to give you a face-full of blemishes - different skins seem to be able to deal with them in different ways, and lots of these are really lovely and nourishing if yours can cope with them. So please don't go binning your most beloved cleanser/serum/moisturiser/etc. if you've never had any problems with it and you spy one of these on the ingredients list!

Coconut Oil is often touted as something of a miracle oil, and along with a whole host of health benefits it is often used for a number of beauty reasons. Many people swear by coconut oil, both as a conditioning hair treatment (didn't do much for me) and a moisturiser, but personally when I used this on my body I had a terrible breakout all over my back and chest. Needless to say, I didn't make the same mistake again, but recently I started using a new cleanser and began to suffer from countless blemishes on my face. As this was unusual for me, I had a little look at the ingredients list and could have kicked myself when I saw 'coconut oil' on there, staring back at me.
When ingredients are tested for their comedogenic level, they are ranked on a scale of 1-5, and this received a 4 - needless to say, it's actually one of the worst offenders! Cocoa Butter and Coconut Butter also score a 4, and are found in a wide range of body moisturisers, which don't usually cause any problems. But be mindful when popping these on your face, as while they are extremely moisturising, the skin on your face is much more sensitive and more likely to react if something doesn't agree with it.
Look out for oils such as cotton seed oil, mink oil, soy bean oil and hydrogenated vegetable oil, which all score a 3. I'm actually quite shocked to think that there are brands who would use hydrogenated vegetable oil, as we spend so much of our time trying to eliminate such bad fats from our diets. If you wouldn't eat it, then why on earth would you want to put it on your skin!? It's basically natural vegetable oil that has had metal added to it as a catalyst and hydrogen forced through it, and consists primarily of triglycerides of fatty acids. is often used in skincare as well as a variety of other beauty products. Essentially, it creates a barrier on the skin's surface that slows the loss of moisture, leaving skin feeling more hydrated. Sounds good, but at the same time it's clogging up those pores, which will inevitably result in breakouts.
Sulfated castor oil and sulfated jojoba oil also both score a 3 on the comedogenic scale, while wheatgerm oil scores a whopping 5.
There are really so many ingredients that it would be impossible to go through them all individually, so instead I have popped a table below for you with all the oils, waxes and botanicals to look out for next time you're updating your beauty collection.
(Excuse the lay-out, for some reason it just didn't want to sit centrally!)

0 - Will Not Clog Pores
1 - Low
2 - Moderately Low
3 - Moderate
4 - Fairly High
5 - High


Almond Oil - 2 
Apricot Kernel Oil - 2 
Avocado Oil - 2 
Camphor - 2 
Castor Oil - 1 
Cocoa Butter - 4 
Coconut Butter - 4 
Coconut Oil - 4 
Corn Oil - 3 
Cotton Seed Oil - 3 
Evening Primrose Oil - 2 
Grape Seed Oil - 2 
Hemp Seed Oil - 0 
Mineral Oil - 0 
Mink Oil - 3 
Olive Oil - 2 
Peanut Oil - 2 
Petrolatum - 0 
Safflower Oil - 0 
Sandalwood Seed Oil - 2 
Sesame Oil - 2 
Shea Butter - 0 
Soybean Oil - 3 
Sunflower Oil - 0 
Wheat Germ Oil - 5 
Shark Liver Oil - 3 


Beeswax - 2 
Candelilla Wax - 1 
Carnuba Wax - 1 
Ceresin Wax - 0 
Emulsifying Wax NF - 2 
Jojoba Oil - 2 
Lanolin Wax - 1 
Sulfated Jojoba Oil - 3 


Algae Extract - 5 
Aloe Vera Gel - 0 
Calendula - 1 
Carrageenans - 5 
Chamomile - 2 
Chamomile Extract - 0 
Cold Pressed Aloe - 0 
Red Algae - 5 

I hope this has been useful, and that perhaps you've learned something new. Just remember, you really don't need to go binning all your best products over it, but do be aware of what you are using and if your skin starts acting up over something new then hopefully you'll have some idea where to start in solving the mystery.




  1. Funny how coconut oil does so much for my skin but does nothing but clogging for yours! Very informative post, thank you! I didn't know that all these ingredients where clogging. Or at least have high risk


    1. I know, I literally can't go near the stuff. Glad the post was helpful xx

  2. Great post Mel!! I did learn something new today thanks :) whenever i'm thinking of buying a new product I will be referring back to your list :D

    Jen xxx

  3. Sometimes I think I obsess over ingredients way too much, but I think it's worth knowing what ingredients are rated as highly comedogenic - mine is so breakout prone I just don't want to risk making it worse!xx

    1. I never used to bother, but then I got into natural stuff and then at some point some ingredients just weren't agreeing with me. I think it's good to find out what they are in such cases, so you can avoid having the same issues in the future xx

  4. This is so useful, thank you so much :D Going to have a look at all my skincare now to see what is in it all!

    Amy xx
    A Little Boat Sailing

    1. You're welcome, glad it was helpful :)xx

  5. Love this post! Its perfect for someone like me with sensitive, reactive skin to know this..
    Thank you!

    Easmin xoxo

  6. I adore cocoa butter in my body lotion, but you're correct that it will make you break out if you use it on the face!! It's always good to research your ingredients, whether they're natural or not.

  7. My theory that anything made from edible things like coconut oil or corn starch will cause break outs. Corn starch and rice starch cause bacteria to breed thus causing acne :(

    1. That's interesting, will bear that in mind! Thanks hun xx

  8. I love coconut oil for my hair and body but I used it on my face one day and it really wasn`t a good idea! Anyway I wrote a post about comedogenic ingredients too it you would want to read it. I didn`t made a list, I tried to wrote it in a way anyone can remember them.

  9. Thank you mirror on the wall. This is very helpful. Erica Nagode, I would like to see you post too. Where can I fine it? Do you have a link you can share?


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