Non-comedogenic… how fancy sounding! What does non-comedogenic actually mean? Do you know what a product that is promising non-comedogenic actually does? Are there full proof tests that skincare products have to go through to be non-comedeogenic? This is ALL you need to know about the skincare claim of non-comedogenic.
FIRST, WHAT DOES NON-COMEDOGENIC ACTUALLY MEAN?
Let’s do some wordsmithing! This sciency sounding skincare word is like 3 words in 1! Non-Comedo-Genic. The first part is easy-peasy, it means NO. So what are we saying no to? The second part comedo, well that comes from the word comedone. A comedone is a ‘species’ of spots. A comedone type of spot is either a black-head spot or a white-head spot [there are 6 kinds of spots including cyctic, pustules, nodules… here is a great summary of the 6 different kind of spots you can suffer]. Wordsmithing our ways to the end, Genic, well that is abbreviating Genesis, which means something creates itself. SO, non-comedogenic is a very fancy way of saying something will not create black or white headed spots!
WHY DOES NON-COMEDOGENIC JUST STOP WHITE OR BLACK HEADED SPOTS?
So non-comedogenic means that these skincare products will not cause 2 outta the 6 kinds of spots. Why not the rest? I mean we are used to super-hero skincare didn’t ya know! This goes back to what non-comedogenic means. Black and White headed spots are the 2 kind of spots that are caused because stuff gets TRAPPED in pores. Think of Rapunzel locked away in her tower! Rapunzel is your skincare product and the tower is your pore. The other 4 kinds of spots happen mostly from the inside-out, that means they are caused mostly because of hormone, skin-type, genes and diet rather than what it is you’ve been using on your skin.
NON-COMEDOGENIC IS ALL ABOUT THE SIZE OF SKINCARE INGREDIENTS
What does non-comedogenic mean for skincare lovelies? A non-comedogenic product is like playing ‘which shape fits through which hole’ – do you remember those toys? A comedogenic product would be like using a door key with a bitta glue on the outside, perfect fit, but.. OOPS! How do you get it out again? OR like those wall-plugs you put around nails that grow spider like legs inside the wall – there ain’t no way there coming out without a fight (oh I have a lotta experience of that *wink wink*).
Something that is comedogenic has 1 or more ingredients in there that fit into the ‘sweet spot’ of your pore size. There are some ingredients that just cannot block pores, firstly because they are voluptuously curvy and those tinsy-wincy pores are not attractive enough for them! Secondly because they are like a sand particle in the ocean that is your pore. They might find their way into your pores but they are washed out easily!
SO WHICH SKINCARE INGREDIENTS ARE COMEDOGENIC?
Great question! This will be slightly different for everyone as your skin is beautifully unique to you. That means your pore size is different to your best buds! Also, your pores are different sizes in different areas of your skin. #DifferentIsBeautiful. If you are prone to breakouts or spots caused by skincare products then it’s likely you get them in your T-zone area. That is partly because your pores are bigger here than on your cheeks. It also means that your T-zone is the area which is most likely to get black or white heads.
Now onto that list! Skincare ingredients get a rating from 0 to 5, if they are pore loving and it wouldn’t even cross their mind to get stuck in your pores, then they get a ‘0’ rating. If they are perfectly matched to your pores size with a bitta sticky glue on their outside then they get a pore clogging score of ‘5’. Level 4 and 5 are the biggest culprits and here is a trusty pinnable reminder.
Here is the catch, just because a skincare product contains 1 of these ingredients, it doesn’t automatically mean it will absolutely , definitely clog your pores. Did your mum ever hide vegetables in your dinners when you were little? Maybe a cauliflower covered in a vat of cheese? That’s kinda like a pore-clogging ingredient in a skincare bottle, its mixed in with lots of other ingredients which might not be pore clogging! That means that their level 5 clogging abilities are diluted. If these ingredients are HIGH up in the ingredient list, it means there is WAY more of these dudes in there, so when high up and if in doubt, avoid.
NON-COMEDOGENIC PRODUCTS ARE BEST FOR WHICH SKIN TYPE?
What does non-comedogenic mean when it comes to skin-types? You brain-boxes have probably figured this out already! Non-comedogenic is great to look for when you have a skin type that is prone to spots. If you are prone to spots, it is a sign that your pores are super-cosy and attractive to visitors, so it’s a good idea to avoid some of those pore clogging visitors that don’t know when they have out-stayed their welcome. That’s those level 4 and 5-ivers!
WHAT NON-COMEDOGENIC DOESN’T MEAN
If skin is sensitive to breakouts then non-comedogenic is something to absolutely watch for. If your skin is just sensitive, then skip non-comedogenic and head for Hypoallergenic. When skin is just ‘reactive’ to stuff, maybe trying to impersonate an Italian sense of personality (?) then it can absolutely suffer from spots, but rather than it being because of blocked pores, it’s because skin is pretty fussy about what it accepts into the ‘house’ and flairs up at allergens and irritating ingredients.
SO WHAT TESTING HAS A NON-COMEDOGENIC PRODUCT BEEN THROUGH?
What does non-comedogenic mean for testing PROOF? Technically anyone could say I like the look of ‘non-comedogenic’ and put that on their bottle. That’s because there is no one person that makes the ‘rule-book’ when it comes to using the claim non-comedogenic. So I would always recommend choosing a skincare range that you TRUST, that also uses the claim non-comedogenic. If the skincare range have good values, then what they have ‘definitely-probably’ done is tested their product on people who KNOW they are sensitive to breakouts caused by skincare products. They have also ‘probabaly-definitely’ spent some time thinking about the ‘size’ of their skincare ingredients and stayed away from those that are close to the average ‘cosy’ pores size.
BUT WHY WOULD SOMEONE MAKE A COMEDOGENIC SKINCARE PRODUCT?
With all this talk of non-comedogenic, why would anyone make a comedogenic skincare product? It seems a bit silly ‘ey, to actually MAKE a skincare product that would actively block your pores and cause spots. Well, did you notice coconut oil was on that pore clogging list? Coconut oil has become the new ‘IT’ oil of the skincare world recently and it does have a lot of good things to give, BUT it can also block your pores. It’s tempting with the good, and then wham-bamming with the pore blocking.
Not everyone’s skin is prone to getting blocked. So skincare products made for, let’s say ‘dry skin that isn’t prone to pore-blocking’, could really benefit from a dose of coconut oil. That is why it’s super important to get to know your skin and which ingredients it LOVES. That way your skin can be the most awesome version of itself! #HellYup
Which non-comedogenic skincare treats do you use? Have you seen the non-comedogenic claim about the skincare town?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.