Comedogenic Ingredients Checker – 200 Pore Clogging Ingredients & Ratings

  • Elle 
Comedogenic Ingredient Checker

Comedogenic and Non-Comedogenic are intimidating but popular buzzwords in the cosmetic and acne worlds. In this article, we’ll define and break down exactly what comedogenic and non-comedogenic mean and why they are important for maintaining the healthy skin you desire.

We’ll also give you a list of 200 ingredients that have been shown to have pore-clogging properties that you can use as a comedogenic ingredient checker.

What do Comedogenic and Non-Comedogenic Mean?

Comedogenic = Bad

Non-Comedogenic = Good

In the most simple terms, comedogenic means that an ingredient has a tendency to block or clog the pores of your skin. Scientifically, the word comedogenic is derived from ‘comedone’ or ‘comedo’, which in essence are little bumps on the skin and the earliest form of acne. Obviously, if you’re acne-prone or have sensitive skin, you’d want to avoid these types of ingredients.

Thus, inversely, you’d be more interested in finding non-comedogenic products, meaning cosmetics and skin-care products designed specifically to help avoid blocking and clogging skin pores.

So how is comedogenicity determined and what research is there to back it?

clogged pore
Clogged pore that has become a pimple

Comedogenic Research

Comedogenicity is a term that describes how comedogenic an ingredient is. The concept of comedogenicity really became prominent in the 1970’s and 1980’s and a lot of the research done during this time still resonates and serves as the basis for modern research.

Dr. James Fulton Jr. was revolutionary in his work regarding comedogenic identification. In 1984 and 1989, he published the findings of his landmark research helping to better understand the acne-related impacts cosmetics had on individuals (if interested, you can read his 1989 publication here, Comedogenicity and irritancy of commonly used ingredients in skin care products).

Using rabbit ears because of their sensitivity and quick reaction time, he and other scientists derived ways to identify the number of comedones found in ingredients that ultimately lead to blocked pores and breakouts that acne-prone individuals might experience.

Comedogenic Grading Scale

Comedogenic Rating Scale

This resulted in the development of a comedogenic grading scale that ranks ingredients on a scale of 0-5, where 0-2 causes no or very little pore blockage or irritation, meaning it’s non-comedogenic, and 3-5 is more likely to cause pore blockage and acne breakout, meaning it’s comedogenic:

  • 0 – won’t clog pores at all
  • 1 – very low likelihood of clogging pores
  • 2 – moderately low likelihood of clogging pores
  • 3 – moderate likelihood of clogging pores
  • 4 – fairly high likelihood of clogging pores
  • 5 – high likelihood of clogging pores

These research results identified a plethora of ingredients that were comedogenic and most likely to cause pore blockage and acne. Per Fulton Jr.’s 1984 study, the most prominently comedogenic ingredients included:

  • isopropyl myristate and its analogs, such as isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl isostearate, butyl stearate, isostearyl neopentanoate, myristyl myristate, decyl oleate, octyl stearate, and octyl palmitate or isocetyl stearate
  • Lanolins
  • D & C Red dyes
  • Propylene glycol-2 (PPG-2) myristyl propionate
  • Oils including avocado, coconut, soybean, carrot seed, and many others

So how do we determine if the products we use are comedogenic or non-comedogenic and what are the potential side effects of using comedogenic products?

Determining Comedogenicity

As we mentioned before, comedogenicity is how comedogenic an ingredient is (or how likely it is to potentially cause acne) and is measured on a scale from 0-5. Determining whether an ingredient and/or product is comedogenic or non-comedogenic is where it gets a bit tricky, however.

While Fulton Jr. revolutionized the research and comedogenicity grading scale, other researchers and scientists that have followed may have used different methodologies and scales for counting comedones. In essence, there is no standardized way for measuring comedogenicity. 

Likewise, the FDA does not regulate and require cosmetic products to be labeled as either comedogenic or non-comedogenic. But fear not, there are some general best practices you can follow for determining if the product is likely to be comedogenic:

  • Product ingredient lists are generally in order of highest to lowest concentration, so you can focus on the top 5-7 ingredients as these will be the most active and potent,
  • Look for products that specifically claim to be non-comedogenic and oil free
  • Review Fulton Jr.’s and other comedogenic product scoring lists

Comedogenic Ingredient List

We have compiled a list of 200 pore-clogging ingredients. Look out for any of these in the products you are buying and avoid them if possible.

  • A & D additive
  • Acetylated Lanolin
  • Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
  • Algae Extract
  • Algin
  • Almond oil
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Arachidic Acid
  • Ascorbyl palmitate
  • Avocado oil
  • Azulene
  • Beeswax
  • Benzaldehyde
  • Benzoic Acid
  • Beta carotene
  • BHA
  • Bismuth
  • Bubussa Oil
  • Butyl Stearate
  • Butylene glycol
  • Cajeput Oil
  • Calendula
  • Camphor
  • Candelilla Wax
  • Capric acid
  • Caprylic Acid
  • Carbomer 940
  • Carnuba Wax
  • Carrageenan
  • Castor Oil
  • Ceteareth-20
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20
  • Cetyl Acetate
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Chamomile
  • Chaulmoogra Oil
  • Chlorella
  • Chondrus Crispus (aka Irish Moss or Carageenan Moss)
  • Coal Tar
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coconut Alkanes
  • Coconut alkanes (coconut oil)
  • Coconut Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Cocos nucifera (coconut oil)
  • Colloidal Sulfur
  • Corn oil
  • Cotton Aws Oil
  • Cotton Seed Oil
  • D & C Red # 17
  • D & C Red # 21
  • D & C Red # 3
  • D & C Red # 30
  • D & C Red # 36
  • Decyl Oleate
  • Di (2 ethylhexyl) succinate
  • Dimethicone
  • Dioctyl malate
  • Dioctyl Succinate
  • Disodium Monooleamido
  • Eicosanoic acid
  • Ethoxylated Lanolin
  • Ethylhexyl Palmitate
  • Ethylhexyl pelargonate
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Glyceryl Stearate NSE
  • Glyceryl Tricaprylin/Caprate
  • Glyceryl-3 Diisostearate
  • Glycine soya oil (soybean)
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hexadecyl Alcohol
  • Hexylene Glycol
  • Hydrogenated Castor Oil
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
  • Hydroxypropyl Cellulose
  • Isocetyl Alcohol
  • Isocetyl Stearate
  • Isodecyl Oleate
  • Isopropyl Isostearate
  • Isopropyl lanolate
  • Isopropyl Linolate
  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Isopropyl neopentanoate
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Isostearic acid
  • Isostearyl alcohol
  • Isostearyl Isostearate
  • Isostearyl Neopentanoate
  • Jojoba wax
  • Kelp
  • Laminaria Digitata Extract
  • Laminaria Saccharina Extract (Laminaria Saccharine)
  • Laneth-10
  • Lanolic acid
  • Lanolin alcohol
  • Lanolin Oil
  • Lanolin Wax
  • Laureth 23
  • Laureth 4
  • Laureth-23
  • Laureth-4
  • Lauric Acid
  • Linoleic acid
  • Linolenic acid
  • Linseed oil
  • Lithium Stearate
  • Magnesium Stearate
  • Mango Butter
  • Mineral oil
  • Mink Oil
  • Mink oil, refined
  • Myreth-3 myristate
  • Myristic Acid
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Myristyl Lactate
  • Myristyl Myristate
  • Octyl Palmitate
  • Octyl Stearate
  • Octyldodecanol
  • Olea europaea fruit oil
  • Oleic acid (in natural oils)
  • Oleth-10
  • Oleth-3
  • Oleth-5
  • Oleyl Alcohol
  • Olive oil
  • Palm oil
  • Palmitic acid
  • Parkii
  • Peach kernel oil
  • Peanut oil
  • PEG 100 distearate
  • PEG 100 Stearate
  • PEG 150 distearate
  • PEG 16 Lanolin
  • PEG 2- Sulfosuccinate
  • PEG 20 Stearate
  • PEG 200 Dilaurate
  • PEG 8 Stearate
  • Pentaerythrital tetraisostearate
  • PG caprylate/caprate
  • PG Dicaprylate/Caprate
  • PG dipelargonate
  • PG Monostearate
  • Phytantriol
  • Plankton
  • Polyethene Glycol (PEG 400)
  • Polyethene Glycol 300
  • Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate
  • Potassium Chloride
  • PPG 10 cetyl ether
  • PPG 12 PEG 65 lanolin oil
  • PPG 2 Myristyl Propionate
  • PPG 5 Ceteth 10 phosphate
  • Propylene Glycol Monostearate
  • Prunus amygdalus dulcis oil
  • Prunus dulcis oil (almond)
  • Red Algae
  • Sandalwood seed oil
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame oil
  • Shark Liver Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Simethicone
  • Sodium Chloride (Salt)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Solulan 16
  • Sorbitan isostearate
  • Sorbitan laurate
  • Sorbitan Oleate
  • Sorbitan Sesquinoleate
  • Soy oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Spirulina
  • Squalane
  • Steareth 2
  • Steareth-10
  • Steareth-20
  • Stearic acid: TEA
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Stearyl Heptanoate
  • Sulfated Castor Oil
  • Sulfated Jojoba Oil
  • Sulphated Castor Oil
  • Sulphated Jojoba Oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Talc
  • Tocopherol
  • Triethanolamine
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Vitamin E oil (under 2% may be ok)*
  • Vitis vinifera (grapeseed) oil
  • Water-soluble sulfur
  • Wheat Germ Glyceride
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Xylene
  • Zinc Oxide

Effects of Comedogenic Products

Acne is commonly driven by hormones and generally occurs as a result of something blocking the skin pores (i.e., hair follicles, oil, etc.) and bacteria being created as a result. This subsequently causes irritation, redness, and even puss to develop. 

Acne as a result of using a comedogenic product is not likely to be as prominent, red, and painful as hormonal driven acne. Instead, those with acne-sensitive skin are likely to see small white bumps that are not nearly as red or painful when using comedogenic products. 

It’s important to note however that like most things, comedogenic products will affect people differently. A few key takeaways include:

  1. Not everyone will react and develop acne as a result of using a comedogenic product. Skin sensitivity differs and thus individuals who are not generally sensitive to acne may not have any issues at all.
  2. Those who are prone to acne and have oily skin are likely best served using non-comedogenic products as they are more susceptible to breakouts. Look for non-comedogenic labels and carefully read the product ingredient list.
  3. Just because an ingredient is comedogenic, doesn’t necessarily mean that the product as a whole will be comedogenic and have adverse results. The strength and concentration of the comedogenic ingredient is key, so if it’s listed within the top 5-7 ingredients, it’s likely to have a greater impact because of its overall concentration in the product; however, if it’s a less concentrated ingredient, the product may still be good to use. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re an acne-prone individual, switching over to non-comedogenic products might be the best route to go. While comedogenic products won’t impact all users in the same manner, and some comedogenic products might even be the best option for those with drier and less oily skin, those more susceptible to acne will benefit greatly by alleviating the risk of exacerbated breakouts by switching to non-comedogenic products.

Related Articles

Skin Purging vs Breakout

What Does Skin Purging Look Like?

Does Niacinamide Cause Purging?

Dark Spots On Chin Due To Hair Plucking