Is Olive Oil Comedogenic or Non-Comedogenic?

  • Elle 
Is Olive Oil Comedogenic

Most people may never have even considered olive oil for more than just a kitchen staple. But because of its antioxidant and moisturizing properties, olive oil is becoming more popular as a skin-care product.

So is olive oil comedogenic or non-comedogenic and can it cause you to break out? In this article, we’ll touch on comedogenicity, the olive oil comedogenic rating, the benefits of olive oil, and more!

Comedogenic vs. Non-Comedogenic

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 someone that is acne-prone or has 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 does olive oil fare on the comedogenic scale?

Is Olive Oil Comedogenic or Non-Comedogenic?

The answer here is that olive oil is actually non-comedogenic.

As we’ve described in detail in our Comedogenic ingredient checker, the scale for measuring comedogenicity is not defined; however, olive oil has a moderately low likelihood of clogging pores and thus comes in as non-comedogenic.

Olive Oil Comedogenic Rating

What Makes Olive Oil Non-Comedogenic?

Compared to other cooking oils, virgin and extra virgin olive oil undergo substantially less processing. Primarily derived from olives grown in Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, and even olives from California, olives must first be picked, then grinded and mixed into a paste before the oil can be separated via a centrifuge.

Olive oil comes in a variety of types, including its most purest and unrefined form called extra virgin olive oil. Also unrefined but slightly higher in oleic acidity levels is virgin olive oil. Refined oils might include “pure olive oil” or simply “olive oil” and these will lack some of the anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, and vitamins that make the unrefined oils so beneficial.

It’s important to use a high-quality, non-refined olive oil to ensure you get the proper nutrients and benefits. It’s also important to note that olive oil can be ruined if exposed to excessive heat, light, or oxygen, so make sure to store it properly.

Overall, olive oil is an antioxidant that is rich in fatty acids (oleic acid) and Vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

  • Oleic acid can be found naturally in the outer layer of our skin. This fatty acid is ideal for hydration and those with dry skin.
  • Vitamin A is a retinoid that supports skin health by minimizing hyperpigmentation, fighting acne, and reducing wrinkles and fine lines, and is also an antioxidant that helps protect against free radicals.
  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can help reduce inflammation and helps the body absorb calcium.
  • Vitamin E is another powerful vitamin with antioxidant properties that helps fight off free radicals.

Olive oil also contains squalene, which has antioxidant properties that may help prevent sun damage.  One study published in 2000 even suggests that extra virgin olive oil may aid in preventing and/or reducing cancer-causing cells and tumors.

While olive oil is non-comedogenic, it is a heavier oil that is rich in fatty acids. These fatty acids can foster an environment for bacteria to grow, which could lead to clogged pores and breakouts for those with acne-prone skin. So while it has many benefits, it may not be for everyone.

Olive Oil Comedogenic Rating

Comedogenic Rating Scale

While there is a lack of standardization for the comedogenic rating scale, olive oil has a moderately low likelihood of clogging pores.

An ingredient or product’s comedogenic rating is typically on a scale from 0-5 with the following designations:

  • 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

Based on the many different sites we scoured, olive oil consistently came in at a 2 on the comedogenic scale, meaning that it is technically non-comedogenic as it has only a moderately low likelihood of clogging pores, but it may not be the best option for those with oily skin.

Products in a Similar Range to Olive Oil

The following products also score a 2 on the comedogenic rating scale:

Benefits of Olive Oil in Skincare

Olive oil has been used on hair and skin for centuries. It’s even rumored that the great Cleopatra was a fan and used olive oil for its numerous benefits, including:

  • As an antioxidant, olive oil helps to fight inflammation by reducing redness and smoothing skin. It also fights to limit the number of free radicals and toxins that may cause breakouts or sun damage.
  • It is an excellent moisturizer, not only for your skin but for your hair as well. Olive oil contains squalene which is extremely hydrating and has antioxidant properties.  For hair, it can help reduce frizz and protect the scalp. Similarly, it’s great at retaining moisture for your skin; just ensure you use it as the last step in your routine to really lock in the moisture and allow any other products to work their magic.
  • Because of its antioxidant properties, olive oil could help prevent premature aging, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Lastly, it’s commonly used as a natural organic option for makeup removal as it helps lift things like eyeliner and mascara.

Final Word

Overall, olive oil has many skincare benefits outside of just being a delicious option in the kitchen. As a moderately low scorer on the comedogenic scale, it will be a safe option for most looking for an excellent moisturizer and antioxidant. Just be sure to do a patch test before applying fully to avoid a reaction or breakout.