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The Comedogenic Rating Of Oils

With the rise of plant-based skincare formulations abounds, exotic oils, butters and extracts are being used in beauty products now more than ever before. And while these oils sounds luxurious and super appealing to the senses, it is important to know that although an ingredient is natural, that does not necessarily mean it is the right ingredient for your skin type, especially if your skin is more on the sensitive side or you’re prone to excess oil resulting in overly shiny skin and often clogged pores.

This is where the comedogenic rating of oils and butters comes in to play. It is one of the first steps that we take when formulating a new product containing oils and other plant extracts. Whether a particular oil is non-comedogenic or comedogenic, this simply refers to whether the ingredient has the ability to clog pores or not. It has a lot to do with the fatty acid composition that makes up plant oils and butters. Luckily there’s a universal comedogenic scale that can help you figure out if you’re using the right oils for your skin type.

This scale uses a numbering system of 0 to 5. 0 = great. 5 = avoid. You can quite easily do a Google search on any particular oil and find where it ranks on the scale:

0 - won’t clog pores
1 - very low likelihood of clogging pores
2 - low likelihood
3 - moderate likelihood
4 - fairly high likelihood
5 - high likelihood of clogging pores

Non-comedogenic oils are oils that do not clog pores and have a comedogenic rating of 2 or less. Here are a few oils that fall into that category:


Shea Butter                   0-2                      Normal/dry skin
Rosehip Seed Oil          1                          Oily, acne-prone
Jojoba Oil                      2                          All skin types
Argan Oil                       0                          All skin types

An oil with a comedogenic rating of 3 may still be considered safe to use on most skin types. Since there are so many factors involved in how a particular oil impacts your skin there is no way to make an accurate prediction on this. Everyone’s skin is different so an oil will impact every skin type differently. These oils still have great skin-healing benefits, so try them and see if they work for you.

NAME:                COMEDOGENIC RATING:       GOOD FOR:

Avocado Oil                  3                          Dry, acne-prone
Marula Oil                     3 - 4                     Very dry/sensitive
Macadamia Nut Oil      2 - 3                     Dry skin
Sesame Seed Oil         3                           Dry, Irritated

Anything higher than 3 is considered to have a higher likelihood of clogging pores. So if you have oily, combination or acne-prone skin, you should avoid using these oils on your face:

NAME:                COMEDOGENIC RATING:        GOOD FOR:

Coconut Oil                  4                            Best for body use
Soybean Oil                 4 - 5                       Best for body use
Cocoa Butter               4                             Best for body use
Wheat Germ Oil           5                             Damaged skin,

Dealing with clogged pores can be a pain. It leads to blackheads and acne, which in turn can lead to scarring and pigmentation. Dead skin cells can also cause pores to clog and when you add a comedogenic oil into the mix, this can lead to oily skin, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria, and the cycle continues. So instead of trying to treat acne when it happens, consider using the comedogenic scale to choose the right oil for your skin type and stop pores from becoming blocked in the first place.

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