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What is a non-comedogenic product?

What is a non-comedogenic product?

The term "non-comedogenic" is appearing on many cosmetic labels. This term is used to describe skincare and makeup products that are formulated in such a way that they are unlikely to cause pore blockage and the development of comedones. These products are generally recommended for combination to oily skin, prone to acne or blemishes. But what exactly is a non-comedogenic care product? How do you identify comedogenic ingredients to avoid? Let's take a closer look at the subject.

What does a non-comedogenic skincare product mean?

The term "comedogenic" originates from the word "comedones" and refers to the ability of a cosmetic ingredient or a cosmetic product to block the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for the production of sebum. Indeed, when using such beauty treatments, a more or less impermeable layer forms on the skin, helping to limit insensible water loss and thus preserve the hydration of the epidermis. This occlusive film also serves to protect it from external aggressions. This is beneficial for dry skin or when exposed to external factors that can disrupt the hydrolipidic balance of others (temperature variations, pollution, air conditioning, etc...). However, this occlusion prevents the natural evacuation of sebum, which tends to cause various skin problems, such as:

  • The enlarged pores occur when the skin texture is not uniform and the pores become visible;

  • The open microcysts, also known as blackheads, which are caused by the blockage of the sebaceous glands and the oxidation of sebum, giving them their dark colour;

  • The closed microcysts, also known as whiteheads, which develop on the skin's surface, creating a white bump;

  • Theacne manifests itself in the form of persistent white spots or swollen and painful red spots.

This concept is particularly significant for individuals with combination to oily skin or those suffering from blemish-prone skin, as they are more likely to develop comedones following the use of a comedogenic product. Therefore, these skin types would greatly benefit from choosing a non-comedogenic cosmetic. Essentially, a non-comedogenic skincare product is simply one that is devoid of comedogenic substances. It has the advantage of not clogging the skin's pores, thus limiting the occurrence of spots and other imperfections. These products are therefore allies for acne-prone skin, blemished skin, skin with an acne tendency, or simply combination to oily skin.

A small clarification : The use of non-comedogenic products does not in any way mean the total disappearance of your acne. It is possible that your acne is hormonal in origin, in which case non-comedogenic treatments will help you avoid their amplification and at best reduce the number of your spots. Moreover, these products are not exclusively reserved for the face. Indeed, this is also applicable for all skincare products that come into contact with your skin. Other parts of the body, such as the back or the décolletage, can very well be affected by comedones.

How can we determine if beauty products are non-comedogenic?

To prevent the onset and amplification of comedones, it is essential to distinguish between comedogenic and non-comedogenic skincare products. To do this, a number of criteria must be taken into account:

  • Check the I.N.C.I. list of your beauty products in order to identify comedogenic ingredients.

  • Understanding their concentrations in the total formulation because the comedogenicity of a formula is not solely linked to the presence of a single ingredient but will also depend on the concentration of each ingredient. The first components listed in the ingredients are those present in the largest quantity. Therefore, pay particular attention to the first 3 to 4 ingredients.

  • Determine the number of comedogenic components present in the finished product.

  • Consider the tolerance level of your skin, as everyone's skin is different and reacts differently to the product. For instance, products labelled as non-comedogenic can clog pores in some individuals, and vice versa.

The concept of comedogenicity is measured on a scale. Ingredients are ranked from 0 to 5 based on their comedogenic effect, where a score of 0 means that no comedones have developed, thus the pores are not blocked, and a score of 5 indicates a high likelihood of causing comedones. The comedogenicity index of an ingredient is based, among other things, on its rate of penetration into the superficial layers of the skin and its vulnerability to oxidation. Any ingredient that has scored 2 or less is considered non-comedogenic. Here is a list of ingredients to avoid, incompatible with oily or acne-prone skin, which already have issues and blocked pores:

  • The animal waxes: Beeswax (cire d’abeille) and Lanolin (lanoline);

  • Some mineral oils and waxes derived from hydrocarbons: Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcristallina, Synthetic Wax, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin Wax, etc... ;

  • Some vegetable oils and butters: Triticum Vulgare or Wheat Germ Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan Oil), Persea Gratissima (Avocado Oil), Coco Nucifera or Coconut Butter, Cocoa Butter or Theobroma Cocoa (Cocoa Butter), Butyspermum Parkii or Shea Butter, Rosa Canina or Rosehip Oil, Castor Oil, etc... ;

  • The gums and resins: Carageenan (Carrageenan), Algin (Sodium Alginate), Xanthan, etc... ;

  • Some fatty esters : Particularly derivatives of stearic and oleic acids or even isopropyl myristate, the unsaponifiables, squalanes and squalenes, etc...


  • FULTON J.E. Comedogenicity and irritancy of commonly used ingredients in skin care products. Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (1989).

  • DiNARDO J. C. & al. A re-evaluation of the comedogenicity concept. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2006).


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