Comedogene in skincare and cosmetics

Written on 12/16/2020
Am Sk

Comedogenes are ingredients that, when used in a skincare, cosmetic or personal care product, tend to clog the skin pores and therefore reduce natural contact of skin and pores with the air. When they do so, they  favor development of acne, which is caused by specific bacteria that grow in skin pores, especially in the absence of natural air flow.

Comedogenes may bring many benefits in skin and hair products, from skin moisturizing to stabilisation of the formula, to protection of the product from contamination. The comedogenic activity is generally independant of such benefits. The strength of the comedogenic activity also depends of course of the concentration of the ingredient in the formula, and of the other ingredients present in the product.

The more an ingredient will tend to clog skin pores, the stronger the comedogenicity. This is why comedogenic ingredients are often characterised as strongmedium or mild comedogenes. Strong and medium comedogenes should be avoided when one has acne prone skin, while mild comedogenes are usually acceptable when they are at low concentration in the product. It is however generally difficult to know what is the concentration of any given ingredient in a skincare, cosmetic or personal care product.

Examples of common comedogenes include: 

  • Strong comedogenes:Carrageenans, Cotton seed oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Isosterate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sorbitan Oleate...
  • Medium comedogenes: Almond oil, Ascorbyl palmitate, Benzoic acid, BHA, Hexylene glycol, Sesame oil...

To find if a product contains comedogenes, and to identify products that are free from ingredients not recommended when one has acne prone skin, you may use Flamingo by Skintifique, the free platform designed to help anyone find personal care products that meet one's safety and ethics criteria. At the present time, Flamingo is able to identify over 70 common comedogenes and their name variations.