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The comedogenic scale is ranked by how likely it is that any specific ingredients, such as oils and butters used in cosmetic product formulation, will clog pores. Anyone who is susceptible to acne breakouts and blackheads should avoid highly comedogenic oils, as they are likely to cause recurring acne problems. However, people with drier skin might prefer a more emollient oil toward the middle of the scale.

The scale uses a numbering system of 0 to 5. Here’s how the numbers rank on the scale:


0 - won’t clog pores at all

1 - very low likelihood of clogging pores

2 - moderately low likelihood

3 - moderate likelihood

4 - fairly high likelihood

5 - high likelihood of clogging pores


Non-comedogenic ingredients are substances that do not clog pores and have a comedogenic rating of 2 or less.


And just about any substance with a rating of 5 pretty much guarantees that a person who is prone to acne breakouts will have one. The comedogenic scale below looks at oils and butter in a particular.

Many factors are involved in how a particular oil impacts your skin. So, there is no way to make an “absolute” prediction. Even dermatologists have trouble determining how people's skin will react to things. The fact is, everyone’s skin is different, so an oil will impact different people in different ways.


For example, avocado oil can be a nourishing oil for some people with oily skin while others who also have oily skin will use it and develop more acne breakouts!


Factors that can lead to this variety of results may include things like skin type, illness, water intake, environmental factors, and other things that can influence the way the oils act on your skin.


In addition to an ingredient's comedogenic ranking, the composition of fatty acids is also useful in determining which skin type will benefit from a particular oil.



Identifying non-comedogenic skin care products usually involves doing some careful reading of ingredient labels. Single ingredient oils and butters are easy to place. Simply look up where that oil falls on the scale!

Items like lotions and serums are blends of many ingredients. They may often include items both on the low and high end of the scale.

Lotions and creams are blends of oils, alcohols and other ingredients. Emulsifying and emollient ingredients aren't always skin friendly.

Some to avoid include Myristyl/Isopropyl Myristate, Isocetyl/Octyl/Isopropyl Stearate, Hexadecyl Alcohol and others Cocoa butter, coconut oil, wheat germ oil and lanolin offer benefits, but are all high on the comedogenic scale, making them less than ideal for facial skincare.


Water-based formulations are less likely to clog pores. But, watch out for certain algae-based ingredients like red algae and algae extract, sulfate cleansers, and laureth! These all place high on the scale.


Also, you might see claims like dermatologist-recommended, hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. These claims don't inherently mean a product is not going to clog pores or will work for your skin type. It's important to know what works for your skin when choosing skincare and makeup products.