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You may have noticed the label “non-comedogenic” attached to certain skin care products. The truth is that the term non-comedogenic is nor regulated; it’s a marketing term that can be applied to any product. Let's look at this phrase and see if it's an important factor in deciding whether or not to purchase a skin care product.

Are Non-Comedogenic Solutions Important?

Skin care manufacturers label products as “non-comedogenic” because they say that they are formulated to minimize the clogging of the pores. They may also be labeled “non occlusive.” In the skin care industry, these phrases are often used interchangeably and carry similar meanings. The benefit of using skin care products that are non-comedogenic involves how your skin produces oil and what happens when that oil is trapped within your pores.

Your pores have sebaceous glands which produce an oil called sebum. This oil is useful because it helps to keep your skin moisturized. However, in order for that to happen, the sebum must be able to exit the pores. When the pores are blocked or clogged, the oil is trapped inside and can result in blackheads, whiteheads, or similar skin conditions.

What Types of Products are Comedogenic?

This is the tough part, because technically, any skin care product/ingredient has the potential to block pores in any given individual. This is especially true for products containing ingredients that are thick, waxy or emollient. So this means that products designed to moisturize the skin may be problematic in blocking pores.

Skin varies amongst individuals and whether or not a product will block your pores also depends on how much you apply, how often you apply and how long you leave it on. This is further complicated by the fact that most skin care products are not applied on their own; they are often combined with other products. This process may alter a product's composition causing it to block pores in combination with another product.

It's important to note that while many skin care products may be labeled non-comedogenic, their ability to avoid obstructing pores may vary on different skin types. For example, some moisturizers and sunscreens may not clog pores when applied to dry skin, but may be occlusive when used on oily skin. Other products, such as [Link Removed] can be used on dry or oily skin without fear of clogging pores.

The Conclusion?

If you have oily or combination skin, then products labeled non-comedogenic will have significant appeal for you. However, remember that just because it’s labeled so doesn’t mean that it will be so for your particular circumstances. Seek out products with a lower viscosity (serums and gels for example) while staying away from those that are thicker and creamier. Though not a guarantee that your pores will remain unblocked it does give some guidance about which type of non-comedogenic product will be most suitable for your skin type. As with any skin care product, the true test will be applying it to your skin and determining if it is right for you or not.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed] 

Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Sep 16, 2008
    • I have a couple of questions for you. If I exfoliate on a regular basis, will I be less likely to have a problem with pores clogging?

      I love the feel of serums on my skin. I live in a humid place so thick creams just feel like they stay on the surface. Are there any seums that are truly moisturizing?

      Thank you

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Pharmagirl wrote Sep 17, 2008
    • Hi Cynthia

      Exfoliating is an essential part of any skin care regimen as it helps to remove dead skin cells that can sit on top of skin. In addition, alpha hydroxy acids, which are often used for exfoliation, have been shown to stimulate collagen production, which tends to decline as we age.  

      You can exfoliate manually or chemically. Manual exfoliation occurs with scrubs and facecloths and while they can be effective, we may also overdo it, causing more harm than good.  

      My preference is for chemical exfoliation. By chemical, I don’t mean dousing yourself with toxic chemicals... I’d recommend either an alpha or beta hydroxy acid. Alpha hydroxy acids tend to be derived from fruits, while there is only one beta hydroxy acid - salicylic acid. Both are effective, with alpha hydroxy acids being more suitable for dry, normal skin and beta hydroxy acids for combination/oily skin.  

      Beta hydroxy acids are fat soluble (alpha hydroxy acids, water soluble) so they can penetrate and help to unclog pores, which may become plugged with sebum, our natural oil. If clogged pores are an issue, then a beta hydroxy acid can help. Look for products with a 1-2% concentration.  

      Favorites are:
      [Link Removed] contains a salicylic acid like compound and all Effaclar products are terrific for oily, blemish prone skin.  

      Humidity tends to be great for skin. If your skin is naturally oily you may even be able to skip the moisturizer. Serums tend to be vehicles for active ingredients such as Vitamin C, peptides, etc, rather than moisturizers. I may be able to recommend something if you can tell me what type of skin you have and any particular concerns.

      Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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