What ingredients are comedogenic?

comedogenic ingredients

Comedogenic ingredients clog pores and cause acne. That’s why if you have oily or acne-prone skin, it is recommended that you use non comedogenic products, but sometimes even those can contain pore-clogging ingredients. It is important to always check the ingredient list to be sure a product won’t cause or aggravate skin problems.

So, I put together this list of comedogenic ingredients, but first please note:

- Just because an ingredient is comedogenic, doesn’t mean that it would cause problems for everyone. In fact, people whose skin isn’t sensitive, oily or acne-prone can often use these ingredients without experiencing any adverse reaction.

- Not all oils and waxes are comedogenic.

- Another important factor to take into consideration is where the ingredient is listed on the label. If, for example,  a comedogenic ingredient is listed towards the end, its concentration is so low, it is less likely to cause problems.

- Even though I tried to list as many ingredients as possible, this list is not comprehensive.

Highly Comedogenic:
- Acetylated Lanolin
- Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
- Algae Extract
- Algin
- Carrageenan
- Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20
- Coal tar
- Cocoa Butter
- Coconut Butter
- Coconut Oil
- Disodium Monooleamido PEG 2-Sulfosuccinate
- Ethylhexyl Palmitate
- Glyceryl-3-Diisostearate
- Hexadecyl Alcohol
- Isocetyl Stearate
- Isodecyl Oleate
- Isopropyl Isostearate
- Isopropyl Myristate
- Isopropyl Palmitate
- Isostearyl Isostearate
- Laureth 4
- Lauric Acid
- Linseed Oil
- Myreth 3 Myristate
- Myristyl Lactate
- Myristyl Myristate
- Octyle Palmitate
- Octyl Stearate
- Oleth-3
- Oleyl Alcohol
- PEG 16 Lanolin
- Polyglyceryl-3-Diisostearate
- Propylene Glycol Monostearate
- Potassium Chloride
- PPG 2 Myristyl Propionate
- Red Algae
- Sodium Chloride (Salt)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sorbitan Sesquinoleate
- Stearyl Heptanoate
- Steareth 10
- Syearyl Heptanoate
- Wheat Germ Oil
- Xylene

Moderately Comedogenic:
- Butyl Stearate
- Colloidal Sulfur
- Corn Oil
- Cotton Aws Oil
- Cotton Seed Oil
- D & C Red # 3, 17, 21, 30, 36
- Decyl Oleate
- Dioctyl Succinate
- Ethoxylated Lanolin
- Glyceryl Stearate SE
- Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
- Isostearyl Neopentanoate
- Laureth 23
- Mink Oil
- Myristic Acid
- PEG 200 Dilaurate
- PEG 8 Stearate
- PG Monostearate
- Shark Liver Oil
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Solulan 16
- Sorbitan Oleate
- Soybean Oil
- Stearic Acid Tea
- Sulfated Castor Oil
- Sulfated Jojoba Oil
- Wheat Germ Glyceride

Mildly Comedogenic:
- Almond Oil
- Apricot Kernel Oil
- Arachidic Acid
- Ascorbyl Palmitate
- Avocado Oil
- Azulene
- Benzaldehyde
- Benzoic Acid
- Beta carotene
- BHA
- Bubussa Oil
- Butylene glycol
- Cajeput Oil
- Calendula
- Camphor
- Candelilla Wax
- Capric Acid
- Caprylic Acid
- Carbomer 940
- Carnuba Wax
- Castor Oil
- Cetearyl Alcohol
- Cetyl alcohol
- Chamomile
- Chaulomoogra Oil
- D & C Red #4, 6,7, 9, 27, 33, 40
- Dimethicone
- Evening Primrose Oil
- Glyceryl Stearate NSE
- Glyceryl Tricapylo/Caprate
- Hexylene Glycol
- Hydrogenated Castor Oil
- Hydroxypropyl Cellulose
- Lanolin Oil
- Lanolin Wax
- Lithium Stearate
- Magnesium Stearate
- Oleth-10
- Olive Oil
- Palmitic Acid
- Peanut Oil
- PEG 100 Distearate
- PEG 100 Stearate
- PEG 150 Distearate
- PEG 20 Stearate
- Pentarythrital Tetra Isostearate
- PG Caprylate/Caprate
- PG Dicaprylate/Caprate
- PG Dipelargonate
- PG Dipelargonate
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG 400)
- Polyethylene Glycol 300
- Sandalwood Seed Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Simethicone
- Sorbitan Laurate
- Squalane
- Steareth 2
- Steareth 20
- Stearic acid
- Stearyl Alcohol
- Talc
- Tocopherol
- Triethanolamine
- Vitamin A Palmitate
- Zinc Oxide

Do any of these ingredients make you break out?

18 Comment

  1. For me at least, it’s more about the formula than anything else, I have used products with the so called “highly” comedogenic ingredients but I am fine with those but with others products even they looks light and apply lightly, they manage to cause some trouble…

    Interestingly, I am having most problem with prducts labled “for sensitive skin” or “non comedogenic”…they are truly what drives me away when I see these in a bottle.

    Citrine’s last blog post..Wet n Wild Chrome Nail Lacquer in Cobalt

  2. Nicola: it really is huge! It took me ages to finish the post but glad you find it useful :)

    Citrine: the formula and the concentration of the ingredients are very important factors too. My skin is pretty good and I usually don’t have a problem with most high-comedogenic ingredients. But I aadmit that if I saw them at the top of the ingredients list I tend to avoid the product, esp if it contatins Isopropoyl Palmitate. That breaks me out really bad.
    It’s a shame non-comedogenic or hypoallergenic products don’t work for you. Unfortunately those products can contain pore-clogging or irritating ingredients too so it’s always best to check the ingredient list first. That way, if you know what ingredients are causing the problem, you can avoid them easily.

    Dao and Nikki: you’re both very welcome :)

  3. prettybeautiful: thanks, hope you didn’t find too many products with highly comedogenic ingredients..

    Hanna: you’re wlcome, I’m glad you find it useful. It took me a lot of time to complete the list and I’m sure there are some ingredients I missed out. And I can’t remember all the ingredients either, they’re too many! So, I usually just check ingredients lists online before deciding which products to buy.

  4. I have a big list of comedogenic ingredients on my blog too, and avoiding these ingredients has helped me immensively to prevent acne. I used to have pretty bad adult acne, and half of the problem was the ingredients in my makeup, and even my acne products had pore clogging ingredients! It’s crazy!!! At this point I have most of these ingredients memorized, so I know what to avoid when I look at the ingredients of a product, but sometimes I’ll forget, and accidently make an impulse purchase that causes breakouts.
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    • Jeni, I’m sorry to hear you had bad adult acne but I’m glad things are better now. Certain ingredients in makeup do make everything worse, don’t they? I used to have bad breakouts when I was a teen and thought it was just hormones acting up but they were actually due to the skincare products I was using, which contained highly comedogenic ingredient. My skin has been pretty much ok ever since I stopped using them. Like you, I know now which ingredients can cause problems for me and avoid them, which is why it is so important to know what the ingredients in our products do. But yeah, impulse shopping can have pretty bad consequences.. :)

  5. Actually your wrong about the ingredient list order. a company is aloud to put whatever ingredient they want in whatever order they want. common misconception. just because it is toward the end of the list does not mean there is very little of the product in it. Same goes for the beginning of the list. Often times they will put a nice ingredient close to the front to fool you into thinking there is alot of that good ingredient inside when really its a minuscule amount. It sucks but there really isnt a way to tell.

    • Chevelle, according to FDA regulations, ingredients should appear based on their concentration. Here is what it says on their website: “If the product is sold on a retail basis to consumers, even it it is labeled “For professional use only” or words to that effect, the ingredients must appear on an information panel, in descending order of predominance.”

      Most brands comply with this, although I have sometimes come across ingredients listed alphabetically, which makes it impossible to know at what concentrations they are used. I’m not sure if other countries have the same regulations though but from my experience follow the order required by the FDA.

  6. but would that only be comedogenic to you from that big list isnt everyones different?i found moisturizers that says there non comedogenic but have some of the things on your list in them how can that be?need a little info thanks

    • Kathy, this list is based on the risk of these ingredients causing breakouts. That means for instance that Isopropyl Palmitate is more likely to cause breakouts then say Azulene. But that doesn’t mean it will cause a break out. That depends on your skin (everyone’s different as you have rightly pointed out) and the concentration of the ingredient in the product. Still, it’s useful to know what ingredients are more likely to cause breakouts if you’re prone to them.

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