New Customers USE Code  :  NEW2018 for 20% off 

0

Your Cart is Empty

Understanding the Comedogenic Scale for Oils and Butters

May 30, 2018

UNDERSTANDING THE COMEDOGENIC SCALES FOR OILS AND BUTTERS

Learn about the comedogenic scale and see where common carrier oils and butters fall - so you know how to pick the right one for your skin type.

With more natural oils and butters available than ever before, it can be difficult to know which ones will work with your skin. One way to navigate the spectrum of products and identify the ones ideal for your skin type is by learning about the components within the oils and how they differ.

Fortunately, there's a cheat sheet called the comedogenic scale, which ranks oils and butters based on their propensity to clog skin pores. Since carrier oils and plant butters are the key ingredients in many cosmetic products, its very helpful to know what effect they are likely to have.

What is the Comedogenic Scale?

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 oils are oils that do not clog pores and have a comedogenic rating of 2 or less. And just about any oil with a rating of 5 pretty much guarantees that a person who is prone to acne breakouts will have one.

But so many factors are involved in how a particular oil impacts your skin that there is no way to make an “absolute” prediction.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. In this guide, we'll look at both types of information.


In-Depth Comedogenic Scale of Oils and Butters

Name Comedogenic Rating Skin Type(s) Composition
Abyssinian Seed Oil 0 Most Skin Types High in Erucic Acid and Moderate in Oleic Acid
Acai Berry Oil 2 Dry, Mature, Irritated High in Oleic Acid and Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Almond Oil, Sweet 2 Dry, Sensitive, Acne-Prone High in Oleic Acid
Andiroba Seed Oil 2 Dry, Acne-Prone  High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Apricot Kernel Oil 2 Combination, Dry High in Oleic Acid
Argan Oil 0 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid
Avocado Oil 3 Dry, Acne-Prone High in Oleic Acid
Babassu Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Lauric, Myristic and Oleic Acid
Baobob Seed Oil 2 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid, Moderate Linoleic
Black Currant Seed Oil 0-1 Dry, Sensitive High in Linoleic Acid + GLA and ALA
Blackberry Seed Oil 0-1 Oily High in Linoleic, Moderate Linolenic Acid
Black Cumin Seed Oil 2 Combination High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate Oleic
Black Raspberry Seed Oil 1-2 Dry, Combination, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate Linolenic
Blueberry Seed Oil 0-1 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate Linolenic & Oleic
Borage Oil 2 Combination, Oily, Sensitive High in Linoleic Acid and GLA
Brazil Nut Oil 2 Dry, Mature High in Oleic Acid, Moderate Linoleic
Broccoli Seed Oil 1 Dry, Best for Night/Hair High in Erucic Acid and Oleic Acid
Buriti Oil 2 Dry, Mature High in Oleic Acid
Camellia Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid
Carrot Seed Oil 3-4 Dry, Mature High in Oleic Acid
Castor Oil 1 Most Skin Types, including Oily/Acne-Prone High in Ricinoleic Acid
Cherry Kernel Oil 2 Most Skin Types, especially Dry/Irritated High in Oleic and Linoleic Acid
Chia Seed Oil 3 Best for Body Use High in Linolenic
Cloudberry Seed Oil 1 Oily, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic and Linolenic Acid
Cocoa Butter 4 Ideal for Body/Eye Area, not for Oily/Acne-Prone High in Oleic and Stearic Acid
Coconut Butter 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Oleic, Stearic and Palmitic Acid
Coconut Oil 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Lauric Acid
Coconut Oil, Fractionated 2-3 Most Skin Types High in Caprylic and Capric Acid
Cottonseed Oil 3 Best for Hair or Body High in Linoleic Acid
Cranberry Seed Oil 2 Dry, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic and Linolenic Acid
Cucumber Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Date Seed Oil 3 Dry High in Oleic Acid
Elderberry Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoelic and Linolenic Acid
Emu Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Palmitic Acid
Evening Primrose Oil 2-3 Oily, Acne-Prone, Combination High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in GLA
Flax Seed Oil (Linseed) 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Alpha Linolenic Acid
Guava Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Goji Berry Seed Oil 0-1 Oily High in Linoleic Acid
Grapeseed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Hazelnut Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Sensitive, Acne-Prone High in Oleic Acid
Hemp Seed Oil 0 Most Skin Types, including Oily/Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Linolenic Acid
Jojoba Oil 2 Most Skin Types, including Oily/Acne-Prone High in Eicosenoic Acid
Karanja Oil 2 Dry, Hair Use High in Oleic Acid
Kiwi Seed Oil 1 Dry, Flaky, Hair Use High in Linolenic Acid
Kukui Nut Oil 2 Dry, Flaky, Hair Use High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic and Linolenic Acid
Lanolin Oil 2 Very Dry NA
Macadamia Nut Oil 2-3 Dry High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Palmitoleic Acid
Mango Butter 2 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Stearic Acid
Mango Seed Oil 2 Most Skin Types, particularly Dry High in Oleic and Stearic Acid
Marula Oil 3-4 Very Dry, Sensitive High in Oleic Acid
Meadowfoam Seed Oil 1 Oily, Acne-Prone, Sensitive High in Eicosenoic Acid
Milk Thistle Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Mineral Oil 0 Most Skin Types NA
Mink Oil 3 Dry High in Oleic Acid
Moringa Oil 3-4 Dry, Combination High in Oleic Acid
Mowrah Butter na Most Skin Types, especially Dry/Damaged High in Oleic and Palmitic Acid
Neem Oil 1-2 Dry, Acne-Prone High in Oleic Acid
Olive Oil 2 Dry, Acne-Prone High in Oleic Acid
Papaya Seed Oil 2-3 Dry, Acne-Prone, Sensitive High in Oleic Acid
Palm Oil 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Lauric Acid
Palm Oil, Red 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Palmitic Acid
Passionfruit (Maracuja) Seed Oil 1-2 Oily, Irritated, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid
Peach Kernel Oil 2 Dry, Sensitive High in Oleic Acid
Peanut Oil 2 Most Skin Types High in Oleic and Palmitic Acid
Pecan Oil 2 Dry, Combination High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Perilla Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types, especially Dry High in ALA
Pistachio Oil na Most Skin Types, especially Dry/Damaged High in Oleic and Palmitic Acid
Plum Kernel Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types, especially Mature High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Pomegranate Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Mature High in Punicic Acid
Prickly Pear Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Combination High in Linoleic Acid
Pumpkin Seed Oil 2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic Acid
Red Raspberry Seed Oil 0-1 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Linolenic Acid
Rice Bran Oil 2 Most Skin Types, especially Mature/Combination High in Oleic and Linoleic Acid
Rosehip Seed Oil 1 Oily, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Linolenic Acid
Safflower Oil (High Linoliec) 0 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Sal Seed Butter Dry High in Stearic and Oleic Acid
Sea Buckthorn Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Mature/Dry High in Palmitic, Palmitoleic and Oleic Acid
Sesame Seed Oil 3 Dry, Irritated High in Linoleic and Oleic Acid
Shea Butter 0-2 Normal, Dry High in Oleic and Stearic Acid
Shea Oil 0-2 Very Dry High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Stearic Acid
Soybean Oil 4-5 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Linoleic Acid
Squalane Oil 0-1 Most Skin Types High in Omega-2
Strawberry Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Acne-Prone High in Linoleic and Linolenic Acid
Sunflower Seed Oil 0-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Tallow 2 Dry High in Oleic Acid
Tamanu Oil 2 Most Skin Types, especially Scarred/Sensitive High in Oleic and Linoleic Acid
Tomato Seed Oil 0-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic Acid
Walnut Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic Acid
Watermelon Seed OIl 0-1 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Acne-Prone/Sensitive High in Linoleic Acid
Wheat Germ Oil 5 Very Dry/Damaged, Spot Treatment High in Linolenic Acid

 

Fatty Acids: The Key Components Inside Oils and Butters

Fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are key to healthy skin. This is not only true for foods rich ion these fatty acids, but in topical applications of products containing them as well. In fact, studies have shown that symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency can be reversed using products that are rich in linoleic acid.

Topical application may in fact be better than ingesting fatty acids when it comes to skin health. Many  fatty acids that are ingested tend to be oxidized in the liver before ever reaching the skin. That makes topical application a more efficient delivery system for this critical acid.

Regardless of your skin type, essential fatty acids are important for skin health even if you don’t have any type of deficiency. For those with healthy skin, topical application of products with fatty acids helps to provide protection from UV radiation and sunburn - a critical step to prevent premature skin aging and wrinkles.

It’s well known that excessive UV radiation exposure can cause cellular damage in the skin, including inflammation as well as immune system suppression in the skin itself. Premature aging is a result of the destruction of collagen in the skin’s cells, and causes a loss of elasticity, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles. Fatty acids in products that are applied to the skin help protect and even can help reverse that damage.

Which Types of  Fatty Acids are best?

Vegetable and seed oils have two types of many types of fatty acids, but two are the primary focus for skincare - linoleic acid and oleic acid.

Alpha linoleic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6) are both considered "essential fatty acids" because the body cannot produce them on it's own. Oleic acid is produced by the body, so isn't considered "essential".

Knowing the difference between fatty acids and how they interact with skin can help you choose the right product depending on your skin type.

High Linoleic Acid Oils

Research has shown that people with acne have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin’s surface lipids. Adding these fatty acid-rich oils topically is the best way to address this problem.

Linoleic acid (C18:2) is an omega-6 essential fatty acid not produced by body. It has anti-aging, barrier protective, soothing, and balancing properties, and is most suitable for oily and acne prone skin.

  • The highest linoleic acid ratio is found in black cumin, evening primrose, hemp, grapeseed, guava seed, passionfruit, papaya seed, prickly pear, pumpkin seed, red raspberry, rosehip, safflower, sunflower, soybean and wheat germ oil.
  • Borage, castor, cherry kernel, chia, kiwi seed, pomegranate and sesame oils contain high linoleic acid but have more balanced profiles.

High Oleic Acid Oils

Oleic Acid (C18:1) is an omega-9 fatty acid, very hydrating and ideal for drier skin. Oils higher in oleic acid can help with dry and sensitive skin, reducing skin sensitivity. They work effectively to reverse the inflammatory response in various layers of the skin.

  • The highest oleic acid ratio is found in almond, apricot, avocado, carrot seed, hazelnut, macadamia, macula, olive, palm, sea buckthorn and canola oil, as well as cocoa, mango and shea butter.
  • Argan, abyssinian, jojoba, rice bran and tamanu oils contain high oleic acid but have more balanced profiles.

Other Important Fatty Acids

  • Lauric Acid (12:0) - antibacterial and anti-acne properties.
    • Found in babassu, coconut, date seed, and palm oil.
  • Myristic Acid (14:0) - cleansing and lubricating properties.
    • Found in babassu, palm, and coconut oil.
  • Palmitic Acid (C16:0) - soothing, hydrating, anti-aging and barrier-protective properties.
    • High in baobab, brazil nut, macadamia, palm, peanut, rice bran, sea buckthorn and neem oils as well as mowrah butter.
  • Palmitoleic Acid (16:1) - an omega-7 fatty acid with anti-aging, healing, and rejuvenating properties.
    • Found in macadamia and sea buckthorn oil.
  • Stearic Acid (C18:0 ) - rich and hydrating properties but occlusive and tends to clog pores for acne prone skin.
    • Found in cocoa, coconut, mango mowrah, sal and shea butter as well as neem, shea and tamanu oil.
  • Ricinoleic Acid (C18:1) - an omega 9 fatty acid with antibacterial and cleansing properties.
    • Found only in castor oil.
  • Punicic Acid (C18:3) - an omega 5 fatty acid with repairing, anti-inflammatory and antiaging properties.
    • Found ony in pomegranate oil.
  • Alpha-Linolenic Acid/ALA (C18:3) - an omega 3 and an essential fatty acid that  helps skin barrier health.
    • Found in black currant, perilla, flax/linseed, pumpkin seed, and soybean oil.
  • Gamma-Linolenic Acid / GLA (18:3) - an omega 6 fatty acid that soothes inflammation and promotes ceramide synthesis.
    • Found in black currant seed, borage, and evening primrose oil.
  • Eicosenoic Acid (20:1) - an omega 9 with soothing emollient and permeation enhancing properties.
    • High in jojoba and meadowfoam seed oil.
  • Behenic Acid (22:0) - restorative, very moisturizing and conditioning properties, especially for hair.
    • Found in karanja and mooring oils.
  • Erucic Acid (22:1) - an omega 9 with a silky/silicone like feel for light hydration.
    • High in abyssinian and broccoli oil, moderate in jojoba and meadow foam seed oils.

Clogged Pores - What You Need to Know

Now that we’ve discussed how comedogenic oils clog pores, let’s take a look at how that impacts your skin. The main result of clogged pores is acne. But instead of trying to treat the acne when it happens, let’s look at ways to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

A clogged pore or comedo (plural is comedones) results in a whitehead or blackhead developing, which is a result of inflammation of the skin. The clogged pores cause the development of acne, which happens when the skin’s sebaceous glands start to secrete oil.

This usually happens around puberty and is often triggered by hormones. Dead skin cells, which the body expels normally, can also causes pores to clog.

It’s interesting to note that clogged pores can negatively impact the skin even after the pimple is gone and the acne is resolved. When acne continually returns, pores can be dilated, causing other pores to clog, resulting in more blockage and acne.

Oily skin is a breeding ground of bacteria, which is found on all skin types. Adding comedogenic oils exacerbates the acne, and slows the process of clearing. Treating clogged pores and acne is critical, because untreated severe acne can cause scarring.

Products containing oils that do not clog pores are good for people who have oily skin. If you have oily skin, avoid oils that tend to clog pores on your face, like coconut oil, wheat germ oil, and some other oils that are high in oleic fatty acids.

Oils that are good to use if you have oily skin include grape seed oil, rosehip, evening primrose, jojoba, and others that are high in linoleic fatty acids.

Using the Comedogenic Scale for Your Skin Type

One of the keys to determining which ingredients on the comedogenic scale to use without doubt is to know your skin type. There are five main skin types, which include normal, dry, oily, sensitive, and combination skin.

A lot of this rating is subjective, because there is no scientific classification of skin types. It’s based on observation and subjective evaluation. Since there are so many different types and needs, it's important to try different things out and find what your skin prefers. Use products for at least a month to evaluate how your skin reacts.

NORMAL SKIN

Normal skin isn’t particularly dry or oily. The pores are usually small; the skin isn’t shiny or flaky and tends not to crack. Usually, there are few wrinkles or lines.

If you have normal skin, you should use products that don’t remove natural oils from your skin, but instead hydrate, thereby helping to reduce lines and wrinkles. They should clean effectively without harsh chemicals.

  • With normal skin, key considerations are lightweight hydration and maintaining the skin's balance. An oil balanced in oleic and lineoic fatty acids is ideal.
  • Top oils for normal skin include argan oil, grapeseed oil, hemp seed oil, jojoba oil,  cherry kernel oil, mango butter, pomegranate oil, safflower oil, sea buckthorn oil, squalane, sunflower oil, and shea butter.

DRY SKIN

Dry skin causes people to feel tightness in their skin, and the skin is often scaly or has patches that are flaky. People with dry skin usually have pores that are almost invisible. There are many factors that cause dry skin, from heredity and genetics to the amount of sebum produced in the skin.

If you have dry skin, it’s essential to moisturize regularly in your skin care routine. You’ll also need to avoid harsh cleansers, limit your time and frequency in a hot shower, use a good humidifier in your home, and consider using products containing humectants like hyaluronic acid, as that is a moisture magnet for the skin.

  • Those with dry skin should use oils that are high in oleic acid, as it helps reduce inflammation.
  • Top picks include olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, hazelnut oil, olive oil, moringa oil, neem oil, perilla oil, pistachio oil and argan oil.
  • If your skin is extremely dry, consider shea, mango, cocoa and kokum butter.

OILY SKIN

Oily skin is often marked by a a shine on the face, sometimes paired with severe cases of acne breakouts. If you have oily skin, it may be due to genetics or you may have frequent hormonal changes. You also produce an excessive amount of sebum, which is usually triggered by hormones.

Unfortunately, those with oily skin are prone to acne episodes that may include whiteheads, blackheads, and pustules, and their skin will appear greasy all the time. On the positive side, if you have oily skin you get a boost when it comes to signs of aging. You’ll have less wrinkles and your skin will seem to age more slowly!

Even though it may seem contradictory, if you have oily skin you’ll still need to use a moisturizer. Otherwise, you skin may start producing extra sebum, which could make acne worse.

  • Oils that have high levels of linoleic acid are most appropriate for oily skin.
  • Best bets include blackberry seed oil, blueberry seed oil, goji berry oil, hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, safflower oil, evening primrose oil, grape seed oil, strawberry seed oil, watermelon seed oil, and rosehip oil.

SENSITIVE SKIN 

Redness, itching, burning, and overly dry skin are hallmarks of sensitive skin. Those with sensitive skin may experience bouts of rosacea, contact dermatitis, and other skin ailments, and should avoid common irritants like the too-harsh sulfates found in most shampoos, bath soaps, and detergents and products with noticeable fragrances, be they natural or synthetic. 

  • Pure oils can be great simple moisturizers for sensitive skin since there are no additives or fragrances to contend with.
  • For dry sensitive skin, consider almond oil, black currant seed oil, marula oil, papaya seed oil, peach kernel oil, and tamanu oil.
  • For oily sensitive skin, try borage oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil, meadowfoam seed oil or watermelon seed oil.

COMBINATION SKIN

Combination skin may show up as dry and flaky on one part of your skin - and oily on another. This skin type has two different types of needs, and is probably the most common skin type.

If you have a combination skin type, it’s going to be hard to find a single moisturizer that meets your needs. You’ll probably need to use two types, one for your oily areas and one for the dry, flaky areas of your skin. And for those with combination skin types, be sure to exfoliate once a week in order to keep your pores unclogged.

  • For those with combination skin types, using oils with properties that address both dry skin and oily skin is key.
  • Oils beneficial for both types include apricot kernel oil, black cumin seed oil, black raspberry seed oil, borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, moringa oil, pecan oil, prickly pear oil, rice bran oil and argan oil.
  • Jojoba oil is a very popular choice for all skin types, as it reduces inflammation, helps to break up clogged pores, and works to reduce sebum production.

Put Your Comedogenic Scale Knowledge to Work

Hopefully this overview on the comedogenic scale and how it applies to your particular skin type will help you choose skincare products that are appropriate to use. Using the comedogenic scale for oils and butters is your best way to find the right products that will help prevent clogged pores and the resulting problems like acne.

SHOP HERBAL DYNAMICS NONCOMEDOGENIC BEAUTY PRODUCTS