What does "noncomedogenic" mean, and is it important?

You'll see the word noncomedogenic on lots of makeup and skincare product labels these days. What does it mean?

Noncomedogenic refers to products that don't tend to block the pores of your skin.

A 'comedo' is a type of blemish resulting from a blocked pore – according to the American Academy of Dermatologists, a comedo is a very mild form of acne.

So that's how we get to the word 'noncomedogenic'.

So far, so simple, right? What's not so simple is that the use of this term is not regulated by the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) or anyone else in the U.S. There are no specific requirements that a product has to meet in order to be labeled as noncomedogenic.

For most cosmetics and skincare products, the word indicates that the product does not include oil. Your skin already produces oil on its own – sebum is the name of an oil naturally produced by our sebaceous glands – and excessive oil is one of the main contributors to blemishes and acne.

Is it important and valuable for a skin product to not block up your pores? Yes, of course.

But is the term noncomedogenic any sort of guarantee? No, unfortunately it is not. Especially if your skin is prone to acne or other breakouts, it's worth checking the ingredients list of any product you're going to use on your face.

In addition to oils, WebMD.com has a list of other ingredients that DO have a tendency to block skin pores – so these are ingredients to avoid:

- isopropyl palmitate

- isopropyl myristate

- butyl stearate

- isopropyl isostearate

- decyl oleate

- isostearyl neopentanoate

- isocetyl stearate

- myristle myristate

- cocoa butter

- acetylated lanolin

- and D & C red dyes

We guess those ingredients are "comedogenic"!

(WebMD articles are formally reviewed by doctors for accuracy.)

Back to blog