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Noncomedo-what? Understanding makeup vocab

Makeup makers love to use long, scientific-sounding words. Cosmetics are commonly labeled “noncomedogenic,” which essentially claims that the product won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts. But does this declaration really make one product better for you than another? It depends on a few things. Here are some aspects to consider before buying a product with this crazy word on it.

Your skin. Dermatologists often recommend noncomedogenic products for anyone with acne-prone skin. They are usually made with lightweight ingredients like almond, olive, sunflower and safflower oil. Compare that to corn or hydrogenated vegetable oil, which are sometimes used in other products. Which would you rather put on your skin?

“Comedogenic” does not necessarily mean that a product is going to clog your pores and make you break out. Bella Sugar reports that many women without oily or acne-prone skin can use these types of products with no problems.

If you are trying to clear up acne, choosing makeup, lotions and other cosmetics that are labeled noncomedogenic is a good place to start, but this feature alone will not prevent pimples. Talk to your dermatologist about other tips for clearing up your skin.

The ingredients. Some people assume that all waxes and oils are bad and will clog pores, but this is not always true. Others may think that because a product touts the fact that it is “oil-free” or “wax-free” it won’t clog pores. The truth is, none of these claims are actually verified, as there are no organizations that track their validity other than the manufacturer, according to Consumer Reports.

However, you can still figure it out for yourself. A product’s true “comedogenicity” really comes down to the amount of comedogenic ingredients in the final formula. According to, where a certain substance falls in the ingredient list and what other ingredients are present in the product all play a role in its overall comedogenicity rating.

The “comedogenicity” rating. Ingredients are rated on a scale of 0 through 5 to determine their comedogenicity, the website reports. This scale is what differentiates “bad” oils and waxes from “good” ones. The higher the number, the more likely the ingredient is to clog your pores. Mineral oil and coconut oil are a good example to look at – because of its chemical structure, mineral oil has a comedogenicity rating of zero, while coconut oil pulls a four on the scale.

It’s never a bad idea to talk to your dermatologist about which brands or ingredients might be good for your specific skin condition so you can put your best face forward.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing