What ingredients will clog my pores?

“Comedogenic” means a product is pore-clogging and an acne trigger. Coconut oil, lanolin, cocoa butter, soybean oil, and avocado oil are a few examples of the most comedogenic ingredients.1 It’s impossible to memorize them all, but generally, the thicker the cream, the more likely it is to clog. And there are exceptions. Some products with comedogenic ingredients might not clog your skin, while the same product makes your friend break out like crazy.2 (This is why beauty product reviews can be maddening.)

It’s easier than ever now to avoid comedogenic ingredients because many skincare companies put “non-comedogenic” right there on the label. It’s an unregulated term, though, so it isn’t a guarantee.3 “You can use one product that says ‘non-comedogenic’ and it might still make you break out,” says Dr. Tiffany Jow Libby, a board-certified dermatologist and the Director of Mohs Micrographic and Dermatologic Surgery at Brown Dermatology. But “at a minimum, it’s a good starting point. You know the product is trying to be not pore-clogging.” The only real way of knowing is trying it out yourself.

1What Is Comedogenicity, and What Ingredients Are Comedogenic? The Full Story by Acne.org staff.
2A re-evaluation of the comedogenicity concept by Zoe Diana Draelos and Joseph C DiNardo. J Am Acad Dermatol.
3Clinical utility of marketing terms used for over-the-counter dermatologic products by Emily Boozalis and Shivani Patel. J Dermatolog Treat.

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Clogged Pores

Pores are filled with a buildup of sebum, dead skin cells, bacteria, and other minuscule debris.

Also Called

Whiteheads, blackheads, acne, pimples

Looks Like

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Frequently Found On

Back, chest, arms

Learn More: Clogged Pores