Pores: We've all got these tiny openings in our skin for releasing sweat and oil, but for some people, they can be more temperamental than others. Or, rather, clogged pores happen more often to some of us than others. Clogged pores happen when oil doesn't or can't flow through them as it should.
Typically, this is caused by the overproduction of oil that then becomes trapped by dead cells that haven't properly shed from the lining of the pore. Makeup, dirt, and/or comedogenic ingredients can also block the pore, and prevent that flow of oil through it.
Comedogenic is essentially a word for pore-clogging, and while these types of ingredients aren't the sole cause of acne and breakouts—there are several factors—they certainly won't help the situation. Pore-clogging ingredients make it much more likely that pimples will form. In someone who has naturally oily skin or who harbors the bacteria that causes acne, using these ingredients is like adding gas to the fire. It's a dangerous combination that can exacerbate acne and cause consistent breakouts.
So what exactly makes an ingredient likely to clog your pores? Long answer short: We don't really know for sure. Comedogenicity isn't entirely understood. In some cases, ingredients can interact poorly with your sebum, making it thicker, while other ingredients are too thick for sebum to pass through.
To that point, pore-clogging ingredients are typically occlusive. They sit on top of the skin, forming a seal that ends up trapping oil, particularly when someone has oily skin to start. It’s also worthy pointing out that some pore-clogging ingredients add more oils to the skin, causing cells to stick together and adhere more tightly instead of sloughing off as they typically should from the lining of the pore.
Now that you understand why comedogenic ingredients can increase your breakouts, it's time to learn which ones specifically to consider avoiding. Ahead, read all about six pore-clogging ingredients that are worth steering clear of if you're prone to acne.
1. Petroleum Jelly
Commonly known as Vaseline and used in the viral TikTok slugging trend, petroleum jelly is one ingredient you'll definitely want to skip if you're always battling breakouts. It's very thick, sitting on the surface of the skin and can cause a "traffic jam" in the pore, leading to oil and dead cell buildup that can ultimately turn into a pimple.
2. Cocoa Butter
As a general rule of thumb, ingredients with high concentrations of oleic acid, a fatty acid, tend to be more comedogenic. This is why cocoa butter can cause issues, as it's very high in oleic acid, she explains. Top tip: If you're looking for an alternative that's just as moisturizing but won't clog pores, it’s recommended to use shea butter, which is non-comedogenic.
More often found in makeup than skincare—specifically in primers—as well as haircare like conditioners and masks, silicone is highly comedogenic. In checking for it on the ingredient label, make sure you're also looking for and steering clear of its derivatives, including cyclomethicone and dimethicone.
This is yet another occlusive ingredient that creates a film over the dermal layer, trapping dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil within the pores, which can worsen acne and breakouts. It’s also one of the more common pore-clogging ingredients out there.
5. Flaxseed Oil
A high concentration of oleic acid is also to blame for this oil's comedogenicity. Grapeseed oil is a good alternative, equally nourishing for the skin but without the potential pore-clogging pitfall.
6. Marula Oil
This ranks about a three or four on the comedogenicity scale, meaning it's not suitable for those with acne-prone skin. Swap it for squalane instead. Typically derived from olives, it's intensely nourishing to the skin and is biomimetic, meaning it behaves similarly to your skin's natural oils and won't congest the pore.
Not all oils are good for certain types of skin, especially acne prone. So if you need to swap out your skin care to clear up those breakouts, then check out Wild Naturals! Our line is fragrance free, preservative free, and filled with natural antibacterial ingredients to keep your skin looking clear and beautiful! Shop now.