Comedogenic Ingredients That Are Sabotaging Your Skin (and How to Avoid Them)


For many of us, makeup is an absolute necessity to our overall self-confidence. UK wellness program, The Vitality Show, surveyed 3,000 British women about their makeup habits and over 70% of participants reported that they would never show up to the office barefaced. According to Fortune magazine, well-groomed and put together women make about $6,000 a year more than their less coiffed coworkers.

So, if we’re unwilling to give up on our makeup, but are also always striving for a perfect complexion, what is there to do? Not all makeup is created equal and even some of the biggest and most reputable brands are not creating their products with the health of your skin in mind. If you’re still suffering from sporadic and unpredictable breakouts, it’s high time to turn your focus to the ingredients in your makeup, cleansers, moisturizers, serums, or even what you’re using to clean your brushes.

Even the most minimal exposure to comedogenic (i.e., pore-clogging) ingredients can cause major problems for your skin. Below are some of the biggest adversaries of clear skin and the top five comedogenic ingredient categories to watch out for.

Source: Extra Petite


A lot of “skincare” companies will boast their “oil-free” formulas as effective agents against breakouts. When a product says “oil-free,” it simply means that there are no natural oils present in the formula. However, the products may contain emulsifying agents instead, used to mimic the consistency of oil-based products. Polyglyceryl-3-diisostearate is one of the more common highly comedogenic emulsifying agents found in cosmetics — for example, it shows up in several BareMinerals products, a supposed skin-focused brand.


Silicones are often used in cosmetics to make them more comfortable on the skin, and may or may not cause acne. Silicones act as barriers in cosmetics, once layered over your skin they inhibit natural skin processes like cell turnover and oxygen penetration. They are also non water-soluble, which allow them to build up over time and trap sebum and dirt in the skin.  Certain silicones are harmless, but there are a few that should put you on high alert. Clinique, Shiseido, and Lancome products are riddled with the “smoothing silicone” known as dimethicone in particular, so seriously… trust NO ONE.

Source: The Everygirl

Coconut Oil

Hate to break it to you ladies, but coconut oil is one of the worst substances that can come in contact with acne prone skin. Coconut oil is a fantastic moisturizer and makeup remover for people with extremely dry skin with no risk of developing acne, everyone else had better stay away from the stuff. Coconut oil is the best example to illustrate the importance of reading and checking the ingredients of every product that touches your face, as it can go by dozens of aliases: Butylene Glycol Cocoate, Caprylic/Capric/Coco Glycerides, and Cocoglycerides just to name a few.

Source: In Haute Pursuit


Alcohols are used in various forms of skincare products to increase absorption and allow for deeper penetration. In reality, alcohol is extremely irritating for all skin types and is a cheap filler ingredient and stabilizer. The other piece of bad news is that the list of federally approved alcohol based ingredients in skincare is the longest of any other comedogenic category, making them really tricky to avoid.

Phthalates and Parabens

Each of these ingredients have different roles to play in cosmetic structure but ultimately the same detrimental side effects. Phthalates and parabens are proven to alter hormonal balance in our bodies and act as endocrine system disruptors. The contact they make with sensitive face skin can exacerbate hormonal breakouts as these chemicals mimic and displacce the hormones your body produces naturally. Phthalates are usually noted on ingredient lists as acronyms like DBP (dibutylphthalate) and DMP (dimethylphthalate).

Source: Gal Meets Glam

So now that this seems really overwhelming, we’ll give you the good news. There are tools readily available to help you make informed decisions about safe products to use and better educate you on ingredients to avoid.’s Skingredients Tool is by far the easiest way to check the ingredients of your products, simply copy and paste the ingredient list and the Skingredients Tool will tell you how it ranks.

What ingredient conscious products are you using to get that coveted glow? Share your favorite skincare products in the comments!