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What Does Non-Comedogenic Beauty Mean? Experts Explain

Do you say clogged pores or congestion? Acne or breakouts? There are endless beauty terms to describe the lifecycle of a pimple — and even more words that describe how to treat or prevent it. For Rose Inc founder Rosie Huntington-Whitely, discovering the right term to look for was a lightbulb moment. “[It’s] something that’s been a big revelation for me,” she shared back when Rose Inc was just a beauty content site. Her savior? Non-comedogenic. Today, every product Rose Inc launches is non-comedogenic. More on the topic, below. 

WHAT DOES “NON-COMEDOGENIC” MEAN?

In short, products labeled non-comedogenic do not include pore-clogging ingredients. If a product is verified to be non-comedogenic, it is safe to use on all skin types, including acne-prone skin, says board certified dermatologist Paula Bourelly, MD of Olney Dermatology. “Many facial moisturizers or makeup products will be labeled… to help us identify which products will be appropriate for acne-prone skin.” 

IS “NON-COMEDOGENIC” THE SAME AS “OIL-FREE”?

No. Non-comedogenic products do not include pore-clogging ingredients, it has nothing to do with its oil content. On the flip side, oil-free products might not be free from ingredients known to clog pores. A non-comedogenic formulation is designed to prevent comedones, which can cause acne. 

As esthetician Biba de Sousa explained to us, there are certain ingredients known to be comedogenic: like coconut oil, cocoa butter, sodium lauryl sulfate (which is found in some shampoos) and algae extract. De Sousa adds that many nut oils, like sweet almond and argan, are also comedogenic, so there is some crossover between “non-comedogenic” and “oil-free” but they are very different. 

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