If you’re like most people who struggle with acne, then the chances are fairly high that your own skin veers somewhat on the oily side, too. Because of this, you probably read the packaging of every new product you try to make sure there aren’t any comedogenic (that is, pore-clogging) ingredients in it.
However, what does non-comedogenic mean, and why should it matter to you? The thing is, many people mistakenly equate the words “non-comedogenic” with also being “oil-free,” but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, adding the right topical oils to your beauty regimen will actually be beneficial for your skin.
Here’s the secret, though: not all oils are comedogenic, and many of them can even be clarifying. In other words, adding these specific types of oils can actually help reduce your overall likelihood of getting blemishes on your face.
We know. It sounds seriously outlandish and almost too good to be true. But whether you have oily skin, dry skin, or something in between, you may be surprised to learn that introducing non-comedogenic oils into your skincare routine may be one of the best things you could do for your skin.
The Truth About "Oil-Free Products"
When you picture yourself dabbing a bit of oil onto your face, does the thought make you actually physically shudder with anxiety? Are you the type of person who impulsively reaches for products that boldly claim “oil-free” across the front label? Have you thrown away a product because you did happen to find a sneaky oil or two in it?
If so, then we want to offer you our congratulations… and our condolences. You see, this means that you’ve unfortunately fallen for one of the biggest marketing hoaxes of all time. As a matter of fact, oils (or rather, certain types of oils) aren’t these evil villains that popular media has made them out to be.
Instead, it’s all a matter of branding. The whole oil-free hype came out of seemingly nowhere back in the mid-1990s, right around the time that silicones were surging in popularity. Unlike oil, silicones were able to impart this silky, emollient texture onto your skin, but allegedly without any of the pore-clogging side effects. (1)
But there’s a huge problem with silicones that these brands aren’t telling you about. For starters, silicone is classified as a type of inorganic synthetic polymer, which means that it’s not exactly natural or good for your skin. Secondly, many types of silicones are actually highly comedogenic. (2)
On the other hand, using a non-comedogenic oil can be an all-around smart idea. Most of them are entirely all-natural, which means that they’re not going to leach toxic chemicals into your body when you use them. More importantly, though, is what they can do for your skin.
These non-comedogenic oils can help restore moisture to your skin, repairing your acid mantle and helping to improve its elasticity. But that’s not all they do, though. Many of them can also offer other health benefits, like doling out anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
By introducing these oils into your skincare and beauty routine, you can start to notice smoother, healthier skin, with fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Even better, you may even start to notice a reduction in your breakouts, revealing the smooth, radiant skin you always wanted.
If you’re wondering which oils are non-comedogenic and which ones you should steer away from, keep reading, friends. We’ve picked out some of our favorites from the best ones out there, and we’re super excited to share them with you today!
List of Non-Comedogenic Oils
Eager to dive deep into the world of non-comedogenic oils? It’s okay if you’re not sure where to start, as we’ve got you covered with our hand-selected list of some of the best ones out there. If you want to find out which oils are non-comedogenic and don’t fall on our pore-clogging ingredient list, let’s take a look at some of these oils together, shall we?
We’re going to go ahead and start on a strong note here with grapeseed oil. Not only can this one help keep your skin soft and moisturized, but it’s also high in vitamin E (which has proven skin-nurturing benefits). It’s also super anti-inflammatory and has healing properties, which means that it can also combat any existing breakouts, too. (3)
Hemp Seed Oil
Rich in fatty acids and packed to the brim with vitamins A, C, and E, you definitely don’t want to sleep on hemp seed oil. This one is safe to use solo or in a blend. Hemp seed oil is one of the least comedogenic oils out there and is actually rated as a solid “0” on the comedogenic rating scale. If you struggle with eczema, this is also a winner, as studies have shown that it can help treat this skin condition. (4) P.S. You can find hemp oil in our beautiful, shimmering body glow oil.
We’ll be honest with you: as amazing as neem oil is, we need to warn you that it is a bit on the pungent side. Don’t let that dissuade you from trying it out, though. It’s got some amazing antifungal and antibacterial properties, which means that it’ll send your breakouts packing in no time. (5) This should only be used in a blend, not on it’s own.
Not a fan of fragrant oils, though? No worries, friends, as rosehip oil just may be your new holy grail moisturizer. It’s lightweight, odorless, and high in antioxidants and something called linoleic acid, which means that it can help clear out any lingering breakouts on your face. (6) This one is safe to use solo or in a blend!
This non-comedogenic oil is, hands down, one of our all-time favorites. If you have oily skin, then you’re going to love it, too, as it’s considered one of the more “drier” oils out there. It’s also very similar in chemical makeup to our own natural sebum (but not in an icky, pore-clogging kind of way), which means that it won’t leave you feeling greasy at the end of the day. (7)
You can find squalane in our stem cell moisturizer and our skin barrier-restoring moisture mask. This is definitely another great one to use a solo oil, but it blends nicely into other moisturizers as a booster, too!
Sunflower Seed Oil
Sunflower seed oil is another great option for you acne-prone folks out there. With a comedogenic rating of 0, and thick enough to play well as part of a blend with other lightweight oils, it won’t sit like a heavy mask on your face. It’s also brimming with fatty acids, beta-carotene, antioxidants, and vitamin E… and it has a secret talent: it can actually help exfoliate and unclog pores, too! (8)
We love this one for facial blends and for hair care products! While the purity and extraction methods can vary, we have found (after years and years of clinical research at San Diego Acne Clinic) that argan oil is non-comedogenic and even better? It feels completely amazing on the skin. (9 & 10)
Castor Seed Oil (get the cold-pressed kind)
Castor seed oil is super thick but packed with nutrients – specifically the kinds of nutrients that help your hair grow! Ever get too close to a magnifying mirror and over-tweeze your eyebrows? If you grew up in the 90s, then that is going to be an absolute “yes.” (11)
Use cold-pressed castor oil to regrow your eyebrow, and relax knowing it won’t clog your pores. We do not recommend putting this all over your face, though, as it will likely stimulate facial fuzz and we don’t need that (but hey, you do you). It’s key to note that hydrogenated castor oil is much thicker and is not acne safe though!
Essential Oils (most of them)
Sometimes you’ll see lavender oil or citrus oil, or bergamot oil (and other types of essential oils) in your favorite products. These are generally only on the scene to provide scent and are used in very low concentrations. They are almost always non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic, but some people are just sensitive allergy-wise to anything scented, so be sure to patch test.
We utilize lavender oil in our beloved SOFTSKIN Body Lotion for Acne-Prone Skin because it has natural anti-bacterial effects. When you see an essential oil in an ingredient deck just think of it as a colorful party guest. They’re just there to enhance the product with scent or some other antiseptic benefit. (12)
The Effects of Non-Comedogenic Oils on Skin
We’ve already kinda hinted about it above, but the beneficial effects of using non-comedogenic oils on your skin are multifold. If you start incorporating it into your skincare routine today, before long, you’ll start to notice:
- A smoother, bump-free complexion. Because these non-comedogenic oils won’t clog your pores, you won’t experience any uptick in breakouts when you start to use them. Even better, some of them contain anti-inflammatory properties that can actively unclog your pores and get rid of breakouts.
- Softer, more supple skin. A lot of people don’t realize this, but having dry skin can be incredibly aging and more prone to injury. Keeping your skin nice and moisturized can help ward off fine lines and even help minimize the appearance of any existing ones. (13)
- An alternative to harsh surfactants. Have you ever heard of oil cleansing? You can actually use non-comedogenic oils as a facial cleanser and makeup remover, and the best part is that it won’t strip your skin or leave it parched!
- A new favorite lip balm. If you’re addicted to lip balm and find yourself applying it approximately fifty thousand times per day, why not switch to oil instead? Just smear a bit onto your lips while adding a thin layer of oil to your face during your beauty routine.
As you can see, the only limit to using these non-comedogenic oils is just your imagination. Feel free to apply them in other places, too, such as on your elbows and knees and even as a restoring hair treatment. Once you get started with them, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using them sooner!
How to Safely Use Non-Comedogenic Oils
We’ll be the first to admit that we’re head over heels in love with using non-comedogenic oils as a part of our own beauty routines. That said, though, it’s a good idea to be prudent about introducing them into your regimen. While they’re fairly safe overall, there are a few precautions that you’ll want to keep in mind.
For starters, always – and we mean always – patch test before starting with a new oil. Just put a tiny dot of it on your wrist or another inconspicuous place, then wait it out for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. If you don’t get a rash or burning or any breakouts there, then it’s likely safe to use on your face.
You’ll also want to keep the oil away from your eyes. While it’s totally fine to use it on your face, getting it into your eyes can lead to painful burning, itching, and even vision loss. The same goes for your mouth, too – some aren’t safe for ingestion, so be sure to double-check before using it as a balm.
Believe it or not, some oils can go bad over time. Be sure to always store them out of direct sunlight, in a cool and relatively dry place. Occasionally check to make sure that it hasn’t developed an unusual odor, too, as this can be a sign that it’s gone rancid.
Be sure to check with your doctor if you’re thinking about starting a family, as some essential oils can be harmful to your unborn baby. And finally, if you have any allergies to the plant that the oil is sourced from, then give it a pass. It’s just not worth the risk of a potentially life-threatening reaction.
If you’ve been hesitating about incorporating oils into your beauty regimen because you were low-key worried that they’d break you out, then hold off no longer. Now that you know what oils are non-comedogenic and are familiar with all of the incredible benefits that they offer, there’s literally no reason to not try them out today.
From restoring your acid mantle to giving you smoother, brighter skin, this is one of those lesser-known beauty secrets that will quickly become a huge game-changer for you once you start using them. The best part about these oils, though? They’ll help you reveal your own natural beauty – as well as give you unstoppable confidence, too!
Source 1: Silicone Polymers in Skin Care https://link.springer.com/article/10.1557/mrs2007.167
Source 2: Direct Human Contact with Siloxanes (Silicones) – Safety or Risk Part 1. Characteristics of Siloxanes (Silicones) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884743/
Source 3: Grape Seed Oil Compounds: Biological and Chemical Actions for Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4988453/
Source 4: A Review of Hemp as Food and Nutritional Supplement https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7891210/
Source 5: Medicinals - Neem - NCBI Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234637/
Source 6: Therapeutic Applications of Rose Hips from Different Rosa Species https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5485961/
Source 7: Moisturizers: The Slippery Road https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885180/
Source 8: Nutritional Characteristics Assessment of Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Cake. Perspective of Using Sunflower Oilcakes as a Functional Ingredient https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8619027/
Source 9: Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/
Source 10: Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3723062/
Source 11: Hair Oils: Indigenous Knowledge Revisited https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9231528/
Source 12: Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents—Myth or Real Alternative? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6612361/
Source 13: The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5849435/