Which Oils Block Your Pores? Comedogenic Scale

The Comedogenic Scale of Natural Oils and Butters.

It’s always fun and more environmentally safe to make your own cosmetics, such as moisturisers, balms and serums. There are plenty of natural oils and butters available to use.

However, it’s essential that you choose oils and butters that will work with your skin. Just because an ingredient is natural doesn’t mean it will work for you. But, at the same time, just because an ingredient is an ‘oil’ doesn’t mean it will clog your skin.

Coconut Oil was all the rage not long ago, but many found that it upset their skin oil balance, whilst others loved it. Everyone is different, and the choice of oils that you can use is extensive, from Olive oil through to Evening Primrose or Rosehip oils. So which oil is going to be right for your skin?

There is one resource you can use as a starting point to check how an ingredient may react with your skin – known as the Comedogenic Scale.

What is the Comedogenic Scale?
The word ‘comedogenic’ refers to something that clogs the skin, causing acne to form (known as comedone formation). This difficult-to-pronounce scale, is a list of oils and butters ranked according to how likely they are to clog the skin.

The scale ranges from 0 to 5, where 0 is non-comedogenic and 5 is severely comedogenic. If an ingredient is non-comedogenic, it probably won’t clog your pores and is unlikely to lead to acne.

Using the Comedogenic Scale
This scale is great for investigating the ingredients in the recipes you plan to make or in products you buy, and will help you to choose wisely as to whether they will suit your skin type and what effects they may have.

Note that just because a product is ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘fragrance-free’, it doesn’t mean that it won’t clog your pores! And other non-active ingredients, especially in store bought cosmetics, might cause breakouts or irritation, even if all the active ingredients are non-comedogenic.

We love our DIY cosmetics because you know exactly what’s in them, and you’re leaving out any harsh chemicals and other harmful additives (such as artificial fragrances....don't get us started on those chemical cocktails).

Using the Comedogenic Scale is not perfect, but is a great way to help you discover which oils and butters will suit your particularly skin type.

Your favourites - how good are they?
There are three oils/butters that we get asked about and sell most often: Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter and Sweet Almond Oil. So how do they rate on the Comedogenic Scale?

Well, you all have good instincts because these ingredients are all rated as non-comedogenic:

However, they may still cause issues for some people, so it’s always worth doing a test.

How to use these ingredients
This is all good news if you make your own products because these three ingredients are great in so many things.

Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is a liquid wax, pressed from Simmondsia Chinensis seeds. It mimics our own natural moisturising sebum, so it’s good for most people’s skin. You can use it as a moisturiser for your face and body. It’s also great in hair care recipes, as it has heaps of vitamin E for bright, shiny hair. Don’t be surprised if your skin gets worse before it gets better, as your body purges the toxins. But within a short time, you’ll have lovely clear skin.

Shea Butter
Shea butter is ideal for use in winter (in cold, dry conditions), as it smooths out rough skin on knees, elbows and heels. It has vitamins A, E and F, and may even offer mild sun protection (around SPF 6). You can use it on scars, hives, rashes, fine lines, wrinkles, or other skin conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and blemishes.

You can use it directly on the skin, but also in recipes for lip balms, body masks, creams, lotions, body butters, hair care products, liquid and bar soaps, bath oils, sun care products, baby products and more.
It’s very versatile but, as mentioned above, do a test before you use it. We sell both organic Refined Shea Butter and organic Raw Shea Butter.

Sweet Almond Oil
Almond oil is a great all-purpose and non-irritable oil. It’s very soothing and nourishing for dry, cracked and irritated skin. And it’s good for almost all skin types. The skin absorbs it easily, so it’s a great moisturiser for hands, nails and cuticles. It’s also extremely versatile, so it’s used in recipes for massage oils, soaps, body butters and lotions, makeup removers, hand and skin creams, and hair care products. It nourishes your skin and hair, removing dead cells and leaving them shiny and healthy. However, you probably need to avoid this oil if you have a nut allergy.

Things to Note
Before you get excited and start treating the comedogenic scale as your new bible, there are some limitations to be aware of. It’s not perfect or a guarantee under every condition, so you should approach with caution – it’s a guide only.

For example, scientists testing for the scale use the back of the hand. (Testing used be done on rabbits, but thankfully not anymore.) This part of the skin may be different from the skin on your face, so the result may not be 100% reliable.

Additionally, they don’t test a wide range of people and conditions to decide whether a product or ingredient is highly comedogenic. So you may still have a reaction to a product that is low on the scale.

Also, a product may be used under different conditions that do or don’t cause a reaction. So use caution if you have particularly sensitive skin. Do a patch test on any ingredient before you start using it every day.

To do this, place some of the product on different parts of your body – back of your hand, behind your ear, on your neck and on a small part of your face. Leave it for a day and see if you have a reaction.

Don't get discouraged if your first recipe doesn't turn out perfect. Keep tweaking it and you will start to learn which ingredients you love, and which to avoid. Before you know it, you will have a bunch of recipes that make your own perfectly suited custom cosmetics, free from nasties and great for you, your family and the environment. 

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