October 22, 2020

What are Non Comedogenic Oils?

What are Non Comedogenic Oils

Face serums and oils are popular for their potent benefits on the skin. Many of them contain active ingredients that can target different skin issues.

If you’re looking to try out a face oil, it’s best to first look where it stands on the Comedogenic Scale. The lower the rating, the better it is for your skin. Get a good non comedogenic oil and your pores will thank you.

(We also broke down what exactly non-comedogenic skincare means in a separate article. You can check it out here.)

Table of Contents

The Comedogenic Scale

Ingredients are given a rating from 1 to 5, depending on how they might affect the skin.

A good rating would be between 0 to 2. Ingredients with a rating of 3 are still fine to use but proceed with caution. Ratings of 4 and 5 will clog pores so it’s better to stay away, especially if you want to avoid acne. 

0 – won’t clog pores at all

1 – very low chance of clogging pores

2 – moderately low chance of clogging pores

3 – moderate chance of clogging pores

4 – fairly high chance of clogging pores

5 – very high chance of clogging pores

Most Popular Non-Comedogenic Oils

Below are the most commonly added oils to skin care products today.

Non-comedogenic oils

Hemp Seed Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 0

Key Ingredient: Linoleic Acid

Best for: Acne-prone skin types

Hemp seed oil is formulated from cold-pressed hemp seeds. It’s distinguished by its clear, green color and is, by far, one of the best non-comedogenic oils you can find today.

It can control sebum and shine on the skin which makes it good for those with an oily skin type. People with an acne prone skin type can also benefit from this since its 0 rating means it won’t clog pores at all.

It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. It’s rich in Omega-6 fatty acids which soothe irritation and allergies. It prevents wrinkles due to the high Linoleic Acid content as well.

Safflower Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 0

Key Ingredients: Oleic and Linoleic Acid

Best for: All skin types

The yellow flower from which this came from has many health benefits. Safflower prevents heart disease and blood clots.

Safflower oil is extracted from Safflower seeds. It has soothing and strengthening properties to the skin. This means that it can calm irritation and repair the skin’s outer barrier to protect it from damage.

Since it has a rating of 0, it’s among the best oils that won’t clog pores. It’s a great choice for whatever skin type, but most especially for oily skin.

Argan Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 0

Key ingredient: Oleic and Linoleic Acid

Best for: All skin types

This is called liquid gold not only for its many benefits but also because the extraction process takes a while. Goats need to eat the Argan fruit and excrete the seeds. Only then can you collect and open the seeds to extract the kernels for oil.

Argan is rich in antioxidants, particularly Vitamin E, that can improve skin texture and reduce inflammation. This makes it a good antidote for active acne and large pores.

It also contains a good mix of both Oleic and Linoleic Acid which hydrate and nourish the skin. The best part is that it won’t give you clogged pores since its rating is 0.

Squalane Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 0 – 1

Key Ingredient: Oleic Acid

Best for: Dry skin types

Squalane oil is another form of a substance called Squalene which is naturally produced by our sebaceous glands. It’s formulated from a plant-based source like Olive oil.

This ingredient acts as an emollient for the skin when applied. This means that its particles are small enough to seep into the pores to improve texture. It also acts as a barrier of moisture on top of your skin to keep it hydrated.

Since it contains Oleic Acid, its hydrating power is a tad stronger than other oils with Linoleic Acid. If your skin type is dry, then this would be a good ingredient to look for.

Rosehip Seed Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 1

Key Ingredient: Linoleic Acid

Best for: Oily and acne-prone skin types

This is one of the most popular oils used in skincare today. It’s extracted by pressing the seeds and fruit of the Rose plant. It’s a powerful anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial ingredient.

People who suffer from issues like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema use it to soothe their skin. It’s an effective antidote to inflamed acne as well.

Apart from being hydrating, it’s also high in Vitamins A, C, and E. This means that it gives protection from the sun and UV damage.

Since it’s rich in Linoleic Acid, it  prevents the formation of fine lines and can lighten hyperpigmentation as well.

Grape Seed Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 1

Key ingredient: Linoleic Acid

Best for: Acne-prone skin types

This ingredient is made from the leftover grape seeds used for making wine. It’s a common emollient that nourishes the skin to make it look smoother.

Its high content of Linoleic Acid also makes it a great antidote for inflammation like acne. When used regularly on the skin, it can brighten your complexion and fade scars as well.

Since it has a low rating of 1, it’s a good moisturizer for any skin type.

Castor Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 1

Key Ingredient: Ricinoleic Acid

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin types

Castor oil is taken from Castor seeds, which are rich in anti-aging and nourishing properties. Most people like to use this for their hair since it promotes growth, prevents hair fall, and keeps hair from turning gray.

When used on the skin, this can clear acne and calm down skin irritation. It’s also effective for any dry patches you might have due to its strong hydrating properties.

Many people also use this to prevent wrinkles from forming on their faces.

Sunflower Seed Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 0 – 2

Key Ingredient: Linoleic Acid

Best for: Acne-prone skin types

Made from the seeds of beautiful sunflowers, this is one oil that’s been around for a long time. Old native American civilizations were known to have enjoyed using Sunflower Seed Oil.

Since it’s rich in Linoleic Acid, it’s perfect for fighting and preventing acne. It can even make skin healing and recovery faster due to its nourishing properties. Your skin will look smoother and more hydrated by using this on your skin.

You don’t have to worry if you have oily skin either since it won’t make you look shiny despite its hydrating power.

Shea Butter

Comedogenic Rating: 0 – 2

Key Ingredient: Oleic and Stearic Acid

Best for: Normal and dry skin types

Shea butter is the fat you get from West African Shea tree nuts. It’s a common skincare ingredient because of its multiple benefits on the skin.

This ingredient has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits. When applied, it boosts the skin’s production of collagen and can soothe any redness or swelling almost instantly.

It’s also a nice moisturizer because of the tree-nut oils it has. They make the skin look healthier.

Neem Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 1 – 2

Key Ingredient: Oleic Acid

Best for: acne-prone and dry skin types

The Indian Lilac or tropical Neem tree is where this was extracted from. Although it carries a strong scent that many are averted to, it delivers benefits that are just as strong.

Since it has a rich content of antioxidants and fatty acids, it nourishes the skin well. It  heals wounds, acne, and scars.

It also moisturizes dry skin while stimulating collagen production to prevent wrinkles. Many people love using this to soothe skin conditions like warts, eczema, and psoriasis as well.

Evening Primrose Oil

Comedogenic Rating: 2 – 3

Key Ingredient: Linoleic Acid and Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

Best for: Oily, combination, and acne-prone skin types

This is among the most famous face oils used today. Evening Primrose oil comes from the plant of the same name. The Primrose plant has always been used to treat throat infections, bruises, and digestive issues.

When used for the skin, it calms irritation and inflammation because of its high Linoleic Acid content enhanced by the added Gamma-Linolenic Acid.

The rating is fairly higher than other face oils though so it’s best to use this with caution.

Key Ingredients of Non-Comedogenic Oils

With different face oils, come different ingredients. Below are the three most common components of non-comedogenic oils.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids

Linoleic Acid and Oleic Acid are the only two essential fatty acids. The reason being, the body can’t naturally produce them. As a result, they need to be taken from food or skin care. They carry Omega nutrients that strengthen the skin’s cells.

Linoleic Acid

Rich in Omega-6, Linoleic Acid promotes a strong skin barrier. It’s the most popular fatty acid used in skincare because of this.

Linoleic Acid has high moisturizing properties that are perfect for all skin types. Even if you have an oily skin type, this won’t make you feel too greasy.

It can also prevent clogged pores that lead to acne and irritation. That’s why people who suffer from sensitive skin or acne are safe to use this as well.

Another thing about Linoleic Acid is that it can lighten and fade hyperpigmentation. When used regularly, it will decrease your skin’s melanocyte production which is what causes dark spots. Your face will surely look brighter and healthier.

Linoleic Acid is among the best ingredients in non-comedogenic oils since it has a usual rating of 0 to 1 on the scale. It’s also suitable for every skin type.

Other oils rich in Linoleic Acid are:

  • Sesame oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Borage seed oil
  • Black currant seed oil
  • Cranberry seed oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Manketti nut oil
  • Raspberry seed oil

Oleic Acid

The name Oleic means “from olive oil” which was where this acid used to be extracted from. As time went on though, people found more places to derive Oleic acid from. These include Macadamia, Marula, and Avocado oils.

Oleic Acid is heavier and richer in texture compared to Linoleic Acid. High in Omega-9, it delivers hydration that’s a notch higher than the Linoleic Acid as well. This makes it great for dry skin types.

However, its thick consistency is also why its rating is higher. It gets an average rating of 2, compared to Linoleic Acid which usually gets 0 to 1.

This acid should be used carefully by people with acne and sensitive skin since it can cause clogged pores. If you have an oily skin type, you should also use this in moderation since it might make you feel a little greasy.

Other oils rich in Oleic Acid are:

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Moringa oil
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Sea buckthorn oil
  • Tamanu oil

Other Fatty Acids

Apart from Oleic and Linoleic Acid, these are all the other important fatty acids commonly used for skincare.

Ricinoleic Acid

This is solely derived from Castor oil. Like Oleic acid, it’s rich in the Omega-9 nutrient which can soothe inflammation on skin apart from being moisturizing.

It has antibacterial properties as well so it’s a good ingredient for cleansing the skin.

Ricinoleic Acid has a rating of 1 on the scale.

Stearic Acid

This acid is derived from the fats and oils of vegetables and animals. It’s mainly used as a surfactant ingredient in cleansers. This means that it can attract dirt and gunk to its surface which makes all of them easier to wash away.

Apart from that, it’s also an emollient. It settles well on top of the skin to retain moisture and act as a protective barrier to outside factors.

Stearic Acid has a rating of 2 on the scale. It’s usually mixed in with Oleic Acid which can bring up the rating to a 4.

Oils rich in Stearic Acid are:

  • Neem oil
  • Tamanu oil
  • Shea oil
  • Shea butter
  • Mango butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut butter

Lauric Acid

Derived from coconuts, this acid is often called a miracle ingredient. It’s rich in antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a good treatment for acne.

People with dehydrated skin can surely benefit from it since it has strong moisturizing properties. It’s also known to soothe Psoriasis which is a skin condition that causes skin flaking and scaling.

The catch is that Lauric Acid has a rating of 4 on the scale. Since it’s thicker in texture, it has a higher chance of causing clogged pores so use it with caution. If you have acne or sensitive skin, then just stay away altogether.

Oils rich in Lauric Acid are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Babassu oil
  • Date seed oil

Gamma-Linolenic Acid

Rich in Omega-6, this acid is a great anti-inflammatory ingredient. It’s a byproduct of Linoleic Acid which the body absorbs from food.

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) can soothe irritation and speed up the healing of pimples. It also shows potential in calming a skin condition like eczema.

GLA has a rating of between 0 to 2 on the scale. It’s sometimes mixed in with Linoleic Acid and when this happens,  the rating could go up to 3.

Oils rich in Gamma-Linolenic Acid are:

  • Borage oil
  • Black Currant seed oil
  • Evening Primrose oil

Oils to Avoid

Now that you’ve found out about the different oils you can use for your face, you should also remember to watch out for the oils you should stay away from.

The oils listed below have ratings ranging between 4 to 5. They will most likely congest your pores when used so you should avoid products that contain them.

They’ll be harder to cleanse from your skin after using and will only trap more bacteria that will cause breakouts and irritation.

  • Coconut oil – 4
  • Soybean oil – 4 to 5
  • Wheat Germ oil – 5
  • Flax Seed oil – 4
  • Moringa oil – 3 to 4
  • Palm oil – 4

Conclusion

With all the different oils available today, it’s easy to get fooled. Always remember to check the label of any product you buy to keep your face oil non comedogenic.

We observed that Linoleic Acid is a more lightweight option compared to Oleic Acid. Though both acids are essential, we recommend that you favor products with high Linoleic Acid instead just to be safe.

You can check out the list below for reference on the ratings of other face oils. Choose well!

And if you’re planning to explore other oils that aren’t just for your skin, then check out our Best Smelling Essential Oils article. You can use essential oils for your diffuser and even on your hair!

Comedogenicity Chart

Comedogenicity Ratings of Beauty Oils

0

0 to 1

0 to 2

1

1 to 2

Abyssinian Seed Oil

Black Currant Seed Oil

Shea Butter

Broccoli Seed Oil

Kiwi Seed Oil

Babassu Oil

Argan Oil

Blackberry Seed Oil

Shea oil

Camellia Seed Oil

Meadowfoam Seed Oil

Black Raspberry Seed Oil

Hemp Seed Oil

Blueberry Seed Oil

Sunflower Seed Oil

Castor Oil

Milk Thistle Seed Oil

Elderberry Seed Oil

Mineral Oil

Goji Berry Seed Oil

Tomato Seed Oil

Cloudberry Seed Oil

Pomegranate Seed Oil

Guava Seed Oil

Safflower Oil

Red Raspberry Seed Oil

Cucumber Seed Oil

Rosehip Seed Oil

Neem Oil

Squalene Oil

Emu Oil

Sea Buckthorn Oil

Passionfruit (Maracuja) Seed Oil

Watermelon Seed Oil

Grapeseed Oil

Strawberry Seed Oil

Hazelnut Oil

2

N/A

Acai Berry Oil

Black Cumin Seed Oil

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Lanolin Oil

Peanut Oil

Mowrah Butter

Sweet Almond Oil

Borage Oil

Cranberry Seed Oil

Mango Butter

Pecan Oil

Pistachio Oil

Andiroba Seed Oil

Brazil Nut Oil

Jojoba Oil

Mango Seed Oil

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Apricot Kernel Oil

Buriti Oil

Karanja Oil

Olive Oil

Rice Bran Oil

Baobab Seed Oil

Cherry Kernel Oil

Kukui Nut Oil

Peach Kernel Oil

Tamanu Oil

2 to 3

3

3 to 4

4

4 to 5

5

Evening Primrose Oil

Avocado Oil

Carrot Seed Oil

Cocoa Butter

Soybean Oil

Wheat Germ Oil

Macadamia Nut Oil

Chia Seed Oil

Marula Oil

Coconut Butter

Papaya Seed Oil

Cottonseed Oil

Moringa Oil

Coconut Oil

Date Seed Oil

Flax Seed Oil (Linseed)

Mink Oil

Palm Oil

Sesame Seed Oil

Red Palm Oil

 
Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.