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Do non-comedogenic labels rule out everything else?

Posted By May

Acne doesn't just affect those with oily skin, but other skin types can get acne breakouts too if we're not practicing proper skincare. Using non-comedogenic products is a go-to for acne-prone and oily skin, but is it enough? 

Let's zoom into what it is, then pan out for a bird's-eye-view of acne prevention and breaking bad habits.

How comedogenic labels & testing are done

What is it really? Simply put, comedones are clogged pores, and comedogenic substances are those that have a tendency to clog our pores. How it's measured or labelled is more than just comedogenic vs non-comedogenic ingredients, it's actually along a six-point scale. 

This pore-clogging (comedogenic) tendency is tested and rated 0-5 (with 0 being non-comedogenic and 5 highly comedogenic).

These ratings are tested on the back skins of a very low sample size according to Dr. Darwanan (2020), usually just less than 10 people. If that's the case, it is way below 30 people — the statistical minimum sample size to accurately reflect the results across a general population. The other common method is testing comedogenicity on rabbit ears, but apparently, that's not animal cruelty-free and so human testing is the preferred alternative.

Non-comedogenic labels on skincare products might make you favour it over others without the label. But as always, having the ability to discern and study what these labels mean and how they are derived is very important to being a well-informed skincare consumer. 

A holistic bird's-eye-view of skincare practices is always your best bet for healthy and beautiful skin. That's what we're here for — to help you understand skincare deeper, beyond the surface.

Now that we have a better idea of what comedogenic really means and how it's measured, we can now zoom out to acne-proofing your skincare routine. Because all the acne treatments and non-comedogenic products in the world are moot if our skincare practices remain unhealthy and acne-inducing.

What bad habits should we stop to have clearer, acne-free skin?

According to dermatologist Dr. Claudia Christin Darmawan, even low comedogenic products (with a 1-2 rating) can still help clear or prevent acne. Even for acne-prone and sensitive skin, she advises that you might only need to avoid products with over two highly comedogenic (4-5 rated) ingredients. Visit our Eternal Skin Care medi-spas to have our dermatologists and aestheticians analyze your skin and match the solutions for your specific skin profile.

Another point for discernment is oils. Not all oils are comedogenic, such as shea butter. So if you have dry skin and also want to prevent acne, you can still go for oil-based products within the advisable comedogenic rate/scale.

Aside from using your better judgement in discerning which non and low-comedogenic products/ingredients to use in your beauty routine, here are some helpful ACNE DO's & DON'Ts:

Don’t be impatient. Frequently switching acne treatments every week or so can irritate skin and induce breakouts. Wait & observe. Patience is key. See how a treatment works on your skin for about 6-8 weeks. If it doesn’t seem to be working for you, then you can try something new.
Don’t apply acne medication only to blemishes. Apply a thin layer of acne treatment all over your acne-prone skin, not just on the parts with visible acne/blemishes.
Don’t share makeup and applicators/accessories. Acne itself is not contagious, but acne-causing oil and bacteria can cling on to the applicators and makeup that can be transferred to you. Treat your makeup kit like your toothbrush, a personal/private trinket not for sharing.
Don’t wash your face more than twice a day (morning and night). As much as possible, have no-rinse or wipe-off cleansers handy so that your skin isn’t irritated by excessive washing with water.
Don’t roughly scrub your face clean. Rubbing it won’t help, it may even make things worse. Gently apply cleansers/treatments in a circular motion with your fingers and softly pat dry afterwards.
Don’t pop/squeeze zits. Again, patience is essential. Let the acne treatment take its course, or for more severe acne concerns, consult your dermatologist. Never pop/squeeze acne, let it fade away on its own or with treatment.

As a step towards acne-proofing your skincare routine, check out our shopping guide for non-comedogenic skincare products

Also, share your thoughts in the comments section below and in the product reviews to help and guide others in the beauty community as well.  This is your safe space, so go ahead and share your skincare journey with us freely — we're here for you every step of the way. 

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