Replacing your usual skin care cream with an oil can be a very smart choice. Carriers can be used to deeply moisturize and hydrate. They can also be used to prevent wrinkles and acne. Using only good quality, non-comedogenic oils will help you control the sebum production and acne, moisturize the skin, etc.
Carrier oils make great active beauty ingredients. This article is meant to answer all your questions regarding the comedogenicity of vegetable oils. Further on, you’ll read about:
- A FAQ introductory section. Learn more about the “non-comedogenic” term and why it matters so much in skin care.
- The non-comedogenic rating of vegetable (carrier) oils.
- Details about the best carrier oils that are non-comedogenic. I will tell you their benefits for skin and what they blend well with for various skin needs.
- Find out how to use these oils, and which is good for each skin type.
- Also, learn about the difference between an oil serum for face and a commercial cream.
- Last but not least, find out some more really interesting facts. Some refer to a few great essential fatty acids for skin care. I will tell you more about the linoleic acid, squalane, and cholesterol. These acids can soften your skin, maintain it hydrated and elastic and help it heal during and after acne.
FAQ about Non-Comedogenic Oils
You’ve heard about this term everywhere. From skin care products to makeup, they all need to be non-comedogenic. But why is that and why do you need to use these oils, especially if you have acne? Doesn’t putting oils on an oily complexion make the acne even worse?
I’m sure you have quite a few questions about this subject. On that note, let’s begin shedding some light on the matter.
1) What does non-comedogenic mean?
Non-comedogenic is a term that defines the ability of a beauty ingredient to let the pores breathe. This means doing it without clogging them. Comedogenic, on the other hand, is an ingredient that blocks the pores. Clogged pores can become inflamed and cause acne, blackheads, irregular skin tone, etc.
2) Why is it important for the oil to be non-comedogenic?
It is important because each person has a different skin care routine. Their skin may be more or less sensitive to the comedogenicity of oils.
Oily and/or combination skin is more prone to getting frequent acne. That’s why the right beauty routine should include only oils and products that are non-comedogenic.
- Non-comedogenic oils will balance the sebum production.
- They will also nourish the skin with all the essential fatty acids and nutrients it needs.
- They can also protect against bacteria and inflammation.
This will lead to less and less acne and a more beautiful skin.
Clogged pores cause acne and micro cysts on the face. They can be painful and usually, they leave visible signs deep in the tissue.
3) How to know if an oil is non-comedogenic or not?
There are three criteria that can help you figure out if a carrier oil is non-comedogenic or not.
a) First, there is a special rating scale that refers to the comedogenicity level of an oil. That rating can be known with a little research. I will also tell you more about this rating for each oil.
b) Then there is the freshness of an oil. The closer it is to the expiration date, the more likely it is for that oil to become comedogenic. In other words, once the oils become rancid, they will no longer be non-comedogenic.
c) The third criterion is the oil’s shelf life. Some are more sensitive to light, air and especially heat than others. Carrier oils go rancid; they do not oxidize like essential oils do. Their rancidity (spoilage) can be spotted by smell and color.
A rancid oil goes darker, it can have sediments and will smell foul. Do not use it if you spot these signs. Rancid oils are always comedogenic! This means they will clog the pores and cause acne, and other skin problems.
4) How to maintain your oil non-comedogenic and prolong its shelf life?
When you open a new carrier oil for your beauty routine, you could add in an antioxidant or preservative. The best preservative for carrier oils is vitamin E. Add 0.5 – 1% (or 30 drops/100 ml (3.38 fl. Oz) of vitamin E in your oil bottles. It can lengthen their shelf life with 6 – 12 months if also stored in a cool, dark place.
5) Do all skin types need to use non-comedogenic oils?
Not all skin types need this type of oils. Dry skin, for instance, needs very thick carrier oils to nourish and soothe it. Normal skin types are lucky because they can do great with any type of oil you put on them.
Combination and oily skin types need non-comedogenic carrier oils! They need them to prevent and treat acne and an excess of sebum.
These non-comedogenic oils are also called “dry” oils. They can penetrate the skin fast, without leaving a greasy feeling on the skin. You will find out the right oils to use for your skin type if you continue reading.
6) Doesn’t putting oils on an oily complexion make the acne even worse?
It doesn’t make the acne worse because of several reasons:
- All skin types need hydration and moisturizing, including oily skin.
- By applying the right carrier oil on it, you can control the sebum production.
- With the anti-inflammatory properties of the oils, you can also prevent acne. That way your pores will breathe easier and your face will stay clean and radiant.
Non-Comedogenic Oil Ratings
In skin care and beauty, there’s a scale from 0 to 5 that describes the level of comedogenicity of carrier oils.
0 = Non-comedogenic
1 = Low comedogenic
2 = Medium low comedogenic
3 = Moderately comedogenic
4 = Moderately high comedogenic
5 = High comedogenic
The best non-comedogenic natural oils are rated 0, followed by 1 and 2. I’ve used an oil rated 2 before I used a 0 rated oil, and I thought it was the best oil ever. I have a combination and acne prone skin, and I must say the skin felt really good with it.
These ratings should always be specified on the product description or on the bottle.
The term of comedogenic or non-comedogenic doesn’t apply to essential oils.
- They don’t clog the pores because they don’t contain fatty acids.
- The molecules of essential oils are all volatile. This means that a part of them gets absorbed into the skin really fast. The other part of those molecules evaporates into the air.
But if you want to refer to them that way, you could definitely say that essential oils are all non-comedogenic.
Popular Non-Comedogenic Carrier Oils
Now you know what the term means and why it matters when you chose the right oil for skin care. Next, you’re about to find out which oils are non-comedogenic.
Take your pick from the following list of non-comedogenic vegetable oils, and start nourishing and caring for your skin the proper way!
1) Argan Oil
Argan oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Argan has a light-medium viscosity, which absorbs quickly.
- It’s rich in vitamin E and linoleic acid (Omega 6) that make this oil a great emollient.
- Argan oil can dissolve the sebum, regulate its production and activate cellular regeneration.
- It is ideal to maintain the skin hydrated, elastic and firm.
- Argan protects from the sun’s UV as well. It is considered to have a moderate SPF (sun protection factor).
- The linoleic acid can calm down burns and irritations.
- It has been found that Argan oil can maintain the skin complexion fair because it can help even the skin tone by depigmentation.
Argan oil blends well with:
- Frankincense essential oil, for wrinkles and premature aging prevention.
- Manuka essential oil or Tea Tree, for acne.
2) Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Hemp oil is rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids like linoleic acid. Thus, it penetrates the skin very fast.
- It does not leave a greasy feeling on the skin.
- Hemp seed oil can prevent premature aging and restore the cellular membrane.
- Hemp oil is non-comedogenic, which makes it great for oily skin.
- The oil stimulates the microcirculation. It hydrates deeply and evens out the skin tone.
- Hemp oil also soothes irritations and inflammations and helps with scars.
Hemp seed oil blends well with:
- Rose essential oil (Otto) and Apricot oil, to purify and nourish the skin.
- Cypress and Birch essential oils, for muscle or joint pain.
3) Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- This is a very light and penetrating non-comedogenic oil. You just have to make sure it’s pure, cold pressed and unrefined to get the most of its benefits.
- Its high concentration of linoleic acid (62%) can help grow new cells and restore the protective barrier of the skin.
- Sunflower oil can also prevent premature aging because it has strong antioxidant properties.
- The oil can also fight acne-causing bacteria.
Sunflower oil blends well with:
- Peppermint essential oil, to stimulate the circulation and hair growth.
- Cistus essential oil, for rejuvenated mature skin.
4) Babassu oil
Babassu oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Babassu oil is very fluid and easily absorbed. It is high in Lauric acid, which acne prone skin usually lacks.
- It does not leave a greasy feeling on the skin. Babassu oil can fight free radicals and prevent premature aging. It contains lots of tocotrienols that help with these problems.
- The oil also prevents dehydration while soothing inflammations.
Babassu oil blends well with:
- Grapefruit and Helichrysum essential oils, for acne and scars.
- Cinnamon essential oil, for a warming massage blend for the cold season.
5) Baobab oil
Baobab oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- The oil of Baobab is a great emollient that soothes and repairs the scar tissue.
- It helps the skin regenerate faster and hydrates it deeply. Baobab is also able to prevent premature aging.
- Baobab oil is anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory. These properties make Baobab one of the best non-comedogenic carrier oils.
Baobab oil blends well with:
- Rosehip seed oil, Lavender, and Helichrysum for sunburns and scars.
- German Chamomile and Calendula oil, for soothing and restoring effects.
6) Camellia oil
Camellia oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Camellia or Green Tea seed oil can nourish and soften the skin.
- It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make Camellia oil a well recommended non-comedogenic oil for facial serums.
- It is easily absorbed into the skin through the sebum/hair follicles, and protects against free radicals as well.
Camellia oil blends well with:
- Rosewood and Cistus essential oils, for premature aging.
- Avocado oil and Sandalwood essential oil, to regenerate damaged skin.
7) Camelina oil
Camelina oil is non-comedogenic also. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- This beauty oil is very rich in Omega 3 acids. Today, it’s considered a noble ingredient in many beauty and skin care products.
- Camelina is very good in anti-aging blends for sensitive skin. Oily or combination skin types are often sensitive.
- It can also make your skin glow while acting against inflammation as well.
Camelina oil blends well with:
- Lavender and Roman Chamomile essential oils, to soothe irritation.
- Rose, Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils, for wrinkles and age spots.
8) Hazelnut oil
Hazelnut oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Hazelnut is among the best non-comedogenic carrier oils for acne skin.
- It soothes and nourishes deeply, and prevents dehydration.
- Hazelnut oil can also repair the damaged tissue and help acne scars heal and fade away.
- This oil can be used for blackheads and acne, but also to regulate the sebum production.
Hazelnut oil blends well with:
- Clary Sage and Tea Tree essential oils, for acne serums.
- Avocado oil and Grapefruit essential oil, against stretch marks.
9) Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Rice bran contains ferulic acid and gamma-oryzanol. They are two essential fatty acids that are considered 10 times more powerful than vitamin E. This means that Rice bran oil is a very powerful antioxidant.
- It absorbs fast and doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on the skin.
- Since it contains phytosterols as well, Rice oil can repair scar tissue and reduce inflammations.
- The oil also contains coenzyme Q10 and other enzymes that have anti-aging effects.
Rice bran oil blends well with:
- Helichrysum (Immortelle) essential oil, for under eye dark circles.
- Sandalwood and Cistus essential oils, for irritation and aging signs.
10) Safflower oil
Safflower oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- This oil penetrates the skin really well and fast, without feeling greasy.
- Safflower is high in linoleic acid (omega 6). That makes it great at regenerating the tissue and fighting off free radicals.
- The oil of Safflower is a great non-comedogenic oil because it can also stimulate the microcirculation and prevent dehydration.
- It repairs and nourishes oily and combination skin. Safflower oil can help with the treatment of eczema as well.
Safflower oil blends well with:
- Rosewood and Green Myrtle essential oils, for anti-aging serums.
- Cypress and Cumin essential oils, for facial redness and irritation.
11) Watermelon seed oil
Watermelon seed oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Among the best non-comedogenic carrier oils we have Watermelon seed oil. It absorbs really well into the skin and it’s a great emollient.
- This oil is great for regulating the sebum production. It can also revitalize the skin and maintain it elastic and firm.
- Watermelon oil can help the skin regenerate. It also improves the skin tone.
Watermelon seed oil blends well with:
- Clary Sage and Atlas Cedar essential oils, for sebum regulation.
- German Chamomile and Cistus essential oils, to rejuvenate and prevent premature aging.
12) Poppy seed oil
Poppy seed oil is non-comedogenic. Its rating is 0.
Benefits for skin:
- Poppy oil is another great carrier oil that contains high amounts of linoleic acid. That makes it great for soothing inflammation.
- The oil is great as a moisturizer.
- It has quite a unique skin feel. Poppy seed oil absorbs slower than other non-comedogenic oils, but it feels very light. It doesn’t leave greasy traces on the skin either.
- The oil can also repair the skin tissue.
- As a note, there are no opiates or alkaloids in Poppy seed oil. Because of that, it’s very safe to use it as beauty ingredient in your organic skin care.
Poppy seed oil blends well with:
- Lavender, Chamomile and Camellia oil, for acne and to balance the sebum production.
- Patchouli and Frankincense, for anti-aging serums.
All these oils are all rated 0 on the comedogenicity scale. This means they are safe to use for oily and mixed skin types. They do not clog the pores. Thus, acne is no longer a threat.
Nonetheless, non-comedogenic oils rated 1 and 2 are also safe to use on acne prone skin.
Cosmetic butters are also vegetable oils, but they’re solid. They contain many essential fatty acids that can help the skin just like carriers.
The following list includes other oils and butters with low and medium comedogenicity. Both oily and combination skin types may react differently to these oils. It is always best to try more non-comedogenic carrier oils to find the one that suits your skin best.
Waxes can sometimes be used for skin care as well. Because of that and their content of fatty acids, waxes enter the rating system of comedogenicity as well.
Non-comedogenic oils and butters (and waxes) that are rated 1:
- Black seed (Nigella)
- Candelilla wax
- Carnauba wax
- Ceresin wax
- Lanolin wax
- Rosehip seed
- Sea Buckthorn
- Shea butter
- Mango butter
Non-comedogenic oils and waxes that are rated 2:
- Evening Primrose
- Pumpkin seed
Using the above lists and information, you now know which oils are non-comedogenic (with a 0 rating). You also know which ones are low to medium comedogenicity (1 and 2 ratings). As I said, experimenting is the best way to find the right oils for your skin type and needs.
How to Use Non-Comedogenic Carrier Oils in Beauty and Skin Care
The good news about natural non-comedogenic carrier oils is that they can be used as they are. It is not mandatory to mix them with other oils for a good beauty routine and a healthy, glowing skin.
Essential oils though, they need to be diluted in a carrier oil before topical application. They have to be diluted because they’re very concentrated essences. If applied pure, they may burn or sensitize the skin.
Carrier oils contain only fatty acids, plus traces of vitamins and minerals. They’re extracted from kernels, seeds or pulp via the cold pressed method. This method preserves all their nutrients best.
They can successfully replace a skin care cream. Carriers will do a lot more good to the skin than anything else commercial.
You can use your non-comedogenic oils as cleansers!
- Simply apply a small amount on a cotton pad and wipe your face clean of makeup and dirt.
- This method will ensure that the skin is not stripped of its natural oil (sebum). That will prevent excess oiliness, which will lead to less and less clogged pores.
You can also use these vegetable oils as moisturizers!
- Once the skin is clean, nourish it with a non-comedogenic oil for your skin type.
- Depending on the oil used, your face could enjoy natural SPF protection too. The skin will also benefit from vitamins and other essential fatty acids your body can’t produce. Omega 3s and 6s are such acids that the skin needs on a daily basis to regenerate and maintain elastic.
Best Non-Comedogenic Natural Oils per Skin Type
The best thing you can do for your skin is to use the proper oils. There are quite a few different skin types and each needs different nutrients, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. These needs usually depend on the lifestyle and the diet of a person.
If that person takes enough Omega supplements, his or her skin will perhaps need just water to become radiant. If another has an unbalanced diet and is stressed, his or her skin will look dull and dehydrated.
That’s where non-comedogenic oils enter. Every skin type needs hydration, no matter the problem. But some oils don’t work the same as for others. Let’s take a couple of carrier oils that are popular in beauty routines:
Jojoba is one of the famous oils used and mentioned in acne treatments. This oil, which is, in fact, a liquid wax, has a low to medium comedogenicity. As you probably seen in the above list of non-comedogenic oils, Jojoba oil is rated 2.
Some people have had very successful experiences using Jojoba for acne skin. While others, like me, haven’t gotten along so well.
Its medium viscosity mimics very well the natural sebum and tricks the body into thinking it doesn’t need to produce anymore. But at the same time, that viscosity could also block the pores.
Another example is Coconut oil.
As popular and beloved as Coconut oil is, it is not among the non-comedogenic oils. It has a rating of 4, which means Coconut oil is comedogenic.
Generally speaking, using Coconut oil on your face will clog your pores and cause more acne! I feel like stressing this out simply because the oil is so very popular in skin care. But, as I said, skin types are different and some people may do just great using it.
Try it and give it 3 days to see whether it causes more acne or not. Also, use it sparingly and massage it really well into the skin.
For each skin type, I would recommend the following:
Dry skin – If you have this skin type, you don’t have to worry about clogged pores. But if you still do, then I suggest using non-comedogenic oils for dry skin that have a rating of 2: Jojoba, Avocado, Olive, Almond, etc.
Normal skin – this skin type is pretty rare. If you have it, you’re lucky. You can use any type of oil you like, as long as you “listen” to your skin’s needs.
Normal skin types would do great with non-comedogenic oils that seal in the moisture and nourish deeply. They can be Safflower, Camelina, Hazelnut, or they can be Sea Buckthorn, Tamanu, Avocado, etc.
Combination skin – With this skin type, you might have to apply 2 different oils. Does it feel oily in the middle (T-zone) and dry on the outside? Or is it oily only in the middle and normal on the outside?
Knowing these things may help you come up with the best skin care routine. Non-comedogenic oils for combination skin rated as 0 and 1 would be the perfect starting point.
Oily skin – With this skin type is easy to know what to do. Simply go for the 0 rated oils. They are non-comedogenic and you can add them to your natural skin care regimen.
Use an oil with natural SPF in the morning, and a sebum regulator at night for more diversity. The good part is that most non-comedogenic oils for oily skin I gave you the details for, can regulate the sebum production.
The Benefits of Using Non-Comedogenic Oils for Face
A natural oily serum for skin care is superior to any facial cream you find on the market. It is so simply because it’s natural and unadulterated.
A commercial skin care cream or lotion contains:
- Synthetic preservatives.
- Texture agents.
- Mineral or silicone oils.
- Emulsifiers (to blend watery ingredients with fatty ones).
- Not enough antioxidants to actually make a difference. Somewhere around 2% of the cream contains beneficial nutrients.
- Synthetic fragrances.
- PH modifiers.
A beauty serum that contains non-comedogenic oils doesn’t need all these synthetics. Oils can be used as they are and still feed your skin everything it needs.
For an enhanced action, you can add in essential oils or natural vitamins. That way you know exactly what you put on your face, and you can address certain skin problems whenever you need it.
Oil blends for face have a higher quality than commercial creams, and they are also economical. 1 ½ fl. Oz (~50 ml) of carrier oil can last for at least 6 months.
On a short-term, commercial skin care products can also be beneficial, but on a long-term, oils are the best. They can improve the quality of your skin and take years off your face.
It has already been proven that daily moisturizing with carrier oils can help the skin look and feel younger.
Best Essential Fatty Acids in Non-Comedogenic Oils and Their Effects on Skin Quality
Various essential fatty acids can be found in different carriers. The most important ones are those that the body alone can’t produce. They’re called linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3).
If they can’t be produced then they need to be obtained from external sources. For internal benefits, you can use supplements, and for external benefits (the skin) you have carrier oils. Plants are great fatty acid sources.
The whole body needs these acids to maintain healthily and properly working. That means the skin also needs them for the same reasons. That’s why they’re called essential fatty acids.
Non-comedogenic oils for the face are excellent emollients. Emollient beauty oils can:
- Make the skin very soft and smooth to touch.
- Hydrate the skin.
- Make it more elastic and flexible.
The skin is made of many intracellular lipids. The most important ones are called ceramides. These ceramides form the protective barrier of the skin. Using natural or synthetic ceramides can help the skin’s protective barrier remain intact.
Excess washing can remove the ceramides and disrupt the protective skin barrier. This leads to a more sensitive and drier skin.
They also act as emollients, but they’re too expensive to find or make. Because of that, other sources of pseudo-ceramides have been found.
One of them is called cholesterol and can be found in plants and other natural sources. Cholesterol can be found in our natural sebum as well. When you wash your face with soaps and other commercial products, you strip your skin of all these essential fats.
Did you know that one of the best sources of vegetable cholesterol is sheep’s wool?
Yes, wool produces lanolin (wool grease). Lanolin can be found, among other ingredients, in many skin care products. Skincare cholesterol is not the same as blood cholesterol and it does not affect the latter in any way.
Cholesterol is used for smooth, soft and hydrated skin. It can also build new cells and maintain the integrity of the existing ones.
Medical experiments have found that acne prone skin types lack linoleic acid. Important amounts of linoleic acids can be found in almost all the non-comedogenic oils on the list I gave you a bit earlier.
Whatever linoleic acid you may have in your body, it’s usually not enough to get to the skin as well. That’s why a linoleic acid deficiency in your skin cells may dry the skin and cause acne, cysts and allergies.
Linoleic acid is also part of the sebum’s composition, just like cholesterol. This essential fatty acid helps prevent dehydration while nourishing the skin.
Oleic and Lauric acids are also beneficial to the skin. They can make the skin cells more receptive to all the other ingredients. These acids can improve the skin’s elasticity while strengthening its protective barrier as well.
Linoleic and Lauric acids have also been found most effective at inhibiting the action of P. acnes bacteria. These two essential fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects.
There is another important fatty acid found in the sebum. It is called squalene and it maintains the integrity of skin cells, especially after sun exposure.
It can protect the skin from other sources of radiation as well. Squalene is produced by the body, but it can derive from plants and animals as well.
After the age of 30, the body starts to slow down the production of squalene. This leads to skin dryness. It gradually leads to a weaker protective barrier too. Bacteria and free radicals may penetrate easier and affect the skin cells.
That can be avoided if you supply your skin with this and other essential fatty acids needed to maintain young for as long as possible. Luckily, non-comedogenic oils can provide all these important nutrients.
Through hydrogenation, squalene becomes Squalane, which oxidizes at a slower pace. Because of this and its deep moisturizing effects, it is often used in emollient products.
Squalane is non-comedogenic, antibacterial and doesn’t have that oily feel to the skin. That makes it a good non-comedogenic oil to use for face.
However, natural squalene (the fatty acid from which Squalane is obtained) can be found in Olive oil and Argan oil. Olive oil is low to medium non-comedogenic. Its rating is 2, which makes it good for combination skin.
I would not recommend it for oily skin types though. It works better if it’s used in small amounts, mixed with non-comedogenic oils rated as 0.
Other oils that contain natural squalene are:
- Amaranth seed.
- Palm kernel.
- Palm oil.
- Rice bran.
- Wheat Germ.
From this list, only Soy, Sunflower and Rice bran oils are non-comedogenic though.
I admit I also learned a lot while doing research for this article. I enjoyed writing it and I hope you’ll find this information useful enough to help you get the skin you deserve.
I do want to remind you that you have to use the right non-comedogenic oils for your skin type. That could be the difference between flawless skin and a skin with problems.
Experiment with as many non comedogenic carrier oils as you want and learn what your skin likes best. Take care of it because on a long term you will look amazing, no matter the age.
Which oil is your favorite and how does it work for your complexion? Have you thought of replacing it with a new one from the list I gave you? I’ll be looking forward to all of your answers!