Non comedogenic is a term that is used frequently by cosmetic companies to indicate that their products will not aggravate acne prone skins, but where does this term actually come from?
The possibility of comedogenicity and irritancy of facial skin care products has been well documented. Hair conditioners, hair gels, moisturisers, sunscreens and even acne products may be a contributing soure to cosmetic induced acne. Retin-A cream being a perfect example. It is a Vitamin A cream for the treatment of acne, but contains Isopropyl Myristate in the ingredient listing. Isopropyl myristate being severely comedogenic.
So how do they decide whether an ingredient is non comedogenic?
The measure of whether an ingredient is non comedogenic is based on the amount of follicular keratinization that occurs. Follicular keratinization is simply how quickly and how many dead skin cells will accumulate inside your pore. Dead skin cells being the number one cause of blackheads and also acne formation.
The rabbit ear has been used since the mid 1950’s to assess an ingredients ability to be non comedogenic. The advantage is that it only takes 2 weeks for follicular blackheads to occur, whilst in humans it may take up to 6 months for the same effect to occur.
So does this mean that if a company declares that there cosmetic is non comedogenic that is safe for acne prone skins? ……NO
Unfortunately it does not. We have seen many products claiming to be non comedogenic only to look at the ingredient listings to find ingredients that clearly are comedogenic in there. One example recently was a foundation claiming to be non comedogenic that containted Glyceryl Stearate SE. Glyceryl Stearate SE rates as a 3 on the comedogenicity scale. It will cause moderact acne eruptions.
So unless you know of a product that is known to be non comedogenic then you are left to guinea pig products yourself until you find one that agrees with your skin.
Fulton, J & Bradley et (1976) “Noncomedogenic cosmetics” Cutis (17) 344-351
Fulton, Pay & Fulton III (1984) “Comedogenicity of current therapeutic products, cosmetics and ingredients in the rabbit ear” Journal of American Academy of Dermatology (10) 96-105.