UNDERSTANDING THE COMEDOGENIC SCALE. Will the Oils and Butters in Skincare Clog Pores?

UNDERSTANDING THE COMEDOGENIC SCALE OF OILS AND BUTTERS

From Bella Vida Founder, Erin Schmidt

If you have Oily or Acne Prone skin,  you might be worried about using products that have oils in them in case they might cause you to breakout.  As an Acne sufferer myself, I used to feel the exact same way! 

So I spoke with several aestheticians and educated myself on understanding which Oils and Butters were beneficial for my Skin type (Combination and Acne Prone) and which I should avoid.  I then created my Bella Vida Skincare line to help acne prone sufferers, like myself,  have Clean Skincare that works and doesn't use harsh chemicals to heal skin. 

GET THE FACTS:

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on social media and the internet by well-meaning people about Oils, especially Coconut Oils, in Skincare.  Not all Oils are created Equal!  And there is a BIG Difference between Virgin Coconut Oil and Fractionated Coconut Oils, which has been distilled to create more viscosity so it does not clump, but remains in liquid form at lower temperatures.  

Coconut oil is an incredibly healthy fat. It's rich in several medium-chain fatty acids that can have powerful effects.  It is antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. 

Fractionated coconut oil is made from heating coconut oil to remove certain fats to then mainly consist of two medium-chain fatty acids. 

Fractionated coconut oil is produced via a process called fractionation.Fractionation is used to separate different types of fats that are naturally found in some oils. It's often done to make new products for consumers (2). The different melting points of various fats make fractionation possible.

For example, lauric acid and long-chain fatty acids have higher melting points than caprylic acid and capric acid. Therefore, they will become solid sooner when cooled.

The fractionation of coconut oil is carried out by heating the oil above its melting point. Then, it's left to cool, and the solid fraction of the oil is separated from the liquid. The whole process of fractionation can take several hours.

 

A Guide to the COMEDOGENIC SCALE for our Bella Vida Skincare for your reference

For Oily or Acne Prone Skin

 **HIGH LINOLEIC ACID OILS

If you have frequent blemishes or oily skin, you might think you need to use only oil-free products. Not so fast! Research shows that people with acne have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin’s surface lipids. Adding these particular fatty acid-rich oils topically may be the best way to address this problem.

Linoleic acid (C18:2) is an omega-6 essential fatty acid not produced by body. It has anti-aging, barrier protective, soothing, and balancing properties, and is most suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.

  • The highest linoleic acid ratio is found in black cumin, evening primrose, hemp, grapeseed, guava seed, passionfruit, papaya seed, prickly pear, pumpkin seed, red raspberry, rosehip, safflower, sunflower, soybean and wheat germ oil.
  • Borage, castor, cherry kernel, chia, kiwi seed, pomegranate and sesame oils contain high linoleic acid but have more balanced profiles.

For Dry and Sensitive Skin Types

**HIGH OLEIC ACID OILS

Oleic Acid (C18:1) is an omega-9 fatty acid, very hydrating and ideal for drier skin. Oils higher in oleic acid can help with dry and sensitive skin, reducing skin sensitivity. They work effectively to reverse the inflammatory response in various layers of the skin.

  • The highest oleic acid ratio is found in almond, apricot, avocado, carrot seed, hazelnut, macadamia, macula, olive, palm, sea buckthorn and canola oil, as well as cocoa, mango and shea butter.
  • Argan, abyssinian, jojoba, rice bran and tamanu oils contain high oleic acid but have more balanced profiles.

OTHER IMPORTANT FATTY ACIDS

    • Lauric Acid (12:0) - antibacterial and anti-acne properties.
      • Found in coconut oil, date seed, babassu, and palm oil.
  • Myristic Acid (14:0) - cleansing and lubricating properties.
    • Found in babassu, palm, and coconut oil.

THE COMEDOGENIC SCALE OF OILS AND BUTTERS

NOTE: Oils that we use in the Bella Vida Skincare line are Highlighted in BLUE and the Products they are in is highlighted also. 

The Comedogenic Scale uses a numbering system of 0 to 5 to rank Ingredients based on if they may clog pores. NOTE: Research has shown that the ranking of these numbers may actually go down when mixed with other ingredients.

Here is what the Numbers Mean on the Scale:

0 - won’t clog pores at all
1 - very low likelihood of clogging pores
2 - moderately low likelihood
3 - moderate likelihood
4 - fairly high likelihood
5 - high likelihood of clogging pores
Name Comedogenic Rating Skin Type(s) Composition + Products
Abyssinian Seed Oil 0 Most Skin Types High in Erucic Acid and Moderate in Oleic Acid
Acai Berry Oil 2 Dry, Mature, Irritated High in Oleic Acid and Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Almond Oil, Sweet 2 Dry, Sensitive, Acne-Prone

High in Oleic Acid

in Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Andiroba Seed Oil 2 Dry, Acne-Prone  High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Apricot Kernel Oil 2 Combination, Dry

High in Oleic Acid

in Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Argan Oil 0 Most Skin Types

High in Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid

in Tropical Ocean Sea MIneral Bath Salts

Avocado Oil 3 Dry, Acne-Prone

High in Oleic Acid

in Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Babassu Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Lauric, Myristic and Oleic Acid
Baobob Seed Oil 2 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid, Moderate Linoleic
Black Currant Seed Oil 0-1 Dry, Sensitive High in Linoleic Acid + GLA and ALA
Blackberry Seed Oil 0-1 Oily High in Linoleic, Moderate Linolenic Acid
Black Cumin Seed Oil 2 Combination High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate Oleic
Black Raspberry Seed Oil 1-2 Dry, Combination, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate Linolenic
Blueberry Seed Oil
0-1 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Acne-Prone

High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate Linolenic & Oleic

in Blueberry Coco Charcoal Mask

Borage Oil 2 Combination, Oily, Sensitive

High in Linoleic Acid and GLA

in Eye Amour Serum

Brazil Nut Oil 2 Dry, Mature High in Oleic Acid, Moderate Linoleic
Broccoli Seed Oil 1 Dry, Best for Night/Hair High in Erucic Acid and Oleic Acid
Buriti Oil 2 Dry, Mature High in Oleic Acid
Camellia Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid
Carrot Seed Oil 3-4 Dry, Mature High in Oleic Acid
Castor Oil 1 Most Skin Types, including Oily/Acne-Prone High in Ricinoleic Acid
Cherry Kernel Oil 2 Most Skin Types, especially Dry/Irritated High in Oleic and Linoleic Acid
Chia Seed Oil 3 Best for Body Use

High in Linolenic

In Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Cloudberry Seed Oil 1 Oily, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic and Linolenic Acid
Cocoa Butter 4 Ideal for Body/Eye Area, not for Oily/Acne-Prone

High in Oleic and Stearic Acid

In Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Coconut Butter 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Oleic, Stearic and Palmitic Acid
Virgin Coconut Oil 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Lauric Acid
Coconut Oil, Fractionated 2-3 Most Skin Types

High in Lauric, Caprylic, Capric Acid. Antibacterial and Anti-Acne.

in Coco Citrus Noir Oil Cleanser, Radiant Sunflower Serum, Blueberry Coco Charcoal Mask, and a few other products we offer

Cottonseed Oil 3 Best for Hair or Body High in Linoleic Acid
Cranberry Seed Oil 2 Dry, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic and Linolenic Acid
Cucumber Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Date Seed Oil 3 Dry High in Oleic Acid
Elderberry Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoelic and Linolenic Acid
Emu Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Palmitic Acid
Evening Primrose Oil 2-3 Oily, Acne-Prone, Combination

High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in GLA

In Eye Amour Serum

Flax Seed Oil (Linseed) 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Alpha Linolenic Acid
Guava Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Goji Berry Seed Oil 0-1 Oily High in Linoleic Acid
Grapeseed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Hazelnut Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Sensitive, Acne-Prone High in Oleic Acid
Hemp Seed Oil 0 Most Skin Types, including Oily/Acne-Prone

High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Linolenic Acid

in Viola Lavande Deep Hydration Hemp Lotion

Jojoba Oil 2 Most Skin Types, including Oily/Acne-Prone

High in Eicosenoic Acid

in a Variety of our Products

Radiant Sunflower Serum

Karanja Oil 2 Dry, Hair Use High in Oleic Acid
Kiwi Seed Oil 1 Dry, Flaky, Hair Use High in Linolenic Acid
Kukui Nut Oil 2 Dry, Flaky, Hair Use High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic and Linolenic Acid
Lanolin Oil 2 Very Dry NA
Macadamia Nut Oil 2-3 Dry High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Palmitoleic Acid
Mango Butter 2 Most Skin Types

High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Stearic Acid

In Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Mango Seed Oil 2 Most Skin Types, particularly Dry

High in Oleic and Stearic Acid

In Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Marula Oil 3-4 Very Dry, Sensitive High in Oleic Acid
Meadowfoam Seed Oil 1 Oily, Acne-Prone, Sensitive

High in Eicosenoic Acid

in Pumpkin Pie Enzyme Mask

Milk Thistle Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid
Mineral Oil 0 Most Skin Types NA
Mink Oil 3 Dry High in Oleic Acid
Moringa Oil 3-4 Dry, Combination High in Oleic Acid
Mowrah Butter na Most Skin Types, especially Dry/Damaged High in Oleic and Palmitic Acid
Neem Oil 1-2 Dry, Acne-Prone

High in Oleic Acid

in Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish and Pumpkin Pie Enzyme Mask

Olive Oil 2 Dry, Acne-Prone

High in Oleic Acid

in Coco Citrus Noir Oil Cleanser

Papaya Seed Oil 2-3 Dry, Acne-Prone, Sensitive High in Oleic Acid
Palm Oil 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Lauric Acid
Palm Oil, Red 4 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Palmitic Acid
Passionfruit (Maracuja) Seed Oil 1-2 Oily, Irritated, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid
Peach Kernel Oil 2 Dry, Sensitive High in Oleic Acid
Peanut Oil 2 Most Skin Types High in Oleic and Palmitic Acid
Pecan Oil 2 Dry, Combination High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Perilla Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types, especially Dry High in ALA
Pistachio Oil na Most Skin Types, especially Dry/Damaged High in Oleic and Palmitic Acid
Plum Kernel Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types, especially Mature High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Linoleic Acid
Pomegranate Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Mature

High in Punicic Acid

in Radiant Sunflower Serum

in Pineapple Paradiso Glow Mask

and a Variety of our Products

Prickly Pear Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Combination High in Linoleic Acid
Pumpkin Seed Oil 2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic Acid
Red Raspberry Seed Oil 0-1 Most Skin Types

High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Linolenic Acid

in 

Rice Bran Oil 2 Most Skin Types, especially Mature/Combination High in Oleic and Linoleic Acid
Rosehip Seed Oil 1 Oily, Acne-Prone High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Linolenic Acid, High in Vitamin A (natural Retinol)
Safflower Oil (High Linoleic) 0 Most Skin Types

High in Linoleic Acid

in Radiant Sunflower Serum

Sal Seed Butter Dry High in Stearic and Oleic Acid
Sea Buckthorn Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Mature/Dry High in Palmitic, Palmitoleic and Oleic Acid
Sesame Seed Oil 3 Dry, Irritated High in Linoleic and Oleic Acid
Shea Butter 0-2 Normal, Dry

High in Oleic and Stearic Acid

in Radiant Sunflower Serum Retinol Cream and Azul Sea Mineral Body Polish

Shea Oil 0-2 Very Dry High in Oleic Acid, Moderate in Stearic Acid
Soybean Oil 4-5 Very Dry, Best for Body Use High in Linoleic Acid
Squalane Oil 0-1 Most Skin Types High in Omega-2
Strawberry Seed Oil 1 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Acne-Prone High in Linoleic and Linolenic Acid
Sunflower Seed Oil 0-2 Most Skin Types

High in Linoleic Acid

In Radiant Sunflower Serum

in a Variety of our Products

Tallow 2 Dry High in Oleic Acid
Tamanu Oil 2 Most Skin Types, especially Scarred/Sensitive

High in Oleic and Linoleic Acid

in our Coco Citrus Noir Purifying Oil Cleanser

Tomato Seed Oil 0-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic Acid
Walnut Seed Oil 1-2 Most Skin Types High in Linoleic Acid, Moderate in Oleic Acid
Watermelon Seed OIl 0-1 Most Skin Types, especially Oily/Acne-Prone/Sensitive High in Linoleic Acid
Wheat Germ Oil 5 Very Dry/Damaged, Spot Treatment High in Linolenic Acid

 

FATTY ACIDS: THE VITAL COMPONENTS INSIDE OILS AND BUTTERS

Fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are key to healthy skin. This is not only true for foods rich ion these fatty acids, but in topical applications of products containing them as well. In fact, studies have shown that symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency may be reversed using products that are rich in linoleic acid.

Topical application may actually be better than ingesting fatty acids when it comes to skin health. Many fatty acids that are ingested tend to be oxidized in the liver before ever reaching the skin. That makes topical application a more efficient delivery system for this critical acid to help skin repair and renew. 

Regardless of your skin type, essential fatty acids are important for skin health even if you don’t have any type of deficiency. For those with healthy skin, topical application of products with fatty acids helps to provide protection from UV radiation and sunburn - a critical step to prevent premature skin aging and wrinkles.

Excessive UV radiation exposure can cause cellular damage in the skin, including inflammation as well as immune system suppression in the skin itself. Premature aging is a result of the destruction of collagen in the skin’s cells, and causes a loss of elasticity, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles. Fatty acids in products that are applied to the skin help protect and even can help reverse that damage.

WHICH TYPES OF  FATTY ACIDS ARE BEST?

Vegetable and seed oils have two types of many types of fatty acids, but two are the primary focus for skincare - linoleic acid and oleic acid.

Alpha linoleic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6) are both considered "essential fatty acids" because the body cannot produce them on it's own. Oleic acid is produced by the body, so isn't considered "essential".

Knowing the difference between fatty acids and how they interact with skin can help you choose the right product depending on your skin type.

For Oily or Acne Prone Skin

 **HIGH LINOLEIC ACID OILS

If you have frequent blemishes or oily skin, you might think you need to use only oil-free products. Not so fast! Research shows that people with acne have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin’s surface lipids. Adding these particular fatty acid-rich oils topically may be the best way to address this problem.

Linoleic acid (C18:2) is an omega-6 essential fatty acid not produced by body. It has anti-aging, barrier protective, soothing, and balancing properties, and is most suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.

  • The highest linoleic acid ratio is found in black cumin, evening primrose, hemp, grapeseed, guava seed, passionfruit, papaya seed, prickly pear, pumpkin seed, red raspberry, rosehip, safflower, sunflower, soybean and wheat germ oil.
  • Borage, castor, cherry kernel, chia, kiwi seed, pomegranate and sesame oils contain high linoleic acid but have more balanced profiles.

For Dry and Sensitive Skin Types

HIGH OLEIC ACID OILS

Oleic Acid (C18:1) is an omega-9 fatty acid, very hydrating and ideal for drier skin. Oils higher in oleic acid can help with dry and sensitive skin, reducing skin sensitivity. They work effectively to reverse the inflammatory response in various layers of the skin.

  • The highest oleic acid ratio is found in almond, apricot, avocado, carrot seed, hazelnut, macadamia, macula, olive, palm, sea buckthorn and canola oil, as well as cocoa, mango and shea butter.
  • Argan, abyssinian, jojoba, rice bran and tamanu oils contain high oleic acid but have more balanced profiles.

OTHER IMPORTANT FATTY ACIDS

    • Lauric Acid (12:0) - antibacterial and anti-acne properties.
      • Found in coconut oil, date seed, babassu, and palm oil.
  • Myristic Acid (14:0) - cleansing and lubricating properties.
    • Found in babassu, palm, and coconut oil.
  • Palmitic Acid (C16:0) - soothing, hydrating, anti-aging and barrier-protective properties.
    • High in baobab, brazil nut, macadamia, palm, peanut, rice bran, sea buckthorn and neem oils as well as mowrah butter.
  • Palmitoleic Acid (16:1) - an omega-7 fatty acid with anti-aging, healing, and rejuvenating properties.
    • Found in macadamia and sea buckthorn oil.
  • Stearic Acid (C18:0 ) - rich and hydrating properties but occlusive and tends to clog pores for acne prone skin.
    • Found in cocoa, non-fractionated coconut oil, mango mowrah, sal and shea butter as well as neem, shea and tamanu oil.
  • Ricinoleic Acid (C18:1) - an omega 9 fatty acid with antibacterial and cleansing properties.
    • Found only in castor oil.
  • Punicic Acid (C18:3) - an omega 5 fatty acid with repairing, anti-inflammatory and antiaging properties.
    • Found ony in pomegranate oil.
  • Alpha-Linolenic Acid/ALA (C18:3) - an omega 3 and an essential fatty acid that  helps skin barrier health.
    • Found in black currant, perilla, flax/linseed, pumpkin seed, and soybean oil.
  • Gamma-Linolenic Acid / GLA (18:3) - an omega 6 fatty acid that soothes inflammation and promotes ceramide synthesis.
    • Found in black currant seed, borage, and evening primrose oil.
  • Eicosenoic Acid (20:1) - an omega 9 with soothing emollient and permeation enhancing properties.
    • High in jojoba and meadowfoam seed oil.
  • Behenic Acid (22:0) - restorative, very moisturizing and conditioning properties, especially for hair.
    • Found in karanja and mooring oils.
  • Erucic Acid (22:1) - an omega 9 with a silky/silicone like feel for light hydration.
    • High in abyssinian and broccoli oil, moderate in jojoba and meadow foam seed oils.

Sources: 

Forward written and edited by Erin Schmidt.  Other information taken from various sources including Herbal Dynamics Beauty blog and Healthline blog.