With all these natural oils and butters out here, it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack to figure out which ones are gonna work for your skin! But don't worry, there's a little something called the Comedogenic Scale that can help us out. It ranks these oils and butters based on their likelihood of clogging your pores, which is super important if you're prone to breakouts and blackheads. Trust me, knowing this stuff will save you so much time and frustration!
The scale uses a numbering system from 0 to 5. Here’s how the numbers rank on the scale:
0 - won’t clog pores at all
1 - very low likelihood they will clog pores
2 - moderately low likelihood
3 - moderate likelihood
4 - fairly high likelihood
5 - high likelihood of clogging pores
IMPORTANT - The ratings below represent a range, not definitive rules. All oils / butters have been classified in their virgin state. Combinations of these oils and butters changes the rating.
What Does Non-Comedogenic Mean?
Class is now in session! Non-comedogenic oils and butters are the bomb dot com when it comes to skincare. They don't clog your pores and have a comedogenic rating of 2 or lower. A rating of 5 is pretty much guaranteed to give you a breakout if you're prone to acne. Now, the comedogenic scale below is specifically for commonly used oils and butters, but there are all sorts of factors that can affect how a particular oil will work for your skin. Even dermatologists have a hard time predicting how people's skin will react to things, because everyone's skin is different.
For example, avocado oil might be super nourishing for some people with oily skin, but for others with the same skin type, it could lead to even more breakouts! There are all sorts of things that can impact how oils behave on your skin, like skin type, illness, water intake, and the environment. In this guide, we'll take a look at both the comedogenic ranking and the fatty acid composition of different oils to help you figure out which ones are right for your skin type. To help reduce reactions, work on balancing your skin's pH daily (like with a toner) and always do a small test patch on your skin when trying a new oil or butter.
Note: This list isn't nearly all inclusive. It contains only some commonly used oils and butters. Feel free to comment if you would like a larger list of unique skin-loving oils and butters!
Fatty Acids: The Key Components Inside Oils and Butters
Fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are crucial for naturally radiant skin. And I'm not just talking about eating foods rich in these fatty acids, but using products with them topically, too. Studies have even shown that using products packed with linoleic acid can reverse symptoms of fatty acid deficiency. Plus, using oils and butters with these fatty acids on your skin might be even better than just eating them, since a lot of the fatty acids you consume can get oxidized in your liver before they ever reach your skin.
But here's the thing: even if you don't have any deficiency, essential fatty acids are still important for keeping your skin healthy. They can help protect your skin from UV radiation and sunburn, which is key for preventing premature aging and wrinkles. We all know that too much UV radiation can destroy your skin, causing inflammation and suppressing your immune system. It can also destroy collagen in your skin cells, leading to a loss of elasticity and fine lines. Using products with fatty acids on your skin can help protect against all that damage, and even reverse it.
Which Types of Fatty Acids are Best?
There are tons of different types of fatty acids in vegetable and seed oils and butters, but the two we're gonna focus on for skincare are linoleic acid and oleic acid. Alpha linoleic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6) are both "essential fatty acids" because your body can't make them on its own. Oleic acid is something your body can produce, so it's not considered "essential". Knowing the difference between these fatty acids and how they work with your skin can help you pick the right product for your skin type.
High Linoleic Acid Oils
If you're prone to blemishes and oily skin, you might think you need to steer clear of all oils. But hold your horses! Research shows that people with acne actually have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin's surface lipids. Using oils that are high in this particular fatty acid might be the best way to fix that problem. Linoleic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid that your body can't make on its own. It's got anti-aging, barrier protective, soothing, and balancing properties, and is perfect for oily and acne-prone skin.
The highest linoleic acid ratio is found in black cumin, evening primrose, hemp, grapeseed, guava seed, passion fruit, 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.
High Oleic Acid Oils
Girl, let me tell you about oleic acid. It's an omega-9 fatty acid that is seriously hydrating and perfect for drier skin. Oils that are high in oleic acid can help moisturize dry and sensitive skin, and even reduce sensitivity. They can also work to calm down inflammation in different layers of your skin. You'll find the highest oleic acid ratio in oils like 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.
Where Do You Start?
Okay, so now we know what is what when it comes to oils and butters but how do you know what do to with that? Next week, I'll be discussing which skin types need which oils. You can use the chart above as a good basis of oils to try, but remember that not all skin types are the same and not every person is the same. Balancing your skin's pH daily will help to even out some of the common problems such as acne, oily skin, or dry/combination skin. Toning your skin is a good first step (try this toner). Next, try a simple oil that is either high in oleic or linoleic acid (as we talked about above). I love jojoba for my face because it's multi-skin type safe. This is my favorite Jojoba Oil.
Stay tuned for next week's Monday blog about how to choose YOUR best oils and butters. Drop your questions below!
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