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Noncomedogenic is a term applied to oils, lotions, and skin creams that do not block pores. Noncomedogenic products are also sometimes referred to as non-occlusive. The theory behind using lotions that do not clog pores is that, by not blocking pores, they will reduce the incidence of pimples.
The cosmetics industry loves terms like noncomedogenic because they sound as though they are scientifically based, and therefore tested. They are at once intimidating and encouraging to customers looking to solve their skin care problems. While there is some evidence that noncomedogenic products may, by not blocking pores, reduce acne, this has not been proven in clinical trials and has not been tested by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Much anecdotal evidence exists, however, which attests to the value of these products. It does make sense that occluded pores are more likely to produce acne, particularly if one is prone to acne. However, some forms of acne result from more than one cause, like the presence of a high number of streptococcus bacteria on the skin. In such cases, using a product that doesn't block pores may not significantly reduce acne.
Some products are noncomedogenic, but can still cause skin rashes or irritation. Acne lotions often have citric acids, salicylic acids, or high levels of vitamin A, more commonly known as retinol. These can aggravate acne and cause burning, redness and itching. However, some people find them beneficial in reducing acne.
Since many women in their 30s and 40s still get acne, but are also trying to combat age with skin creams, turning to these products with anti-aging properties can assist in clearer, softer skin. However, even though anti-acne, anti-aging skin creams can help some women and men with skin problems, dermatologists recommend stopping use if such products cause further irritation to the skin. Along with anti-acne and anti-aging products, many sunscreens are now advertised as noncomedogenic. When products help reduce acne for an individual, it is advisable to look for sunscreens that are advertised as such, since wearing sunscreen should not be avoided.
If making one’s own skin care products, the best choices of noncomedogenic oils include almond, olive, evening primrose, peanut, safflower, and sunflower oils. Oils like corn, cottonseed and hydrogenated vegetable oil will occlude the pores somewhat. Oils made from coconut, cocoa butter, and wheat germ are considered very occlusive.