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Comedogenic vs Non-comedogenic

How Does it Relate to Acne and Men’s Skin Care? Printable Version

MAYBE YOU'VE COME across the term on a skincare product – and mores specifically – an acne prevention product. Maybe you read it on a medical website or heard it on a news program - but what exactly does “comedogenic” mean? And how can understanding it help improve men skin care and prevent acne? MenScience tackles these questions and provides the answers you need to insure you choose the right products to keep your skin looking its best – without acne breakouts.

What Does “comedogenic” Mean?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a “comedo” is an “acne lesion”, a hard blockage created from an excess of sebum in a pore. This blockage can lead to whiteheads, blackheads and pimples, so “comedogenic” refers to ingredients or products that have a tendency to block pores and promote comedones (plural of comedo), or acne.

Acne often forms from an overproduction of sebum (the oily substance on the skin) and bacteria (known as P. acnes), but when pores become clogged with sebum, bacteria can rapidly grow and whiteheads (clogged pores that have reached the surface), blackheads (clogged pores which have reached skin’s surface and darkened due to bacteria’s oxidation), and pustules (clogged pores which remain below the surface) begin to appear.

Although non-comedogenic skincare products may not prevent acne, they do not promote pore-clogging and acne production, either. Non-comedogenic ingredients and products are recommended by dermatologists and medical professionals for people who have oily or acne-prone skin, but all men should use non-comedogenic products to keep pores clear of acne causing bacteria and skin blemish free. MenScience takes acne seriously – which is why all products are formulated to be non-comedogenic.

Comedogenic Ingredients

Medical experts have a hard time classifying ingredients that are comedogenic because what may clog the pores of one man’s skin and cause breakouts may not affect another man’s skin at all. However, there are some ingredients that have a higher tendency to product acne comedones than others, and we’ve provided a few of them below. If you already suffer from oily or acne-prone skin, keep an eye out for these comedogenic ingredients when purchasing products:

  • Cocoa Butter
  • Pigments & Dyes (red in particular)
  • Coal Tar
  • Isopropyl Myristate

How to Choose Non-Comedogenic Products to Help Treat Acne

No matter what type of skin you have, it’s always a good idea for men to stick to non-comedogenic skincare, shaving and grooming products to help control acne. When purchasing products, be on the lookout for specific comedogenic ingredients to help treat acne and choose products that are lightweight and non-greasy. Keep in mind the following tips when choosing these common men’s shaving and skincare products:

  • Moisturizers: Look for products that are described as oil-free and lightweight. Consistency should be thin, but still substantial. Once the product is applied, it should absorb quickly into the skin and not feel like it is layered on the surface. Choose products that have water-binding agents and soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and glycerin.
  • Cleansers: Your daily cleanser should be pore-clearing and contain deep-cleaning ingredients such as salicylic and glycolic acid, which help control acne. These clear away oil and grime, without clogging pores or upsetting the face’s natural moisture levels. Cleansers that contain aloe vera extract are beneficial for men with acne-prone skin since they help soothe irritation and redness.
  • Sunscreens: Although many sunblocks tend to feel heavy, research has shown that many UV-blocking ingredients are not comedogenic. However, it’s important to use a sunblock that is non-greasy and absorbs immediately into skin (also be sure to completely wash away old sunblock you’ve put on throughout the day to further prevent acne comedones from forming!).
  • Shaving Products: Shaving can aggravate blemishes and acne, so choose products that contain soothing, lubricating, water-based (not alcohol-based) ingredients such as aloe, allantoin and tea tree extract. This will keep pores clear, bypassing shaving irritation and acne.

Comedogenic Behavior

Even if you do use non-comedogenic products to keep your pores clear and reduce acne breakouts, you may find that you are still breaking out with acne pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. This could be because you may have some comedogenic habits. After all, acne thrives on bacteria, and there are many instances during the day when bacteria can be easily transported from your hands to your face. To keep bacteria levels down and prevent acne, consider the following tips:

  • According to a study by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association, one-third of all men don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. This means there’s a lot of men walking around with germ-ridden hands. Since acne is caused by bacteria, every time you touch your face with your unclean hands, you’re spreading acne-causing germs. Keep your hands clean by washing them regularly with warm, soapy water, and don’t touch your face too often.
  • Have frequent bouts of acne around your jaw line? Your phone could be the culprit. Germs from your hands can easily be transmitted to hand-held devices, and sebum from your face can rub off on them as well. To prevent the spread of acne causing bacteria and kill germs, wipe your phone (office, cell phone, and home) down every week or two with an antibacterial wipe or a cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol. This also works for remote controls and computer keyboards.

Copyright © MenScience Androceuticals 2008.

ABSTRACT: MenScience offers acne treatment recommendations and reveals the best men’s acne treatment products, men’s grooming and men’s skincare products; this article explains the difference between non-comedogenic and comedogenic products (products that cause blackheads, whiteheads, comedo, and comedones to form) and provides tips to help control acne.
Related Articles:
Men's Acne Facts versus Fiction
The Science of Breakouts
Eight Ways to Battle Back Acne
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