Natural skincare is wildly popular right now - and for great reason! More and more consumers want products that do not harm their skin. They have been leaning towards a more "natural only" approach to move away from large companies selling toxic synthetics to a non-informed public market. However, as popular as natural products are, those of us prone to acne need to heed caution as several of the most common ingredients in natural products cause tiny white bumps all over the skin.
Breakouts from products will not cause deep cysts, but rather surface-level pimples. They will be a cluster of several small, white bumps with little or no redness like in this picture below:
In 1989, a study of comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients was conducted. The study found various synthetic and natural ingredients that triggered pimples. If you are prone to acne or have noticed more clogged pores recently, these are the ingredients you must start avoiding in your skincare. Good news though is you can still eat these, just don't put them on your skin!
NATURAL INGREDIENTS THAT CAUSE ACNE
Almond oil - 2/5 on the comedogenic scale
Apricot Kernel Oil - 3/5
Avocado oil - 2-3/5
Beeswax - 0-2 depending on source
Cetearyl alcohol - 0-2/5 depending on source
Cetyl alcohol - 2/5
Cocoa butter - 4/5
Coconut oil (cocos nucifera) - 4/5
Coconut oil is great for many people suffering with ezcema, rosacea, and dry skin, but if you have acne you will want to stay away from this product 100%. It is a very thick oil that causes massive amounts of little bumps all over the skin. This will by far make your acne worse.
Corn oil - 3/5
Cotton seed oil - 3/5
Evening primrose oil (oenothera biennis oil/extract) - 3/5
Flax seed oil - 5/5
Grapeseed oil - 3-4/5
Hydrogenated vegetable oil - 3/5
Myristic acid - 3/5
Myristyl myristate - 5/5
Olive oil (olea europaea fruit oil/extract) - 5/5
Used a lot in natural products and very cloggy for the skin. Make sure this isn't in the products you are using if you are getting breakouts.
Palmitic acid - 2/5
Peach kernel oil - 5/5
Peanut oil - 2/5
Sesame oil - 3/5
Soybean oil (glycine soja oil) - 3/5
Another oil that is widely used to make products more smooth and hydrating, but even a little bit causes clogs on the skin. I have tested several products with small amounts of this ingredient and still small clogs - especially in the chin. Watch out for this one!
Stearyl alcohol - 2/5
Sweet almond oil - 5/5
NATURAL INGREDIENTS THAT DON'T CAUSE ACNE
Green tea extract
Pink grapefruit oil
Sweet orange oil
Tea tree oil
If you have acne, know you are different and that you need to check every product you use on your face for comedogenic ingredients. Even a one-time use mask can leave bumps for months. Download a full list of comedogenic ingredients here: https://www.skinutritiousclinic.com/free-resources. On this page you will also find a list of makeups and sunscreens that are acne-safe. If you are not sure if your breakouts are from products or something else, I can identify that for you in the clinic.
Stay acne-safe out there!
Elise May, CN + LE, is the owner and practitioner behind SKINutritious. She has helped over 1,000 clients clear acne with detoxing treatments, clear skin coaching, and holistic skincare.
Work with Elise. Book online here.