Comedogenicity vs Acnegenicity

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the meanings of comedogenic/comedogenicity and acnegenic/acnegenicity. Many people get the two confused or think they are the same.

Comedogenicity refers to the ability of an ingredient/product to cause an over production of skin cells, particularly in the top portion of the follicle.  (This is known as hyperkeratosis.) The excess skin cells form scales on the skin.  As these scales shed, they clog the follicle and produce both microcomedones (invisible) and comedones.  Over a period of 3-6 months, these turn into acne lesions.

Comedogenic ingredients/products do not cause acne immediately. They take time, months in fact.  Which is why you need to take this into consideration when you examine the benefits of many natural oils and butters, as few studies have shown the impact of continued use of long periods of time.

Acnegenicity is more immediate and occurs within days of product use. Acnegenic ingredients/products irritate the follicle.

There are many ingredients that are both acnegenic and comedogenic. Isopropyl myristate, Coconut Oil and Argan Oil are good examples. Another common ingredient which is found in foundations is Polyglyceryl 4- Isostearate.

Remember, acne takes 3-6 months to form.

Question:  When you see ads claiming that acne was cleared in 7 days, what has really happened? 

Answer: The existing, surface lesions have cleared.  There is still a tonne of acne lesions beneath the surface that need to be cleared.

Clearing acne is a 3-6 month process. It does not happen overnight and it will require your commitment to clear acne. This is where most people struggle.  We live in an instant gratification world and there are always new products coming to market that side-track and dazzle us. If you want to really clear your acne, you need to commit to a product for a minimum of 3 months. Any less than 3 months and you are doing yourself and the product you are using a disservice.  Not to mention, you will waste a lot of money in the process and may never truly achieve clear skin. You also need to use the product as recommended. Using a product only a couple times a week will have little or no effect on your skin.

The comedogenicity of ingredients/products is only relevant for those who are acne prone. If you are not prone to acne you will not get breakouts from these ingredients and you can use them as much as you want.

When the comedogenicity of an ingredient is tested, it is ONLY tested on an acne skin. These tests are never performed on individuals who do not have acne as this would give false results.