The word "noncomedogenic" is one you hear and see often, but what exactly does it mean and how does it affect you?

Being an informed shopper pays off when shopping for beauty products. Companies do not make it simple to be that well-educated shopper, though. Makeup packages have so many words and catch phrases on them it is nearly impossible to know what each specific term means. Knowing what the catch phrases and key words mean is important to choose products that are right for you and your skin.


According to Merriam Webster, noncomedogenic means that a product is “not tending to clog pores (as by the formation of blackheads).” Some skin care and makeup products are suspected to clog pores and antagonize skin possibly increasing the frequency of blemishes and if a product is labeled as noncomedogenic, it means that it typically does not clog pores. This particular word was first used in the early 1980s.

How Noncomedogenic is Used in Advertising

This term is often used on product packaging and some consumers who don’t know what noncomedogenic means can infer that a product labeled as such is one that is not bad for the skin. The challenge with skin care and makeup products, however, is the fact that with so many ingredients in each product, it can be impossible for someone who has sensitive skin to find which ingredients are harmful for them. Also, noncomedogenic means something does not typically clog pores, that leaves wiggle room meaning even if a product is labeled this way it may still clog pores in a few users.

Is Noncomedogenic Hard to Find?

Due to standards set by regulatory groups and manufacturing practices, very few products available in drug stores, department stores and big box stores are not noncomedogenic. Because there is so much research done on each product launched and the companies creating products have a long history of doing so with success, the chance that they would create a product with ingredients that would purposefully clog pores is almost nonexistent. In fact, if you shop at stores like Ulta, Sephora or department stores, you will often find that products are not labeled as noncomedogenic because it is simply assumed that these products are already not going to clog your pores because reputable companies create them. So, it may be hard to find the exact words on the packaging, but the chances the product you choose can be qualified as noncomedogenic.

How Important is it to Use Noncomedogenic Products?

If you have exceptionally sensitive skin, it is important to seek out products that are noncomedogenic or are made by companies with a good track record for having safe products. However, it is hard to know exactly what might cause a skin reaction, mainly because there are so many ingredients in products. Finding out which ingredient you are sensitive to is like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. If you have sensitive skin and are aware of which ingredients cause reactions then avoid those specific ingredients. If you do not know what ingredients are troublesome for you, stick with products from brands you have had good experiences with in the past. If you need to venture away from known products and brands, look for products from brands like Clinique or Bare Escentuals that have a reputation for being healthier overall.