Questions that owners of any skin type have about oils are:
What about natural oils for skin care?
Do oils clog pores?
Do I need an oil-free product?
Ingredients used in skin care and cosmetics are often referred to as "non-comedogenic", meaning they will not aggravate or induce acne. In fact, the term is often misused. It usually refers to whether an ingredient is non-occlusive, which means it will not clog pores. Ingredients that do not clog pores are considered to be less aggravating to acne-prone skin, which certainly makes sense. However, there are many different causes for acne, including stripping the skin of natural oils for some.
"Oil-free" is a term applied to cosmetic formulations that do not contain oils. As a marketing term, it is meant to imply that it will also be good for skin prone to acne or blackheads. In fact, there are ingredients that take the place of oils that are occlusive themselves, such as dimethicone, parabens and/or polymers.
Here is a short list of plant-based oils and other natural ingredients that have a lower pore clogging probability (3 or below):
- Almond Oil
- Apricot Kernel Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Bentonite Clay
- Castor Oil
- Emulsifying Wax NF
- Emu Oil
- Evening Primrose
- Kaolin Clay
- Olive Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Stearic Acid
- Sunflower Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Aloe Vera (cold pressed)
*As with any other ingredient, reactions are individual.
**Oils made from coconut, cocoa butter, and wheat germ are considered very occlusive, with a high pore-clogging potential.
See Natural Oils: Properties
Does that mean that these oils and other ingredients that have a lower pore-clogging profile will not aggravate acne?
Not necessarily, but they only will irritate if the user has an sensitivity to the ingredient. There is a much greater chance of being irritated by ingredients that are derived from animal or chemical sources than there is to have a sensitivity to natural oils.
Mineral oil used in most over-the-counter moisturizers can certainly cause sensitivity reactions. It is refined from petrochemical origins, and has potential health hazards, according to this material safety data sheet.
Plant-based natural oils as listed above, when used with a light hand, aid in retaining a moisture layer on the skin without clogging pores. Natural oils such as Olive, Jojoba, Almond and Safflower have lipid profiles very similar to that of human skin. This quality makes them ideal to treat skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis and seborrheic eczema. In addition, Olive oil has a large proportion of vitamins A, D and K, and E, which is known to fight against free radicals that produce oxidation of cells.
Scrubbing and drying out skin causes irritation and a breakdown of the protective barrier of the skin, making it more susceptible to bacteria. Dry skin also flakes, which can further clog pores.
An occlusive agent which seals moisture into the skin does not allow the natural exfoliation from inside the pores to come to the surface and be washed away. A sealed skin also keeps bacteria and skin oils close to the surface. Use of a moisturizing agent that is not pore-clogging helps keep moisture next to the skin while allowing natural exfoliation of the pores, and also allows toxins to be released from the skin.
Consider judicious use of natural plant-based oils in your beauty routine!
*Reactions to any ingredient need to be tested on your wrist or the underside of your jawline.
Natural Oils: Carrier/Base Oils
Olive Oil Skin Care Recipes
Olive Oil Skin Care