I just learned what comedogenic means, and I think it’s changed my life. As a long-time adult acne sufferer (don’t be fooled, I suffered during puberty too) and beauty product enthusiast, I’ve long struggled with wanting to try out new or cult beauty products, without seeing an unwelcome lodger build a home on my face.
After my second round of Roaccutane, my dermatologist finally asked what products I was using. “Kora Organic in the morning, and Crème de La Mer in the evening because my skin is super dry from the Roaccutane and it needed a boost.”
“Step away from the Crème De La Mer, please! It’s comedogenic, which means it’s pore-clogging.” …What? So the miracle cream that people swear by that also costs my whole left arm to buy…is actually making my skin worse. The revelation was particularly hurtful after buying a 60ml jar barely a fortnight ago. My wallet was not happy. Instead, I was encouraged to use La Roche Posay. Obviously great for your skin, but not as exciting or luxurious.
Nevertheless, it got me thinking. How many of my products are comedogenic? Does my new Glossier serum clog my pores too? (Yes, it does.) So I did a little deep diving.
Comedogenic products are products that have a likelihood of causing comedones, the earliest form of acne. Something that we definitely do not want. Sadly, there’s no consistent way to judge if a product is non-comedogenic or not. There are no specific ingredients that clog pores (although isopropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate, ethylhexyl palmitate, and acetylated lanolin are high probabilities – check your products), and there is also no consistent rating for comedogenic properties. There is a rating that’s commonly used from 0-30, but that isn’t standardized either. At the end of the day, trial and error is the only fool-proof way to go, which means some pesky pimples will be collateral on your journey to clear skin. Remember to patch test your product!
However, using the common (but not standardized) comedogenic rating and obviously my own personal experience, I’ve curated some of the best non-comedogenic moisturizers for you and your (fingers-crossed) acne-free face. It’s been a journey, and I’ve had more glaring spots than I can count, but I’m just here to spread the good lord’s word. Enjoy.
Header image via British Vogue
La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Moisturizing Cream
We’ll start off with the classic French brand that acne-sufferers swear by. Frankly, the whole Toleriane range is built for people with problematic skin (ahem, me), and I personally use their Micellar Water, their Effaclar cleanser, and occasionally their Toleriane moisturizer. A brand that my dermatologist swears by, La Roche Posay is one brand where you can’t go wrong. Available in most fancy pharmacies – and a lot cheaper than Crème de la Mer...
Kora Hydrating Moisturizer
When someone tells you that they run their beauty products through a machine filled with Rose Quartz to “infuse the vibration of love onto you,” you know they’ll only make uber pure products. Miranda Kerr only uses natural ingredients such as Noni fruit and Rosehip oils, with all the ingredients being certified organic and cruelty-free.
I have tried both the Hydrating Moisturizer and the Soothing Moisturizer, and I loved both. Not a huge difference between them, the Hydrating Moisturizer feels a little heavier and takes a little longer to sink in. However, my skin had no qualms about the ingredients, and I almost felt like Miranda Kerr after using it every morning. Which is saying something. Maybe it’s the vibration of love?
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream
Kiehl’s is never one for fragrance, and always one for natural ingredients that work. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream is a no-frills moisturizer that absorbs quickly but moisturizes deeply. Using avocado oil to lock in moisture, it works great on all skin types. So great in fact, that it’s been said that a jar sells every 6 seconds. Lightweight but powerful, it’s a go-to if you want something fragrance-free and guaranteed to work wonders.
Avène A-Oxidant Antioxidant Water Cream
I used to swear by La Roche Posay, one of Avène's main competitors, but as my skin became more sensitive to irritants, Avène became more and more the brand I turned to, even away from La Roche Posay. After sticking to Avène, I returned briefly for a sojourn with La Roche Posay Toleriane, and my skin was not loving it. I still use Avène water cream to this day, and my face is clear and calm – which is my skin’s way of telling me to keep doing what I’m doing!
Sheseido Waso Clear Mega-Hydrating Cream
Waso Clear-Hydrating Cream is from a line that Sheseido created specifically for younger skin in mind. The cream has a jelly-like texture, and it disappears straight into the skin after applying. No more waiting for your nightly skin routine to sink in before your head hits the pillow! The main ingredient is carrot cells, which sounds funny, but they’re actually full of water, which is all transferred to your cells to keep them nice and plump – e.g. firm and glowy skin.
Tatcha Water Cream
Tatcha is almost a cult beauty brand, and with celebs like Megan Markle and Kim Kardashian raving about their products, they must be good. I bought an flight-sized jar of the Water Cream which I keep in my airplane beauty bag, and it works wonders brightening my dehydrated, recycled-air flight skin. However, due to my skin being super-sensitive, I can’t use it every day or my skin starts to get a little tetchy, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have super-sensitive skin like mine. The plus side? It smells divine, and makes your skin glow (not shine!) even during the driest of journeys.