What skin care you use does matter. The first thing I always check with a new clients skin care routine is if their products are clogging their pores.
Clogged pores are the beginning of acne. When sebum gets “sticky” and stuck in the pores, then it creates a blackhead or whitehead (comedonal acne). This comedonal acne will either eventually dislodge and come out on their own, or if it has trouble coming out then it’ll get inflamed and infected as our skin tries to push the clogged sebum plug out. This is when the pimple forms.
So as you can see, we want to prevent clogging as much as we can. Let’s look at what creates clogged pores.
- Excess sebum production (from an internal imbalance). We’ll be talking about this in Love Your Liver and Balance Your Estrogen.
- Dry skin cells getting stuck in the pores.
- Products – cleansers, moisturizers, makeup etc. getting stuck in the pores.
Excess sebum production
Sebum is actually a really good thing. It’s part of our skins natural protection barrier and provides us with hydration when our skin is too dry. One of the reasons why as you age your skin gets thinner and dryer is because you begin to produce less sebum. So a healthy production of sebum is actually great for young healthy looking skin!
Oddly enough you can also have excessive sebum production and dry skin. If your skin is out of balance and/or not well nurtured by the right skin care products, then your skin can be producing an excess of sebum but your skin is drying externally from a harsh environment or the wrong skin care. OR if your sebum does not contain a good makeup of linoleic acid then it can be too dry and hard and therefore not hydrated at all and more likely to get stuck. So don’t think that just because your skin is dry you’re not necessarily producing a lot of sebum – that may not be the case.
Linoleic acid versus oleic acid
The science of the importance of linoleic acid in skin care for acne prone skin is quite basic. Acne prone skin is most often deficient in linoleic acid, so it is advantageous to use products that contain higher levels of it.
When linoleic acid is not available in the skin the sebaceous glands produce sebum with oleic acid, which is is drier and firmer than healthy sebum. This dry and firm sebum can then easily become stuck and form blackheads and whiteheads. The oils that I recommend on this page are high in linoleic acid and low in oleic acid, which will work at helping to clear your skin by providing the much needed linoleic acid if its lacking. This will help prevent future blackheads and whiteheads from forming.
Oil 1: Hemp Seed Oil
Comedogenic rating: 0
Hemp seed oil is one of the best cleansers and moisturisers for acne prone skin. Please don’t be afraid of it being an oil, as we will discuss soon, hemp seed oil is not pore clogging. It has a comedogenic rating of 0 which means it is safe to use on acne prone skin and will not clog your pores. In fact, it will actually help to balance out your excess sebum.
Hemp seed oil is a very light oil so on some skin types it may appear too drying. If you have very dry skin then I recommend using an additional moisturiser underneath the hemp seed oil to provide that extra protection and hydration.
Oil 2: Jojoba Oil
Comedogenic rating: 0-2
Jojoba oil is another great raw ingredient to use to help prevent clogging of the skin. Jojoba oil is technically not an oil, it’s a liquid wax, but has been given the name because of its oil like consistency.
Sebum is composed primarily of gycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters and squalenes. Jojoba oil is composed primarily of wax esters and fatty acids which is why many say that is the oil that most closely resembles human sebum.
Because of this similarity when used as a cleanser and moisturiser it can actually help to reduce sebum production. However, if you have a lot of clogged pores then it can begin the process of purging them out, which can be a bit of a difficult process for some. If you’re not ready for this purging process, then don’t use this oil.
Jojoba oil is naturally anti-bacterial so it can help to prevent new acne from forming. But remember, it is very unlikely for any external treatment to successfully work at curing our skin – it’s important to work internally too.
Oil 3: Rosehip Oil
Roseship oil is gaining in popularity with being the skin care oil of choice used by many celebrities. The high content of linoleic acid in rosehip oil makes it similar in feel to hemp seed oil – great for acne prone skin but a little too drying for some. So if you choose to use this oil and have dry skin, make sure to use an additional moisturiser underneath.
Dry skin cells getting stuck in the pores
It’s a myth that dry skin is acne free skin. Skin that is too oily and skin that is too dry can suffer from acne. In fact, if you’re acne prone then excessively dry skin is one of the easiest ways to get acne – simply because dry skin can get stuck in your pores and begin the process of the formation of acne as we discussed above.
How do you prevent this? Make sure that your skin is not too dry. Do not use any products that are harsh or drying to the skin, and make sure to use a moisturiser if you need to. I have a lot of clients using the water only method to cleanse – I never recommend doing this. Water is drying to the skin so please use a cleansing oil with the water!
Do not use products that will clog your pores
I cannot stress this to you enough. If you are acne prone then it’s just something that you’re going to be a little more careful with than those who aren’t. I actually recommend using raw and natural ingredients (and not products) so it’s quite easy to avoid everything that clogs up your skin. All you need to do is learn which raw ingredients and oils can potentially clog the skin, and which ones do not.
Lucky for us plenty of studies have been done on the comedogenicity of raw ingredients. “Comedogenicity” means how likely it is to clog our pores. Raw ingredients are given a rating from 0-5, with 0 being no chance at all that it will clog our pores and 5 being very likely.
For acne prone skin it’s better to stick with ingredients that have a rating of 0-2. The most common natural skin care mistakes I’ve seen with acne prone skin is the use of coconut oil which has a rating of 4 so has a good chance of clogging the pores and creating acne. I personally learned this one the hard way before I knew any better.
I don’t recommend the use of products in the initial stages of your healing, but if you absolutely must, then you can check each ingredient on the label. If there are many ingredients then you can check just the first eight.
Here are some list of comedogenic ingredients for you to check:
What I Recommend
I recommend using either hemp, jojoba or rosehip oils to both cleanse and moisturise the skin. All three raw oils help to balance out the skins natural oil production resulting in a normalisation of the skin – that is skin that is neither too oily or too dry. If you’ve ever felt that you have combination skin then you’re likely just using the wrong products. Switch back to being gentle on your skin and protecting your skins natural acid mantle and it’s likely that your skin will over time become “normal” (not oily and dry in patches).
All three oils are easy to use. Simply use them in place of your usual cleanser. If your skin is feeling tight or dry after you’ve washed and towel dried, then use a few drops as a moisturiser too.
This article explains in more detail how to cleanse and moisturise with hemp seed and jojoba oils: How To Use Hemp Seed or Jojoba Oil As a Cleanser & Moisturiser.