What It Means for a Skin Care Product to Be Nonacnegenic

While out skincare shopping, you have probably come across plenty of products labeled nonacnegenic. It's also sometimes spelled nonacnegenic, or hyphenated non-acnegenic.

Woman looking at skin care products in store

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Nonacnegenic means "not likely to cause acne." Nonacnegenic products do not contain ingredients known to clog pores, and do not contain ingredients known to promote acne breakouts. 

It's safe to say that products labeled nonacnegenic are a good choice when shopping for skincare products. They are generally less likely to irritate existing pimples and less likely to aggravate acne and make it worse.

Recognizing Ingredients That Clog Pores

Some common skincare ingredients are well-known pore-cloggers, and it's not just oily ingredients that we typically equate with breakouts. So, just because a product is labeled oil-free, doesn't automatically make it nonacnegenic. 

For example, coconut oil and cocoa butter are very rich oils, and they are big-time pore blockers. But more sneaky ingredients can also be comedogenic, which means they can promote breakouts. Bismuth oxychloride, a common ingredient in mineral makeup, is cited as comedogenic as are certain D and C colorants.

Products that contain high amounts of these ingredients won't be labeled nonacnegenic. Small amounts of these ingredients, though, probably aren't enough to actually clog pores, so a product may contain them and still carry the nonacnegenic label.

Developing Your Skin Care Routine

When you're struggling with acne, your dermatologist may recommend you only use nonacnegenic (and its close cousin, noncomedogenic) skincare products. This is especially true for products that you'll leave on your skin, like moisturizers, makeup, and sunscreen.

Keep in mind, though, everybody's skin is different. Just because a product is labeled nonacnegenic doesn't absolutely guarantee the product will not make your acne worse. It's just less likely to than other skincare products.

Just remember, if any product seems to make your breakouts worse, even if it is labeled nonacnegenic, you should probably stop using it.

Along the same lines, if you have a tried-and-true moisturizer that you love and it seems to agree with your skin, there's no reason to ditch it just because it doesn't carry the nonacnegenic label.

Basically, use the nonacnegenic label as a guide to help you when you're on the market for a new product. And with so many products on the shelf these days, it's a good way to help quickly narrow your choices.

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  • Acne. American Academy of Dermatology Key Messages 2014-2016. Schaumburg, Illinois: American Academy of Dermatology.

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.