my Patreon feed, Lindy asked: I am trying to choose from among the green emulsifiers, and I was wondering if you are aware of any that are more or less comedogenic than others? Any time I create for my daughter and best friend, it is the number-one issue. I know there are no guarantees, but I was just wondering ... I hate to experiment on their faces when any misstep can cause distress, especically if there are some that are known to be acne-challenging.
What a great question! However my answer is...I have no idea. Please read on to see why I'm saying this!
What does it mean for something to be comedogenic? It means that an ingredient or product causes the formation of comedones (blackheads) in a relatively short period of time. Blackheads form when the outer layers of our skin do not shed properly and the hair follicle is blocked. The blackhead part comes from the oxidation of fatty acids on the surface in the skin. Scienticians still aren't really sure what causes this lack of desquamation. Formation of comedones are not accompanied by skin redness.
Most of the scores we see for comedogenic ingredients come out of the rabbit ear assay or rabbit ear model, which is a test in which "the test material or an extract is applied directly to intact and abraded sites on the skin of a rabbit. After a 24-hour exposure, the material is removed and the sites are scored for erythema and edema." (redness and swelling). As in the name, the tests tend to be done on the rabbits' ears.
A lot of what we see as the comedogenicity rating is based on this rabbit ear test, although human tests are always happening. So this could mean that something is comedogenic for rabbits and not for us, and vice versa.
Having said this, something that isn't considered comedogenic can still clog pores and cause pimples, especially in those of us who are prone to break out when we see an oil, let alone when one touches our skin. It seems that these days we're talking more about acnegenicity, rather than comedogenicity, which is the potential for something to bother someone who has acne prone skin.
So the reason for my answer above is twofold. One, I've scoured the datasheets for the emulsifiers I have here, including Simulgreen 18-2 and Montanov 68, and I can't find a thing about comedogenicity for any of them. And two, we aren't really sure what's comedogenic and isn't any more. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful, but I just can't find anything on any of this!
If you're worried about break-outs, though, you've come to the right blog! You might have noticed that I make a lot of oil-free moisturizers - like this one with Incroquat BTMS-50 - as well as toners and gels that hydrate without oils. That's because I break out super easily, and I can't really put oils on my face on a daily basis.
If I could make the suggestion to you that maybe trying something without oils or fatty ingredients might be a good idea? I know this recipe for my niacinamide & willow bark extract oil-free hydro-gel isn't green, but it is working out to be my new Saturday night thing for my really annoyed facial skin. (You could try thickening it with xanthan gum at 2%?) Or this gelled facial serum? Again, not green, but quite nice.
Do you have any suggestions or information for Lindy? Please comment below!