Somewhere along the line, we all have heard about non-comedogenic creams. The premise seems very appealing, a cream that will moisturize your skin without clogging pores/causing acne. Sadly, most people never look into why non-comedogenic creams don’t clogg your pores and thus never understand why they may actually be worse for their skin than using nothing at all.

What are Non-comedogenic Creams?

In essence, they are creams with a very low amount of saturated fatty acids. The more saturated fats in a cream, the more likely it will be to clog your pores. Human fats are always saturated and your cells need saturated fats to retain moisture and retain healthy function.

Saturated fats vs Unsaturated fats for skin moisture
Lack of saturated fatty acids impairs your skin’s barrier function and allows for water loss among other things

Why Non-Comedogenic creams might be worse for your skin

The low content of saturated fatty acids is exactly where the problem lies. Once you start applying creams on your skin, your skin becomes dependent and your sebaceous glands shut down (or at least greatly cut down the amount of sebum they produce).

Why non comedogenic moisturizers can cause you to get wrinkles fasterHowever, saturated fats are a key for keeping your skin full of moisture and well lubricated. Without saturated fats, your skin is much more prone to wrinkling.

The problem is that these non-comedogenic creams actually provide very little saturated fatty acids (moisture) to the skin while also shutting off your skin natural fatty acid production. To put this into simple terms, these creams moisturize your skin near the surface but don’t provide enough moisture to your skin below the surface. So while your skin may feel soft on the outer surface, its actually dry on the inside and will over wrinkle much faster than normal.

What can you do

First, let me disclose that not all non-comedogenic creams are bad. There are some that contain ceramides along with other essential fatty acids and cholesterol that are able to provide your skin with adequate moisture. However, they will never be as good for wrinkle prevention as creams that are comedogenic, there is just no way around this.

Cholesterol and ceramides to improve skin
Some creams that contain ceramides, cholesterol, and omega 6 fatty acids can still be non-comedogenic but work by strengthening the barrier of your skin.

So you have a couple options.

Option 1: You can add a fatty moisturizer to your regiment and apply it every 1-2 days to actually give your skin the saturated fatty acids needed for moisture. Something like Cacao-Butter works great for this, but you can’t leave it on for long. I recommend applying it 15-30 minutes before your shower. This will allow for enough time for it to absorb, but will not clog your pores so much.

If you have more of a budget you can purchase a high-quality night cream. Those are typically packed with fatty acids and if you get a good one ceramides and cholesterol also which will help strengthen your skin barrier.

If you have acne prone skin, I provide info on acne/blackhead management at the end of this post.

Option 2:  This may seem obvious, but you can switch back to a “non” non-comedogenic cream. The more moisture it provides, the more comedogenic it will usually be, but there are many tops of the line creams you can choose from it can become overwhelming. Tip: look for something with stearic acid and ceramides in it. Comment below if you’d like more info on the best facial creams in a future post.

Option 3: Seems like no-one ever even considers this, but you can stop using daily moisturizers. People seem to forget that the skin is more than capable of providing its own moisture. In fact, if you are not someone who is constantly stripping their skins oils with the use of facial cleansers, makeup removers, etc., your skins natural oil production will be far better than most of the facial creams on the market. The only caveat to this is that if you’ve been using creams for a long time your skin is dependent on them for moisture and is going to need time to start creating its own moisture. Tip: (Apply rosehip seed oil on your face 1-2x per day to increase the speed of your skin’s recovery).

How to avoid blackheads, Acne, and Clogged Pores from comedogenic creams

If you decide to follow through with either of the first two options, here are some tips to help you avoid problems.

Use Sonic Cleansers

Use a sonic cleanser every 1-3 days to clear the content of your pores. I myself was not sold on sonic cleansers until I used them for a lab project and they cleaned my equipment 10x better and faster than cleaning manually. If your skin doesn’t break out from using sonic cleansers, this method is much better for your skin in the long run than non-comedogenic creams.

Use salycilic acid creams/cleansers

Generally speaking, the most sensitive areas to clogged pores are on and around the nose. This area of this skin typically doesn’t need a strong moisturizer. You can apply a salicylic acid containing non-comedogenic cream on this area to help prevent and clean out your clogged pores while applying a comedogenic cream on the rest of your face.

Salicylic acid containing cleansers are also a great way to clean any clogged pores you may have without needing to invest in a sonic cleanser.

Should you exfoliate to help manage clogged poor from fatty creams and moisturizers?

No, this is a terrible idea. When you exfoliate you are removing one of the most important parts of your skin which is the stratum corneum. This is the protection layer to your skin which is responsible for holding in moisture and preventing water from escaping.

The importance of stratum corneum in healthy looking skin

You want to make this layer stronger, not weaker. Sure, exfoliating once every 1-2 weeks isn’t bad, but the amount you’d need to exfoliate to clean your pores from fatty creams, especially butters, would completely wreck your stratum corneum. Stick with sonic cleansers and salicylic acid creams and washes.

So there you have it. If you want to preserve youthful wrinkle-free skin for as long as possible you should switch from non-comedogenic to fatty creams. Lastly, I figured I’d also mention that I’m working on creating the ultimate high-end facial moisturizer that has all the ingredients needed to provide moisture and strengthen the barrier to your skin while also increasing collagen synthesis. More on this later 🙂

Hope you enjoyed,


6 Responses

  1. HI! Excellent Post… the entire content of this blog is pretty great. Do you have any favorite high saturated fat creams or oils? I like to use natural things with minimal ingredients.

    1. Hi Cas,

      Any oil will not be high in saturated fats. I am working on compiling a list of all the best creams for skin health and wrinkle prevention which I will post in the future.

      You can follow me on Instagram to hear about it when I do finally publish that post 🙂

  2. Hi 🙂 Great blog! When will you post the list of the best creams and also the moisturizer that you were working on?

    1. Hey Steph!

      I’ve been soo busy with my pre-med courses that I haven’t had the time to focus on that post. I really want to make that post but I don’t see it coming out within the upcoming year. I’ll start working on that post when I get some free time 🙂

      Thanks for following me all this time!! 🙂

    1. Hey Brad,

      When you are using tretinoin the use of moisturizer becomes even more important. Don’t stop moisturizing.

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