WHY DO I KEEP GETTING BLACKHEADS? Hidden ingredients that aren’t helping your skin stay clear. (By Agy)

Blackheads are probably within the top 5 complaints I hear from my clients. These pesky guys, no matter how hard you try, just don’t seem to go away – OR, you extract them at home, breathe a sigh of relief to a clear (but obscenely red) nose, to only wake up the next day to a whole new colony of blackhead friends. K.

Did you know that there are BOATLOAD of ingredients can actually be classified as ‘comedogenic’ aka, blackhead-causing ingredients, that are hiding in the skincare you’re using EVERYDAY? It’s terrifying to me.

First, lets dive into what exactly a blackhead is.

Blackheads (open-comedones) fall into the category of non-inflammatory acne lesions. You typically won’t see red, irritated and angry blackheads.

Blackheads form when the follicle is large enough to hold all the junk/debris that’s been collected – a large pore. The opening, or ostium, of the follicle is dilated by the impaction, ultimately allowing all the debris to push to the surface. Cue your nose looking like strawberry full of seeds.

Acne is caused by the bacteria P. acnes. This bacteria is anaerobic, which means they thrive in environments that have absolutely NO oxygen – this also means that they aren’t able to function properly in the presence of even the smallest amount of oxygen. Now, because blackheads actually make their way to the surface of the skin, oxygen is introduced into the follicle keeping P. acnes from reproducing. Essentially keeping it from turning into a whitehead, or a full blown pustule. The darkening that occurs at the exposed part of the impaction is caused by this exposure to oxygen – giving you a “blackhead”


So can skin-care products, those that are supposed to be designed to help keep our skins clear and healthy, really cause or worsen clogged pores? YUP. Depending on the type of product.

Some skin care products and color cosmetics have spreading agents (‘vehicles’ that make the product ‘spreadable’, if you will) that contain fatty materials that penetrate the follicle from the skin’s surface, and that can contribute to the formation of blackheads, deeming them comedogenic.

Lets *PAUSE*. Go grab some of your go-to products, those that you’d typically use everyday and let’s check out their ingredients. Are any of the following ingredients listed in your products? If so, and if you’re over dealing with blackheads...it may be time to give those products a toss.

Highly Comedogenic Ingredients:

● Linseed Oil

● Olive Oil

● Cocoa Butter

● Oleic Acid

● Coal Tar

● Isopropyl Myristate

● Myristyl Myristate

● Acetylated Lanolin

● Isopropyl Palmitate

● Isopropyl Linoleate

● Oleyl Alcohol

● Octyl Palmitate

● Isotearic Acid

● Myreth 3 Myrstate

● Butyl Stearate

● Lanolic Acid

Moderately Comedogenic Ingredients:

● Decyl Oleate

● Sorbitan Oleate

● Myristyl Lactate

● Coconut Oil

● Grape Seed Oil

● Sesame Oil

● Hexylene Glycol

● Tocopherol

● Isostearyl Neopentanoate

● Most D & C Red Pigments

● Octyldodecanol

● Peanut Oil

● Lauric Acid

● Mink Oil

Finally, you may ask why would a company deliberately put comedogenic ingredients within their products?

Well, some of the oils and fats may be helpful a dry skin type that doesn’t produce enough sebum - If you have dry skin, and have been in for a facial, I’m sure you’ve heard my speech on the skin’s water/oil balance! In order to have a comedogenic reaction, you technically must have a comedogenic product and a skin type that is hereditarily acne-prone. (If you are someone who is not acne-prone, congratulations, you are blessed) Essentially, a company shouldn’t use comedogenic ingredients in products that are intended for use on oily, acne-prone skin – BUT, as long as they don’t claim that it is for that specific use, its fair game.

Always check out the ingredients when purchasing a new product! If you have any questions about a product you’re using, or about anything skin-care related feel free to shoot me a DM on my Instagram page, @agyatluxeandlavish!

Hope this post was helpful, and hoping to see you in the salon soon!


Lees, Mark. Skin Care: beyond the Basics. Cenage Learning/Milady, 2012.

Lees, Mark. The Skin Care Answer Book: Real-World Answers to 275 Most-Asked Skin Care Questions. Milady/Cengage Learning, 2011.