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Is Shea Butter Comedogenic?
Shea butter is one of the most popular skincare ingredients because of its moisturizing and nourishing properties. It can be found in body lotions, washes, facial moisturizers and masks. But many people with oily and acne-prone skin are wary of anything with ‘butter’ in the name. In this post we’ll answer the question “does shea butter clog pores?” and take a look at the comedogenicity of shea butter.
What Is Shea Butter?
Butyrospermum parkii butter, or Shea butter, is a skin care ingredient that is obtained from the kernels of the fruit of the Shea tree which is native to West Africa. It has been used for centuries as a moisturizer that has many benefits such as aiding with wounds, burns, stretch marks and other scars.
Shea butter is extremely effective due to its high concentration of fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants. These properties make shea butter nourishing, moisturizing and healing.
Benefits Of Shea Butter For The Skin
- Moisturizing: shea butter is rich in fatty acids which help to keep skin moisturized while strengthening the skin’s protective moisture barrier. Fatty acids can also help with skin healing and anti-aging.
- Nourishing: shea butter is rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals that help to keep skin healthy. Shea butter has lots of Vitamin A and Vitamin E which can help prevent premature aging, moisturize and protect the skin against damage.
- Anti-inflammatory: shea butter has incredible anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis.
- Healing: Shea butter has been shown to promote wound healing. Thanks to its nourishing properties and fatty acids, it helps to speed up healing of cuts, scrapes and even acne.
- Anti-aging: with tons of antioxidants, fatty acids and vitamins, shea butter helps to prevent premature aging. It can also help reduce fine lines and wrinkles because it keeps skin moisturized.
- Antioxidant: shea butter has lots of protective properties thanks to its high concentration of antioxidants that help to protect the skin from environmental damage from things like smoking, pollution and UV rays.
What Does Comedogenic Mean?
Now that we know a little bit about shea butter, let’s take a look at what does comedogenic or non-comedogenic mean. This will help us answer the question “does shea butter clog pores?”
The term comedogenicity refers to how likely a substance is to cause pimples or blackheads on your skin. Acne occurs when hair follicles get blocked with oil and dirt or other impurities, so if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you might want to stay away from anything with high comedogenicity which could lead to more breakouts.
Non-comedogenic means that the ingredient or product does not clog pores. However, it is important to note that just because a product says it’s non-comedogenic, does not mean your skin won’t react to it. Each person is different and may experience breakouts because their skin just doesn’t like a particular product or ingredient.
Some things like oils can be both good for your skin (moisturizing) while also having very high levels of comedogenicity, so it’s important to find moisturizing ingredients that are non-comedogenic.
The Comedogenicity Scale
The comedogenic scale simply measures how likely a product or ingredient will clog pores. Here is the comedogenicity scale:
The comedogenic scale ranges from 0-5.
0- Does not clog pores
1- Low chance of clogging pores
2- Moderately low chance of clogging pores
3- Moderate chance of clogging pores
4- Fairly high chance of clogging pores
5- High chance of clogging pores
In general, anything that’s rated 0-2 should be fine to use and shouldn’t cause any major issues. The big thing for acne-prone skin is to be cautious with anything rated a 4 or 5.
However, it’s important to note that just because a product has a low comedogenicity rating, does not mean it won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. And vice versa, just because a product or ingredient has a high comedogenicity rating, does not mean it will clog pores or lead to acne.
Does Shea Butter Clog Pores?
Shea butter has a comedogenicity rating of 0, meaning shea butter is non-comedogenic. While you may be surprised that it’s rated as non-pore clogging, given its thick and rich texture, shea butter should still be used cautiously if you have oily or acne-prone skin.
While various ingredient checkers rate shea butter a little differently (0 and 1) , for the most part shea butter seems to be relatively non-comedogenic.
However, it’s important to dive a little deeper to get to the truth about shea butter and clogged pores.
Shea Butter Fatty Acid Composition Profile
The fatty acid profile in oils and butters is extremely important when looking at the likelihood of the product being comedogenic.
In general, linoleic acid is better for oily and acne-prone skin types and can actually help treat acne. This is because oily and acne-prone skin generally have lower levels in linoleic acid in the skin, so supplementing the fatty acid with oils and butters can be beneficial. Oleic acid is best used for drier skin and can lead to clogged pores and acne.
Fatty acid composition of shea butter can vary slightly depending on the source, but here are the general numbers:
Oleic acid- 45-50%
Stearic Acid- 40-45%
Linoleic acid- 5-8%
As you can see, oleic and stearic acids make up the bulk of the fatty acid content in shea butter. There are only very small amounts of linoleic acid, which can be a problem for oily and acne-prone skin. It has been found that oleic acid clogs pores.
So, while shea butter is rated as non-comedogenic, it certainly has the ability to clog pores because of its high concentration of oleic acid. It’s also been found that oleic acid can cause certain acne-causing bacteria to grow. Additionally, it has been found that linoleic acid can actually treat clogged pores and acne.
Even if you are using other kinds of shea butter like raw, organic, yellow, refined or unrefined, it will still have relatively the same composition.
So, does shea butter clog pores? The bottom line is yes, shea butter can clog pores and hair follicles. But does that mean shea butter won’t work for you? Absolutely not! Many people with oily and acne prone skin can use shea butter with no problems.
How To Avoid Clogged Pores
To avoid clogged pores, it’s important to patch test products so that in case you do have a reaction, it’s only on a small part of your face, instead of having clogged pores or acne all over.
It also helps to keep your skin clean, so be sure you are washing your skin 1-2x a day with a gentle cleanser. Be sure you are removing all your makeup, too.
You’ll also need a chemical exfoliants like AHA or BHA which work to shed dead skin cells and unclog pores.
Shea Butter Alternatives For Acne-Prone Skin
While shea butter is a great moisturizer, it’s not for everyone. So whether you’ve tried shea butter and experienced clogged pores and breakouts or you’re too afraid to give it a try, there are some other ingredients with less chance of clogging pores.
When looking for alternatives to shea butter, your best bet will be with plant oils. Look for oils high in linoleic acid, as they’ve been proven to help treat and prevent clogged pores and acne.
- Rosehip oil: a “dry oil” meaning it’s very lightweight and sinks into the skin quickly. Great for hyperpigmentation, anti-aging and acne.
- Chia seed oil: high in omega fatty acids which help to moisturize the skin and keep the skin barrier strong and healthy. It’s also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants making it an all around great oil for skin health
- Evening primrose oil: a great, lightweight oil for oily and acne-prone skin that helps to address texture issues, acne and hyperpigmentation. Its high concentration linoleic acid help to keep the skin barrier strong and healthy while balancing oil production
- Grapeseed oil: a facial oil that’s hydrating and moisturizing while still being lightweight enough for oily skin. It helps to smooth skin texture, even skin tone and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
- Passionfruit seed oil (maracuja oil): an oil rich in anti-inflammatory properties and vitamins. It can help with inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis. It also has antibacterial properties and can help treat acne by killing bacteria on the skin. It’s very lightweight and works perfectly with or on top of moisturizers.
- Safflower oil: a non-greasy oil that absorbs quickly into the skin while providing hydration and nutrients to the skin. It helps to balance out oil production in the skin while protecting the skin against damage thanks to its antioxidant properties. It can also help with acne and other skin conditions because it has anti-inflammatory properties
- Sunflower seed oil: similar to safflower oil, sunflower seed oil can help reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, prevent premature aging and protect the skin from water loss. Sunflower seed oil has lots of antioxidant properties to help keep the skin protected from environmental damage.
Shea Butter For Skin FAQ’s
Does shea butter clear acne?
While shea butter does have some great anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation associated with acne, it can also lead to acne because of its high concentration of oleic acid. Shea butter has not been shown to treat or clear up acne.
Can shea butter cause breakouts?
Yes, shea butter can certainly cause breakouts in some people. Because of its high concentration of oleic acid, it can lead to clogged pores and an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria, leading to more breakouts.
Does shea butter clog pores on legs?
While shea butter can lead to clogged pores and acne, many people can use shea butter on their legs or body without any issues. The skin on our body is very different than that on our face. It’s tougher and less sensitive. If you use body lotions or moisturizing body washes, chances are you are already using shea butter!
Can I use shea butter on my face?
You can use shea butter on your face to help protect the skin, nourish and moisturize it. Shea butter makes a great moisturizer even during the day.
Does shea butter remove dark spots?
While it’s not been proven that shea butter can treat hyperpigmentation, because it’s rich in vitamin a and antioxidants, it can certainly help fade acne scarring or other spots. However, your best bet is to use chemical exfoliants and brightening ingredients to get rid of dark spots quick.
Is shea butter anti-aging?
Yes, shea butter can help prevent aging because of its antioxidant properties that help protect and repair the skin. It’s also high in vitamin a which can stimulate collagen and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Does Shea Butter Clog Pores: Wrap Up
Shea butter is a great moisturizer that can be used on your face or body, but it can clog pores in some people. To prevent this from happening, you should patch test products before using them all over and also use chemical exfoliants to keep skin clear of acne-causing bacteria. Additionally, shea butter has antioxidant properties which may help reduce the signs of aging while not being comedogenic for everyone!
Like anything with skincare, whether or not shea butter will clog pores and cause acne will be different for everyone. That’s why it’s important to patch test products, especially if you are acne-prone. Shea butter can certainly increase pimples, but it’s also been used for centuries to keep skin moisturized without issues.
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