Understanding the comedogenic scale for the best face oil for dry skin


The comedogenic scale is a “measure” of how ingredients found in common skin care products will impact your pores. This scale is particularly useful when looking at products that you will apply to heal dry skin patches on your face.

The scale is fairly simple to use and is broken down into a 6-level rating from 0 to 5.

  • Rating of 0 - Does not clog pores.
  • Rating of 1 – Low probability of clogging pores.
  • Rating of 2 - Moderately Low probability of clogging pores.
  • Rating of 3 - Moderate probability of clogging pores.
  • Rating of 4 - Fairly High probability of clogging pores.
  • Rating of 5 - High probability of clogging pores.

Will a low comedogenic scale rating mean my face oil for dry skin will be effective?

The short answer is no. The scale helps you understand the likelihood of the ingredients to clog your pores, or not. It does not measure the efficacy of an ingredient about dry skin.

There are many factors involved when understanding if or why an ingredient, or a combination of ingredients, will be effective, such as active ingredients, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and stated benefits of an ingredient.

Furthermore, an ingredient can have a very low rating of 0 but not bring many benefits to your dry skin patches on your face or body. Therefore, use the scale to understand the relationship of the ingredient(s) to your pores, but nothing else.

What makes an ingredient effective with a low comedogenic scale rating?

You want to look at the essential fatty acid (EFAs) composition of your ingredient, or combination of ingredients. When you have dry skin or cracked skin, it is a manifestation of a dehydrated or even broken skin barrier.

The skin barrier is comprised of the following EFAs:

  • Linoleic acid (LA), also known as omega-6 fatty acid, helps build ceramides, and maintain/repair skin barrier ~+/- 40% of the skin barrier.
  • Arachidonic acid (AA), also known as omega-6 fatty acid ~ +/- 9% of the skin barrier.
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), also known as omega-3 fatty acid ~ +/- 3% of the skin barrier.
  • You can read in greater detail how EFAs impact the skin barrier function thanks to a very detailed article from Oregon State University.

You should know that most diets in the USA already have large amounts of Omega-6s, and therefore, we rarely need to supplement with Omega-6 as we have an overabundance of it in our diet.

This becomes an issue as we eat less Omega-3s rich foods, and therefore, need to supplement our diets with Omega-3s, and look for well-balanced skincare products with Omega-3s to help the skin barrier repair and maintenance.

But if you have chronic issues with dry or cracked skin, you cannot simply replenish your EFAs through a heavy Omega-3 diet. It would take either a rapid radical change in diet, a larger amount of a particular food, neither is truly possible if you have Diabetes, Eczema, or any other chronic illness that has individualized diets and restrictions.

Omega-3s serve a critical function in the skin barrier and it is an essential fatty acid since the body does not produce it on its own. Skin benefits are linked to the regulation of oil production, improvement and balance of skin hydration, reduction of outbreaks, and even the minimization of signs of aging.

How do I use the comedogenic scale when looking at plant oils?

When you purchase oil, a cream, or butter, the first action is to look at the ingredients and try to assess where they fall on the scale. This is particularly useful when you will be applying the product to your face, to heal dry skin patches.

Of course, the concentration of the ingredients will play a big role in their potential impacts on your pores. Just because an ingredient has a high rating or a low rating, you will have to see how much there is in the product you’re using. Typically, ingredients are listed from high concentration to low concentration on the ingredients list, and in that order.

List of Plant-based oils and their comedogenic rating and Essential Fatty Acid content.

Comedogenic Scale | probability of oil clogging your pores | for dry skin patches

Plant Oil Rating of 0 - Does not clog pores

Argan Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 37%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | <0.5%

Argan Oil is packed with vitamin E (Tocopherol) and is suitable for the face as it has a rating of 0 on the scale. The oil is packed with Omega-6s but does not have a lot of Omega-3s. Should be paired with an oil rich in Omega-3s and very low in Omega-6s for even better results. This can be used on scars and dry skin on the face. Safe for most skin types.

Hemp Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) |56%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 10%

Hemp Oil is a good source of EFAs, even if it does not have a lot of omega-3s. The oil has been shown to help with dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin. Should be paired with an oil rich in Omega-3s and very low in Omega-6s for even better results. Hemp oil can help with oil production and can be used on the face. Safe for most skin types.

Safflower Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 70-80%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Safflower Oil is a good source of omega-6 but has no omega-3. The oil has been shown to help with acne, restoring moisture in the skin. Should be paired with an oil rich in Omega-3s and very low in Omega-6s for even better results. Easily absorbed by the skin, unclear how effective it can be on dry skin patches on the face and body. Should be safe for most skin types.

Plant Oil Rating of 1 - Low probability of clogging pores

Emu Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) 15%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 0.9%

Emu Oil is a great carrier oil. It is very well absorbed by the skin and is a great addition to a high omega-3 oil as it will pair well. Emu Oil on its own will help reduce inflammation, increase hydration. Fairly well suited for all skin types.

Grapeseed Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 63-72%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Grapeseed Oil is packed with omega-6s but lacks omega-3s. The oil is rich in vitamin E (Tocopherol) and will help with moisture and overall skin health. Should be paired with an oil rich in Omega-3s and very low in Omega-6s for even better results. Can help reduce inflammation. Fairly well suited for all skin types.

Meadowfoam Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 4%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Meadowfoam Oil is a great carrier oil. This oil is very light and is absorbed well by the skin, making it a perfect vehicle for an omega-3 rich oil like Sea Buckthorn or Sacha Inchi. The oil on its own will help moisturize. Fairly well suited for all skin types.

Rosehip Seed Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 44%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Rosehip Seed Oil is packed with omega-6s but lacks omega-3s. Known to help with scars, signs of aging skin, and stretch marks. Should be paired with an oil rich in Omega-3s and very low in Omega-6s for even better results. Fairly well suited for all skin types.

Sacha Inchi Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 33%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 54%

Sacha Inchi Oil is one of our favorite oils and you will find it in all our products :). One of the richest sources of Omega-3, almost perfectly balanced with Omega-6s this oil will bring you intense moisture, help with scars, stretch marks, and inflammation. This is THE oil for dry patches even on your tough feet. With a low rating, no risk of clogging your pores, safe for all skin types.

Sea Buckthorn Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 30-35%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 30-35%

Sea Buckthorn Oil is one of our favorite oils and you will find it in all our products :). It has an almost perfect balance of omega-6s and omega-3s while having a rich level of omega-3s. This oil is very well absorbed, provides intense moisture, and is known to repair the skin barrier. Very good fried to all those who have dry skin patches. With a low rating, no risk of clogging your pores, safe for all skin types.

Plant Oil Rating of 2 - Moderately Low probability of clogging pores

Almond Oil (Sweet)
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 20-30%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 0.4%

Sweet Almond Oil is packed with vitamins such as vitamin A (think retinol), and vitamin E (tocopherol). Best to use this oil on dry skin when you have acne issues. It has moderately high levels of Omega-6s, but virtually no Omega-3s. Should be paired with an oil rich in Omega-3s and very low in Omega-6s for even better results. This oil is also useful in reducing the appearance of scars. Can be used on all skin types, very useful on dry irritated skin.

Apricot Kernel Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 23%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | .3%

Apricot Kernel Oil is very rich in vitamins A (think retinol), C, and E (tocopherol). This oil is moderately rich in Omega-6s but contains virtually no Omega-3s. Should be paired with an oil rich in Omega-3s and very low in Omega-6s for even better results. Useful for dry skin, as well as damaged hair, best used with a carrier oil. Can be used by most skin types, best for dry skin.

Babassu Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 3%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.%

Babassu Oil is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to help soothe dry and irritated skin. The oil contains very little Omega-6s or Omega-3s. The oils are absorbed very quickly by the skin, and therefore should be paired with a balanced oil like Sacha Inchi or Sea Buckthorn for best results. Can be used by most skin types, best for dry skin.

Jojoba Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 5%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 1%

Jojoba Oil is a wonderful part of any skincare product. Since it is very similar to the skin's sebum it is absorbed very well and fast. It is not a significant source of either Omega-6s or Omega-3s. Therefore, pairing it with Sacha Inchi or Sea Buckthorn like in our Ultra Nourishing Oil produces a great trio. It is possible that a so-called "purge" of toxins can occur when first using the oil. Suitable for all skin types, incl. oily.

Olive Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 5-15%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Rice Bran Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 34%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Shea Butter
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 3-10%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Sunflower Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 59%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Plant Oil Rating of 3 - Moderate probability of clogging pores

Avocado Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 15%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 0.8%

Carrot Seed Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 10%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) |0.2%

Cotton Seed Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 40-50%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 1%

Date Seed Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 12%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 2%

Evening Primrose Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 75%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 11%

Marula Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | <10%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Moringa Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | <10%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Sesame Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 46%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Plant Oil Rating of 4 - Fairly High probability of clogging pores

Cocoa Butter
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 3%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Coconut Butter
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 3%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Coconut Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 3%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 0.2%

Palm Kernel Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 2%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | n.a.

Soybean Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 50%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 7%

Plant Oil Rating of 5 - High probability of clogging pores

Wheat Germ Oil
Linoleic acid (omega-6) | 7%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) | 55%

There are just too many oils to keep track of, so we picked the most common oils you can find in face oils out there. If you are looking for a more complete source, take a look here. To have a more detailed look at the skin benefits of a particular oil, take a look here.