The topic of skincare products with or without ‘pore-clogging ingredients’ and being able to determine how a product will play out on your skin has been a growing trend in the last few months, especially on skincare-crazy social media platforms like TikTok. Skincare ingredient checkers have been around for a long time, and are now the go-to tools that millions are turning to, in order to work out if a product will be right for their skin. The question is: how accurate are skincare ingredient breakdown websites, and are they truly able to help you make an informed decision?

The comedogenicity scale

To begin, we need to look at something called ‘comedogenicity’, which is the tendency of an ingredient or product to clog pores and therefore cause breakouts of either closed comedones (texture) and/or whiteheads. Historically, skincare ingredients are applied to rabbit ears in a lab and scored from 0-5 on their ability to clog pores, 5 being severely comedogenic. Sounds simple enough, but what are the pitfalls of this method?

LabMuffin has a brilliant article that details exactly how this scale was created, but for now let’s talk about why the scale matters with regards to ingredient checker websites.

Websites such as CosDNA and INCIdecoder will show a breakdown of ingredients and their comedogenicity scores. One might assume that this would mean that the mere presence of a comedogenic ingredient would therefore make a product problematic. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for a few different reasons:

So when *are* skincare ingredient checker websites useful?

You might be questioning what the point of these websites are at all, if they cannot give you an accurate read on how breakout-causing certain products are. The answer lies in their ability to allow you to make an informed decision and, thereafter, an educated guess. Here are a few of my own criteria when assessing a new product:

If your product passes these three points, it might be a match! At the very least, you can make the assessment that it is a fairly low risk product.

Finally, there a few other uses for these websites, including: