Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good for your skin.
Natural ingredients are often healthier for your skin than synthetic, but not all natural ingredients work for all skin types. Those with sensitive skin still need to be selective about the products they use. If your skin is prone to excess oil, you want to stay away from things that are likely to clog your pores, and that includes some natural ingredients.
The thing is that some oils are great for oily skin, because of their unique ratio of essential fatty acids, while others, for the same reason, are occlusive and can block pores. This is why grapeseed oil, which is naturally high in linoleic acid, is helpful for those with clogged pores and oily skin.
What this means that as we look at natural ingredients in skin care—which are mostly oils and butters—we have to consider how the essential fatty acids in these oils will interact and potentially affect oily skin. (Read more about essential fatty acids here.)
Here are 7 oils you shouldn't use if you have oily skin and clogged pores:
1. Unfractionated coconut oil
We talked about the difference between fractionated and unfractionated coconut oil in this post. Briefly, fractionated coconut oil is a form of the oil that has had the long-chain fatty acids removed via hydrolysis and steam distillation. Just this one change makes the oil liquid at room temperature and extends the product’s shelf life. It also makes it a lighter oil that is less likely to clog pores. Heavier oils rich in fatty acids are wonderful moisturizers, but they can be irritating for sensitive skin.
2. Cocoa butter
This is another very moisturizing ingredient that has skin-protecting antioxidants as well as plumping fatty acids, but it can be too occlusive for oily skin, especially on the face.
3. Sesame oil
This one is more balanced then some, with only slightly more oleic than linoleic, but it’s one to watch out for. If you want to use it, try on a small area first, to see how it affects you. Even if you can’t use it on your face, you may be fine enjoying it on the rest of the body.
4. Wheat germ oil
On the natural ingredient list, wheat germ oil is often listed as one of the most comedogenic. If you have clogged pores, it’s probably best to avoid this oil and restrict its use for hair care.
5. Shea butter
This butter, though super beneficial for dry skin, may be too much for oily prone skin because of its high level of oleic fatty acids. There are varying levels of shea butter in different products, and the formula matters too—what the shea butter is mixed in with. You don’t necessarily need to stay away from this one, but just be cautious when you see it, and watch your skin carefully for any reactions.
6. Sea buckthorn oil
This oils is full of protective antioxidants, but it’s low in linoleic acid, too. It’s not particularly high in oleic, so if you combine it with some other oils that are higher in linoleic acid, it’s likely you could still enjoy the anti-aging benefits without having to worry about clogged pores.
7. Other oils
Several oils are high in “oleic” fatty acids, which are believed to cause more clogged pores than those high in “linoleic” fatty acids. Since oily skin is believed to be low in linoleic fatty acids, oils with more of these typically work well, while those with more “oleic” acid may cause more issues. Based on this theory, some to avoid include olive, avocado, apricot kernel, and sweet almond oil.
Meanwhile, some oils that are great for oily skin include grapeseed, rosehip, evening primrose, hemp, and pumpkin seed oil.
Which oils do you find work for your skin type? Let us know in the comments below!