What Does Nonacnegenic Mean?

Nonacnegenic Moisturizers
If you're acne-prone, nonacnegenic products can help reduce breakouts. Image: Martin Mistretta / Getty Images

While out skin care shopping, you have probably come across plenty of products labeled nonacnegenic.  (It's also sometimes spelled non acnegenic, or hyphenated non-acnegenic.)

Whatever the spelling, what does nonacnegenic mean?

The Definition of Nonacnegenic

Nonacnegenic means "not likely to cause acne."  Nonacnegenic products do not contain ingredients known to clog pores, and do not contain ingredients known to promote acne breakouts.


It's safe to say that products labeled nonacnegenic are a good choice when shopping for skin care products.  They are generally less likely to irritate existing pimples and less likely to aggravate acne and make it worse.

Some common skin care ingredients are well-known pore cloggers, and it's not just oily ingredients that we typically equate with breakouts.  So, just because a product is labeled oil-free, doesn't automatically make it nonacnegenic.  

For example, coconut oil and cocoa butter are very rich oils.  And they are big time pore blockers.  But more sneaky ingredients can also be comedogenic (which means they can promote breakouts.)  Bismuth oxychloride, a common ingredient in mineral makeup, is cited as comedogenic.  So are certain D & C colorants. 

So, products that contain high amounts of these ingredients won't be labeled nonacnegenic.  Small amounts of these ingredients, though, probably aren't enough to actually clog pores, so a product may contain them and still carry the nonacnegenic label.


When you're struggling with acne, your dermatologist may recommend you only use nonacnegenic (and its close cousin, noncomedogenic) skin care products.  This is especially true for products that you'll leave on your skin, like moisturizers, makeup, and sunscreen.

Keep in mind, though, everybody's skin is different.

  Just because a product is labeled nonacnegenic doesn't absolutely guarantee the product will not make your acne worse.  It's just less likely to than other skin care products.

Just remember, if any product seems to make your breakouts worse, even if it is labeled nonacnegenic, you should probably stop using it.  

Along the same lines, if you have a tried-and-true moisturizer that you use and love, and it seems to agree with your skin, there's no reason to ditch it just because it doesn't carry the nonacnegenic label. 

Basically, use the nonacnegenic label as a guide to help you when you're on the market for a new product.  And with so many products on the shelf these days, it's a good way to help quickly narrow your choices. 

Next Steps:

How To Choose a Moisturizer That Won't Break You Out

How To Choose the Right Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Create the Perfect Breakout-Free Skin Care Routine


Acne. (2014). In American Academy of Dermatology Key Messages 2014-2016. Schaumburg, Illinois: American Academy of Dermatology.

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