A re-evaluation of the comedogenicity concept

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 Mar;54(3):507-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2005.11.1058.


Background: Comedogenicity is an important consideration in the development of topical medications, cosmetics, and skin care products. The concept of "acne cosmetica" was developed to link the use of certain ingredients to comedo formation. Animal models were originally used to determine the comedogenic potential of raw materials with the assumption that finished formulations containing these ingredients would also be comedogenic. Based on this assumption, dermatologists were presented with lists of substances to avoid in patients with the ability to develop comedones.

Objective: We sought to use a modification of the Mills and Kligman human assay for assessing comedogenic potential of finished cosmetic products.

Methods: Six individuals with prominent follicular orifices and the ability to form comedones on the upper aspect of the back were enrolled. Each person received patches to the upper aspect of the back saturated with 0.2 to 0.5 mL of the finished cosmetic study products 3 times weekly for 4 weeks. Cyanoacrylate biopsies were performed to determine the number of follicles and microcomedones per square inch.

Limitations: Only a finite number of finished cosmetic products could be analyzed.

Conclusion: Finished products using comedogenic ingredients are not necessarily comedogenic.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / chemically induced*
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Humans


  • Cosmetics