Does Shea Butter Clog Pores? Here’s What You Need to Know!

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Everyone loves a good skin product!

And skincare butter, with its luxurious feel and moisturizing capabilities, is a favorite of many beauty lovers.

One of the most popular and well-known beauty butters in the industry is shea butter. It’s rich in fatty acids, has healing properties, and can be found in several beauty products.

pure shea butter in a containers with leaves and seeds laid in a table

However, while we love how shea butter can nourish our skin, many also wonder: Does shea butter clog pores? And if so, won’t this cause breakouts?

If you’re one of the shea butter lovers worried about clogged pores and acne — don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we look closer at shea butter, pores, breakouts, and more to give you everything you need to know.

What Is Shea Butter?

Before we answer the question “Will shea butter clog pores?” it’s essential to understand what shea butter is and what it’s used for.

Shea butter is a natural fat extract ingredient derived from the kernels of African shea trees native to West Africa.

It’s known for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties and has been widely used to relieve various health issues.

Because of its healing properties and ability to aid wounds, stretch marks, burns, and scars, it wasn’t long before shea butter became a very popular skincare ingredient.

Plus, it’s also high in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, making it excellent at hydrating and naturally moisturizing for all skin types.

Types of Shea Butter

Now that you know what shea butter is, let’s look at the different kinds of shea butter. Knowing the difference between the two types can help you understand which is best for your needs.

three raw shea butter and refined shea butter laid in a wooden table

1. Raw Shea Butter

Raw shea butter is extracted from the source and prepared without additives or chemical preservatives.

Because it’s raw, it often has a nutty smell. It can also contain impurities and may not always have a uniform consistency.

2. Refined Shea Butter

Refined shea butter is processed to remove all impurities.

It doesn’t have that nutty smell, and it’s been processed to have a smoother, creamier, and more consistent texture. This type of shea butter also has preservatives to increase shelf life.

Because it’s easier to work with and has a longer shelf life, the refined version of shea butter is what’s commonly used in beauty products.

However, when it comes to choosing between the two, raw might be the better option because the refining process will strip shea butter of its natural healing properties and vitamins.

The Benefits of Shea Butter in Skin Care

Now you know what shea butter is and the two different types available, let’s look at the benefits of using shea butter.


Shea butter is rich in vitamins that help keep the skin healthy.

Vitamins A and E, particularly, help prevent premature aging and keep your skin hydrated while preventing it from sun damage.


Because it’s rich in fatty acids, shea butter is fantastic at keeping the skin moisturized and boosting the skin’s protective barrier.


Because of its high concentration of antioxidants, shea butter can help protect the skin from environmental damage like free radicals, pollution, and UV rays.


The anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter are great at helping address inflammatory skin problems like eczema, dermatitis, or inflamed acne.


One of the earliest uses of shea butter was to help promote wound healing.

It can help speed up the healing process for cuts, wounds, and even scars from breakouts.


The combination of vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants in shea butter help prevent premature aging. Because it keeps the skin moisturized, it can also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Comedogenic vs Non-Comedogenic

Now that we have a better understanding of shea butter — let’s move to the topic at hand. Does shea butter clog your pores?

To understand this, it’s essential to understand how beauty products are classified regarding their potential to clog pores.

Comedogenicity is the term that means how likely a product or substance is to clog your pores or cause acne or breakouts due to follicles that have been blocked with dirt, oil, or other impurities.

If you have acne-prone skin or oily skin, steer clear of products with high comedogenicity because this could potentially lead to more breakouts.

On the other hand, “non-comedogenic” means products and ingredients that don’t or will likely not clog pores. But note that even if a product is classified as non-comedogenic doesn’t automatically mean that your skin won’t react to it.

After all, everyone’s skin is different, and some react to certain products while others don’t.

Knowing a product’s comedogenicity is important because it can help determine if you should or shouldn’t be using certain products.

Some products, like beauty oils, can hydrate your skin but have high comedogenicity.

It would be more beneficial to find nourishing products that have low comedogenicity.

A woman with a towel on her head is smiling while touching her face.

Understanding the Comedogenic Scale

When classifying skincare products, it isn’t just about comedogenic and non-comedogenic. Some products may be somewhere in the middle.

That’s why there is a comedogenicity scale. This scale ranges from 0 to 5, with each number equal to the probability of a product clogging your pores.

0Non-comedogenicDoes not clog pores
1Slightly comedogenicHas a very low chance of clogging pores
2Moderately low comedogenicPossibly clog pores in some people but is fine for most
3Moderately comedogenicWill likely clog pores for people with oily or acne-prone skin types
4Fairly high comedogenicWill clog pores for most people
5Severely comedogenicHigh chance of clogging all people’s pores

When using the scale as a guide, it’s safe to assume that anything rated 0 to 2 is safe and shouldn’t cause problems. 

On the flip side, it’s best for those with acne-prone skin to avoid anything rated 4 to 5.

Comedogenicity rating, though, is not the only deciding factor if a product will be good or bad for your skin. Sometimes it’s a matter of trial or error to determine which products your skin prefers.

Is Shea Butter Comedogenic?

So now that you understand comedogenicity, it’s time to answer the question.

“Is shea butter comedogenic?” “Can shea butter clog your pores?” “Does shea butter clog pores on the face?”

Shea butter ranks low on the comedogenicity scale, between 0 to 2 at the most, which technically means it won’t cause acne.

But it’s important to note that while the scale is useful, it was also created based on the response of animals like rabbits or rats. This means it may not 100% accurately represent the human skin response.

So while the comedogenicity of shea butter is technically low on the scale, that doesn’t guarantee that it won’t cause pimples.

Does Shea Butter Clog Pores? Can It Cause Acne and Pimples?

Answering this question is where it gets tricky.

Until now, there isn’t any official designation from science-backed agencies like the FDA or even the skincare industry about the official status of shea butter.

That’s why shea butter products can’t advertise as non-comedogenic on their packaging and ads. So while it does rank low on the scale, that doesn’t mean it won’t cause breakouts.

Another important aspect of determining the likelihood of shea butter clogging pores is to look at what it’s composed of, its texture, and consistency.

Shea butter is rich in fatty acids. While this makes it good for many things, it also means it has components that could potentially cause acne — especially for oily skin.

When you break it down, shea butter is composed of four fatty acids:

  1. Oleic acid
  2. Stearic acid
  3. Palmitic acid
  4. Linoleic acid

Of these four, the highest concentration is oleic acid. What does this mean?

Generally speaking, linoleic acid tends to be better for oily skin because it helps hydrate the skin while fortifying the protective skin barrier.

Those with acne-prone skin also benefit from this because it aids cellular turnover and is light enough not to clog the pores.

However, shea butter is made up of mainly oleic acid.

And oleic acid, on the other hand, although great for dry skin because of its moisturizing benefits, has been known to clog pores and lead to breakouts.

Another thing to consider is the consistency of shea butter. As its name implies, it has the rich and creamy texture of butter.

This makes it an effective moisturizer, but it increases the likelihood of clogging pores.

a woman's hands in frame while applying shea butter moisturizer on her hand

Can Shea Butter Increase Pimples?

Understanding all of the above, it’s a common concern for those prone to acne to wonder if shea butter can cause pimples to increase.

Based on the creaminess of the product, shea butter may be heavy on the skin, causing excess oil production.

This is especially true for those with skin prone to breaking out. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the consistency of shea butter can increase oil production and breakouts.

Should You Use Shea Butter on the Face?

So knowing that there may be a direct correlation between shea butter and pore-clogging, is it advisable to use it on your face?

The answer is, it depends. It’s still a good beauty product that has benefits. Just be sure to use it carefully.

If you are going to use it on your face, choose a high-quality shea butter product intended for the face and made by a trusted beauty brand under stringent procedures.

While raw shea butter has more vitamins and minerals, choosing a professionally made refined version does ensure that the product has a softer and more uniform consistency, which can help in product application.

A good way to use shea butter is to use it while you sleep to allow it to hydrate your skin through the night. And then, thoroughly remove it by washing it off your skin in the morning.

Before applying at bedtime, make sure that your face is thoroughly cleansed too. Then apply your moisturizer and shea butter to your face and go to bed.

raw, refined and moisturizer shea butter laid in a pink table

Common Questions About Shea Butter

Is shea butter non-comedogenic?

Shea butter is ranked 0 to 2 at the most on the comedogenic scale but has yet to be officially classified.

That’s why products can’t say that shea butter is non-comedogenic on their packaging or advertising.

Can shea butter help exfoliate dead skin cells?

While a traditional shea butter product is a lotion and not a natural exfoliant, some products like shea butter body scrubs can help exfoliate while still providing shea butter benefits.

Is there a particular way to apply shea butter?

The application of shea butter is the same as most lotions and moisturizers. Try not to apply too much as the consistency is very thick and creamy.

Does raw shea butter clog pores?

Even without conclusive published findings, it’s safe to say that shea butter, both raw and refined, can cause clogged pores in some people.

So it’s better for those with drier skin as it’s less likely to block pores and promote excessive oil production than it is for people with oily skin.

Is shea butter okay for sensitive skin?

Shea butter is gentle enough that it’s okay for sensitive skin, and it’s also good to help soothe flaky, red, and irritated skin or other skin conditions.

But as with all sensitive skin warnings, do a patch test first to be sure your skin doesn’t react badly to the product.

Can you make shea butter?

Yes, if you have the ingredients, you can make shea butter at home.

You can use many different methods, but you may have to go through trial and error before getting it right.

Shea Butter: The Bottom Line

Shea butter is a fantastic skincare product, but despite its low comedogenicity, it’s important to remember that due to its composition and consistency, it can clog the pores and possibly increase pimples.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it, especially if you have dry skin. There are still many benefits to using shea butter that you can enjoy if you use it properly.

Like most skincare products, it’s essential to see how your skin reacts before deciding. Everyone has different skin types, so skin care isn’t always one size fits all.

Are you a fan of beauty butters? Which is your favorite?

Want to read more about facial care? 

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  • Michelle Alejandro

    Michelle has had a lifelong love affair with makeup. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications /Journalism, she began an illustrious career as a writer. Michelle penned a beauty and lifestyle national newspaper column for over a decade and became the Beauty Editor for Chalk Magazine and Editor-in-Chief for Metro Weddings for over nine years, working with some of the biggest makeup artists and trusted beauty brands in the business. During this time, she also completed a course in Creative Artistic Makeup Design and worked as a freelance makeup artist, beauty editor, and writer.

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