How to Deal with Hairline Acne

By Marc Peterson

How to Deal with Hairline Acne

How to Deal with Hairline Acne

Many dermatology experts get asked how to get rid of hairline acne on a regular basis. Hairline acne is a relatively common occurrence of pimples and blackheads that appear frequently on and around the hairline.  The hair’s natural oils, sweat build-up, and even certain hair products can cause an excess amount of oil to accumulate at the hairline. This excess oil or “sebum,” combined with the oils from your hair, can often mix with bacteria or dead skin and clog your pores. This clogging is what causes irritating and sometimes even painful zits and blackheads to form. If you’re struggling with acne around your hairline, there are several ways you can go about mitigating or even completely eliminating the symptoms including changing your skin or haircare routine, making some lifestyle changes, and learning more about your specific skin type.

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Hair Products: A Common Culprit

The types of hair products you use can make a drastic impact on the overall health of your skin by causing excess build-up of oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. Many hair products are loaded with harsh chemicals and “natural ingredients” that can wreak havoc on your skin. Petroleum, silicones, jojoba oil, and shea butter are common ingredients in hair care products that are known to cause breakouts, especially if you have oily skin. These products are typically thick, creamy shampoos, leave-in conditioners, or hair “moisturizers” that, while great for your hair, can be detrimental to your complexion. The chemicals sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate are also widely used in hairsprays, dry shampoos, and other aerosol products and should be avoided if you have dry skin. These chemicals can further dry the area around your scalp and hairline and cause your skin to produce more sebum than necessary. This oil combines with the flakes of your dry skin and clogs pores, causing blackheads and pimples on your hairline.

Headwear and Blemishes

Do you wear makeup, hats, or headbands often? If so, these could be a contributing factor to your blackhead blues! Hats carry the excess oils from your skin and hair and allow them to mix with the bacteria and oil already present on your face. This deadly combo creates build-up and clogged pores—pimple paradise! Additionally, while makeup may seem like a go-to solution for covering your acne, heavy foundations and concealers prohibit your skin from breathing; instead ‘trapping’ the dead skin and bacteria in your pores to create breakouts. Similarly, heavy moisturizers may seem like a great way to avoid dry skin, but on the wrong skin type they can cause excessive oil build up that contributes to hairline acne.

So, how do you get rid of hairline pimples and acne? The way you treat your breakouts depends on what sort of acne you’re suffering from. If you’re only noticing breakouts on your hairline and you don’t experience major issues anywhere else, the culprit is most likely a hair product. However, if you’re an acne sufferer that experiences consistent breakouts everywhere, then your hairline acne is probably just an element of a more prominent condition.

One of the worst parts about chronic breakouts is that often the quick fixes we want to implement end up worsening the condition in the long run. We know that hats and makeup clog pores, but even the simple act of touching your face to “check” on the pimples can end up bringing excess oil and bacteria to the surface of your skin, prolonging the life of your breakout. As tempting as it may be, keeping your hands clean and away from your face and hair can greatly improve the condition of your hairline acne.

Consider Ingredient Lists

Now it’s time to take a good look at the ingredients in your hair and skin care products. If you start to notice a trend, take two weeks off from using any of them. If your shampoo is a heavy, oil based product, try switching to an oil-free baby shampoo. If you typically use heavily scented products, go scent-free and see if you notice a difference in your complexion. Make these changes one at a time until you find one that starts to make a difference. Keep things simple before resorting to an acne-reducing shampoo or conditioner. Use very few products and keep a basic skincare routine.

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It may seem like a lot of trial-and-error until you find the true cause, but once you start noticing a pattern between certain ingredients, you can begin eliminating products containing them and get on the road to happy, healthy skin. You could even be solving some of your other acne mysteries in the process!

man with hairline acneA few lifestyle and routine changes can also help to mitigate the cause of your hairline acne. Keep your sheets and pillowcases clean to prevent oil and bacteria build-up. When applying hair or skin care products, be sure your hands are clean and touch your face as little as possible. If you style your hair with bangs, wear a headband. Instead of letting your hair down around your face, put it in a ponytail. Avoid hats that cover your forehead. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating a proper diet, and get in a regular exercise routine—including a post-gym shower! While it may be difficult to make these changes at first, as well as tempting to cover your acne with your hair, hats, or makeup, a few weeks without these quick-fix products can work wonders for the health of your skin.

Seeking Professional Help

If changing up your hair and makeup routine doesn’t seem to be making a difference, make an appointment with a recommended dermatologist. It may seem excessive, but chronic acne does not have to rule your life. Everyone’s skin is different and will experience different results based on the changes they make in their daily routine. See a professional for a consultation to determine your skin type and find out if you can handle the problem with a few minor changes, or if you’re in need of something stronger to help ease your symptoms. In the end, you’ll be glad you took control of your skin and finally began to win the battle against your acne.