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Hair Products and Acne: Can Your Shampoo Cause Breakouts? (2024)

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can hair products cause breakoutsJust like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, your favorite hair products might be masquerading as your skin’s worst enemy. While you’re seeking liberation from bad hair days, these products could be undermining your quest for clear skin.

Can hair products cause breakouts? Absolutely. The very ingredients designed to tame, smooth, and beautify your locks—think petroleum, silicone, and sulfates—can also sneak onto your skin, clogging pores and sparking rebellion in the form of acne.

This article dives into the covert world of hair-care acne, empowering you with the knowledge to identify and combat these sneaky breakout triggers.

Key Takeaways

  • Hair products containing oils can clog pores and lead to acne, particularly along the hairline, forehead, and neck, a condition often referred to as acne cosmetica.
  • Symptoms of pomade acne include persistent acne along the hairline and forehead, with notable signs being whiteheads, blackheads, and small bumps (papules and comedones).
  • To manage and prevent hair product-related acne, it’s recommended to use non-comedogenic products, maintain scalp hygiene, and avoid ingredients known to clog pores, such as petroleum, silicone, and certain oils.
  • Regularly washing items that come into contact with hair, such as pillowcases and hats, and ensuring no residue from hair products is left on the skin can help prevent breakouts.

Hair-Care Acne Explained

Hair-Care Acne Explained
When considering the relationship between hair products and acne, it’s crucial to understand that the very products designed to enhance your hair’s health and appearance might be contributing to skin issues.

Hair care items, including shampoos and conditioners, often contain ingredients that can clog pores and lead to acne, particularly around the hairline and neck.

Recognizing the potential for these products to cause breakouts is the first step in addressing and preventing hair-care-related acne.

Pomade (Hairline) Acne Overview

You might not realize it, but the styling products you use on your hair could be the culprits behind those annoying breakouts along your hairline and forehead, known as pomade acne. Dermatologist advice suggests that certain product ingredients in your shampoo and other hair products can exacerbate scalp acne, especially if you’re acne-prone.

Effective scalp care involves scrutinizing these items to prevent such breakouts.

Causes of Pomade or Hairline Acne

Following the discussion on the overview of pomade acne, it’s crucial to understand that the primary cause of this condition stems from the use of hair styling products containing ingredients that can clog pores.

  • Curly Haircare: Products designed for curly hair may contain heavy oils.
  • Ethnic Haircare: Certain formulations may include pore-clogging elements like petroleum.
  • Scalp Hygiene: Inadequate cleansing can leave residue that blocks follicles.
  • Product Ingredients: Lanolin, mineral oil, and certain silicones are common culprits.

Identifying Breakout Triggers

Identifying Breakout Triggers
You may have noticed breakouts along your hairline or forehead and wondered if your hair care routine could be the culprit.

Indeed, products like pomades and conditioners can cause acne by clogging pores with oils and other ingredients.

Personal experiences often reveal that switching to non-comedogenic products or altering application methods can significantly reduce such breakouts.

Symptoms of Pomade or Hairline Acne

Identifying the triggers of pomade or hairline acne involves recognizing specific symptoms, such as pimples or small bumps along the scalp, hairline, forehead, temples, and neck.

These breakouts often present as closed comedones (whiteheads) and may be accompanied by an itching or burning sensation, indicating the skin’s reaction to pore-clogging ingredients found in many hair care products.

Good hygiene practices and scalp care tips can help prevent these issues.

Personal Experience With Conditioner and Breakouts

In light of the symptoms associated with pomade acne, it’s crucial to consider how your own hair care routine might be contributing to breakouts.

Assess your haircare habits and skincare routines for breakout triggers.

Seek dermatologist advice for product alternatives.

Opt for oil-free shampoos and treatments with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to mitigate drug interactions and promote clear skin.

Top 10 Best Acne-Fighting Solutions

When combating acne caused by hair products, consider incorporating effective solutions like PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo, Infusium Pro Leave-in Treatment Conditioner, and other recommended products to address breakouts.

These solutions offer targeted ingredients to help clear existing acne and prevent future blemishes, providing gentle yet potent care for your skin.

Explore these top 10 acne-fighting solutions to tackle breakouts caused by hair care products effectively.

1. PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash

You’ll find that PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash is a dermatologist-recommended solution designed to combat acne with its powerful 4% benzoyl peroxide formula. This daily antimicrobial wash effectively clears existing acne and prevents new blemishes from forming.

Its pH-balanced composition, enriched with four humectants and three emollients, ensures your skin remains hydrated, making it gentle enough for everyday use. Unscented and fragrance-free, it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, providing a robust yet non-irritating treatment for acne-prone individuals.

  • Dermatologist-recommended for acne treatment
  • Clears existing acne and prevents new blemishes
  • Gentle and hydrating formula suitable for daily use
  • May cause irritation and dryness initially
  • Can bleach hair and towels
  • Not recommended for use with other acne treatments

2. Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo forView On Amazon
If you’re struggling with scalp conditions like psoriasis or severe dandruff, Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo with 3% salicylic acid can be an effective solution. This dermatologist-recommended shampoo is designed to clear crusty scalp build-up, relieve itching, and combat flaking associated with scalp issues.

  • Contains 3% salicylic acid for effective treatment.
  • Provides relief from itching and flaking.
  • Unscented and free of added color, preservatives, and fragrance.
  • May cause dryness or irritation in some individuals.
  • Important to follow label directions carefully.
  • Not suitable for those with sensitive skin.

3. Infusium Pro Leave-in Treatment Conditioner

Switching to Infusium Pro Leave-in Treatment Conditioner could be your solution if you’re battling breakouts linked to hair care products. Specifically designed for dry hair, this cruelty-free formula hydrates and nourishes, detangling and enhancing manageability while adding a natural shine.

Its unique composition, including water-soluble silicones, protects against split ends and breakage. Ideal for use after chemical treatments, it helps seal the cuticle, improving your hair’s overall health without sacrificing the benefits for your skin.

  • Hydrates and nourishes dry hair
  • Detangles, improving manageability and shine
  • Protects against split ends and breakage
  • Contains water-soluble silicones, which may not suit all hair types
  • May not be sufficient as a sole leave-in conditioner for some
  • Regular use of a clarifying or sulfate-free shampoo recommended

4. BinaxNOW COVID Antigen Self Test

While the BinaxNOW COVID Antigen Self Test isn’t directly related to acne treatment, having a reliable self-test at home can be essential for maintaining overall health, including skin condition, during the pandemic.

This top-rated self-test, recognized as the #1 in the USA, uses the same technology as healthcare professionals to detect multiple COVID-19 variants. Quick results in 15 minutes without a prescription or lab visit make it a convenient tool for ensuring your well-being, which is crucial for keeping your skin clear and healthy.

  • Fast results in 15 minutes
  • Detects multiple COVID-19 variants, including Delta and Omicron
  • No prescription or lab visit required
  • Some users experienced false positives
  • Instructions can be confusing for some
  • Pricey, but considered worth the cost for peace of mind

5. Dr Martens Holly Leather Platform

Step into style without compromising your skin’s health with the Dr. Martens Holly Leather Platform shoes, which offer a bold aesthetic without the risk of acne breakouts often associated with hair care products.

These shoes, with their 1.5-inch platform sole, not only elevate your look but also ensure that your fashion choices don’t contribute to skin irritation. The Buttero leather’s smooth texture and the absence of harsh chemicals make them a safe addition to your wardrobe, blending seamlessly with an acne-conscious lifestyle.

  • Durable construction with Goodyear welt
  • Iconic design with grooved edges and visible stitching
  • Includes two pairs of laces for style customization
  • Heavy and may require a break-in period
  • Runs large; not available in half sizes
  • Potential discomfort from the back heel lip initially

6. New Balance 608 V5 Trainers

You mightn’t immediately connect your footwear to acne concerns, but the New Balance 608 V5 Trainers offer a unique blend of comfort and hygiene that can indirectly support your skin health journey. These trainers are designed with a suede and mesh upper, providing breathability to reduce sweat and bacteria build-up, common triggers for body acne.

The ABZORB heel crash pad and durable molded PU insert ensure comfort during long periods of wear, minimizing stress on your skin by promoting better overall body alignment and reducing the likelihood of irritation from excessive sweating.

  • Pros
    • Lightweight and comfortable, reducing stress on the body.
    • Breathable materials minimize sweat and bacteria build-up.
    • Durable and supportive, suitable for various activities.
  • Cons:
    • May run narrow for some, potentially causing discomfort.
    • Limited color options mightn’t appeal to all tastes.
    • Some users report the shoes aren’t as wide as expected, affecting fit.

7. Marc Jacobs Large Tote Bag Black

Carrying your skincare essentials in the spacious Marc Jacobs Large Tote Bag Black ensures you’re always prepared to combat acne on the go. Its durable canvas material and sturdy straps make it reliable for daily use, while the zip closure and patch interior pockets keep your items organized and secure.

Whether you’re transporting acne-fighting cleansers, moisturizers, or treatments, this tote has ample space for everything you need to maintain clear skin throughout your day.

  • Spacious design accommodates a wide range of skincare products.
  • Durable canvas material and sturdy construction ensure longevity.
  • Zip closure and interior pockets keep essentials organized and accessible.
  • Lack of a shoulder strap may limit carrying options.
  • Can become heavy with numerous items, potentially straining your shoulder.
  • Canvas exterior may not be ideal for travel, requiring careful handling.

8. Etoile Black Travel Makeup Organizer

For those who prioritize both style and practicality in their beauty routine, the Etoile Black Travel Makeup Organizer offers customizable storage solutions that keep your skincare and makeup products organized and accessible while on the go.

Crafted from vegan leather with elegant gold or silver hardware accents, this compact yet spacious organizer is designed to fit seamlessly into your luggage. Its high-quality zipper and durable construction ensure longevity, making it an indispensable companion for every adventure.

  • Pros
    • Customizable partitions for tailored storage
    • Lightweight and portable, ideal for travel
    • High-quality, durable vegan leather material
  • Cons:
    • Limited color options may not suit all preferences
    • Removable dividers might require additional adjustment for optimal organization
    • Vegan leather requires care to maintain its appearance

9. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream | BodyView On Amazon
Incorporating CeraVe Moisturizing Cream into your skincare routine can combat dryness without clogging pores, thanks to its non-comedogenic formula enriched with ceramides and hyaluronic acid. This cream’s patented MVE Technology ensures a steady release of moisturizing ingredients, providing 24-hour hydration.

Developed with dermatologists, it’s suitable for face and body use, including on dry hands. The presence of essential ceramides helps restore the skin’s protective barrier, while hyaluronic acid aids in retaining natural moisture.

  • Pros
    • Provides long-lasting hydration with MVE Technology
    • Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic, ideal for sensitive skin
    • Contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to reinforce the skin’s barrier
  • Cons:
    • The large tub packaging may be less convenient for travel
    • Some users have reported issues with packaging and shipping
    • May not be as effective for extremely oily skin types

10. La Roche-Posay Substiane Anti-Aging Cream

If you’re battling signs of aging alongside acne, La Roche-Posay Substiane Anti-Aging Cream offers a dual solution, moisturizing mature skin while being gentle enough to not exacerbate breakouts. This cream, enriched with Pro-Xylane and Shea Butter, targets skin sagging and replenishes bounce, providing intense hydration.

Its rich texture ensures comfort without compromising the skin’s delicate balance. Formulated for sensitive skin, it softens wrinkles and improves skin appearance within hours, making it a dermatologist-recommended choice for those seeking both anti-aging and acne-fighting properties.

  • Moisturizes and firms skin
  • Improves skin’s appearance quickly
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Pricey
  • Strong fragrance
  • May not provide enough moisture for some

Prevention and Management

Prevention and Management
If you’re struggling with breakouts along your hairline or forehead, your hair care products might be to blame. To prevent and manage pomade acne, it’s essential to choose non-comedogenic hair products.

Cleansing your skin thoroughly after hair care routines is also crucial. When suspecting that your conditioner is the culprit, consider switching products.

Ensure you wash your face and body after rinsing your hair to remove any residue.

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Pomade (Hairline) Acne

Several of the top acne-fighting solutions we’ve explored can significantly help you prevent and manage pomade (hairline) acne effectively.

  1. Maintain scalp hygiene by washing hair regularly, especially after using styling products.
  2. Revise your haircare routine to include non-comedogenic or anti-dandruff shampoos.
  3. Seek dermatologist advice before trying home remedies or popping pimples.
  4. Consider styling alternatives and natural remedies for a six-week trial period.

What to Do if You Think Conditioner is Causing Breakouts

When suspecting that your conditioner is the culprit behind breakouts, it’s essential to reassess your haircare routine and make adjustments to prevent further skin irritation.

Experiment with different conditioners, focusing on those that prioritize safety regulations and avoid overloading your skin with heavy, oil-soluble ingredients.

Opt for products with antibacterial properties to maintain your skin’s structural integrity and minimize overloading risks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I differentiate between breakouts caused by hair products and those caused by hormonal changes?

To differentiate, note that hair product-related acne often lines the hairline and forehead, while hormonal acne typically presents as deeper, painful cysts on the lower face, especially during hormonal fluctuations.

Are there specific hair types or textures that are more susceptible to hair-care-related acne?

Curly hair and those with oily scalps may be more prone to hair-care-related acne.

This is due to the nature of the products used and the hair’s texture, which can trap oils and products more readily.

Can changing my diet in addition to switching hair products help reduce hair-care-related acne?

Switching to hair products that don’t clog pores may help reduce hair-care-related acne. Adopting a low-glycemic diet, rich in fresh vegetables and lean proteins, may also be beneficial.

Is it possible for natural or organic hair products to cause breakouts as well?

Hair products, even natural or organic ones, can cause breakouts due to pore-clogging ingredients like oils, silicones, and sulfates.

Residue from these products can lead to acne along the hairline and forehead.

Proper cleansing and choosing non-comedogenic options can help prevent breakouts.

How long should I try a new hair care product before determining if it’s causing breakouts?

You should give a new hair care product about 6 weeks to determine if it’s causing breakouts.


Venturing through the tangled forest of hair-care products, you’ve uncovered the hidden culprits behind skin breakouts.

Yes, your shampoo and other hair essentials can indeed provoke acne, especially around the hairline.

Armed with this knowledge and a list of acne-fighting champions, you’re now equipped to shield your skin from unwanted blemishes.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.