Do hair products cause acne or are they responsible for your skin issues?
This has been the subject of several email questions lately and the answer is a little bit complicated, as it always is with skin issues.
You may not know this, but over the last one to two years, I have been struggling with acne. I wanted to write about it here but I didn’t really have a solution to share…yet. I’m getting close, and so I’ll be writing about that soon.
Now I don’t believe that hair products themselves cause acne, but there are a few situations when you’re using a lot of product that can cause skin irritations. These irritations are triggers from which you can develop pimples, spots and breakouts.
Here are a few easy steps you can take to minimise the risk.
Fringe benefits… and problems
My first experience of skin issues related to my hair was when I had a fringe (bangs). After a little while, I started noticing really small bumps all over my forehead and I knew it was because of my hair.
I love a fringe but the hair resting on my forehead can be an issue. It easily transfers hair products and the oil from my scalp onto my forehead and causes irritation. If you’ve got oily skin this can really be problem.
An easy way to try and fix this is simply by clipping your hair up whenever you can, like when you’re at home or overnight.
It is also really important to wash your forehead more carefully when you have a fringe. Your hair is resting on it all the time it’s not able to breathe like the rest of your skin. Make sure you’re doing a double cleanse to really wash your face properly at the end of the day. This should minimise any risk you have of skin problems from your fringe.
Skin problems while you sleep
If you wear a lot of hair products every day and then sleep with your hair out, you’re transferring a lot those products to your pillow every night.
Just think about how much hairspray, mousse, wax, pomade – whatever you’re using – is sitting on your pillow every night rubbing against your face. It’s kind of gross, right?
So while I wouldn’t recommend washing your hair every day, because that’s not my style, I do believe in washing your pillowcase more regularly. It’s easy to switch your pillow, or turn it over, so that you can start the night with a fresh pillowcase.
I’d also recommend you clip your hair up while you sleep, I’ve written about my trick to waking up with great hair, as clipping your hair up at night, whether you have straight or curly hair, will mean you wake up with tangle-free and bouncy hair in the morning.
Breakouts on your hairline
Another skin issue that a reader emailed me about is acne or breakouts on their hairline after using certain products. There are three main possible causes – the product is reacting with your skin, you’re using too much product or you’re not rinsing the product out of your hair. So let’s talk about each of those issues and how we can solve them.
1. Product reactions
Firstly, if the product is reacting with your skin, stop using it. There is no reason to keep using a hair product that is causing you to breakout or causing any skin irritation.
What you need to do is look at the label and look for ingredients that could be the cause of the irritation. Compare it to a product you’ve used before that worked fine and see if there’s a difference. Keep a note of any ingredients that you think could be the issue.
2. Using too much product
Excess product on your skin can cause a reaction. This could be true for mousses, hair powders and hair products that are applied close to your scalp.
First check, are you happy from the result you’re getting from your hair products? That’s a good way to tell if it’s actually working for you. If so, try using a little bit less product and see if that makes a difference to your skin.
Also check that you’re washing your face really well each night, and washing right up to your hairline. Make sure that any residue is staying in your hair and is not lying on your skin.
If you really love that product and want to keep using it, just use it a little bit less often and keep it away from your hairline, so that it’s more comfortable for you to use.
3. Product residues
Often hairline breakouts can be caused by leaving rinse-out hair products on your skin.
Some conditioners can be quite heavy on the skin and can block the pores on your skin around your face. Take that extra couple of minutes in the shower to make sure your hair really rinses clean.
Conditioners are usually the problem and one trick is to not put conditioner on your scalp. You don’t really need it there to begin with anyway.
Shampoo the roots of your hair and let it rinse through. Then condition from the mid lengths to the ends and that’s how the two products work together to really clean and nourish your hair.
So, do hair products cause acne?
Sometimes, but the issue could be more about actually cleaning your skin and keeping the products in the right place rather than letting them rest on your skin.
Now if you do break out, it’s really important to not go crazy and try and scrub and over clean your skin. Acne is an inflammation and you really need to be gentle on your skin to help it heal.
Be careful of products that are too drying. Although you do want to remove some of the oil, skin that’s too dry can’t heal and you will be left with red marks.
Has anyone else suffered with skin issues or acne from using hair products? Or just general adult acne like me? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below. What was the cause of your breakouts and what actually fixed the problem for you?
I’ve struggled with adult acne for 20 years. Something I figured out about 5 years ago is that products with silicones (dimethicone, trimethicone, basically any cone) make my acne worse. This is true for hair products, as well. It’s tough being a straight-haired girl who can’t use ‘cones, but it’s worth it not to use them.
Hair Romance says
ah that’s so interesting. I do find some silicone primers can coat my skin and exacerbate any issues for me x
My skin – face, neck, back etc. reacts to all kinds of hair products, so I am very careful about what I use and my list of ‘approved products is very short. I have found 3-4 shampoos and 2-3 conditioners that do not break me out. I can use regular hair spray without issues. I can only use texture powder, not texture spray. I can use coconut oil to deep condition my hair, although I only do this rarely since I have thin, fine hair which is easily weighed down.
When I am good about sticking to my approved list of products my skin is even and clear, but it only takes ONE use of something that does not agree with my skin and then I have breakouts for up to a month after.
I guess my skin is sensitive and reactive – I think of it as highly irritable skin. :-/
Hair Romance says
That’s so frustrating, Anne, but it’s good that you’ve found products that are ok. Could you tell me which products you use? Thanks, Christina x
I haven’t had any reactions to texture powders or regular ‘fixating’ hairsprays so far, so no preferences there, I just use whatever.
Hair Romance says
Thanks Anne! 🙂
Hi! I feel for you – adult acne is the worst and hits your confidence like nothing else. I had terrible hormonal acne for two years and as I have hormone problems couldn’t take medication for it. I switched to mineral makeup, used Paula’s Choice Bha gel to clear things up and simplified my skincare. I’ve been using SkinB5 vitamins for the past 4 months and they have made a massive difference to my skin. A few other changes helped and now my skin is so much clearer. Not perfect but least the sore volcanic pimples are at a minimum now. Good luck with your acne and I hope you find what works for you. And as always, love the blog ?
Hair Romance says
Thanks so much, Claire! It’s such a confidence knock, isn’t it? I became a bit of a hermit for a while. Sounds like we’ve used some similar products too. Paula’s Choice is great and I have a good mask from Skin B5 too. It’s been about diet, stress management and simplified skincare and makeup for me. I’ve tested so much and haven’t wanted to write about it until I could give some better advice on what’s really working. I have spent so much trying everything but simplicity has been key xx
Lol if it even slightly promised to help with acne I bought it! Then I came across the following website with acne irritating ingredients and it helped me weed out which products were doing more harm than good. There’s also a part on the website that recommends “safe” face / makeup products.
It’s funny we’ve been using the same products, maybe we’ve the same acne type. The mask is good, isn’t it?! And you’re right about diet, sugar makes a huge difference… Liquid Gold is good for scarring.
I’m looking forward to reading your post and seeing what’s worked for you xx
Hair Romance says
These printables are awesome! Thanks so much, Claire. The post is turning into a bit of a beast, I can’t believe how much I tried. Some of the products that didn’t work for me are actually fine, it’s just I expected a miracle from using them for only 2 weeks and without changing other environmental factors. Do you know what I mean? It’s hard to invest time in something when you don’t see results but with skin it can take a long time to heal. I’ll keep working on this post and hope it all makes sense x