how to deal with acne on the hairline

Is your hair care routine giving you acne?

Pimples can pop up anywhere – when you least expect it. They’re annoying like that. But when they spring up really close to your hairline, it’s often a sign you need to change your conditioner.

Or mask. Or give up on your pre-shampoo treatment. You get the point. Something may be working for your hair, but not for your skin. And you want a routine that works for both.

Cos what’s the point of having shiny locks if they’re crowning a bunch of red, angry pimples?

What Causes Acne Along The Hairline?

Acne always starts with a clogged pore.

It works like this: your sebaceous glands pump up more oil than your skin needs. Unable to flow out, the excess gets stuck in the pores, where it mixes with dead skin cells and all the gunk in there.

This goo is P. Acne’s fave food. It munches on it, proliferating all over the place. When bacteria proliferate too much, the pore gets infected and bursts. Hello, pimples!

In the case of acne on the hairline, there’s another culprit: the haircare products you use. Some shampoos, conditioners, and co may contain comedogenic ingredients that get stuck in the pores, clogging them up.

FYI, they’re more “dangerous” when you apply them. But if you’ve used too much and your hair are coated with them, they can still clog pores as they brush against your skin.

Related: Adult Acne: Why It Happens And How To Treat It

Want a cost-effective skincare routine for acne that works? Subscribe to my newsletter below and receive The Ordinary Acne Skincare Routine Cheatsheet:

How Do You Prevent Acne On The Hairline?

You can prevent acne on the hairline with a few tweaks to your haircare routine:

  • Avoid forehead: When you apply your haircare products, be careful not to let anything drop on your forehead. It may clog pores.
  • Hair first: When you’re in the shower, make sure you wash and condition your hair first, and then wash your face. That way, your cleanser will get rid of any residue your haircare products may have left on your forehead.
  • Use only what you need: Apply only the amount of conditioner you need (excess conditioner doesn’t do anything for your hair anyway), and only on the length of the hair, avoiding the roots and scalp.
  • Avoid comedogenic ingredients. Look at the ingredient list of your hair care products to see if your can figure out what ingredient is giving you problems, so you can avoid it in the future. Most people blame silicones, but natural oils are more likely to be the culprit.

Related: What Ingredients Are Comedogenic?

How Do You Treat Acne On The Hairline?

Acne is acne, no matter if it’s on your chin, back, or forehead. That means you treat acne on the hairline just like any other type of acne. Here’s how:

Step 1: Exfoliate With Salicylic Acid

Acne happens when your pores are clogged. Unclogging them is a job for salicylic acid.

Unlike other exfoliants (hello, glycolic acid and scrubs!), salicylic acid gets deep inside the pores, removing all the gunk that’s stuck in there and giving you pimples.

While it’s at it, it uses its anti-inflammatory properties to reduce the redness and inflammation that always comes along with pimples.

Best Picks:

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin

Step 2: Use A Spot Treatment

Salicylic acid can help you prevent acne. But what if you already have it? That’s where you need a spot treatment that can kill P.Acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne.

You have two options here: Benzoyl Peroxide or Sulfur. Here’s all you need to know about them:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: It kills P.Acnes by generating free radicals (yep, the nasty molecules that speed up the aging process). Plus, it’s harsh on the skin. Use it on pimples ONLY.
  • Sulfur: It kills P.Acnes, dries out blemishes, and helps reduce excess oil. In my experience, it works faster than BP, but it’s harsh and drying. Again, use it on pimples only.

Best Picks:

Related: Sulfur: Good For Acne, Bad For Skin?

The Bottom Line

If you’ve got on the hairline, chances are your haircare products are to blame. But the treatment is the same: avoid comedogenic ingredients, exfoliate those pores, and spot treat those angry pimples.

How do you deal with acne along your hairline? Let me know in the comments below.