Goodbye Greasy Hair & Hairline Acne - Beach Beauty Bar and Acne Clinic
woman with glowing skin text why do I have hairline pimples

Goodbye Greasy Hair & Hairline Acne

Hairline acne or greasy hair wreaking havoc on your skin? One of the least comfortable places to get acne is on your scalp, but it’s really no different from any other area of your body that may experience breakouts, right? Like your standard pimples, scalp acne or hairline acne can be caused by a mixture of oil and dead skin cells that get stuck in hair follicles.

But unfortunately, the cause of hairline acne isn’t always as straightforward as that. It turns out those blemishes can vary in what they even are, let alone what causes them.

Do you want clear skin?

What Causes Hairline Acne?

Blemishes on the scalp can be caused by a wide range of skin diseases, some of which are very benign and others that are more serious. The most common blemishes on the scalp are from cysts on the scalp, scalp acne, and from seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff. More commonly the cause of hairline acne is likely sweat or greasy hair clogging the pores around your hairline and pore-clogging haircare products.

Things like travel, stress, and lack of sleep can also cause scalp acne. When your cortisol levels rise, your body is more likely to produce oil. This excess oil can cause, you guessed it… acne.

The oils in hair care products can cause tiny breakouts along your hairline and forehead.

Do you have tiny bumps along your hairline, the upper part of your forehead, or both? Have you noticed tiny bumps along the back of your neck? Do you have greasy hair?

The culprit may be your hair care products. Shampoos, conditioners, and styling products can cause whiteheads and other types of acne in these areas. The bumps can be so subtle that you can feel but not see them. Some people develop numerous, closely packed bumps that they can see.

Even if you’ve never had acne, hair care products can cause breakouts. This is so common that there’s actually a medical name for it — acne cosmetica. This literally means acne caused by products we apply to our skin or hair.

When it comes to preventing pimples on your scalp or hairline acne, the same rules apply here as on your face, namely keeping your hands off. Picking and prodding at blemishes will only make them more numerous.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat to Avoid Hairline Acne

If you are prone to oily hair, hairline acne could be caused by an excess of oil. You’ll want to be sure you’re washing with water every other day, even if you skip the shampoo – especially after workouts. Washing your hair to prevent excess oil is super important. Look for shampoos with ingredients like salicylic acid, coal tar, or cortisone.

Salicylic acid and coal tar are meant to help reduce dandruff and oil production on your scalp, while cortisone helps treat inflammation and dryness. A shampoo with cortisone is normally only available in the doctor’s office, so be sure to check with your dermatologist.

If you prefer your regular shampoo because it’s volumizing or makes your hair silky soft, feel free to go in for a second shampoo after using an acne-formulated shampoo, but make sure it doesn’t contain any pore clogging ingredients.

If you have never checked your shampoo, conditioner and other hair products for pore clogging ingredients, it’s time to do that NOW.

If you must touch a pimple on your scalp, avoid picking and scratching at it as much as possible. Popping or scratching the spot can allow bacteria to enter it delaying healing time and further irritating it.

Even with dandruff, you can get a rash that looks like pimples. Even though they aren’t technically acne, they can still itch like crazy. They get even crustier when you pick at them, which everybody does.  Basically, the same rule for pimples goes for this rash, too: Try to keep your hands off!

If the pimple is super itchy, try gently pressing on it instead. Adding some pressure can help take away the itch, plus it doesn’t open up the pimple.

Remember to Exfoliate Your Scalp

Using an exfoliating scalp treatment once a week can help clear your scalp of any excess dry skin. We recommend Neutrogena T/Sal Shampoo.

When hair care products are the culprit, you’ll likely get whiteheads and tiny flesh-colored bumps called “papules.” These can appear along your hairline, forehead, or the back of your neck.

Remember to wash off residue from hair care products every night before you sleep.

To see clear skin, you must also get rid of the residue from hair care products. This residue can stick to just about anything. Be sure to wash everything your head touched, including:

  • Pillow cases and sheets
  • Hats
  • Headbands
  • Visors

Products to Avoid Using

Avoid using hair products that contain pore clogging ingredients like sodium laurel sulfate, coconut oil and shea butter. Keep hair repair treatments and deep conditioning masks away from the scalp. Instead, use them to treat damaged ends as these can lend excess oil to the roots. The same goes for your everyday conditioner.

Many people with acne or severe dandruff suffer from an excess of oil on the scalp. Even though oils are great for moisturizing your hair, they can cause buildup on your scalp: You don’t want to feed fuel to the fire; you don’t want to put oil on acne.

Oils can work wonders on frizz and dry hair. There is such thing as too much of a good thing. Greasy hair is public enemy number one when it comes to scalp acne. That being said, they can also wreak havoc on your hairline. Of all the products that cause hairline breakouts, these are the most common culprit. If you are prone to breakout, opt for only applying hair oils at the end of your strands.

If your hair grazes your jawline or any other part of your face, you should skip oils altogether. Anywhere that your oil-soaked hair comes into contact with your face will inevitably turn into a breakout. The same goes for greasy hair in general.

Yes, we know, dry shampoo is the absolute best. We swear by its convenience and have thanked our lucky stars multiple times when it cuts down our time between the gym and drinks with friends.

That being said, it’s very likely the culprit behind your hairline breakouts. Some dry shampoo formulas can clog pores and create pimples. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but it can also cause buildup and dermatitis. Opt for clean formulas and try a few before you commit to a brand.

Not all dry shampoos are created equal and some may cause less damage than others. Living Proof Perfect hair Day Dry Shampoo is one we like.

How to Get Rid of Hairline Acne

You can treat mild scalp acne with most any over-the-counter acne product on the market, although you may want to avoid products containing benzoyl peroxide because they can lead to bleaching or discoloration of hair. A light moisturizer containing salicylic acid is a good option for small spots on your scalp, and it won’t bleach your hair either.

The cause could also be something less obvious. Many hair care products, including shampoos, conditioners, styling gels, waxes, pastes, and sprays, contain pore-clogging oil. Even shaving creams and aftershave can contain these oils. You’ll want to consider whether any of these products could be causing your acne.

When you stop using the product(s) clogging your pores, the hairline acne will slowly clear.

Sometimes, it’s easy to figure out what product(s) is causing the breakouts. If you’re using a hair styling product that contains a lot of oil, such as a pomade, that’s likely the culprit.

Once the product(s) causing your acne stops touching your skin, it can take 4 to 6 weeks for your acne to clear.

Final Thoughts

Think about it this way: If you go to sleep without washing off your makeup, you’re letting dead skin cells, oil, and excess product sit on your face, which is why you’ll likely wake up with a zit (or three). Similarly, if you coat your hair in heavy products like dry shampoo or hairspray and you don’t rinse your scalp, you’re basically opening the front door for acne.

Sensing a theme here? The skin on your scalp = the skin on your face, and you gotta treat it (somewhat) the same. If you’re ready to commit to clear skin & clean hair care – schedule your initial consultation & let us get you on the path to glowing complexion success.

Cheers to clear!


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