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Hairline Acne: Causes & Treatments

Your hairline’s a hotspot for oil, sweat, dead skin cells, and pollution deposits, and before you’ll know it, that one pimple is going to turn into a full-blown hairline acne breakout. Breaking out pretty much anywhere on your skin can be a total pain, but breaking out around your hairline brings a new set of struggles into the mix. 

Having acne around the hairline can be a bummer, and we totally understand how frustrating it can be. Because of this, today we’ll be doing a deep dive into hairline acne, its causes, and things you can do to get rid of hairline breakouts hopefully forever!

What Causes Hairline Acne?

A pimple could pop up practically on any part of your skin that can have a clogged pore from pollutants, excessive oils, or dead skin. Being super close to our scalp, our hairline is a comfy resting spot for most pollutants and oils. Some of the more common hairline acne triggers can include:

  • Your makeup. Makeup residue around your hairline might be clogging your pores and causing hairline breakouts. (1)
  • Your accessories. Accessories like hats or headbands could be forcing oils and sweat to build up around your hairline, leading to forehead breakouts and hairline pimples. (2)
  • Hair products. Did you know that there are lots of harmful ingredients in hair care products? It’s true! A hair product you’re using could actually be an allergen or contain pore-clogging ingredients that are causing your acne to flare up. (3)
  • Hygiene and lifestyle. If your lifestyle involves you getting sweaty pretty often, it might be a good idea to wash your hair more often than you already do.

Types of Hairline Acne

Hairline acne can be classified into some broad categories… and surprise, some of them may not be acne at all! 

  • Scalp Folliculitis. Scalp Folliculitis is a bacterial inflammation that takes on the appearance of red, itchy bumps around and on the hair follicles. While this condition can be mistaken for hairline or scalp acne, it needs antibacterial cleansers for treatment. (4)
  • Pomade Acne. Breakouts that occur when some of your hair styling products get applied to your forehead causing pimples on the hairline are known as pomade acne. (5)
  • Comedones. Comedones are the medical term for different types of acne like blackheads and whiteheads, as they are more commonly known. 
  • Inflammatory Papules. If your acne isn’t a comedo – i.e. it doesn’t have a pus-filled tip but is still red, inflamed, and pretty painful – then it classifies as an inflammatory papule. 
  • Fungal Acne. Fungal acne isn’t your typical acne breakout despite resembling one in appearance. It’s actually the overgrowth of yeast in your skin’s hair follicles and requires antifungal treatment to be cured. (6)


How Common Is Hairline Acne?

Hairline and forehead acne is extremely common because of the presence of apocrine sweat glands that make the region super sweaty and oily. Yep, you’re not alone in this, and there are tons of ways to deal with hairline acne!

Does Hairline Acne Go Away? 

Yes, hairline acne and forehead pimples absolutely go away with the right skincare products and habits. Here’s everything you need to do to get rid of acne in your hairline.

How To Get Rid of Hairline Acne

Like treating pretty much any illness out there, treating hairline acne requires finding out its cause first. If your acne is bacterial, you’ll be needing benzoyl peroxide cleansers and oral antibiotics. If you are suffering from hormonal acne, you’ll have to try out different methods to balance your hormones and keep your acne in check. Two of our faves include:

  • A great hormonal acne supplement such as our MINDBODYSKIN Hormonal Acne Supplement balances your hormones while holistically strengthening your body with detoxifiers. That checks off both of the root causes of pimples in a single supplement! 
  • A daily skincare kit that combines cleansing and cell repair to minimize the appearance of your pimples helps deal with them super efficiently. The CLEARSTEM Clear Skin Kit has got all the products you’ll be needing to put together an effective routine in just four simple steps. 
  • Switching to a non-comedogenic shampoo is crucial for those with acne-prone skin, as it helps prevent hairline acne by avoiding pore-clogging ingredients, keeping the scalp clear of excess oil and irritants that can lead to breakouts.

How to Prevent Hairline Acne

Pimples might seem inevitable, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent hairline breakouts from showing up frequently! For instance, you can:

  • Make sure that the products you use on your skin and hair don’t have any acne-triggering ingredients. Check all your hair care products against our pore-clogging ingredient list and consider switching from acne-causing products to a non-comedogenic conditioner to ensure your hair care routine is as acne-friendly as possible!
  • Don’t overload your liver with toxins! Before you raise an eyebrow, the forehead and acne liver connection is a lot deeper than you might think. Keep this super important organ in your body healthy and you’ll notice your skin looking brighter than ever. 
  • Follow a regular skincare routine that targets pimples and forehead closed comedones. This includes a healthy dose of cleansers and a Vitamin C serum for the most action.
  • Wash your hair and head accessories regularly! You don’t want all that sebum and pollution building up, especially if you’re prone to sweating a lot. 

How Long Does Hairline Acne Last?

Acne typically clears out within a week or two, but severe acne breakouts may take up to six weeks to completely go away. However, if the root cause of your acne hasn’t been treated, you may find that new pimples keep popping up before the old ones clear out. (7)

Our Best Products for Hairline Acne

If you’re struggling with hairline acne or forehead pimples, don’t despair. We’ve got a few products that can help you get rid of those hairline blemishes once and for all.

  • CLEARITY "The Blackhead Dissolver.” This exfoliating serum is a whole unit of pimple dissolvers in a bottle. With a unique blend of Vitamin C, acid blends, turmeric, and many more natural ingredients, CLEARITY effortlessly smoothens bumps and pimples out. 
  • VITAMINSCRUB Antioxidant-Infused Scrub Cleanser. While it’s great as a gentle daily cleanser, the VITAMINSCRUB adds a healthy pump of Vitamin C to your skin. With every wash, that’s going to soothe the pimple sores and let them heal a lot sooner, and also make your skin look bright and sunny. 
  • PREGAME Face Mask x Jess Clarke. If you’re looking to smooth away those bumps on your forehead, then PREGAME is going to be just the ticket.  Thanks to the alpha hydroxy acid in this face mask, you’ll be rocking clear skin before you know it.
  • Sulfur SPOT&MASK. With a winning combination of clay, zinc, sulfur, and glycolic, our Sulfur Spot Treatment can help calm down those angry red spots on your forehead. Gentle and effective, it works literally instantly to tame your inflamed complexion!

When to See a Professional

Acne breakouts are surprisingly common and can usually be treated pretty easily at home, but there are some exceptions to this. For starters, if the red bumps on your forehead are coupled with other symptoms (like the bumps spreading across other parts of your body), then be on high alert. That, coupled with fevers or colds, could be measles or rubella, and you should see a physician immediately. (9)

If your breakouts reach the extreme with symptoms such as swelling or severe inflammation, it might be time to book that dermatologist appointment!  We totally understand that having acne on your hairline can be a bummer, but with the right treatment, you could have a smooth, bump-free forehead in no time!



Source 1: Relationship between acne and the use of cosmetics: Relationship between acne and the use of cosmetics: Results of a questionnaire study in 539 Korean individuals https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33206430/

Source 2: Is sports equipment causing your acne? https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/sports-equipment

Source 3: Are Your Hair Care Products Causing Breakouts? https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/hair-products

Source 4: Acne-like breakouts could be folliculitis https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/folliculitis

Source 5: Are your hair care products causing breakouts? https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/hair-products

Source 6: Malassezia (Pityrosporum) Folliculitis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970831/

Source 7: 9 things to try when acne won’t clear https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/diy/wont-clear

Source 8: Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015761/

Source 9: Measles, rubella and CRS: disease description, epidemiology and diagnosis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143257/