August 27, 2021 — 15:03 PM
Other than maskne (because that’s still a thing!), the most common acne complaint I’ve heard this summer is hairline breakouts. These zits reside in a beauty no man’s land: part scalp, part forehead, and often neglected. And when these start to creep in come summer heat and humidity—we’ll get to why—the fix is simply correcting an all-too-common face-washing mistake. Allow us to weigh in.
What causes hairline blemishes & what can you do?
So first up, let’s explain why these super-common zits happen and seem to worsen over the summer: It’s the perfect storm of sweat, oil, bacteria, hair-product buildup, makeup, and—well—it’s a spot we often forget (or avoid!) while washing our face.
“[It’s] a unique part of the face because it can be in direct contact with your hair,” notes board-certified dermatologist Tanya Kormeili, M.D., about the forehead and hairline. “Any styling hair products such as oils or gels, etc., can accidentally be in contact with the forehead skin and lead to clogging of the pores and acne.” Additionally, it’s an area prone to perspiration. “After exercising, your sweat leaves behind bacteria and sebum that can cause acne,” says board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D., FAAD.
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But let’s focus on that last point above: It’s an often ignored spot for washing. “Most people experience them closer to the hairline for two reasons: Your face cream or makeup may not get washed off properly and still remain in your hairline. And the hairline is often neglected when shampooing, thus leaving natural hair oil on the scalp,” says certified trichologist Shab Reslan.
So given that the breakouts may be caused by the simple fact that you’re not effectively cleansing the area, the first thing to do is evaluate your cleansing habits. Listen: It’s a weird in-between space, and so it is entirely understandable if sometimes you forget to diligently scrub your hairline. It happens to the best of us. Simply consider budding zits a wake-up call to spend a little more time and attention on the area. After a few more diligent washes, ideally the situation should start to subside. (And if you’re worried about taking a face cleanser to the hair? Check out our favorite gentle, natural washes here.) After, if you’re worried about the hairline drying funky, just grab your blowdryer and put it on the lowest, lightest setting, and gently target the area.
When your skin is acting up—ahem, breakouts—we often take it as a sign that you need to perhaps adjust some habits, be that looking at lifestyle changes or products. As for hairline acne, it may just be your skin’s way of telling you to be smarter about your evening rinse.