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The Relationship Between Hair Products and Acne: How Hair Care Can Give Your Skin a Spotty Scare

They often say the best way to determine the root cause of acne is through trial and error. Could it be that new salicylic acid treatment your roommate suggested? The heavy whipping cream you’ve been adding to your holiday beverages (even though you know dairy breaks you out)?

There can be many factors as to why pesky pimples are suddenly overpopulating your skin and one of them can be the type of products you use to care for your hair. That’s right, folks. There certainly is a relationship between hair products and acne. That’s why today, we’re diving into the wonderful world of hair care and how it can give your skin a spotty scare!

Yes, really. To find out more, keep reading!

Hair Ingredients + Products That Can Cause Acne

If you find that you’re breaking out along your hair or jawline or that pus-filled bumps have been popping up on your scalp lately, it’s likely that the hair products you’re purchasing and the types of ingredients in them are aggravating your skin and causing acne. To avoid getting into future spotty situations, below are the types of hair products you should remove from your current lineup and refrain from re-purchasing, especially if you have acne-prone skin.

Scented Products

Hair products from brands such as Herbal Essences may smell heavenly, but your skin may feel differently toward them. Switching to products that’re fragrance and even color/dye-free are best to choose to cleanse and condition your locks. Even fragrant pomades, serums, and oils are best to avoid if you find your skin is strongly disliking what you’re trying to style your hair with, especially if your hair is not being washed every time you bathe.

Oil-Based Products

Sulfates. Mineral oil. Petroleum. These are just a few of the ingredients found in many oil-based haircare products and ones you should undoubtedly avoid, especially for acne-prone skin. But there are oils such as coconut and jojoba oil which are great for nourishing hair and providing it with shine. If you’re in a scenario where your hair is absolutely loving your products, but your skin is not, limiting the amount of time those products are in contact with your skin may be the best answer.

When showering, remember to thoroughly rinse your hairline and face and keep your hair wrapped in a shower cap or up in a claw clip while conditioning to minimize your hair from resting on your neck and/or back while completing the remainder of your bathing routine. But if you do, however, find that you’re still breaking out, swapping out your current hair products for more skin-friendly options is probably your best bet!

Tips for Preventing Acne Caused by Hair Ingredients + Products

Opt. For Non-Comedogenic Products

Ingredient labels aren’t only important to read over when it comes to food and beverages. It’s important for hair and skin products, too. If the product you’re currently using or are interested in purchasing contains comedogenic ingredients (like some of the above-mentioned), it’s best to kick them to the curb and to start researching more skin-friendly hair products. And if you’re in need of a new shampoo that’ll help keep your hair clean while making your skin gleam, we got ya covered! Check out the seven best shampoos for acne-prone skin here.

Minimize Hair-to-Face Contact

Listen up, fringe or bang fans. This one’s for you.

If unwashed hair or hair that’s been doused with hairspray and/or other styling products is grazing your forehead or the sides of your face day in and day out, there’s a good chance your skin’s going to start to retaliate. If your skin isn’t getting the air it needs to breathe, it’s surely going to become a breeding ground for bacteria. And if you have fringe or bangs sweeping across your face, we’re not saying to head to your hairdresser and ask for a new cut. But what we are recommending is that you keep your hair off your face as often as you can. Clip that hair back with a bobby pin or barrette and you’re good to go!

Change Your Pillowcases

Pillows may be one of the comfiest things to lay on, but they’re also one of the dirtiest. And we’re not just talking about the pillows used in hotels. Even your own can become pretty grimy without proper care. Pillowcases are notorious for picking up residue from hair products and even cosmetics that haven’t been properly removed. And although the relation between unwashed pillowcases and acne hasn’t been scientifically proven, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you’re prone to routine breakouts. You should aim to swap out dirty pillowcases for clean ones at least once a week.

Wrap/Cover/Tie Hair Before Bed

Hair that isn’t wrapped, covered, or tied up at night can give your skin a fright (over time). It’s okay if you forget every now and again to throw your hair up in a scrunchie or wrap it in a bandana or scarf. But you’re truly playing with fire if you start to do that before bed for weeks on end. Having your hair up and out of your face will eliminate the unwanted transfer of hair product residue or natural hair oil and dirt onto skin. So tonight, when it’s time to hit the sack, make sure your hair isn’t draped over your face.

Wash Your Headbands or Hats/Caps

If you’re continually reaching for the same headband to keep your hair out of your face during a hot yoga session or a worn-in baseball cap on days when you can’t be bothered to wash your hair, there’s a great chance you’re transferring the built-up bacteria on these items onto your skin. It’s not necessary to wash your headbands or hats after every use, but if they’ve accumulated a fair amount of dirt and sweat, it’s best to break out the soap and water. And if you’re unsure how to wash your beloved baseball cap, click here!

The Bottom Line

Not everything you put on your hair is gentle enough for your skin. The relationship between hair products and acne certainly exists and when you opt for products that aren’t kind to skin, you can either trigger new breakouts or further aggravate existing ones. So, the next time you go shopping for a quick re-stock on your favorite shampoo, conditioner, or styling product, be sure to keep all that we’ve shared in mind!