Hair products are a cause of acne that is not always at front of mind in your dermatologist appointment. Anyone with frizzy hair knows the products all too well: they work like a charm, but leave an invisible greasy slime on your skin that causes blackheads, whiteheads, and sometimes chronic acne.
Suspect hair products include serum, heat-styling wax, leave-in products, anti-frizz serums, heat protectants, and anything that adds shine and detangles hair by leaving a layer on the hair shaft. Hair-cuticle smoothing is the desired outcome of these products, which is achieved with grease. Acne from hair products affects men and women alike, though when women’s hair is longer, it can spread the grease further, onto the neck and around the cheeks.
What is ‘pomade acne’?
Pomade acne is a form of acne that became famous many years ago when hair products became more commonly applied. The acne appears on the forehead, temples and hairline due to the use of thick pore-clogging pomade, a type of hair product. Pomade is often made with mineral oils or petroleum jelly, which prevents your skin from being able to clean itself by blocking sebum inside hair follicles.
What to do about this form of acne?
- Use a water-based pomade
- Stop using pomade
- Avoid pomade contact with skin, applying to just the hair and not the hairline
- Stop touching your hair, then your face
- Wash your hair more frequently
- Try not to sleep with greasy hair
- Choose a hairstyle that keeps hair away from the face/hair-up styles, including while sleeping
- Change pillowcase daily if a side or tummy sleeper
- Shower and wash face at night
- Style your hair before applying make-up, then wash hands before applying make-up
- Cover your face before spraying styling sprays/hairspray
- Cover your hair loosely at night if it’s not too hot (you don’t want a scalp break-out)
Ingredients to avoid
- PVP/DMAPA acrylates
- Petrolatum (mineral oil, white oil)