Treating Breakouts at the Hairline

Treating Breakouts at the Hairline

A quick fix for a bad hair day can be as easy as putting on a hat, but acne at the hairline can be more frustrating and much more difficult to hide. Covering these breakouts with hairstyles that cover your face doesn't help, and can even make breakouts worse!

The good news is that with The Paula's Choice Research Team’s help, these frustrating blemishes don't have to get in the way of a good hair day.

Common Causes of Hairline Breakouts

The hair-care products you use can be a cause of why you are breaking out wherever your hair comes in contact with your skin: back, neck, chest or hairline. This includes styling products, shampoos and conditioners.

Ingredients in shampoos and conditioners meant to make hair feel soft and healthy aren't the best for skin. Emollients, proteins, quaterniums, acrylates and thickening agents in shampoos and conditioners are designed to stick to hair, which means they can also "stick" to skin too, and potentially clog pores. What to do?

  • In the shower, shampoo and condition your hair first and rinse well. Then follow with your gentle, well-formulated body and face cleanser to be sure you get everything off your skin, paying attention to your neck and hairline.
  • It also helps to use only the amount of conditioner you need. Too much conditioner doesn't help your hair or skin!

Styling products can be a factor for bringing on breakouts around the hairline—hairspray, gels, lotions and waxes can easily get onto skin if you have a fringe or your hairstyle causes your hair to rub against your face during the day. The ingredients in styling products can clog pores and irritate skin. So what should you do?

  • Be careful how you apply styling products by avoiding the skin around your face.
  • Avoid putting styling products on the length of your hair that touches your face.
  • Silicone serums aren't a problem for skin so they can be used with abandon. Silicone is porous, meaning it is breathable, so it won't suffocate your skin.


Treating Acne at the Hairline

Whether or not you are careful with how you shampoo, condition or style your hair you can still have breakouts at the hairline. Here's a step by step look at how to treat them when they happen:


  1. Cleanse skin first. As with blemishes on any part of your body, you need to use a well-formulated, gentle liquid cleanser (no bar cleansers—the ingredients that put bar cleansers in their bar form can clog pores!). Clean skin is the foundation for any good skincare routine, but especially one designed to get rid of breakouts!
  2. Use a BHA exfoliant to help slough off dead skin and unclog pores.
  3. Treat skin with benzoyl peroxide solution. Benzoyl peroxide is a topical disinfectant that's considered the gold standard for preventing acne breakouts and reducing redness.


When these products are used on a daily basis at the hairline, it will make a huge difference. With some careful consideration about what you use around your hairline and knowing how to treat breakouts if they show up, you can proudly show off a good hair day without having to cover up what borders your tresses!


About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!