The risk of embarrassing zits on your face doesn’t end when you stop being a teenager. Plenty of adults, especially women, still struggle with acne breakouts. But the acne you get when you are older is different from the one you had when you were fifteen.
While that was primarily caused by hormonal changes, this one is most likely caused by what you have in your bathroom. Specifically, your shampoo and conditioner.
So, can shampoo and conditioner cause acne?
Of course there could be other reasons for the breakout. Hormonal imbalances, stress and diet can all contribute to acne. But more often than not, your beauty and care products are to blame. Experts even have a name for this type of acne caused by oily hair products – Pomade Acne.
Hair products and your skin
Acne caused by shampoo and conditioner often occurs on your forehead, behind the ears, jawline, neck or upper back. This is because these are the places that are likely to come into contact with your hair. What happens is that the oily products you use on your hair get on your skin. They clog your pores which results in acne.
Long hairstyles that stretch to your back and bangs can be especially problematic.
What can you do to prevent pomade acne?
Make sure it’s actually pomade acne and not acne caused by other factors such as diet. Some clues to look for are if the acne is on your forehead, neck or upper back or if the breakout happened after you started using a certain shampoo or conditioner.
It’s not just shampoos and conditioners that can cause acne. Other hair products like sprays, oil-based moisturisers and hair oils can also cause clogging of the skin pores.
So as you narrow down what’s causing the breakout, don’t just focus on your shampoo and conditioner. If you determine that those two are the problem, here’s what you can do.
1. Buy the right shampoo and conditioner
The obvious first step is to stop using your current shampoo or conditioner and see if the acne improves. Start shopping around for different products.
Look for water-based shampoo and conditioner that won’t leave as much oil residue on your face. This will prevent your pores from clogging and causing acne.
When checking the ingredients list, choose products that don’t list oil, or petroleum jelly as one of the first 4 ingredients. Also avoid products with panthenol which is often accompanied by heavy oils.
One ingredient that can help is salicylic acid. It balances out oils in the product, reducing their clogging effect on your skin.
2. Protect your skin when washing and conditioning your hair
Try to keep the product from touching your face as much as possible. You can tie a cloth around your forehead and back of your head when you are applying conditioner.
When you are done with application, wash your hands and face thoroughly. Wipe away any product residue on your face and make sure you have rinsed off several times.
3. Keeps your hands off your hair
Once you have finished using the shampoo or conditioner and have washed your hands, avoid touching your hair again. This will transfer any product residues from your hair to your hands. The residue could then get onto your face when you touch it. This will clog your pores and lead to a breakout.
When you are going to bed or if you are spending the day at home, you can cover your hair in a cap, hair band or silk wrap to prevent it from coming into contact with your hands or face.
4. Buy gentle products
The main reason for the acne could also be that your skin is more sensitive. Maybe your friends are using the exact same products but without any pimples and zits shooting out of their face.
Try changing to a gentler formulation that is easier on your skin. Natural or organic shampoos for everyday use and conditioners are especially good for those with easily-irritated skin.
A final tip: When you are applying a conditioner, try as much as possible not to let it touch your scalp. It should only get on your hair shafts where it is unlikely to cause any irritation or clogging.