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Pomade Acne: Can Hair Gel Cause Bumps on Your Forehead?

man looking at his forehead and scalp in the mirror


Pomade and other hair gel products can no doubt give guys a stylish ’do. It gives us that perfectly tousled look that many women find irresistible.

Unfortunately, pomade can also be a sneaky cause of your acne breakouts. Known as pomade acne, these breakouts are usually along your hairline and may appear on the neck and back as well.

Is your pomade causing acne? And if so, what can you do about it?

Here are three things you need to know:

  1. Pomades and other hair gels often contain pore-clogging ingredients such as coconut oil, alcohols and sulfates which can trigger acne.
  2. The greasy, wax-like substance of many hair gels can clog your pores and cause whiteheads.
  3. You don’t need to stop using pomade altogether to treat pomade acne.

Is it Pomade Acne or Regular Acne?

If you use pomade frequently, you may have pomade acne. The location of your acne is an easy way to tell whether you have acne caused by hair gel or traditional acne.

Pomade acne is usually found along the hairline and may extend to your forehead, neck and back. Although it often causes whiteheads, it may result in blackheads as well.

Of course, not all forehead acne is caused by hair care products. Acne has many underlying causes, including hormones, stress and your diet.

According to a 2016 study published in Postepy Dermatologii, both a high-glycemic diet and dairy products are suspected of causing acne (see claim: “Although the link between dairy intake and acne is less convincing than that between a high glycemic diet and acne, both deserve consideration…”) If your pimples are fewer and spaced farther apart along your hairline, the cause may be your diet.

man applying hair gel with his hand

Similarly, forehead acne may be caused by stress. A 2007 study published in Acta Dermato Venereologica found that feeling stressed can result in more severe acne breakouts, although researchers still aren’t certain why (see claim: “The study suggests a significant association between stress and severity of acne papulopustulosa, especially in males.”)

Bottom line: Before you toss out your pomade, you may want to consider that other factors may be influencing your acne breakouts.

How Hair Gels Can Cause Acne

Pomades and other hair gels contain numerous ingredients that can clog your pores and prevent sebum (oil) from being released. Many pomades are made using comedogenic ingredients, meaning that they are more likely to clog your skin and cause acne.

Some comedogenic ingredients to look out for include the following:

  1. Certain Alcohols—While many fatty alcohols are good for the skin (such as Cetearyl Alcohol), some do have a moderate comedogenic rating. If you have oily skin, you may want to be careful choosing pomades with alcohols in them.
  2. Oils—Lanolin, olive, avocado and coconut oil are rated higher on the comedogenic scale and are therefore more likely to cause acne.
  3. Cocoa Butter—Similarly, cocoa butter has a high comedogenic rating and may cause acne in men with oily skin.

man shampooing hair

How to Treat Pomade Acne

Although you don’t necessarily need to stop using pomade to get rid of pomade acne, avoiding hair gel products is an effective solution to the problem. If giving up your pomade isn’t an option, here are a few other methods to treat your pomade acne:

  1. Look for Noncomedogenic Oils—Not all oils are bad for your skin. In fact, some oils such as jojoba oil, castor oil and Kukui Nut Oil have significant benefits for the skin.
  2. Clean Up After a Workout—Working out can cause you to sweat, which can transfer some of your pomade onto the open pores of your skin. Always clean your face after a workout and remember to get the spots near your hairline!
  3. Remove Hair Product Before Going to Bed—As tempting at it may be to fall asleep without removing your hair product, you might regret it in the morning. The hair gel on your pillow can be transferred to your face during the night, triggering an acne outbreak in the morning.
  4. A Regular Skin Care Regimen—One of the best things you can do for your skin is to get on a regular skin care regimen that includes washing, exfoliating and moisturizing your face.
Take the skin care quiz

Skin Care Solution for Pomade Acne

It’s a simple fact that men tend to have oilier skin compared to women. Little things such as our hair gel can easily trigger acne breakouts.

You don’t need to toss out your pomade and sacrifice amazing hair to achieve clear skin. All you need is a skin care system formulated for your skin.

Tiege Hanley’s skin care systems are made specifically for men and are powerful enough to remove excess oil without over-drying your skin. Finally, you can achieve great hair and great-looking skin at the same time. Give it a try and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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