Forehead Breakouts: Causes and Effective Remedies

A bout of forehead breakouts got you down? Have no fear! Forehead breakouts are actually some of the easiest iterations of acne to deal with. Their causes are normally more environmental, so by changing a few of your lifestyle habits you are certain to turn your forehead baby smooth. Keep reading, and I’ll give you all the crucial forehead breakout remedies you’ll need!

Forehead Breakouts: Causes and Effective Remedies

But first, let’s clear up some misconceptions!

Don’t Believe the Myths

Before we start, I think it’s first important to understand where forehead acne comes from! According to traditional Chinese medicine, breakouts on different regions of the face and body mean different things, and often signify underlying health issues.

Breakouts on the cheeks are related to respiratory system issues, breakouts on the nose are related to heart and blood pressure issues, while around the chin and jawline the breakouts are most likely hormonal, or related to your diet. Forehead breakouts, the theme of this post, are related to the digestive system, and bladder.

In my opinion, while there might be something to this theory… I don’t fully buy it. If it was really true that acne patterns fit so cleanly into other physical issues, then modern scientific research would have already proved it. Since this is not the case, I think it’s okay to take it into account, but the ultimate cure to your forehead acne won’t come from traditional medicine.

The same applies to diet tips, for the most part. While you might find that some foods tend to break you out, there isn’t a whole class of foods that is guaranteed to cause acne. You can keep eating chocolate and pizza, without feeling guilty every time you look at your face. Diet does play a role, but when I talk about forehead acne remedies you will see that the rules are much less clear or dogmatic.

And now, let’s get realistic!

Breakout Basics

I want to give a really quick summary of what breakouts are. You can’t deal with a problem without fully understanding it, in my opinion. First, a sebaceous gland (to which I might also refer as hair follicle, pore, or oil gland – they’re not exactly all the same, but they’re all involved) becomes clogged with dead skin, oil, and sometimes other impurities.

This may happen very deep in the skin, or closer to the surface, and might manifest as blackheads, whiteheads, or small painless bumps. If the clogged pore becomes infected with the acne bacteria, it will become inflamed – it will swell up, turn red, and potentially also painful.

Often times, forehead breakouts never become inflamed or painful – if that’s your situation, you’re in luck, since those types of breakouts are much easier to treat!

Real Causes of Forehead Breakouts

1. Hygiene

There are various kinds of impurities that can contribute to a clogged pore. Improper facial cleansing, and frequent contact with dirty things like greasy bangs or unwashed pillowcases can all lead to clogged pores and proliferation of the acne bacteria.

2. Dead Skin Build Up

As our skin cells multiply and rise to the surface, they also die, at which point they are supposed to just fall off our skin, sometimes with the aid of exfoliation. If, for whatever reason, your skin cells die too fast or don’t fall off completely, you are almost guaranteed clogged pores and forehead breakouts.

3. Excess Oil

Whatever the reason, too much of the bad kinds of oil – whether produced by our own skin or from a product we use, can definitely clog the pores!

4. Greasy Bangs

While bangs are a super cute hairstyle, they can trap beneath them all the oil and impurities that cause pores to become clogged – especially if your hair gets greasy super quick. The products you use on your bangs can also have an impact. Speaking of…

Forehead Breakouts: Causes and Effective Remedies

5. Comedogenic Hair Products

Some hair products contain ingredients that can cause breakouts, especially hair serums, mousses, and conditioners that contain oils rich in linoleic acid, waxes, and other ingredients that are rated as highly comedogenic. Since the test for determining comedogenicity ratings isn’t perfect, some people may find that a highly rated ingredient is actually fine for their skin, while an ingredient rated very low might break them out.

6. Hats, Pillowcases, & Helmets

Your hat or pillow may seem clean, but since they come into regular contact with your forehead as well as dirt and germs in the air, they are actually great at holding bacteria and oils, which can cause clogged pores and inflammation.

7. Hormones

While hormone-related breakouts are likelier to appear on the chin and jawline, this isn’t always the case. Overproduction of the androgen hormone can increase sebum production, which makes it easier for pores to become clogged.

8. Dandruff

Dandruff increases dead skin build up, which is a factor in clogged pores and acne. Additionally, dandruff often comes hand in hand with overproduction of sebum, so while it is not the cause, acne and dandruff are two symptoms that often appear together.

9. Stress, Lack of Sleep, & Bad Diet

I’m lumping these three together, because I think they usually all come together. When we’re stressed out getting enough sleep becomes much more difficult, and we’re much less likely to make healthy food choices. All these things, together and individually, cause an overall imbalance in the body and throw everything out of wack.

This is very likely to manifest itself in unusual breakouts, including on the forehead. However, I think that if you’re stressed out, not sleeping, and eating poorly then forehead breakouts are the least of your health concerns.

Forehead Breakout Remedies

So now that we know what causes forehead acne, we can fix it! These solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all, though. Once you identify the likely cause (or causes) of your breakouts, make sure to adopt the corresponding solutions.

1. Get Cleansing

Wash away pore-clogging excess oil and inflammatory bacteria, with a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin and increase cell death. Make sure your cleanser has a low pH, so it’ll keep your skin’s acid balance healthy and less hospitable to the acne bacteria. You want to wash your face every morning and every night, as well as after intense workouts. Hado Labo Tokyo Hydrating Facial Cleanser is an awesome choice.

2. Moisturizer for Healthy Cells

By preventing your skin cells from dying rapidly and clogging your pores, it’s important to keep your skin strong. This is where moisturizer comes into play – moisturizer hydrates, strengthens, and protects the skin. Choose a moisturizer that does not contain any comedogenic ingredients, like the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel from Clinique.

3. Exfoliate Regularly

Exfoliate away dead skin cells, before they have a chance to clog your hair follicles and cause forehead breakouts! If your breakouts are not inflamed, you can make your own face scrub with a non-comedogenic oil like grape seed oil mixed with brown sugar. Use this scrub two or three times a week (and I’ll even suggest a mask to follow it up with, for maximum benefits).

If your acne is inflamed, a physical scrub is likely to irritate you further and spread bacteria, so a chemical exfoliation will do a much better job of helping. My favorite chemical exfoliant for forehead breakouts is salicylic acid, because it is oil-soluble and it can actually penetrate the pores and unclog them.

Additionally, it can prevent the acne bacteria from reproducing. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid is a classic choice, which you can use every day before moisturizing.

Forehead Breakouts: Causes and Effective Remedies

4. Wash All of the Things

Anything that comes into contact with your forehead needs to be kept clean and bacteria-free. If you sleep on your face (like I do) you need to replace and wash your pillowcases much more regularly. You can sleep on one side of your pillow, flip it over the next night, and then either change it or wash it.

You also must wash your hats regularly, and if you’re a cyclist, sanitize the inside of your helmet with alcohol spray before putting it on.

5. Reconsider Your Hair Products

If you use hair waxes or serums, avoid applying them too close to the top of your head, where they may come into contact with your forehead. Alternatively, double check their ingredient list, and switch to products that don’t contain comedogenic ingredients.

Make sure your shampoo is sulfate-free, since any sulfates that are left on the skin can cause both clogged pores and irritation. Your hair will also thank you, because sulfate-based shampoos are very drying. If you also happen to have dandruff, switch to an anti-dandruff shampoo.

6. Deep Cleanse with a Homemade Mask

Routinely declogging your pores will definitely help keep bad forehead breakouts at bay! Doing a deep cleansing mask once or twice a week will not help on its own, but as part of a comprehensive skincare routine it can definitely speed up the time it takes for your acne to clear.

Make your own skin clearing and smoothing clay mask, by mixing a spoonful of bentonite clay with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. For extra awesomeness, you can add a drop of anti-inflammatory turmeric essential oil. Make sure to moisturize afterwards, and your skin will love you.

7. Try the Natural Acne Fighters

Try incorporating natural, anti-bacterial essential oils into your routine. Mix a drop of tea tree oil or lavender oil with a pea-sized squeeze of moisturizer, and apply to your forehead. Both tea tree oil and lavender oil, as well as many other essential oils, are able to inhibit or even kill the acne bacteria, making for effective treatments for those pesky forehead breakouts.

8. Go Full Force with the Antibacterials

If the previous solutions don’t work, you might have to go a little stronger. This is doubly true if your forehead breakouts are inflamed and painful. Benzoyl peroxide will kill all the acne bacteria, as well as help resurface the skin.

It can be quite harsh and drying to the skin, so it shouldn’t be the first thing you try. It’s often necessary to try a few active anti-acne ingredients, before landing on the perfect one. Dermalogica’s Special Clearing Booster is an excellent treatment with 5% benzoyl peroxide that also contains calendula and chamomile extract to mitigate any dryness or irritation.

9. Get Some Calm & Rest

If you think your acne might be stress related, definitely take a step back and relax. Take the time to yourself to do yoga or meditate, get more sleep, see if you can delegate some of your tasks at work. You will immediately feel relieved – the forehead breakouts clearing away will just be an added bonus!

10. Clean Up Your Eating

As I said earlier, there isn’t a magical food that will cause acne. In the same way, the magical food that will clear away acne does not exist either. However, a healthy and balanced diet, rich in vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins, will definitely have an overall wonderful impact on your health, which will also manifest in clearer skin.

11. Trigger Foods Do Sometimes Exist, Though

While it’s not true for most of us, some people do find that certain foods trigger their forehead breakouts. If you suspect that might be the case, try eliminating a certain food from your diet for a couple of weeks, and see what happens. Some of the common culprits are dairy, sugar, and gluten.

Forehead Breakouts: Causes and Effective Remedies

12. If Nothing Helps Please See a Doctor

Acne is not just a cosmetic problem; it’s a real medical issue. This is especially true if your acne is painful and inflamed. Letting acne go unchecked can lead to serious infections, and may cause additional health problems.

If, despite having the perfect skincare routine, hygiene, and lifestyle habits, your forehead breakouts still haven’t cleared up, it’s time to see a professional. A doctor will be able to determine if the underlying problem is a hormone imbalance, in which case they might recommend birth control.

They could also check for nutritional deficiencies, or any illnesses that can increase the likelihood of breaking out. They could also prescribe stronger anti-acne medication, like oral antibiotics, topical retinol, or accutane.

Do you suffer from forehead breakouts? Do you have any remedies that help, or products that are your forehead acne holy grails? Let us know in the comments!

Photos courtesy of Livingly, Haut Appetit, Hello to Beauty

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