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Acne on Cheeks - Meaning and Complete Treatment Plan

Cheek acne is caused by the same factors as all acne;

  • Inflammation

  • Bacteria

  • Excess oil production

However, not all acne is caused by the same combination of these factors.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Face mapping acne has been debunked, meaning the acne on your cheeks is caused by the same things causing acne anywhere else on your face. it's not from one certain source or linked to organs anywhere else in the body.

  • With that being said, the skin on your cheeks (same as your jawline and chin) has fewer oil glands than other parts of your face. That's why acne on your cheeks can often be caused by dryness, inflammation, and hormonal imbalances.

  • Because cheek acne can have multiple causes, it is best remedied by a multi-pronged treatment plan that includes moisturizer, along with both scientific and natural acne-fighting ingredients.

Read on to get a fuller understanding of acne on your cheeks, what causes it, and how to get rid of it once and for all.

Before-after picture of Victoria.
Victoria cleared her severe cheek acne with Exposed in a couple of months.

What Does Acne on Cheeks Mean?

There is no one meaning to cheek acne. All acne is caused by the same three things: an excess of oil, a build-up of dead skin cells, and clogged pores. However, due to the unique nature of the skin on your cheeks, there are certain triggers that are more common than others.

Things that may cause cheek acne include:

  • Genetics. Some of us are genetically predisposed to developing acne, including on specific parts of the face. Genetics can, for example, impact how frequently your skin overproduces sebum (oil) that can clog pores.

  • Dryness. The cheeks, chin, and jawline have far fewer oil glands compared to the rest of the face, so this area is typically drier. A lack of moisture leads the skin to overcompensate by producing excess oil, which in turn can lead to blackheads, pimples, and whiteheads.

  • Hormones. The fluctuation of certain hormones called androgens can increase sebum production in the skin and cause hormonal acne. This fluctuation can be due to pregnancy, birth control, menstruation, testosterone therapy, chronic stress, etc.

  • Lifestyle factors. Things like smoking, certain dietary choices, and exposure to allergens may cause or worsen cheek acne.

  • Everyday habits. Some of the things we do can make it more likely that we break out. Touching your face frequently throughout the day, wearing makeup and failing to remove it at night, and other similar bad habits can become your cheek acne's worst enemy.

  • Mask acne. If red bumps emerged around when you started wearing a mask, then it could be mask acne. However, dermatitis is another very common skin condition that comes from masks that also looks like acne.

Because there are so many potential causes for acne on the cheeks, it is unlikely that one sole product will get rid of it. But with a skincare kit with various, proven active ingredients, you can certainly get rid of acne on your cheeks over time and, more importantly, contribute to overall skin health.

Everyone is different, so we recommend taking this brief quiz to identify which skincare kit will work best for you.

How to Get Rid of Cheek Acne

Cheek acne doesn't have to be forever. There are plenty of healthy treatments you can undertake to prevent and treat acne on your cheeks. These methods work best when used in conjunction and consistently.

First, before getting rid of your cheek acne, there may be some methods that help by way of prevention that you can try first:

  • If you shave your face, only use new, clean razors. Also opt for gentle face razors if you can, for sensitive skin.

  • Frequently clean anything that touches this area of your face. That could be your phone, your pillowcases, or any sports equipment like helmets.

  • Thoroughly research any hormonal birth control before starting, as some may lead to hormonal imbalances that then cause acne on the cheeks.

  • Limit makeup on your cheeks or thoroughly remove makeup each night. We recommend non-comedogenic makeup products.

  • Hydrate to avoid skin dryness.

  • Avoid touching your cheeks, especially for long periods of time while focusing on something or while anxious.

  • Seek out treatments that utilize the best that nature and science have to offer (explained more in-depth below).

  • Go for a water-based, not oil-based, moisturizer (again, more on that below).

Below, we've explained some of the most effective methods for getting rid of acne on your cheeks, preventing cheek acne, and also contributing to overall skin health and wellness.

Before-after picture of Morgan.
Morgan struggled with acne on her cheeks for years until she found Exposed.

Find a Treatment that Soothes, Cleans, and Hydrates

Your acne treatment shouldn't just clean or just try to dry out acne, it should also hydrate and soothe the skin to prevent inflammation or more acne later on. This is true for all acne, but especially on the cheeks where the skin is typically dry.

The Expanded Kit is our top recommendation for acne on cheeks because it includes our Moisture Complex.

Exposed offers the ideal combination of the best scientific ingredients on the one side, and the best natural ingredients on the other side. Together, they complement each other extremely well to achieve the ultimate treatment experience.

For example, the Expanded Kit includes scientific ingredients to dry up acne, like salicylic acid and azelaic acid, along with natural soothing antioxidants like caffeine and pro-vitamin B5.

Exposed Expanded Kit.

Use a Water-Based Moisturizer

Many people skip this nearly most important topical treatment for fear of clogging pores and making cheek acne worse, but the right moisturizer can help reduce and even prevent breakouts caused by dry skin and irritation.

As we mentioned earlier, because you have fewer oil-producing glands on your cheeks, sometimes those oil glands overcompensate, clogging pores and causing acne.

That's why we recommend a water-based moisturizer instead of the typical oil-based moisturizer.

The Moisture Complex is a product designed to keep skin hydrated and healthy while fighting acne. Created with pumpkin seed, green tea extract, and other ingredients proven to help soothe the skin, this moisturizer is designed specifically to help skin retain moisture without clogging pores.

No matter what's causing your cheek acne, our carefully-formulated products can help. Featuring a unique blend of essential ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, and more, our skincare line attacks acne from all angles.

Let us do the hard work of outsmarting your breakouts so that you can focus your attention on the other things you have to take care of in life.

Cheek Acne FAQ

Does stress cause acne on cheeks?

A study from 2017 reviewed the literature on the connection between psychological stress and acne, and concluded that emotional stress is an important factor in acne, and can trigger or make the condition worse.

Does smoking cause acne on cheeks?

It can in some situations, but it depends on how much you smoke and other factors. In this article we dig deep into the question of whether smoking causes acne.

Can dandruff cause cheek acne?

There is no scientific basis to say whether or not dandruff causes cheek acne, but based on our experience it's very likely that cheek acne breakouts are not caused by dandruff.

What causes acne cysts on cheeks?

Toyoda 2001 suggests that acne is caused by increased activity of sebaceous glands, proliferation of P. acnes, and neuropeptides.

Rasmussen 1983 suggests that acne is caused by a build-up of sebum.

Timpatanapong 1997 suggests that acne is caused by an excess of androgens. All of these factors could contribute to the development of cystic acne.

How to prevent acne on cheeks?

The number one most effective way to prevent acne on the cheeks is a consistent skin care routine using a quality acne treatment system.

Topical treatments are effective against all forms of acne vulgaris and are much safer than prescription medications.