If you have persistent acne on the forehead, there are several possible explanations. The most probable cause of acne in this area depends on your skin type and what type of acne you have. Pimples are typically caused by different factors than blackheads or whiteheads, and they are treated differently as well. Generally, most people have acne on their foreheads because the forehead is part of something called the “T-zone.”
What Is the T-Zone?
The T-zone is a T-shaped area of the face that includes the forehead and nose 👃. This region is one of the most common places to get acne because of its higher oil production. One of the main causes of acne is excess oil (also called sebum) because it can clog the pores, and this is an especially prominent problem in the T-zone.
Sebum is produced by specific glands in the skin and is released through the pores. Even though it can be related to acne, it is an important aspect of healthy skin. Oil provides a layer of protection between the skin and any potential irritants, which might transfer bacteria 🦠 to the pores or trigger the inflammation response. So, a small amount of sebum is actually a good thing.
Acne on the T-Zone
The T-zone is more likely to have issues with acne because it produces much more sebum than the rest of the face. This area has the highest concentration of oil glands in the body, and excess can easily clog pores.
What Exactly Causes Forehead Acne?
The short answer is—all the medically reviewed factors that cause acne elsewhere are also the culprits for acne on the forehead.
- Too much sebum
- Inflammation 🔥
- Certain strains of P. acnes bacteria
The immune system triggers the inflammatory response to prevent the bacteria 🦠 from spreading to other pores. The immune system also sends cells to kill the microbes, often killing off immune cells in the process, too. These dead skin and immune system cells generate pus, which is what gives pimples their characteristic yellowish head.
Excess sebum is very likely to clog pores, which most people associate with blackheads or whiteheads, but pimples can also form if bacteria are trapped in the clogged pores.
What Is My Skin Type?
The T-zone is known for having more oil than the rest of the face, but if you have dry skin, this could be a good thing. How your forehead acne forms (and more importantly, how you get rid of it) is largely dependent on your skin type ✔️.
Generally speaking, there are four main skin types: normal, dry, oily, and combination. “Normal” typically means the skin doesn’t have persistent or significant acne, but that might not be the best name for it. Eighty percent of people have acne at some point between ages 11 and 30, so acne-prone skin is quite normal.
Oily skin typically produces an excess amount of oil not just in the T-zone, but all over the face and/or the body. Because the T-zone has extra sebaceous glands, it might produce even more excess oil, making acne extremely likely. If you have acne primarily in your T-zone, you most likely have an oily skin. These skin types are also more likely to have pimples rather than blackheads and whiteheads. The excess sebum provides more food for the germs, so all it takes is a little inflammation 🔥 to generate a pimple.
Dry skin generally doesn’t produce enough sebum to keep the skin well lubricated and protected from irritants. Without the thin, protective layer of oil over the skin, even minor irritations can become problematic. Irritated skin tries to protect itself through inflammation and a quick burst of oil. The extra sebum can get trapped in the inflamed pore and lead to blackheads and whiteheads. Dry skin 🌵 types usually have more blackheads and whiteheads, because the microbes have less nutrition and their numbers stay relatively low.
As the name implies, combination skin combines both oily and dry skin. This skin type could have an even mix of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, but because the T-zone is almost always oily in a combination skin type, they are more likely to get pimples on the forehead 👩🦲.
Could My Hair Products Be Causing Acne?
Hair products 🧴 aren’t intentionally applied to facial skin, yet they almost always make contact. Anything, from shampoo to pomade, could contribute to forehead acne, especially along the hairline or at the temples. Shampoo, conditioner, and other products you might use in the shower 🚿 sometimes contain chemicals that are good for the hair but bad for the skin, and when you rinse them out, the suds could wash over your face and cause irritation.
Pomade acne is also associated with hair products 🧴. Pomade gives hair a sleek, shiny look, and it is often used to keep hair hydrated, especially the natural hair of people of color. Some pomade hair products are oil based, which can exacerbate the problem. In this case, you may want to consider switching to a water-based pomade.
What About My Hairstyle?
Wearing your hair in tight braids or a tight ponytail every day can stretch the skin on your forehead too tightly, affecting the pores. This may also trap dead skin cells, extra sebum, and microbes 🦠.
Another bad hairstyle for acne on the forehead is bangs. Many people use bangs to hide acne, but this often just makes the acne worse. Hair also produces oils to keep it protected and hydrated, so bangs can contribute to overly oily skin, with the ensuing problems. This is especially true if you don’t wash your hair regularly.
How Do I Decrease Forehead Acne Caused by My Hijab?
Let’s clear up one thing—most hijabs don’t cause forehead acne. However, your laundry detergent might 🧼, as well as clothing that is too tight.
Too-Harsh Laundry Detergent
If you have acne along your hairline where your hijab usually rests, it may be because of your laundry detergent. This is possible even if your other clothes 👕 don’t seem to cause any irritation. The skin on the face is much more sensitive than the skin on the body.
In this case, we recommend switching to a fragrance-free option, since fragrance chemicals are often irritating. If the irritation continues, try looking for a hypoallergenic laundry detergent or making your own, using a reliable online recipe.
Watch Out for Sports Gear, Though
A sports hijab may be a different story. These hijabs typically fit more tightly than others, and combined with sweat and probably irritated hair follicles, they may be the reason for acne breakouts. The best way to reduce this acne is to wash your face 🚿 and the hijab as soon as possible after physical exertion to prevent the buildup of bacteria or clogged pores.
Other Factors To Consider
The following can also cause acne on the forehead, and most have been medically reviewed.
- Touching your face too often ✋
- Too-harsh products with high concentrations of, for instance, benzoyl peroxide or tea tree oil
- Treatments like very harsh chemical peels or some home remedies
- Fluctuating hormones 📈 have also been noted as a medically reviewed reason for acne breakouts
To balance these, you will need to see your dermatologist for suggestions and perhaps a prescription.
However, if your breakouts get worse or remain severe, always seek medical advice.
What Treatments Work Best for Forehead Acne?
Treating acne on the forehead almost always requires a gentle drying agent that can reduce excess oil without causing irritation. Below, we’ve provided some of our recommendations for treating forehead acne, but if you have a dry skin type, these may not be the best fit for you. Instead, we recommend a good water-based moisturizer.
First, consider a sulfur-based product, like our Clarifying Mask. Sulfur absorbs extra oil, and at responsible concentrations, it will not dry out the skin. Our Clarifying Mask combines a low concentration of sulfur (3%), active charcoal, and resorcinol to kill bacteria 🦠.
- We also recommend a salicylic acid product for treating forehead acne because of the way it can help break up the clogs in pores to treat and prevent blackhead and whitehead breakouts. Exposed Skin Care 🏆three-step process involves several products containing salicylic acid, including our Facial Cleanser, Clearing Toner, and Clear Pore Serum. When used with our Clarifying Mask once or twice a week, this is the ideal skin care routine for getting rid of forehead acne. You can purchase them all together in our Ultimate Kit, which contains anything you could ever need to treat your acne and prevent breakouts.
Consistent acne treatment can prevent most acne, but our Clarifying Mask ⭐ is an important supplement for treating acne on the forehead.