Are My Hair Products Making My Acne Worse?

Teen Hair Care

Who doesn’t remember those teenage years when acne fears seemed to threaten every school picture day? It seemed like every time you turned around a pimple would appear out of nowhere. It all sounds rather simple now but in the blooming social calendar of a teenager, it can take its toll and cause a lot of distress.

Acne is caused by clogging of the hair follicles by oil and dead skin cells. It is most common among teenagers. Fast food and junk food diets, raging hormones, and stress can all further complicate this picture. To top it off, the many hair products which are likely part of your holy grail for perfect hair days seem to only make matters worse. I know it sounds like a helpless situation but what if I let you in on a secret… if you can identify the culprit, there’s a way to fix the problem and stop acne in its tracks.

Culprit #1 Frequent Shampooing

It is not unusual for teenagers to shampoo frequently. This can be driven by the desire to change hairstyles often or a result of playing sports and sweating often. Frequent shampooing, especially with harsher sulfate-based cleansers, can irritate the skin and strip away oil leading to an increase in sebum production as the skin attempts to rebalance. An overproduction of sebum can leave the skin oily and increase the likelihood of an acne breakout.

The Fix: Switch to sulfate-free cleansers and save the harsher detergents to clarify the hair when needed. Sulfate-free shampoos are gentler on the skin, reducing irritation and preventing excessive dryness.

Culprit #2 Hair Oils and Butters

Sebum is an oily substance secreted from the sebaceous glands in the skin. A balanced amount of sebum can protect the hair and skin but when this balance shifts it can lead to skin problems. Curly hair can be dry due to the inability of the sebum to travel from the hair root to tips, however, this does not necessarily mean that the scalp is dry. The addition of hair oils and heavier butter products can clog the follicle and exacerbate acne conditions.

The Fix: Keep hair oil and hair butter use to a minimum and limit the amount of oil directly applied to the scalp. Remember, a little goes a long way.

Teen acne solutions
Good vibes and natural hair.

Culprit #3 Hair Gels and the Infamous Edge Control

If acne and blemishes are appearing along the hairline, gel or edge control use could be the source of the problem. The alcohols found in most hair gels can be drying, exacerbating oil production in the process. Edge control products often contain waxes and polymers that create a film on the skin and hair and can clog pores resulting in breakouts.

The Fix: Be sure to wash away any residual product that may be left after styling. Removing residual product by gently cleansing the face after styling ensures that this build-up is limited.

Although these tips can be useful in the battle against acne they may not fully solve the problem. If acne does not improve or worsens, it is recommended to avoid the use of extra styling agents, hair oils, and butters until the acne has cleared. This can take a number of weeks so patience is key. Additionally, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends regularly washing your bonnets, scarves, pillowcases, etc to remove any product residue that can cause further irritation. It may also be time to seek the help of a dermatologist to make sure that you are using the perfect skincare regimen. With a little investigation and a bit of trial and error, that Instagram worthy selfie will be acne free in no time.

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