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Listen to Your Breakouts: Here’s What Your Acne Is Telling You

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You have tried dozens of skincare products to treat breakouts, but your pimples keep appearing in the same spots over and over again. It must be annoying, but actually, it can reveal some interesting stuff. Acne mapping is a thing since ancient times, but that’s not why we trust it. All the reasons breakouts arise in the same spots are backed by studies, experiments, and real facts. But first, some background.

How does acne produce?

Your sebaceous glands produce sebum, that oily substance with the role of moisturizing skin and protecting its barrier. When the glands go into overdrive and produce more sebum, it can’t pass smoothly out of the pores, so gets stuck inside, mixing with dead cells, hence, breakouts. But acne is not only triggered by excess sebum. Hormones, lifestyle, bacteria, all can influence acne and are often trigger factors.

Acne face map and solutions 

The area where pimples appear may indicate something and it’s not only ancient Chinese medication. Although evidence that acne mapping works is yet to be confirmed, all facts are backed up by scientific studies. And here I’m not talking about monthly breakouts on your chin — that’s because changes that happen in the body during the period boost testosterone level, and more testosterone means more sebum.

Around the hairline

When breakouts arise around the hairline, it may indicate a type of allergy to some hairstyle products, headwears, or sweat buildup. Not using a clean brush, comb, or hair accessories may also be the cause of pimples around the hairline. As well as overwashing your hair. But the most common cause is the use of some hair products, which can cause oil buildup, bacteria, and dead cells. Many ingredients in hair care products may lead to pimples, such as silicones, SLSs, ammonium, and petroleum. Their drying effects might cause dehydration, making skin produce more sebum than necessary, clogging pores, and causing breakouts.

There are more chances to develop hairline acne if you’re fan hats, headbands, bandanas, or if you often wear a helmet. First of all, these accessories can cause irritation, and they can even serve as a way to spread excess oil from the hair to the forehead.

If you work out and you’ve got hairline acne, things are pretty simple. While exercising, sweat and debris can get mixed, a thing that causes breakouts, past all doubt. How to fix it? Right after exercising, wash away all the sweat. If you can’t do that, at least spray some thermal water or use toning pads to clean away the sweat and impurities.

On the forehead

If you struggle with forehead breakouts and you’re not a teenager you should know this may be related to hairline acne. Aka, all I’ve mentioned before can be applied here as well, such as hair care products or accessories. From hats to headbands, they can all make pimples appear on the forehead — mainly because of the sweat. Have you got bangs? Here’s another reason for your forehead acne. 

Also, if you’re a biker and wear a helmet, there it is — another cause for your forehead acne. That is called mechanical acne, meaning it arises when an object irritates your skin by friction. The friction itself bothers the skin, disturbing the tissue, leading to clogged pores and inflammation.

Do you use oils on your hair? If so, you might want to reconsider it. IK, coconut oil is great for hair but can be one reason you have breakouts on your forehead. The same goes for gels, waxes, pomades, and hair oils.

Insufficient sleep, poor digestive health, stress, and poor blood flow are also linked to forehead acne. If you have pimples between the eyebrows, it may indicate that you overeat fat or drink too much alcohol, and your liver may be affected.

On cheeks 

Cheeks have more chances to get irritated and develop pimples than the rest of the face. Acne on the cheeks can indicate lung issues, allergies, malnutrition, or too much junk food. Hence, keeping a tab on food consumption might be what you need to recognize the culprits. If you spend a lot of time inside might also be a reason for your cheeks acne. Do some exercising, breathing yoga, and surround yourself with greenery.

Using dirty makeup brushes can make breakouts arise on the cheeks. When your makeup brush gets gunked up with bacteria and sebum, it can clog pores, hence, the breakouts.

Now, two other common reasons for cheeks acne are pillowcases and a dirty phone. You got it right. Change your pillowcase once every two days and swipe your phone with alcohol as often as possible!

Forehead and nose (T-zone)

First thing first, observe yourself. Do you touch your face often? As that might be a reason for your t-zone blemishes. Stress or poor diet can also lead to breakouts in the t-zone. That’s because there are more sebaceous glands than the rest of the face, and breakouts arise where pores are more likely to get clogged. The t-zone is that area that accumulates excess oil, blocking pores and forming pimples.

A correct skincare routine meant to cleanse oil and dirt buildup will help keep t-zone blemishes at bay so don’t neglect that!

Chin and/ or jawline acne

When you’ve got pimples all over your chin or jawline (or both), it may indicate some hormonal fluctuations, gynecological problems, or kidney issues. A hormonal imbalance may trigger chin and jawline acne. During periods, androgen levels are higher than estrogen, which means more sebum, causing clogged pores and blemishes. Don’t stress and wait for the period to pass. To help hormones balance, add omega-3 and proteins to your diet, and avoid sugar and refined carbs.

Or you may even be allergic to your toothpaste. Try to change your toothpaste, stop touching your face, rest and hydrate.


The reasons you have breakouts on your back varies. From excess sebum to tight clothes or bras (mechanical acne), not showering after exercising, long hair, or body lotions that are too heavy and clog the pores. Do you ever let your shampoo or conditioner run on your back? Some compounds in those may clog pores. As well as long baths in which you add bath bombs that might contain artificial fragrances.

Pick lightweight, oil-free products, and don’t omit to exfoliate once weekly. And if you use a scrub infused with salicylic acid to remove the excess sebum on your back and unclog pores, you hit it big. 

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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