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Listen To Your Breakouts: Here’s How You Do A Face Mapping To Identify The Causes Of Your Acne

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It’s difficult to make blanket statements about the causes of acne since everyone’s skin is different. Still, when there’s a pattern of breakouts in some areas of the face, you can get an idea about what triggers them. Acne face mapping is a good technique to help you study this pattern and identify some of the underlying causes of your acne. Even though it’s mostly applicable for occasional pimples rather than severe and consistent cases of acne, this dermatologist-approved technique is a game-changer when it comes to understanding your skin’s needs.

What causes acne

Plenty of factors can contribute to the formation of acne, including genetics, bacteria, hormones, environmental factors, diet, stress, and inadequate skin care. Yet, the major cause is the overproduction of sebum and dead cells that clog pores and leads to blackheads and whiteheads. Assessing the specific culprits that triggered your acne is a crucial step that’ll tell you what treatment you need to apply for your condition.

acne face map
Retrieved from Naturopathic Beauty

If you have recurring pimples on some particular parts of your face, it can indicate a specific acne trigger that you need to eliminate.

Around the hairline

Sudden breakouts around the hairline may indicate a reaction to some hairstyle products. Several ingredients in conventional shampoos and conditioners can trigger breakouts, including sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium sulfate, silicones, and pomades. 

Overwashing your hair can also strip essential moisture on the forehead and make the sebaceous glands produce more sebum. Also, hairline acne is more likely to develop if you often wear hats, headbands, bandanas, or a helmet — these accessories can irritate, and they can even serve as a way to spread excess oil from the hair to the forehead.

The best way to prevent breakouts around the hairline is to quit using hair care products that contain drying ingredients and opt for a non-comedogenic shampoo. Also, reconsider how often you wear hair accessories and make sure you wash them after each wear.


If you struggle with pimples on the forehead and you’re not a teenager, you should know this may be related to hairline acne. This means all we’ve mentioned before applies here, too, such as haircare products or accessories. Hats, headbands, and helmets can all make pimples appear on the forehead — mostly because of the sweat they cause. Using gels, waxes, oils, and comedogenic products on the hair can also be culprits, as they can transfer to the forehead and clog pores.

Insufficient sleep, poor digestive health, stress, and deficient blood flow are also linked to forehead acne. Pimples between the eyebrows usually indicate overconsumption of fat or alcohol and may reveal liver issues.


Cheeks have more chances of getting irritated and developing pimples than the rest of the face since it gets more often in contact with bacteria. Acne on the cheeks can indicate lung issues, allergies, or high consumption of junk food, so consider keeping a tab on your diet. Spending a lot of time inside might also be a reason for cheeks acne, so try exercising, practicing mindfulness or yoga, or surrounding yourself with greenery.

Using dirty makeup brushes can cause breakouts on the cheeks too. When your makeup brush gets gunked up with bacteria and sebum, it can clog pores and lead to pimples. Supposing you are a daily makeup wearer, wash your brushes once every week to avoid bacteria buildup.

Two other common causes of cheeks acne are pillowcases and phones. They both carry bacteria that can get in touch with your cheeks, so be cool and change your pillow case every two to three days, and swipe your phone with alcohol once every few days.


The t-zone (forehead and nose) is where most of the sebaceous glands are located, so if you have acne there, you should consider excess sebum as the root cause. Other reasons for pimples on the t-zone include stress, lack of sleep, and touching with unclean hands.

To prevent this, avoid using comedogenic products, exfoliate your skin regularly, and always wash your face in the morning and before you hit the bed with a gentle cleanser. Topical retinoids may also help.

Chin or jawline

Pimples all over the chin and jawline may indicate hormonal fluctuations, gynecological problems, or kidney issues. However, a hormonal imbalance is what triggers chin and jawline acne in most cases. According to studies, hormonal acne appears mainly in the lower third of the face along the chin and jaw lines. It’s caused by the androgen levels overweighting the estrogens, which means the body produces more sebum that can clog the pores and worsen acne. A typical scenario of chin and jawline acne is during the menstrual cycle when the hormone levels are disrupted.

To support hormone balance, add omega-3 and proteins to your diet, and avoid sugar and refined carbs. Products to treat hormonal acne, such as Aczone and Isotretinoin, are also often recommended. Another option could be birth control pills, but you should consult a doctor before.

The bottom line

Acne face mapping can help you determine what type of acne you have, what caused your breakouts, and what treatment you should follow. If you pay close attention to the spots where pimples appear most often — be it on the forehead, jaw, chin, or cheeks — you can find out the triggers and cut them out from your lifestyle. Here’s a full guide to managing acne-prone skin and getting rid of pimples.

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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