What the Breakouts On Your Face Are Telling You and How to Treat Them

Danielle Tullo
·4 mins read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Seventeen

I have a pimple on the left side of my chin that visits me once a month, right on schedule with my period. While yes, incredibly frustrating, turns out it’s pretty normal for acne to pop up in a recurring spot.

“Breakouts can occur in the same area for a few reasons,” Dr. Iris Rubin, dermatologist and founder of SEEN Hair Care explains. It could be from holding your phone up to your cheek, or maybe it’s the oil built up on your pillowcase or face mask — and of course there’s always my good friend, hormonal acne. Whatever may be causing the pimples you’re dealing with, know that this story has a happy ending. “If you are breaking out constantly in the same location, there may be a clue as to why and how to fix it,” she says.

To have a better handle on your acne woes, we spoke to skincare experts to help you understand what breakouts in different areas of your body mean, and how to prevent them. Consider this an acne breakout crash course, and honestly one they should teach in health class.

Cheek acne

If you’re someone who prefers a phone call over text, it could be causing you to breakout. It’s called acne mechanica — yes, there’s a word for it — and it’s the result of your bacteria-filled phone combined with friction and pressure on your skin, Dr. Iris Rubin explains. “Cheek acne can also be a sign that you need to wash your pillowcase more often, as dirt and oil can build up,” says Dr. Iris Rubin. So, there you have it — clean your pillowcase and sleep well knowing you're not rolling around in pore-clogging residue.

Sounds too easy, right? Well, if you're still breaking out regardless of fresh sheets and exclusively talking on the phone with Airpods in, Dr. Iris Rubin suggests a medicated wash for your face with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Breakouts between your eyes or on your nose

Typically an oilier area of the face, acne in these areas are fairly common. For Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist, founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care, and author of Glow From Within, it’s all about properly washing your face before bed.

“I like using my Vitamin C Face wash because it’s gentle and also exfoliates to wash off impurities,” she explains. Speaking of exfoliating, Joanna recommends doing that twice a week if this is a common breakout area for you.

Forehead and hairline acne

Say it with me now: Haircare 👏 is 👏 skincare 👏. “It turns out hair care products can leave a residue, or invisible film, on your scalp, face and back, even hours after using them,” says Dr. Iris Rubin. It makes sense, really — your hair care products get on your skin and stay there for hours.

“Acne on the forehead and hairline are often due to hair care products that have pore clogging ingredients, causing acne. These products can make their way onto your skin as shampoo and conditioner rinse down the face and body in the shower,” explains Dr. Iris Rubin. And don’t forget about leave-in styling products, which transfer to your skin directly, be it from your pillowcase, a towel, or your hair.

To help with breakouts in this area, Dr. Iris Rubin suggests using hair care products that are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores. As someone familiar with acne issues in this area, she created SEEN, a hair care line that features formulas clinically proven to be non-comedogenic and non-irritating.

Breakouts on your chin and jawline

While chin and jawline acne can certainly be a result of hormones, there are other suspects for breakouts in this area, be it pore-clogging products or diet. "There is some evidence that high glycemic or sugary foods, as well as cow’s milk, are associated with acne," says Dr. Iris Rubin. But really, the biggest culprit as of late? Maskne, AKA acne and irritation caused from wearing face masks.

Joanna Vargas suggests washing your face as soon as you get home from wearing a mask for a long period of time, and using a soothing oil with anti-inflammatory vitamin C to calm the skin after the mask has rubbed on it. She also stresses washing your reusable mask daily.

As Dr. Iris Rubin puts simply: "Good skin care is important. Use a mild cleanser twice a day, and a non-comedogenic moisturizer." Amen.

You Might Also Like