When it comes to skin conditions, acne is the leader of the pack. Considering more than 90 percent of the world population will be affected by acne at some point in their life, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most common disorders dermatologists and healthcare professionals treat on a regular basis.
While approximately 85 percent of individuals between the ages of 12 and 14 have a minimum of minor acne, it can occur at any age in life and even continues to plague adults in their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
What is acne?
Acne vulgaris (aka acne) is a common yet chronic, inflammatory disease of the sebaceous follicles, which are responsible for producing sebum/oil. Visually, this presents itself in the evolution of inflamed elevations (papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts), comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), and sometimes even scars on the surface of the skin.
Acne can appear on different parts of the body for different reasons, to include hormonal changes, stress, and poor hygiene, so what about when those pesky pimples are harboring on your forehead? We’re going to take a deeper dive into what causes forehead acne, various forms of treatment, and how you can prevent future breakouts.
While there are some obvious causes such as sweating and hair care products, we will also take a look at how the Chinese medicine practice of face mapping can help determine whether or not there’s something going on internally that’s being presented as acne on specific places on your face.
By the time you’re through reading this blog post, you’ll be armed with all the information you need to tackle stubborn forehead acne no matter how old you are.
What causes forehead acne?
There are several reasons why you’re experiencing forehead acne, many of which are quite obvious. Don’t overlook these possible causes as the simplest explanation is often the right one.
- Bangs—dirty or clean
- Hair care products
- Pore-clogging, comedogenic cosmetics
- Popping pimples (spreads bacteria causing a larger breakout)
- Poor hygiene/lack of proper skin care routine
- Touching your face all the time
- Excessive sweating (and not washing face often enough)
- Irritation from hats or any other accessory for the head or hair
- Hormones—during puberty or as an adult (especially women due to pregnancy or menopause)
Forehead pimples may also be related to diet
Breaking out on your forehead? What’s your diet like? Face mapping is the ability to see the reflection of the body's organs on each part of the face by analyzing one’s complexion.
The history of face mapping dates back several thousands of years to the days of ancient Chinese medicine yet its major premise remains the same: Strategic breakouts are a reflection of what’s going on inside your body.
When pimples are present on your forehead, it could be a sign that your digestive system is out of whack and that you need to take a closer look at your diet. Upper forehead acne (near the hairline) is linked to the bladder, and the lower forehead (above the brows) to the intestines and liver. Keep in mind that stress can also lead to poor eating habits, thus, stress can also be an indirect cause of forehead acne.
Why the forehead reacts and what we can do about it
There are several reasons how imbalances in your internal system can cause forehead acne. The good news is that by making some simple changes, you can work to reverse these issues. For example:
- Mild dehydration: Drink at least two liters of water per day to prevent dehydration.
- Bacterial imbalance: Proper nutrition/balanced diet and probiotic supplements.
- Fatty or greasy food: A well-balanced diet complete with healthier alternatives to trigger foods.
- Too much sugar: Eating whole foods versus processed; avoiding sugary drinks and desserts.
- Weak digestive system: Eat whole foods; take probiotic, glutamine, zinc, and omega-3 supplements and broad-spectrum digestive enzymes; and eliminate food allergies.
- Too much alcohol: Drink in moderation; one drink per day for women, two for men.
- Not enough sleep: Regulate your bed/wakeup times for the sake of consistency, make your bedroom a “place of peace” free from distractions, implement a pre-sleep ritual, prioritize your responsibilities to ensure you’re getting enough shuteye.
Home remedies for forehead acne
Aside from the low cost (practically pennies!) the best part about home remedies is that you likely already have these items in your cabinet or refrigerator.
Don’t underestimate the simplicity of these ingredients. They are effective, all-natural alternatives to many of the harsh over-the-counter products formulated to treat acne.
Aloe can be used in the place of your cleanser, or you can choose to spot-treat certain areas. Leave it on overnight and rinse it off with cool water in the morning.
Tea tree oil
This popular essential oil is a favorite amongst those with acne-prone skin. Studies suggest that tea tree oil is just as effective as benzoyl peroxide, but the results take longer. Note that this is the case for most natural remedies, but you don’t have to worry about the harsh side effects such as peeling and redness that come from unnatural ingredients. Only use 100 percent pure, natural tea tree oil.
Dilute the tea tree oil with witch hazel, water, or honey (20:1 ratio, smallest part being the tea tree oil) and apply the concoction to the area(s) you want to treat with a cotton swab. Let the mixture dry completely before applying a moisturizer. Always use SPF during the day as tea tree oil makes the skin more sensitive to the sun.
Apple cider vinegar
This kitchen staple contains acetic, citric, lactic and succinic acid. When using it as an acne treatment, choose an organic, raw apple cider vinegar that has “the mother,” which appears as a cloudy substance at the bottom of the bottle.
It contains essential proteins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria to help balance the skin. Mix one part vinegar with three parts water—more if you have super sensitive skin. Apply the mixture with a cotton ball to the affected areas after washing your face. Let it sit on the skin for 5-20 seconds before rinsing off. The process can be repeated up to two times per day.
Lemon or lime juice
These citrus juices are both astringent and cleansing. They also contain citric acid, which makes them natural forms of alpha hydroxy acid. Never put straight lemon or lime juice on your face—and avoid altogether if you have sensitive skin. Mix the juice from a lemon or lime with yogurt, honey, or plain water and don’t leave the mixture on the skin for more than five minutes.
Because the skin receives a gentle exfoliation from citrus, make sure you wear SPF before heading outdoors. This isn’t a treatment you’d want to do on the daily. To avoid dry, irritated skin, only use it a few times a month and never on deep and/or open blemishes (read: intense stinging!).
Green tea extract
Research suggests that the topical application of green tea or green tea extract can help improve the temporary appearance of redness. Green tea contains tannins, which are naturally astringent compounds that regulate oil production and reduce the appearance of pores.
Make a toner by brewing three tablespoons of green tea. Let it cool before transferring into a spray bottle. Spritz after cleansing and throughout the day.
Raw, unadulterated honey works best on skin because it helps cleanse, soothe, and temporarily reduce the appearance of redness. Simply mix one tablespoon of raw honey with a pinch of turmeric and leave on the affected area(s) for about 20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and follow up with an appropriate moisturizer.
Tomatoes aren’t just good for your skin when eaten in a salad (the lycopene present is a powerful antioxidant), they also help acne when applied topically, too. The acidity in this red fruit helps—much like that of lemons and limes.
In addition, tomatoes contain hearty doses of vitamins A and C, both of which are commonly found in over-the-counter acne remedies. Cut a tomato in half and rub the juicy side on the affected area(s). For a more severe case of acne, mash up an entire tomato and apply the pulp like a face pack. Leave either the juice or pulp on the skin for one hour. Rinse and follow up with an appropriate moisturizer.
Best products to treat forehead acne
The best products to treat forehead acne are all-natural and void of harsh chemicals (think benzoyl peroxide) and synthetic ingredients that can potentially strip the skin of its natural oils—thus producing even more oil to overcompensate for the loss. This can lead to peeling, redness, and additional breakouts.
Start with a gentle face wash such as Annmarie’s Citrus Mint Cleanser to gently remove excess oil without stripping the skin’s acid mantle. Keep skin balanced with our Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin. Specially formulated with cleansing botanicals, white willow bark and neem, this delicate herbal blend helps deeply cleanse and balances natural oils. It leaves skin soft and smooth for a bright and beautiful complexion.
While DIY treatments are great, when used in conjunction with our Purifying Mud Mask, your treatment program receives a boost! Rhassoul clay, exclusive to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, is rich in the mineral silica and magnesium. Chlorella algae provide phytonutrients, while rose clay absorbs excess oil.
Of course, if over-the-counter products and in-home solutions aren’t helping your acne, it’s time to visit a reputable dermatologist. It’s possible that you may need to consider prescription-strength products to help treat your condition.
Of course, not having to worry about treating acne all together is everyone’s goal, but that takes a little bit of effort on your part. Here are some tips to help you prevent acne in the first place. For the best results, be consistent and make them a part of your regular routine.
- Wash your face with a mild cleanser twice daily, always making sure to thoroughly remove all makeup before bedtime.
- Avoid wearing tight hats, helmets, or clothing that can trigger forehead acne.
- Do not use harsh skin care products such as benzoyl peroxide or alcohol-based formulas, which can strip the skin’s acid mantle, thus making the skin more susceptible to infection.
- Only non-comedogenic/acnegenic makeup.
- Exfoliate and mask regularly.
- Shower immediately after strenuous physical activities and exercise.
- Wash your hair regularly and avoid hair care products with harsh and comedogenic ingredients such as silicones.
- If you have dandruff, make sure you’re treating the issue with the correct products such as anti-fungal shampoos.
- Avoid being exposed to the sun for long periods and always wear sunscreen.
- Adopt a proper skin care routine and stick to it. Regular facials by a reputable dermatologist or spa are a great way to ensure your skin is getting a proper deep cleanse.
- Never use a harsh and/or dirty towel to dry the face. Only use a soft and clean towel to gently pat skin dry.
- Stress is also a leading cause of acne. Incorporate light exercise, meditation, proper sleep, etc. to help reduce stress and acne breakouts.
As aforementioned with face mapping, diet plays an important role in your skin’s health. No topical treatment in the world is going to work if you’re not being mindful of what you’re putting into your body. Make sure you’re eating balanced meals and drinking plenty of water—two liters a day should be your goal. Incorporate foods like walnuts, green tea, fresh fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, etc., to help prevent acne.
In addition, if a healthy skin care routine is followed, then forehead acne is really easy to beat. Home solutions can’t hurt, but investing in high-quality products such as Annmarie’s (which are also wildcrafted and organic) is a step in the right direction if you want to have optimal skin health for the long term.
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“SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Diet,” MedicineNet, https://www.medicinenet.com/small_intestinal_bacterial_overgrowth_sibo/article.htm#does_sibo_relapse_whats_the_prognosis
“Alcohol: Weighing Risks and Potential Benefits,” Mayo Clinic,
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“Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris,” NCBI, December 29, 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384166/
“Are Your Hair Care Products Causing Breakouts?,” American Academy of Dermatology Association, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/hair-care-products-are-they-causing-your-breakouts
Rebecca Taras has over ten years of editorial and copywriting experience, including serving as an editor for hot digital spaces like Refinery29, PopSugar, Forbes Travel Guides, and Bustle. Along with contributing to print and digital outlets, she currently handles copywriting for some of the biggest brands in the beauty and travel industries.
A Chicagoland native, Taras began her career catering to celebrity clientele as an esthetician at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel before launching her own line of bath and body care products with her previous bath and body care company, Cleansing Queen. Rebecca also created custom in-room amenities for the Sofitel Hotel Chicago, including items featured in a special presentation for the president of AccorHotels upon his visit from France to Chicago. Her efforts were recognized by the Chicago Fashion Foundation, and she received the Style Maker and Rule Breaker award in the Beauty category.
Ultimately, Rebecca’s initiatives evolved into the co-founding of Terminal Getaway airport spas, now located at Seattle-Tacoma International, Tampa International, Orlando International, and Chicago O’Hare International airports. Though she is no longer involved with Terminal Getaway, her passion for beauty and travel not only persisted over the years but grew.
As Rebecca continued to refine her skincare knowledge, she spent a considerable amount of time as a journalist covering beauty and other topics. Rebecca’s diverse body of knowledge, experience, and an insatiable curiosity for faraway places culminated in Well-Traveled Beauty, an upcoming skincare line and travel website. The company’s initial offerings will be a line of results-driven, travel-friendly beauty products that take the guesswork out of figuring out what to pack.
A global traveler with a passion for Paris, Taras finally decided to live the Parisian way of life on the daily and call the City of Light home.