Breaking Out Between the Brows

Breaking Out Between the Brows

It's one of the most common locations where pimples pop up — here's what you can do about it.


3 minute read

If you’ve ever dealt with acne, chances are, you’ve experienced a breakout between your eyebrows. And while it’s easy to spot a pimple, it's harder to identify exactly why that certain area is acting up. We sat down with our founder, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), to find out why pimples pop up between our eyebrows.


Are pimples between the brows common?

According to Dr. Lee, the medical term for the region between the eyebrows is called the glabellar area. It’s very typical for people to break out there because it’s part of the t-zone — which extends horizontally across your forehead and down vertically along your nose and chin.

“Our skin contains millions of structures called follicular units — each one made up of a sebaceous gland, hair follicle, and pore. The sebaceous glands empty sebum into our pores, which can mix with dead skin cells and form pimples,” she explains.

What causes acne between the eyebrows?

All acne starts with clogged pores: when excess oil and dead skin get trapped and then sometimes, invaded by C. acnes bacteria to form inflammatory pimples. There are several factors that make getting spots in between eyebrows more likely to happen:

  • Tweezing/waxing: When you thread, wax, or pluck your eyebrows, you are pulling hair out at the root. This creates a risk of the hair growing back improperly: turned back under the skin and trapped. This can lead to ingrown hairs, irritation, or acne pimples, or folliculitis.
  • Makeup/cosmetics: Many cosmetic products are occlusive, meaning they are likely to clog your pores and lead to acne cosmetica. Old makeup — and makeup brushes — are another common culprit, since these are a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria.
  • Hair products: If you’re using hairspray or deep conditioning products — especially if you have bangs — pore-clogging residue could build up on your skin and cause pomade acne.
  • Heavy skincare products: pore-clogging waxes, oils or synthetic fragrances can cause acne between your brows. Look instead for lightweight, non-comedogenic formulas.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Brow Acne Solutions

Dr. Pimple Popper’s tips for treating acne between the brows

Dr. Lee says that the best way to handle pimples that pop up in your eyebrow area is to take measures to prevent your pores from becoming clogged in the first place. Here are her tips and tricks for treating and preventing brow acne:

Follow an acne skincare regimen

If you have chronic breakouts, you need a routine that treats acne at every stage. If you’re dealing with the occasional pimple, exfoliating and using retinol regularly should help keep pores clear.

Try: SLMD Acne SystemSalicylic Acid CleanserRetinol Resurfacing Serum

Consider laser hair removal

If you’re removing a lot of hair from your eyebrow area on a regular basis, it’s worth exploring laser treatments. This will permanently remove the hair, so you’re not removing the hair at the root and risking ingrown hairs. If you have to tweeze, sterilize your tools, wash your face and hands first, and use exfoliating pads regularly.

Try: SLMD AHA/BHA Swipes

Update your makeup stash

If you can’t remember how old your makeup is, it’s probably time to replace it. Generally speaking, you should toss eyebrow pencils after a year, and eyebrow gel between three and six months. Clean your brushes at least monthly.

Keep hair care at a distance

Apply hair styling products and heavy conditioners away from your hairline and roots. Shield your forehead and face from hairspray. If bangs are causing your brow acne, consider a new hairstyle.

Use an antibacterial spot treatment

When brow pimples pop up, don’t pick! You’ll likely make it worse. Instead, apply a maximum-strength spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide, which kills acne-causing bacteria.

Try: SLMD BP Acne Spot Treatment

Wash your hats

Ever check the inside band of your hat and notice a dark stain? That’s a buildup of sweat, oil and bacteria (ew) that can cause acne mechanica. Avoid wearing hats that fit tightly over your breakouts, and/or protect your pimples with acne patches. Whenever possible, wash your hats, and mist the inside with an acne spray before and after wearing.

Try: SLMD Salicylic Acid Pimple PatchesSalicylic Acid Body Spray

Dr Sandra Lee

Dr. Lee's Last Word

Eyebrow acne is incredibly common, and we treat it like we do acne anywhere else: with skincare ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol. Sometimes it’s from cosmetics or acne mechanica from wearing hats…in these cases, making some simple lifestyle changes can go a long way. If it doesn’t clear up, see your dermatologist.


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