Why You're Breaking Out In Certain Areas

Acne breakouts can be attributed to a number of things, but according to our founder Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), the main causes are primarily hormones, genetics, and our environment. It’s hard to pinpoint whether breakouts in certain areas can be directly linked to something happening internally, but there can be explanations as to why we are breaking out in certain regions of the body.

Here's breakdown with explanations as to why you may be experiencing acne on your forehead, cheeks, nose, jawline, and back — and ways to treat these acne breakouts from our favorite dermatologist herself!

6 minute read


Breakouts On Your: Forehead 

This is a common area for people to break out because it is part of the “t-zone”: the area that goes from your forehead, down to your nose and chin. This area of the face has the highest concentration of sebaceous glands, the structure in the skin that is responsible for producing oil ( aka sebum).

Hormones can make us more oily during certain times of the month, which can also explain an increase in breakouts in areas with more sebaceous glands, like the forehead. If you have bangs, or put a lot of product on your hair that can get on your forehead, this hair or product can weigh against the skin of your forehead, promoting occlusion of your pores, and increasing the chance for developing acne.

If you’re breaking out in this area:

  • Be sure you are cleansing morning and night: Dr. Lee recommends something with salicylic acid, like SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser. This is going to really help clear excess oil/sebum and dead skin, to prevent buildup in the pores. 
  • Exfoliate: Follow washing your face with an exfoliating toner/pad like SLMD Resurfacing Acne Swipes
  • Use treatment products: To treat forehead breakouts, you should be using benzoyl peroxide (like SLMD BP Lotion) or sulfur (like SLMD Sulfur Lotion) in the daytime to help curb oil production and kill acne-causing bacteria. At night, Dr. Lee suggests a retinol product (like SLMD Retinol Serum) to help keep pores clear and skin glowing.
  • Stay away from comedogenic products: Be sure you are using topical products that are “non comedogenic” — meaning they are minimally occlusive, and don’t promote the development of blackheads.
SLMD Resurfacing Acne Swipes for breakouts

Breakouts On Your: Cheeks

Acne on the cheeks is often tied to genetics, but it can also be tied to everyday habits like having a phone pressed against your cheek, touching your face often when your hands aren’t clean, etc.

If you’re breaking out in this area:

  • Keep anything touching your face clean: i.e  phone, pillowcases, sheets.
  • Be consistent with your skincare routine: SLMD Skincare Acne System is a 3-Step routine formulated to be simple and effective when it comes to treating acne morning and night. A few times weekly, add a treatment mask like Clear Out, which is formulated with sulfur, salicylic acid, and zinc oxide.

Breakouts On Your: Nose

Again, the nose is a part of the “t-zone” so it has a higher density of oil glands than most of your skin on your face. Oil glands (aka sebaceous glands), produce sebum (oil) and when it mixes with dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria: blackheads, whiteheads, and sebaceous filaments are usually the first to pop up! They’re very common in the nose area.

If you’re breaking out in this area:

  • Use an exfoliating face wash: SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser will help unclog pores and break down sebum. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that is able to penetrate through oil and really deep dive to clear pores and excess oil/dead skin to treat current blackheads and prevent new ones from forming.
  • Use retinol at night: Because retinol is a keratolytic, it helps to keep pores clear of blackheads and whiteheads and speeds the turnover of new skin cells. Try SLMD Skincare Retinol Serum.
SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser for acne

Breakouts On Your: Chin/Jawline

Pimples along the chin/jaw area usually signify a fluctuation in hormones, which can over-stimulate the oil glands and clog pores. Men tend to get acne mainly during these teenage years when hormones are spiking. However, adult women can continue to get breakouts and most commonly this is associated with their menstrual cycle, as this is when there is a little bump in hormone levels too. People with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have increased hormone levels (androgens), and also experience more breakouts in this area of the face.

If you’re breaking out in this area:

  • Be consistent with your skincare routine and have spot treatments on hand: spot treatments with active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, in SLMD BP Spot TreatmentSalicylic Acid Spot Treatment and Spot Check really help to target problem spots.
  • Consult with your dermatologist: If your acne isn’t responding to any over the counter products, it’s always best to consult with the pros. They will be able to give you an educated opinion on your situation, and may prescribe you with stronger medication, if necessary.


Breakouts On Your: Chest

Dr. Lee says that the most common reason people are breaking out along their chest is allowing sweat, dirt, and oil to remain on your skin. If you aren’t able to shower right after a workout (we’ve all been there) — and stay in tight, sweaty, clothing — that moist material can become more occlusive. This means that it binds to the skin and traps the dirt, bacteria, and sweat that has gathered, promoting clogged pores which turn into pimples.

If you’re breaking out in this area:

  • Shower and use a medicated body wash: To help improve breakouts on your chest, Dr. Lee highly recommends showering after any instance you work up a sweat, using a medicated body wash like  BP Body Wash to calm and improve current breakouts, and help prevent new ones from popping up.
  • If you’re unable to shower, carry a medicated body spray with you: SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray is a great option. The salicylic acid in this spray will crystallize to a small enough size to settle within your pores to keep them clean and free of debris, sweat, and bacteria, decreasing the risk of developing blackheads and whiteheads which could lead to full-blown pimples and breakouts. You can use this spray both before and after working out as a preventative measure if you know you’ll be getting very sweaty.
  • Be sure you are using non-comedogenic products: If you don’t think sweat and not showering after a workout are the reasons for your chest breakouts, be sure the body products you are using are non-comedogenic, as many lotions contain fragrances and pore clogging ingredients.
SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray for acne

Breakouts On Your: Back

Breakouts on your back should be treated the same way as breakouts on your chest. Another factor may be your lifestyle: do you use occlusive equipment or clothing for work or sports? This could be a source of acne mechanica, caused by friction and irritation. Dr. Lee emphasizes the importance of not sitting around in sweaty clothes or equipment, letting that sweat mix with bacteria and other dead skin cells, clogging pores, and potentially leading to breakouts!

If you’re breaking out in this area:

  • Use a body wash with acne fighting ingredients: this an effective and easy way to target breakouts — one of the main reasons SLMD BP Body Wash was created. 
  • Spray throughout the day: A spray like SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray is another solution for treating your skin throughout the day. It has a 360º sprayer, so it’s easy to apply to your back, especially.

With these tips, hopefully those problem spots can be few and far between!


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