The Sneaky Thing That's Making You Break Out…All Over

Don't hate me.

You really are going to hate me for this. But trust me, no one is more devastated by this intel than me...

Well let's just get to it then: Your hair, or rather the products in it, may be what's causing your skin to breakout. And not just on your face either—but your neck, chest, and even your back. As someone with long, always-in-my-face hair that's doused in product, I've had to come to terms with this excruciatingly-inconvenient truth. And it's a hard pill to swallow, especially as the humidity-laden months loom.

The thing is, acknowledging this potential threat to your complexion is by no means a call to action to toss your leave-in creams or texturizing spray, but rather a reminder that you should be paying close attention to what comes into contact with your skin on a daily basis (and how it reacts to it).

To ensure that we're keeping the peace between our texture-perfecting hair products and precious complexions, we looked to celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, the master behind many a Hollywood visage. And here's what you need to do:

Look for the Signs

"If you get blemishes along your hairline and your back, experiment with different types of hair products to see if you can find one that isn't causing the skin to break out," says Rouleau. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin and notice more redness and irritation, it might be time to reassess your hair regimen.

Watch Out for Conditioner

"For some people, hair conditioners containing an ingredient called panthenol may cause breakouts on the hairline and the back area where conditioner residue resides," explains Rouleau. "Panthenol is a popular ingredient to provide strength to the hair, but in order for it to attach to the hair follicle and smooth the cuticle, it needs to be processed and combined with heavy oil-soluble ingredients since hair is somewhat water-repellant." In other words, it can be a total pore-clogger.

Having struggled with panthenol-induced breakouts as a teenager, Rouleau has advised many of her clients to opt for panthenol-free hair products and observed "drastic" improvements in their skin when they did. Additionally, sulfates can be an irritant to sensitive skin.

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Panthenol-free products are tough to come by, but we love Burt's Bees sweet-smelling offerings!

Always Wash Your Neck, Chest, and Back Extra Carefully

"At the very least, after rinsing out hair conditioner in the shower, put the hair up in a clip and use a shower gel to wash the back to cut any oil residue that rinsing alone cannot accomplish," she explains. "This will ensure that hair conditioners won't cause any unnecessary trouble."

Wash Your Face *After* a Shower

As for preventing breakouts around the hairline, be sure to wash the face after the hair conditioner has been rinsed out to remove the residue, says Rouleau.

Pay Attention to the Ingredient List of Your Products

A rule of thumb for leave-in products: Look for a short ingredient list. Chances are these will be less likely to cause a reaction. Generally speaking, products with a high alcohol content will be most irritating, so often times you'll find hairsprays, gels, or salt sprays are the culprit.

You Need to Stop Touching Your Hair

Mission impossible, I know, but if you're touching your hair a lot, the product is inevitably transferring to your face and more likely to cause a reaction. So no touchy! Unless you're Beyoncé, then it's okay.

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.