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Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Some people go through their whole lives without ever having to worry about acne on their shoulders, back, and other parts of the body. For those who do, however, it can be an ongoing struggle that seems like it will never end. Sometimes the answer is as simple as changing up something you do in your daily routine or simply swapping out a product.

Here's what you can

do before consulting

a dermatologist

Check THE INGREDIENTS IN Your hair care products

Pore congestion caused by hair care products is the number one cause of body acne among my clients. A lot of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products contain ingredients that are meant to be great for hair but often are not skin-friendly. You wash and style and these products get transferred down your neck, shoulders, back, and beyond and elements can get trapped in your pores. In this case, all you need to do is switch out a product or two. But how do you know what's causing the problem so you can avoid buying another product that's going to start they cycle all over again?

There are certain popular ingredients used in hair care products that can cause congestion, which I'll list below. Something to keep in mind when you're looking at the list of ingredients on your products is where they fall in the list. The first 4-6 ingredients almost always make up 90-95% of the total product and will have the biggest effect on your skin. The other ingredients may still have an effect, but are usually less offensive.

Check your products for these top offenders:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. Sulfates fall under the category of surfactants. These are the ingredients in skincare and haircare that add slip to a product and usually create suds, aka, soap. Surfactants, although meant for cleansing, can easily get lodged in your pores and cause buildup that leads to breakouts and acne. Some surfactants are worse than others. These two are the reason most quality shampoos are advertised as "Sulfate Free".

  • Coconut derived ingredients. Coconut is a natural ingredient you would think is safe for your whole body, however, it causes some of us to break out when applied to certain areas of the body (ie: the face, neck, and shoulders). These ingredients usually start with 'carpyl', ''caprylic' or 'coco', but check the web for updated lists. Here's a good website to start with by Erica Julson.

  • Panthenol, or, Vitamin B5. Although great for strengthening your strands, panthenol can be exceptionally pore clogging. This is best when used at lower percentages, so, if it's listed closer to the middle or bottom of the list, you're probably in the clear.

  • Other oils and ingredients to look out for. There are many other oils and ingredients that rate higher on the comedogenic (pore clogging) scale. There are many sites online that list all the different ingredients to steer clear of. This webpage by Simple Pure Beauty has a great list of oils and their ratings. This webpage by Acne Clinic has a comprehensive list of all pore clogging ingredients.