What Is Pomade Acne?

Meshell Powell

Pomade acne is a type of acne that develops as a result of repeated use of hair products known as pomades. This form of acne typically appears on the scalp, forehead, and temples, the areas of skin that most commonly come into contact with the hair styling products. This condition is believed to be caused due to clogged pores that occur as a result of the pomade. This form of acne usually goes away when pomade use is discontinued or modified so that it does not come into contact with more skin than necessary. Any specific questions or concerns about acne should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Continued use of certain hair products may cause pomade acne.
Continued use of certain hair products may cause pomade acne.

A pomade is a type of oily or greasy hair dressing that is used to help form some hairstyles and has been traditionally used by those of African descent. People of all nationalities and cultures may develop this type of acne, depending on the type of hair care products used. Products containing petroleum jelly or mineral oil are the most likely to result in the development of pomade acne.

Over-the-counter acne medications and ointments may help treat pomade acne.
Over-the-counter acne medications and ointments may help treat pomade acne.

The appearance of pomade acne may appear in a combination of both blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads are small bumps that may appear yellow or black in color, often thought to be the first stage of acne. Whiteheads have no contact with oxygen and may sometimes develop into painful cysts.

Pomade containing petroleum jelly, which can cause acne.
Pomade containing petroleum jelly, which can cause acne.

As pomade acne occurs primarily due to the development of clogged pores, this condition may be able to be prevented in many cases. Hair care products that are water-based are much less likely to cause this issue than those that are oil-based. It may take a bit of personal experimentation in order to find a product that provides the desired results without the negative side effects.

Treatment for pomade acne begins with modification of product usage or total discontinuation of the offending product. By being careful to apply the product behind the hairline or only on the ends of the hair, the risks of developing this condition can be greatly reduced. The acne will normally clear up on its own once proper precautions have been taken, although this may take a considerable amount of time. Over-the-counter or prescription acne medications may help clear up the skin more quickly and can prevent scarring in many cases. A type of doctor known as a dermatologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders and should be consulted with any individualized concerns.

A man with pomade acne.
A man with pomade acne.

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Discussion Comments


I developed pomade acne a few months ago. I thought it was regular acne but when my doctor saw my greasy hair, she said that's probably what's causing it. I was applying a lot of oils on my hair and keeping it on a few days at a time to nourish it and encourage it to grow. the oils have been getting onto my pillow case and then my face and causing acne.

I stopped using hair oil and started changing my pillow case everyday and the acne disappeared.


@ysmina-- I had this problem too and like you, I didn't want to stop using hair products. My hairstylist told me that I'm using too much pomade and that's why it's getting into my roots and my face. You don't need a lot of pomade to keep your hair under control. Try using less.

Also, are you washing your face everyday? I wash my face twice a day now with a face cleanser from the pharmacy. I wash it in the morning after I do my hair and at night before I go to bed. This keeps my face clean and removes any pomade that might have gotten on it.

You could also wipe your face during the day to make sure that the pomade is not dripping down from heat, sweat, etc.


I have pomade acne, not on my scalp but on my forehead, at the hairline.

I don't want to stop using hair products because my hair is very curly and frizzy and there is no way I can manage it without products. What should I do?

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