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How To Get Rid Of Pomade Acne

Hair styling products are notorious for clogging pores, and pomade is a big offender. Luckily, the answer to how to get rid of pomade acne is not a hard one: wash your hair thoroughly.

Table of Contents

What Is Pomade Acne?

The name says it all. Pomade acne is a form of scalp acne caused by your pomade. It’s not uncommon, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

For most guys, the solution is as simple as washing your hair more thoroughly with a good shampoo. You can add a clarifying shampoo to your daily routine for even more cleaning power.

We’ve listed some heavier solutions in the sections below, but if you’re really struggling to cure your pomade acne, it’s a good idea to be ready to go off pomade entirely and see a dermatologist. Your health is always more important than your hairstyle.

Can Pomade Cause Acne?

Pomade can cause acne – almost any hair or cosmetic product can.

It’s impossible to know how your skin will react with the ingredients in cosmetics, regardless of whether it’s commercial or all-natural. And cosmetics often treat the most sensitive parts of your skin, like your scalp.

Besides that, anything that can help clog your pores can cause acne. Pomades, especially oil-based pomades, are really, really good at clogging your pores. It’s just one of the many reasons why skin care experts recommend you avoid using pomade every day.

What Does Pomade Acne Look Like?

Aside from the fact that it will grow wherever you apply pomade to your scalp, there’s not much to distinguish pomade acne from other types of acne. It usually looks red and inflamed with growing whiteheads. You’ll spot it along your hairline and forehead.

We’ll talk about strategies for getting rid of it in a few sections down, but just know that you can also use your regular skin care products to treat it. If you have an acne cream that’s safe for your skin, apply it right along your hairline. 

Just be cautious – Retain-A, a.k.a. Tretinoin, is one acne medication ingredient that can cause hair loss. As always, keep an eye on your skin and hair for any negative symptoms.

And if you’re not sure that what you’re experiencing is actually acne, check to see whether your pomade is expired. If it’s more than a year old, there’s a good chance that you’re just irritating your skin with old product.

Why Does Pomade Cause Acne?

Like any hair product, pomade can clog your pores, which causes acne. Oil-based pomades are especially big offenders. They’re hard to wash out, and they combine with your natural oils and dead skin to irritate your scalp.

Your scalp has more sweat and oil glands than any other part of your body, and that’s another reason why it’s so easy to get scalp acne from pomade. There are plenty of pores for it to seep down into.

On top of that, guys are often bad at remembering to wash out hair products at the end of the day (sorry to throw you under the bus). Pomade causes a lot of acne because you forget to do anything to stop it from causing acne.

How To Get Rid Of Pomade Acne

If you’re trying to get rid of pomade acne, think clean. You should be cleaning your skin and hair every time you use pomade, getting rid of all that residue at the end of the day.

Wash Off Your Pomade Daily

The #1 way to get rid of pomade acne is by washing your scalp whenever you use pomade. Rinse your hair and scrub with a shampoo to make sure that you get rid of all the product residue at the end of the day. If you leave in your pomade and sleep on it, it’ll clog your pores.

Older guys who have been using pomade for decades tend to make this mistake. When modern pomades came into fashion in the 1920s, part of the appeal was that you could leave them in your hair and restyle the next day. That’s exactly what causes scalp acne – leaving pomade in your hair for too long, so don’t follow styling advice from the 20s.

You can use these tricks to make sure you’re properly removing pomade from your hair.

Avoid Applying Pomade To Your Scalp

Pomade is meant for the tips and ends of your hair. After all, those are the parts that really need to be styled. So don’t rub pomade directly on your roots. Keep it as far away from your scalp as possible.

Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

You touch your face throughout the day much more than you realize. The pomade residue on your fingertips may be causing acne elsewhere, not just along your hairline. Whenever you use pomade, wash your hands thoroughly before and after to avoid spreading product residue on your skin.

Use Water-Based Pomade

Water-based pomades are less likely to clog your pores than oil-based pomades because they’re lighter. Some guys like the rich history behind oil-based pomades, but the switch is worth it to save your scalp.

Use A Face Wash

We said it earlier – pomade acne usually starts along your hairline, sometimes dipping down onto your forehead. Use a face wash every day to help unclog those pores and prevent future pomade breakouts. If you use facial creams and serums, you can get those in on the action too.

How To Prevent Pomade Acne

The easiest way to prevent pomade acne is by not using pomade, but lots of men don’t like that answer, so try one of these strategies instead.

Use Less Pomade

You might be suffering from pomade acne simply because you’re using way too much pomade. Lighten up! A little goes a long way. Choose a lighter pomade with a weaker hold and start using less pomade.

Get A Better Shampoo

If you’re already carefully washing off your pomade every day, your pomade acne might be coming back because your shampoo just isn’t doing the job. Try one of the best shampoos for scalp acne, or see if your dermatologist can prescribe something more effective.

Seriously – Don’t Apply Pomade To Your Scalp!!

I know, it’s easy to accidentally rub pomade into the roots of your hair, but I’m telling you, you don’t need pomade so close to your scalp. Your scalp has more oil and sweat glands than any part of your body, so there’s a greater opportunity for your hair products to clog your pores. Keep your pomade at the tips of your hair.

Survey Your Other Hair Products

If you’ve thrown away your pomade entirely, and you’re still suffering from acne, it probably wasn’t the pomade that caused it. Look at your shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, and anything else you’re using on your hair. It could be the culprit.

What Type Of Pomades Are Best For Acne Prone Skin?

Water-based pomades are hands down the best for acne-prone skin, simply because they don’t contain enough oil to clog your pores.

Better yet, they’re easy to apply and easy to wash out of your hair, so they won’t leave as much residue on your scalp. You’ll still want to use a clarifying shampoo every few weeks to truly wash away any build-up, but the need won’t be as desperate.

The bad news is that if you do switch to a water-based pomade and don’t notice a difference, it may be that your scalp just doesn’t get along with pomades. You can try to learn how to use a hair clay instead, or get a stronger shampoo, but be prepared to quit hair styling products for a while.

It’s okay if your scalp needs a break. Your skin and hair health is always more important than style, so take the time to detox from styling products, and use a simple, all-natural shampoo and conditioner to give your scalp room to breathe.

If your pomade acne persists, consider visiting a dermatologist for more help.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.