I’d been battling a losing battle with blemishes and acne for the past month and a half. I’d never really had perfect smooth skin but I’d stopped getting breakouts too. I’m getting too old for having a face full of acne! So, I was at quite a loss last month when my whole face inexplicably broke out. Not only was I getting hard painful acne, I was also getting lots and lots of bumps under my skin which were horrid. My forehead, where I don’t get many spots, was a mess as were my cheeks.
I initially thought it was a skin product I was trying out so I stopped using it. Instead of going away, I kept getting one bump after another on my skin and it really bugged me.
That was until I was reading some reviews online and came across a user of Tresemme hair conditioner who loved how soft the conditioner made her hair, but said that it caused her to get body acne. That got me thinking. What if the skin problems I was facing was not to do with skincare but with the Tresemme conditioner I was using? I gave it a rave review previously, but I’d never thought it might affect the skin.
My hair conditioner was finishing, so I decided to stop instead of restocking, just to see if my gut feeling was right. I went instead for Himalaya Herbals Protein Conditioner which I have also reviewed.
Within 3 days of stopping my Tresemme conditioner, I realised I was not getting any new spots. Within a week, and with a little help from my trusty apple cider vinegar toner, my skin is now almost back to the way it was i.e. relatively smooth, with no new blemishes or spots. I’m very happy about that.
However, it got me wondering about why the Tresemme conditioner would cause my skin to break out. I’ve never had a hair product do this to me before. It could be because I wash my hair everyday so I am exposed to the product a lot and something in it did not agree with me.
Either way, I seem to have isolated the hair conditioner as the cause of my traumatic month-long battle with problem skin and I’m working on clearing it up now, with great success.
Have you had a hair product break you out before?
197 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
i used that tresemme before too, well, it did not cause breakouts on my skin. but, i had dandruff break out badly, i stopped using a week later. now, i got phobia of the related products
PB says: Ooh my sister had dandruff too during this period of using Tresemme. I’m scratching this product and brand off my list!
Hey, I did read somewhere that some shampoos and conditioner creates acne. Can’t remember the brands. I was quite surprised too. I guess it’s something in the ingredient that causes this.
PB says: Really? I must find that list somewhere. Thanks for the info and yes, I think it must be a pore-clogging ingredient in there
Hey, I just read from another blog that these 2 ingredients used in many shampoos can cause acne:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
PB says: Thanks for the info. Unfortunately those ingredients are in everything aren’t they?
nope I found a condition and shampoo that is sulfate free. Its made by L’OREAL, found it at CVS
I ended up on this website as i googled “hair conditioner causing acne”. Obviously I am thinking the same thing! A month ago I bought Joico Reconstruct – does great things for my hair, but my face is a mess (I’m 35!!). I had this problem a few years ago when I realised Clairol Herbal Essence conditioner was the cause of severe breakouts below my ears and down my neck. This time I have angry acne – painful, plus the under the skin bumps down my ckeeks and neck – and I just noticed on my hairline. I wonder what ingredients are common to both! Will have to find out so I can avoid future issues. More people should know about this issue!
I had the same problem with Joico Reconstruct it made my hair look so good but I have been breaking out so much and I never use to. Thank you for posting this.
Funniest moment when you google something and go to read a post…… and realise you are reading your own comment you wrote 15 years ago!!!
I am having the same problem. What shampoo and conditioner did you find beneficial that didn’t effect your skin?
Try BeautyCounter! Works and smells fabulous too. 🙂
WOW! I too just started using Joico Moisture Recovery and have TONS of little tiny pimples on my forehead. I am 33 and have never had acne before:( i think i will stop using this and see what happens?
I’m having same problem with joico moisture recovery…did you stop using and did it go away? What do you use now ?
Oh man, I’m using this same stuff and have been breaking out so badly for the last few months. Very frustrating. Did anyone switch to something comparable that didn’t break them out?
Any luck with finding out what ingredients are common causes of breakouts in shampoos? Google hasnt been a great help.
These two chemicals are usually the culprit. Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. The nasty stuff is in EVERYTHING. I have moved to tree tea based shampoo/conditioner and soaps. Not only is my hair doing really well and growing like crazy, my skin has cleared up on my neck/shoulders/back and forehead.
It is NOT sulfates! Sulfates are in shampoo primarily….plus research has not substantiated that sulfate free is good for anything except perhaps controlling color fade. Its hype. Sulfate free products give me painful bumps and sores on my scalp, and dries out my hair horribly. There is something in conditioners….perhaps an emulsifier to blame. But perhaps something that is supposed to seal the cuticles is also sealing pores?
I was using Rockaholic Livin’ the dream sulfate free shampoo and conditioner (it smells wonderful) but my forehead broke out and it made my hair feel like it was coated with wax.
I was using Dr miracles tingling shampoo and conditioner and after a whole year I just realized that’s what’s causing my constant breakouts. Now I use VO5 shampoo it’s works ! For a mere $1.29 my problem is almost solved.
my face was normal till 17 th may i remember but then my sister bought me a tresemme shampoo on my birthday and from that day till now its been 4 months and im fighting with forehead breakouts..today i got the solution of my problem ! it also makes my hairs coated like wax!its tresemme climate protection one dont use it! and after using this my sister also has only some bumps on forehead! fuck this shit! it ruined my 4 months!
What tea tree brand do you use
I have been having acne for almost 2 months now when I realised that it was my hair conditioner that was causing it and it was Clairol Herbal Essence!
PB says: Thanks for sharing! Hard to believe its the shampoo eh?
I use Herbal Essences and Im ok with it. Pantene causes severe breakouts
I noticed when I use Pantene smooth shampoo and conditioner, my hair looks great but it always results in breakouts around hairline and since I have long hair any conditioner that gets on my shoulders or back causes breakout too. I have even tried to really rinse my skin extra well to stop the breakout, but the only way to stop it is to quit using the Pantene smooth brand. I am so sad because it is one of the few things that keep my hair shiny and smooth.
I am guessing it is the DIMETHICONE in the ingredients. Because also, if a moisturizer or lotion has this ingredient in it, I get a breakout if I put it near my face neck or shoulders. So, that’s my guess… because I can use other products with laurel sulfates and I am fine, I am assuming it is the wonderful slicking ingredient that makes my hair so smooth in the Pantene smooth and that is the silicone.
Jen H.M. says
I recently started using new Herbal Essences products for long hair. I bought huge bottles of the shampoo and conditioner because they were on sale, as well as the leave-in conditioner. Around the same time, I also started using a new makeup and facial cleanser.
Pretty soon the acne on my face (which has always been pretty bad) suddenly got much worse. I haven’t had a problem with acne on my forehead since I was a teenager, and that was where I broke out the most. My cheeks joined in shortly after. I have these tiny little bumps all over my skin that make it feel like bubble wrap.
I stopped using the new cleanser and makeup for weeks and my acne was still getting worse. Then recently it dawned on me that it might be the hair products. I googled “herbal essences cause pimples” and found this page. Thanks very much for your post and everyone’s comments. This has been very helpful, and I am going to buy a different brand of shampoo and conditioner today.
PS: Yes, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are in pretty much everything. They are chemicals used to cause suds, or foam in products like soap and shampoo.
Be aware that that sodium lauryl sulfate is also called sodium dodecyl sulfate or SDS, in case not all brands report the same name in ingredients. SDS is a detergent.
I just started using that same long hair product a few weeks ago and was loving it because of how it made my hair feel, but I noticed I was getting a lot of acne on my back, neck, forehead, and some on my cheeks (which never happens). I have been trying to figure out what was causing it because it hasn’t been letting up. I thought it might be hormonal because I’m 18, but it’s never been this bad before. Definitely going to change shampoos!
Paris Beaverbanks says
Jen HM: Thanks for your comment Jen. I’m glad this has been of help and I hope your skin gets better!
I too have been experiencing scalp acne and google “conditioners causing acne” and this site was one that was populated. I recently started using the tresemme colorthrive brand for brunettes and reds along side Pantene red expressions raidant repair rich treatment. I honestly believe that it is the conditioners. They are so loaded down with an agglomoration of moisturizers that you can feel on your skin after you rinse. My scalp and back have both been effected. I am unsure of what ingredient it is, but I do not believe it is the “sodium’s” for the aformentioned reasons and that they are not found in the conditioners. I have used the Herbal Essence, Suave, Paul Mitchell, Fructis Garnier, and SunSilk lines and have not experienced these problems.
okay so i’m not sure how relevent this answer will be anymore, because i stopped reading here to look it up on something else, and what i found out is that it is the Panthenol in the conditioner that causes acne.
I found it watching this video:
Wow, thanks. I have been reading about sodium lauryl sulfate causing acne for the past 10 minutes but this couldn’t have been the cause of my acne. I’ve been using Suave for 2 weeks. It has this ingredient and my acne has cleared up. Suave doesn’t have Panthenol, but Tresemme does. I was using Tresemme for 4 months and have been fighting acne the whole time thinking I was just stressing more than normal. No more Tresemme for me.
Thought I’d add my two cents. I’ve been using Suave shampoo and conditioner for over a decade. First the Balancing, and then, when that was discontinued, the Clarifying. After the birth of my fourth child, a year ago, I began to break out for the first time since high school. Accutane took care of it then. About the same time my six year old daughter started breaking out. I worried she was going through precocious puberty. After stumbling across some website talking about various chemicals in shampoos, I decided to try using a Burt’s Bees shampoo on my daughter. Thought I’d try it myself, too. To my amazement, BOTH of our complexions cleared. I don’t know what ingredient was causing the acne. Burt’ Bees says it is Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate Free, Paraben Free, and Phthalate Free. Whatever it’s worth.
And thank you everyone for sharing your experiences.
I am a 70 year old women and for the past few years I have been breaking out with these red under the skin bumps. They come on my forehead, in my hair, on my neck. I am ready to scream, I never had a blemish as a teenager and now why at 60+ I use all brands of shampoos and conditioners. I also have developed allergies so it makes sense that I am allergy to ingredients in my shampoo and conditioners.
Thank you for alerting me to what might be my problem.
Fern – I also am 70 and have had skin problems all of my life. Just recently tested as allergic to LANOLIN. I just tried Tresemme Moisture Shampoo for 1st time and started breaking out. Must have lanolin in it. Hope this helps.
Kirsten Tydings says
I’ve been using intensive conditioning treatments on my hair and have been having TERRIBLE breakouts. So annoying – they are great for my hair – but awful for my skin. I wish I could isolate the ingredient that does this, but it does seem to be the conditioners or treatments not the shampoo as I didn’t change shampoo.
I googled “shampoo/cond causing acne?” and waa-laa ended up here. So glad to see I’m not losing my mind. However, I must say the culprit is Sunsilk for me. I have never in my life had acne on my back and now after a few weeks of using this line I have it all over my back, neck, behind my ears. And they are painful. Although I love the smell and what it does for my hair I have to stop using it. I just bought Burt’s Bees (recommended by my mom) so I hope it helps.
i went a month and a half trying to figure out why i was suddenly breaking out so badly.So i also decided to google and ask, can my shampoo be the cause of my acne, and it led me to this site, and i am actually using Tressemme! Believe it or not i just washed my hair, but this will be the last time.I aslo thought there was something wrong with me… thank you ssoooo much for posting this ,hopefully this will be the end of my acne
I had just switched to a new acne medication and thought i was having an allergic reaction to it because my chest and back started breaking out like crazy! I stopped the medication and it still got worse. Then i realized that I had just gotten new Tresemme shampoo and mousse that i use everyday, and I think thats why i’m getting acne all of my back and neck where my hair touches. This website and everyones comments are helping a ton! I wish i knew the exact ingredient to stay away from. I know i’m allergic to sulfa, but i’m pretty sure my old shampoo had the sodium laureth sulfate too and the sulfate in that didn’t affect me. Ahhh, i’m just going to go back to the old head and shoulders!
I can’t believe you are having the same problem’s as me I mean there are other people too but they posted there comment year’s before so I thought you maybe could relate to me cause you posted your’s a couple of month’s ago. I am 52 and never ever had acne problem’s on my face and I alway’s used Pantene product’s cause my hair is long and I wake up in the morning with knot’s that make me feel like cutting all my hair off. Pantene was the only conditioner that would take them out now in the past 2 year’s they changed their formula and it stink’s I bought every new bottle and they are not the same and I tried many different brands to find one similiar to the old pantene and Tresemme was the first one in a yaer of looking to finely take my knot’s out still not as good as the old pantene but better than cutting my hair off I any bughave been using it for 2 week’s now and woke up one morning with two large bump’s on my back which were very itchy I thought maybe it was a mosquito bite but not really since it is very cold and I kill any bug I see maybe a spider bit me my boyfriend say’s it’s a pimple but why would I get a pimple in October when I am not sweating I take a shower everday! Now I just broke out with 3 more and I google woman in 50’s with pimple on back and I saw someone said they had this and use Tresemme and got bump’s on their back! This is bullcrap my hair still look’s like shit and now I have pimple’s and going through menopause at the same time all I could say in my next life I am coming back as a man!!!
I have not personally experience any breakouts from shampoo or conditioner..but then i have never used tresemme or clairol herbal essence. My sister once had bad dandruff after using dove, and after using numerous anti dandruff shampoos, selsun blue worked miracles on her. She just recently started using tresemme..and i hope she won’t experience break outs from this cos she bought big bottles of tresemme shampoo and conditioner!
well…I too experienced breakouts from using tresemme dry scalp conditioner. They would pretty much cover my shoulders and back and forehead area. However, the problem has stopped and I still use the same conditioner. I simply re- washed the areas that the conditoner covered with my bathing soap i.e. shoulders, back…
Then I wash my face and tone it after leaving the shower. As long as I wash the residue away it’s all good. And I still luv what it does for my hair.
Thank you very much for sharing this info. I’ve been bothered a lot lately on having lots of pimples on my forehead & cheeks, I thought I was having hormonal imbalance or something about my face products, already stopped using those but still having pimples.. I happen to browse through your blog & guess what I’m also using Tresemme. I’ll stop using it ASAP & hope my face goes back to normal..,.
i have had problem over the last couple of months with pimples covering my shoulders, neck and back i am using herbal essence 2 in 1 and have just changed to sunsilk.
i have been to the doctors twice 1st time they priscribed me steroid cream which made it worse so went back and saw another doctor who 2day has prescibed me selsun will let you no the out come as only used it for the 1st time this evening but it has made my skin dry.
i want to try everything as am going on holiday soon and it is really getting me down. if anyone can tell me of which shampoo/conditioner to use and where to get it from that doesn’t cause this problem would be most appreciated?!!!!!
Try using JASON apricot shampoo. It’s all natural and it doesn’t hurt my skin at all 🙂
Thank god…. i have suffered with these boils that break out regular around my hair line and neck, it has really been getting me down and then it dawned on me that just maybe it could be Treseme….low and behold it looks like my theory is correct. Today i will stop using it and see what happens in a week – i will report back! Im smiling now x
Have stopped using the Treseme products now for 5 days and all has cleared up – many thanks Treseme Conditioner for ruining my skin and leaving me with scars. Atleast now i will not have any more break outs and feel human again and not aged and haggered looking!
Well, I’ still a teenager, anyways, I’ve never had problems with acne ever in my life, before. But all of a sudden about two or three weeks ago, I started to break out really badly on my forehead, and now it’s starting to spread. Then it dawned on me, that it might be the new shampoo I’m using. It happens to be suave, so I figured out yesterday I would just stop using it.
I hope that solves my problem, and it’s good to know I’m not crazy.
Small texturized bumps all over my temples and neck anda around my ears and back…it makes perfect sense it’s our hair products…BUT I’m not using any of those mentioned above. I’m using Aveda of all choices, which claims to be au natural….and Bumble and Bumble… and Alba, another natural…I am going to try the Burt’s Bee’s to see if it’s the Sodium part that’s giving me hell. Has anyone else been using these? We all have different dispositions to all the products out there…but the parfume is probably a culprit too.
Gotta love blogs…thanks for the input….
Aveda products make my skin break out terribly! They were wonderful for my hair but terrible for my skin.
Yes I just recently bought the aveda damage remedy shampoo and conditioner and my skin started breaking out terribly along my cheeks! What shampoo did you use? And have you substituded it with something else, that doesn’t break out your skin?
I recently discovered that Aveda products where making my hairline, cheeks forhead break out terribly. I played sports in college and do marathons training so I assumed the poor acne was a result of constant sweating but I recently stopped using them and my face has cleared up A LOT! I had a full bathroom of Be Curly, Hang Straight, the Wax, hairspray etc which is why I never wanted to get rid of them. I always thoughts it was my shampoo/cond (I use aveeno) or face stuff (I use Clarins). So happy to see this finally clearing up but am curious to know what product is causing it. Self magazine said last month that is was a result of wax in the products. If anyone knows more detials on Aveda products please share. So sad to no longer be able to use them.
I started breaking out horribly a month or two ago. I couldn’t figure out what was causing it, and nothing I was doing was helping fight it. I had also started using Bumble and Bumble natural shampoo around the same time, but it didn’t click until today. I had used my old Pantene last week instead and my acne started clearing up. I thought all my efforts were starting to work but I went back to the Bumble and Bumble this week and my face is horrible again. I’m going to have to throw it out and write it off.
Bumble and bumble coconut shampoo and conditioner gave me the worst acne on my scalp, neck and face – and it took forever to clear up. I googled the ingredients and cocnut is considered to cause acne – so even though something is natural it can cause acne sadly.
I’ve been trying out a new, all-organic shampoo (with non SLSs, etc) in recent weeks (not the conditioner) because I thought it might be my normal shampoo (non-brand name) causing bumps and pimples on my scalp. However, this change seems to have stopped the scalp issues, but caused another problem – my back and upper decolletage/chest have been breaking out like crazy! Just today I checked out the ingredients, and I think it might have something to do with the fact that there’s a whole lot of, albeit natural, oils in the shampoo – shea butter, etc. I don’t think I’ll continue to use it.
I am so glad you said this! I thought I was cursed with bad skin because not even Aveda products could stop me from getting acne from hair products! I switched to Aveda to see if it would help and it made it soooo much worse! so much for being all natural. This makes me so mad though because I went all out and purchased conditioner, shampoo, hairspray, hair polish and face wash ALL BY AVEDA! ahhh! And this stuff is not cheap:( what a nightmare… needless to say I will be studying the ingredients in my next hair products and doing experiments before I commit. Thanks again!!
I am so pleased to be reading this blog! i thought i was going mad and that it was just me getting sore pimples on my back from shampoo and conditioner. thank goodness its not just me – although that said, i would not wish them on anyone!! i have tried nearly every shampoo and conditioner. At the moment I use hairdresser brand called Biolage (Mattrix) which is really good, hair feels great no pimples but it has SLS in it i think which a lot of people have suggested is the irritant, also Biolage reviews say that it is pretty bad for you. So for me I am not sure if it is the SLS or something else. I have also tried Kerastase which is expensive per bottle (over $40 australian) and have never had problems from using that. Aveda caused breakout, as did berts bees. Also, the Kevin Murphy products gave me bad pimples as well. hope that helps and thank you everyone for sharing your stories. good luck!!
I’ll reiterate what was already said. I’m happy to see this. I have had terrible acne and irritation along my cheeks, forehead, and chin. I attributed to my new birth control, but my doctor insisted this could not be the problem. So I thought back to when this started, and I realized that it occurred when I started using Aveda hair products! I stopped and my face cleared up within days. It still doesn’t look as good as before, but its getting there. I couldn’t believe how quickly the irritation went down on my face. I took some acne medicine as a teenager that basically took away any acne. I hadn’t had a problem, except the occasional pimple around my period, until I started using Aveda hair products. They did amazing things for my hair, but are not worth it. Glad to know I’m not the only one with this problem.
Deborah B says
I found this website after having the worse breakout on my back and under my ears (where my hair stops). It is EVERY time I use Aveda products SHanpoo OR conditioner. I thought I was nuts at first. but I have started and stopped using a variety of their line, and sure enough, everytime I do try to test it again,, Im left with bumps on my head , neckline and a white head rash on my shoulders and chest. Ive tried washing it out, to no avail. I have a ton of Aveda product to return!!!I am 100% sure. Going to whole foods. Found a list of acne friendly hair products: EO (except for coconut & hibiscus, Jason, Apricot, Hamadi, Earthsource Natural Conditioner. (I’m unsure if they make your hair look good, it will be trial and error).