Why Facial Hair Causes Acne & How to Prevent It

Acne is the most common skin disease in the United States, affecting over 55 million people per year. Acne can be caused by dozens of factors, including gender, age, and diet. In men, one of the most common precursors to acne is facial hair.

Facial hair is often associated with men who want to grow a beard or mustache. Excess oil, ingrown hairs, shaving, and beard bumps all increase the chances of an acne breakout.

I tried growing a beard several years ago and it exacerbated my acne breakouts. For a long time I thought I would be unable to have a beard without triggering daily acne breakouts. In this article, I am going to explain why beards frequently trigger acne breakouts in men and what you can do to prevent acne breakouts while keeping your beard.

But does it make sense for you to shave your face if you have acne

What Causes Acne in the First Place?

Sebum is a buildup of oil in your pores that is caused by a buildup of bacteria. It is not dirt or sweat, as some people believe. 

Instead, the natural flow of sebum up the hair follicle causes it to separate into small hard pieces called “sebaceous filaments” when it reaches the skin’s surface. When it does, it is referred to as “seborrhea.” 

Suppose you do not wash your face frequently enough or treat your acne breakouts properly with various treatments available for purchase online. 

In that case, these accumulations can become clogged with dead skin cells and other debris (such as makeup and excess oil), resulting in acne breakouts.

Why Facial Hair Causes Acne

Facial hair is coarse. It becomes easily clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, leading to acne breakouts or worsening current acne lesions. Couple this with the fact that men tend to produce more sebum (oil) than women do on their face (due to hormonal differences), and you have got yourself a recipe for disaster! 

The hair follicles are also very large compared to those found in places like our legs, which means they are easier for pores to become blocked with excess sebum/skin cells/bacteria etc. 

DHT is another enemy of facial hair since it is closely linked with male pattern baldness, so some unfortunate souls out there have beard-induced cystic acne. 

Combined, these factors indicate that men with facial hair probably need to pay closer attention to their skincare routine. For example, cleansing and exfoliating the face more frequently is a good idea, and using salicylic acid treatments will help unclog pores.

How to Prevent Acne From Occurring With Facial Hair

The most common way to prevent acne from occurring is by washing your face daily with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. To ensure the best results, wash immediately after exercising and at night before going to bed, as sweat can also irritate those who have facial hair and break out easily. 

In addition, it is recommended to use a toner that contains glycolic or lactic acids following the cleansing to unclog pores and treat any existing blemishes. 

A good moisturizer should then be applied twice per day and non-comedogenic sunscreen during the daytime if you plan to be outdoors for extended periods. 

Too much sun exposure contributes significantly towards causing outbreaks which is why sunscreen becomes more crucial when having facial hair.

Treatment Options for People Who Have Facial Hair & Get Acne

A few things that you can do to treat and control acne if you have facial hair include: Shaving less frequently or shaving in certain areas, such as the neck. This is because it may cause pimples around this area due to irritation from repeated shaves below your skin’s surface. Most importantly, you should make sure to use a clean razor that will not aggravate your skin. Additionally, using a glycerine-based shaving cream will make your skin softer and less likely to result in cuts, bumps, or acne.

Another option would be leaving some beard growth but trimming the length of the hairs so that they are not too long – which can also irritate the surrounding skin and lead to breakouts. 

If you use any type of beard oil, make sure the ingredient list does not contain comedogenic ingredients. I personally use pure argan oil as a substitute for any type of over-the-counter beard oil because I find it much less likely to trigger any kind of breakout.

It should go without saying that using a clean razor each time will prevent bacteria build-up on blades (which could potentially increase blemishes and inflammation) and keep you and your face healthy! If you are unable to switch out your razor blade between every shave you should make an effort to clean it with isopropyl alcohol.

You could also make an appointment with a dermatologist if these solutions are not providing relief from your breakouts; there are topical prescription medications available that may help control skin cell turnover and decrease oil production while reducing inflammation surrounding blemishes.

Best Facial Hair Styles For Acne

In general, people with acne should avoid having their hair in contact with the skin. That is why it is recommended to use a wide-tooth comb or brush before applying any product to your scalp. This will spread the oil from the roots of your hair towards its ends and diminish clumping. 

A close shave without going against the grain can be excellent for preventing breakouts around this area because you are not pushing more dirt into pores. You can do this after showering when plenty of moisture is left in your beard hairs, making them easier to cut down closer to facial skin level. 

You must use an antibacterial shaving cream containing salicylic acid instead of just soap to prevent acne on your face. Sometimes, it is better to go for a beard style that is not as close against the skin as stubble because it does not cause abrasion and irritation, which might worsen acne instead of curing it. 

To avoid ingrown hairs that can lead to scarring or redness around your jawline, exfoliate with a natural loofah before shaving since they can reach deeper into pores than most regular body scrubs do.


For those who are wondering if facial hair causes acne, the answer is yes and no. Facial hair can exacerbate an existing skin condition or cause a new one to develop, but it does not necessarily mean that you will get acne because of your facial hair. 

If you already suffer from acne, shaving might irritate your skin even more by causing redness and irritation, especially when paired with heat from hot water used to cleanse the face after shaving. 

This irritation could lead to breakouts in some people as their pores become inflamed and clogged up again due to bacteria on the razor head (or lack thereof).

Frequently Asked Questions

What do Pimples above the Lip Mean?

When you have acne on your lip area, it can be caused by many different factors such as genetics and hormones. However, some sources suggest that the root cause of this kind of breakouts is excess sebum production due to hormonal changes.

Can Shaving Make My Face Break Out More?

Shaving does affect how much oil comes off from skin pores but whether or not it will lead to pimples depends mainly on the individual’s body chemistry, so no generalization should be made here.

What is a Crushed Pimple?

A crushed pimple is a type of acne that appears when someone who has facial hair (e.g., beard, mustache, etc.) comes in close contact with the face or neck area and presses down on it while doing so.

Can I get acne on my scalp?

Yes, acne can develop on the scalp regardless of whether or not you have hair. In order to mitigate scalp acne breakouts I highly recommend using a scalp acne-safe shampoo.

Originally Published: November 27, 2021

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I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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