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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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi, I’m Sam Wood, the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach at GoodGlow, as well as a best-selling author for one of the top acne books on Amazon. I struggled with acne for over 10 years, and began studying the effects of diet on skin quality while pursuing a degree in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Missouri. After shifting from mainstream skincare trends to in-depth research in medical journals, I experienced significant personal success in managing my acne. This inspired me to start GoodGlow, where I simplify complex scientific findings into easy-to-understand advice. With over 10 years in the field, I’ve helped more than 2,500 people achieve clearer skin through natural, holistic methods, and I’m dedicated to personally assisting those seeking guidance on their acne journey.

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