Can Your Shampoo and Conditioner Cause Back Breakouts?

November 27, 2023
Jordan Julian
By: Jordan Julian | by L'Oréal
Person with wet dark hair washing their hair in the shower

With all the talk about breakouts on our faces, it can sometimes seem like acne on the rest of the body is a rare or uncommon occurrence. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. Many people struggle with breakouts and blemishes on the body, with common problem areas being the back and chest. If you’ve ever experienced breakouts on your back, you may have wondered what causes them. Well, there are several potential causes of back breakouts, but one culprit in particular may surprise you — your shampoo and conditioner. We reached out to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Angelo Landriscina to find out if your hair-care products can actually cause back breakouts, plus other possible causes and products to address blemishes. 

Can Your Shampoo and Conditioner Cause Back Breakouts?

According to Dr. Angelo, your shampoo and conditioner could be triggering your back breakouts. “In theory, conditioners would be the more likely culprit as they can harbor ingredients like oils or occlusives that could clog pores,” he says.

One simple way to avoid this issue? Switch up the order in which you apply your products in the shower, making sure body wash is the last step. “I would suggest rinsing your hair leaning over if possible so that the water doesn’t run down your back,” says Dr. Angelo. “You can also shampoo and condition before washing your body, so you have a better chance of washing away any product residue left behind.”

Whether you have active breakouts that you want to clear up or are hoping to prevent breakouts from developing, Dr. Angelo recommends using a body wash formulated with benzoyl peroxide. We love the CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Wash, which is formulated with maximum strength 10% benzoyl peroxide. You can also apply a spot treatment such as the Kiehl’s Truly Targeted Acne-Clearing Pimple Patch With Salicylic Acid.  

Kiehl’s Truly Targeted Acne-Clearing Pimple Patch With Salicylic Acid

Other Causes of Back Breakouts

Neglecting Body Care

One reason blemishes may be popping up on your back is that you aren’t treating your back with the same diligent care you give your face. Your skincare routine should also include body care steps. For instance, it’s crucial to use a gentle-but-frequent cleansing regimen all over the body, including the back area.

Excess Oil

If you have oily skin, you may be more prone to breakouts, including on your back. The buildup of excess oil on the skin can clog pores and lead to pimples. 

Tight Clothing

Clingy clothing can stick to the back, trapping moisture and heat, which can cause the appearance of irritated skin. If you suffer from back breakouts, try wearing more loose-fitting tops, especially when exercising. 

Harsh Products

Breakouts on the back and face may look the same, but certain products that work for facial acne may be too strong for the rest of the body. If you suspect that a product you are using is actually exacerbating your back breakouts, you may need to look for something gentler. 

Waiting to Shower After a Workout

It’s important to shower immediately after a workout, hot-weather excursion, or any other period of intense sweating. Otherwise, the bacteria, oil, debris, and skincare products like sunscreen  can linger on the skin and cause breakouts. 

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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