Are Your Hair Products Causing Acne?

There are a number of factors that can cause acne like stress, poor hygiene, genetics and diet. Recently, we learned that an ingredient found in hair products could potentially be a culprit, particularly for breakouts on or near the scalp and on the back.

The ingredient in question, panthenol, is typically found in shampoos and conditioners. “It’s derived from vitamin B and used for its moisturizing component,” says celebrity hairstylist and owner of The Private Room in Beverly Hills, CA, Tina Dizon. “When used in shampoo and conditioners, panthenol coats the hair, seals the surface and makes your hair look shiny.”

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It sounds innocent enough, but does it cause acne? “Any product can cause a breakout in a particular person so it’s possible that someone could have a problem with this ingredient,” says West Palm Beach, FL, dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD. That said, “Panthenol, which is related to vitamin B5, is an unlikely ingredient to cause acne. It is much more likely that another ingredient is the culprit.”

The problem is that “in order for [panthenol] to attach to the hair follicle and smooth the cuticle, it needs to be processed and combined with heavy oil-soluble ingredients since hair is somewhat water-repellent,” says Dallas celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau. It’s possible that the ingredients used in combination with panthenol could be what’s really causing those breakouts. Actually, in Rouleau’s own experience, she saw her acne breakouts go away within five days after switching to hair products that didn’t contain panthenol.

If you’re worried that your hair products are the source of your acne, try washing your hair over the sink to prevent the shampoo or conditioner from getting on your skin. It’s also a good idea to visit your dermatologist to try to find the true root of the problem.