Trust me: I’m well aware that there’s nothing better than the look of laid edges, whether they’re slicked back or swirled into a super-cute design. But that doesn’t mean my relationship with edge control is all sunshine and rainbows. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and noticed a swarm of pimples taking up major real estate on your forehead and hairline, I hate to break it to you, but your favorite hair product could be the reason why. Yep, edge-control acne is 100 percent a thing, and I’ll be the first to tell you that it rly sucks.
That doesn’t mean you need to run out and throw away all of your edge-control gels, though (’cause who wants that?). Instead, I reached out to dermatologist, Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD and trichologist Audrey Sivasothy to figure out (1) why your edge control could be causing zits to pop up and (2) how to prevent this shit from happening, like, ever again.
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Does edge control cause acne?
Ugh, yes, your edge control could be the cause of your forehead and hairline acne. Edge control gels are filled with super-heavy ingredients, like butters and oils, which are great for making your hair stick together and lay flat, says Sivasothy. But, according to Dr. Woolery-Lloyd, these types of ingredients can also lead to pomade acne, a type of acne that’s caused by comedogenic oils that clog your pores and force pimples to rise to the surface. Not fun, I know.
So…what do I do about my edges?
1. Switch out your edge control
This is a super-easy solution to dealing with hairline breakouts. Dr. Woolery-Lloyd recommends avoiding products with ingredients like cocoa butter, petrolatum oil, and mineral oil. They’re all comedogenic (aka pore-clogging) oils. Instead, try an edge control that’s filled with way lighter oils, like coconut oil and jojoba oil, says Sivasothy.
FYI, though: A lot of the top-rated edge control are so good because they’re filled with those heavier ingredients that lay your hair for hours. So if you aren’t down to give up your holy-grail edge control for something a bit lighter, don’t freak—you’ve still got options for minimizing your breakouts.
2. Wash your face
This is definitely a no-brainer, but please make sure you’re washing your face in the PM before you hit the sheets. Think about it: Throughout the day, oil can shift from your hair onto your skin, leading to more breakouts. So try bringing your cleanser up into your hairline, just a little bit. According to Sivasothy, it can help make sure there’s no residual product on your skin.
3. Don’t sleep in your edge control
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I know so many people who snooze in their edge control in order to cut down their morning routine, but according to Sivasothy, it’s not worth it. The oils in your edge control can actually work their way into your pores overnight, clogging them while you sleep. And if you think wrapping your hair at night with a scarf to keep your edges in place will help keep the oils from shifting, sorry to break it to you, but it won’t. In fact, your scarf might actually make it worse, since it’s covering your pores and literally pressing the edge control into your skin for hours overnight. The solution? Glad you asked…
4. Shampoo your edges
Instead of sleeping in your edge control, rinse it out of your hair at the end of the day. And even though your first thought might be to rinse it clean with a little water, Sivasothy says you’ll need an actual (gentle) shampoo. That’s because water alone isn’t strong enough to cut through heavy ingredients and oils. So go ahead and lather up with a dab of sulfate-free shampoo, and then rinse it allllll the way out.
5. Wash your scarf and pillowcase consistently
Because the oils in edge control can be hard, or nearly impossible, to see, it’s possible that you’re not washing everything out of your hair completely. That means there’s probably some product residue on the scarf you wear to sleep—or on your pillowcase. To deal with this curveball, Sivasothy recommends being diligent about washing your scarf and pillowcase to prevent any residue from transferring onto your skin.
The bottom line
Basically, yes, your edge control gel or pomade could be causing your breakouts. But it’s not the end of the world—you legit have so many options. From switching to an edge control gel that isn’t filled with comedogenic oils to washing your hairline with shampoo every night, you can still slay your edges without worrying about anything popping up from beneath the surface. Easy enough, right?
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