My hair conditioner gave me hairline pimples

Over the past two months, I noticed that I’ve had some bumps on my forehead, very near my hairline. I was told that any pimple or acne on the forehead is usually caused by insufficient sleep or stress and so I left them, thinking that they will subside. They didn’t and I started suspecting my hair products to be the cause because the bumps were not really acne but more like pimples caused by clogged pores. Thank goodness there were just a few.

Even a pea size amount can clog pores
I was using BOD Premium Blend Shampoo and I thought it might be that because the shampoo felt very moisturizing. So I stopped using the product and switched to A’kin Mandarin Shampoo and the problem appeared to have stopped.  So naturally I thought it was the BOD shampoo and I was rather sore about it since it cost me S$20 and I didn’t feel like throwing it away nor did I feel it right to give to someone since it didn’t work for me.  The thing was, it was never the shampoo but rather the conditioner I was using.  I didn’t suspect a thing about the conditioner because well, I was using just a pea size amount!

Ingredients of conditioner
Although the BOD Premium Blend Shampoo was moisturizing, I also used The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance Conditioner for colored hair because I wanted some protection for my colored hair. This is what it contains:

Water (Solvent/Diluent), Cetearyl Alcohol (Emulsifier), Glyceryl Stearate (Emulsifier), Distearoylethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate (Antistatic Agent), Glycine Soja Oil (Emollient/Skin Conditioner), Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Glycerin (Humectant), Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Sucrose Laurate (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Hydroxypropyl Guar (Emulsion stabilizer, Viscocity increasing agent), Linum Usitatissimum Seed Oil (Fragrance Ingredient), Salicylic Acid (Preservative/Hair Conditioner), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Skin Conditioning Agent), Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (Sunscreen), Pentaclethra Macroloba Seed Oil (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Citric Acid (pH Adjuster), Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Tocopherol (Antioxidant).

I didn’t really pay much attention to the ingredients because if you know The Body Shop’s products, you need to make an effort to peel off the label to read the ingredient list and I was too lazy to do that! I was happy that it didn’t contain silicones, sulphates, parabens or colorants. Plus, like I said, I wasn’t using too much of it each time. And because I stopped using it along with the BOD shampoo, it was never a key suspect for me. I only realized it to be a culprit this week after I decided to use it again, but this time with the A’kin Mandarin Shampoo. I had another clogged pore, which emerged to become a full blown pimple on the same hairline spot.

Too many emulsifying and skin conditioning ingredients
It was then that I took a good look at the ingredients and realized that this conditioner has too many emulsifying and skin conditioning agents. The second ingredient and third ingredient – Cetearyl Alcohol and Glyceryl Stearate – are prime suspects because one is highly comedogenic and the other is considered mildly so. Much like silicones, such emulsifiers creates a film that protects moisture from escaping and this same film can also lead to clogged pores.

Resource to analyze ingredients
So lesson learnt for me. A product with too much emulsifiers can be as bad as one with too much silicones. I’ll remember to check the ingredient list of new shampoos or conditioners that I test in future. Anyway, here’s an interesting website that allows you to analyze the ingredients and tells you which ones are comedogenic and might cause irritations.  All you need is to type or paste your ingredient list into the table and hit button!


  1. Mimi says:

    Thanks for the review! You reminded me to check my shampoo and conditioners as I was getting hairline pimple too!

  2. XiaoHua says:

    Nutriganics’ conditioners gave me many pimples too. That was the first time it’s happened so I went back to Kao’s Essential line for now.

  3. lala89 says:

    Thanks for the review! I just brought BOD’s shampoo at discounted price and will be trying it tomorrow!

    I wanted to read your review on A’kin Mandarin Shampoo but the link led me to the review on BOD’s shampoo.. Hehes

    Btw, do you use any hair serum or hair spray? #k8SjZc9Dxk#k8SjZc9Dxk

  4. sesame says:

    Sorry about the link…here’s the correct one:

    I don’t use any hair serum or hair spray.

  5. sesame says:

    I didn’t know the range has conditioners. Is it new?

  6. sesame says:

    Yeah, just check and if necessary, just switch around and see if your current range is the problem. Probably the conditioner is the one to start with first cos usually they include a lot of emulsifiers, silicones, etc to make the hair smooth.

  7. XiaoHua says:

    Aiya, I meant “Body shop’s Rainforest range”.

  8. Julia says:

    Damn, I use that line from TBS!

  9. sesame says:

    But if it does not cause any problems for you, then it should be fine.

  10. sesame says:

    Ok, no worries. I often make such typos myself.

  11. Julia says:

    Actually, I feel like it does, but then again, I do get breakouts all of the time, so I’m not sure if I can really blame this.

  12. sesame says:

    If it’s near your hairline, perhaps. The only way to know is to test with another range.

  13. Stephanie/Yukaeshi says:

    Some hair products give me pimples too, but not on my hairline but more the hairline at the back of my neck. I solved this by using products, e.g. conditioner that are organic/as natural as possible. I find that L’Oreal is the biggest culprit for me, as well as Lucido-L hair waxes. In short, drugstore hair products :

  14. sesame says:

    True…a lot of products have too much silicones. This one I used do not have but the emulsifiers seem like culprits.

  15. Dora says:

    Ohhhh why did I never though of that?
    I remember getting terrible clogged pores when I cleaned my makeup brush with my herbal essence shampoo (silicones!) – and now I do the same thing with a SLS shampoo (to empty it). Oh, silly me =) Thank you so much – I know this post is a bit side-topic (since its about my makeup brush ? ) but this just really turned on a big light bulp over my head! Now I only need to find that cleanses my brush and does not contain alcohol, SLS, silicones, oils, vinegar.. mhhhh ? But at least stop using shampoo to clean it all together.

    Oh thank you so much! This really makes me happy ?
    Lots of love

  16. Sesame says:

    You’re welcome! ?

  17. Li says:

    Thanks for this post! I started getting hairline pimples a month ago, and I thought they were caused by stress or having moved to another country with a drastically different climate. Then I suspected my hair product.

    After reading your post I’m pretty sure it *is* the culprit! It always goes on just the ends though. Oh well.

  18. Sesame says:

    Yep…shampoos and conditioners do cause hairline pimples. I’ve gotten breakout lately from using a new one too! The pimples disappear as soon as I stop using the products.

  19. Li says:

    The pimples are still there and I’m not sure if they’re old or new ones, as gross as it sounds. How long do they take to dry up?

    I’m wondering if they’re also caused by stress and sleeping late, but I’ve always had bad sleep habits and stress in the past has never given me hairline acne.

  20. Sesame says:

    Could be stress related…but if it’s hairline, you might want to stop using the shampoo for a few days and see what happens.

  21. Li says:

    I stopped using the hair product a month ago ?

  22. Sesame says:

    If you stopped and still having pimples, then it can be hormonal.

  23. Teny says:

    Thank you for the valuable information , I was struggling to find the ingredient that causes breakouts on my forehead and nape.I was using loreal hair spa smooth revival conditioner.I stopped using it due to pimples on my forehead though I couldn’t find the exact ingredient.I switched to rainforest moisture conditioner thinking that it’s free of chemicals.But then after 2 days it’s breaking out on my nape. Which conditioner do you use?

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