Get Well

Where Is My Acne Coming From And What Can I Do About It?

by Susie Benitez

“Oh great, another zit.” How many times have you felt yourself saying that? Wouldn’t it be easier to know what was causing these breakouts than just letting them ride out and hoping they go away in time for your next night on the town?

That’s what we thought. So when we discovered face mapping, which is, “the ability to see the reflection of the body’s organs on each part of the face by observing the face’s complexion,” we immediately wanted to know more. We’re firm believers that beauty comes from the inside out, and this technique will help you get to the bottom of your skin issues.  The skin is your body’s largest organ and one of the main places through which your body communicates what’s happening on the inside. The skin is used to rids your body of toxins, illness, and stresses. If your body is trying to tell you something, you should definitely do your best to listen, right? Scroll below to read our tips, plus expert advice from Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, on what it means when you get a pimple on a certain area on your face and how to fix it.


Alright, let’s start from the top. Your forehead covers a rather sizable section of your face, so there are a few different possibilities as to why your acne is popping up here. According to Dr. Loretta, “when your acne is in this distribution it isn’t often related to products [you’re] using.” The forehead is usually linked to diet and stress, so anything from your irregular sleep schedule to that sharing-size bag of M&Ms you keep at your desk could be causing these breakouts. If you see zits consistently popping up in between your brows, however, that spot is directly linked to food allergies, like lactose intolerance.

An easy fix (okay, maybe easier said than done) is managing your stress, which by the way, is good for all of you. Exercising during the day (not before bed, that can actually make falling asleep worse), meditating, or writing in a journal are great ways to de-stress. The other option? Clean up your diet! Reducing saturated fats and adding water can dramatically clear acne, especially in the forehead area. Oh, and lay off the alcohol, too.

What if you have breakouts specifically on your hairline, though? That might be due to external factors like sweat, hats, and hair products. Be sure to wash items like sweatbands and hats which can cause irritation and harbor bacteria. Also, stay away from comedogenic hair products that could be clogging your pores. Things like pomade, gel, or ingredients like cocoa butter, coloring, and tar can cause oil build up. Try a clarifying shampoo while you’re at it every once in a while to clear things up (pun intended).


This area is definitely tough, especially because of all the excess oil glands located down the center of your face. Plus, we touch our faces a lot in this area, probably more than you would imagine, so we are adding even more oils to an already susceptible part of our faces. First up: be mindful about how much you touch your face! Washing your hands can also help curb the transfer of bacteria to your face (and to everything else you’re touching, too).

If oil buildup isn’t your problem, it could be issues with your heart. I know that sounds scary, but no need to fear. Swapping out spicy foods and meat in favor of “good fats” like avocados, nuts, and fish can help ease that excess stress on your heart and help calm cardiac issues like inflammation and high blood pressure, both of which could be wreaking havoc on your nose. Adding veggies is key to reducing inflammation all over your body and taking a fish oil supplement is great for your heart health. To be honest, another excuse to improve your diet is alllways welcomed.

Much like the hairline, you should stay away from comedogenic products in this area, too. The pores on our nose are far more dilated than the rest of our face, so makeup that includes things like seaweed, beeswax, or natural oils (anything from coconut to cocoa to shea) will probably do more damage in the long run when it comes to clogged pores and breakouts.


Much like our forehead, Dr. Loretta asserts that cheek breakouts aren’t often tied to what makeup products you’re putting on your face. This reason isn’t a pretty one, though. Answer me this: when was the last time you cleaned your phone? Yup, every time we pick up the phone, we’re exposing our skin to all the bacteria that live on our cell phones. Yikes. This alone could be a major cause of breakouts that may have not have crossed your mind. Be sure to clean your phone regularly, as well as your makeup brushes, and something even less obvious– “pillowcases,” says Dr. Loretta. “Change your pillowcase at least every two days (you can flip it over each day as well).”

Our cheeks are also connected to the respiratory system, so if you’re a smoker, this one’s for you. Smoking is directly linked non-inflammatory acne, so not the red bumps you might be used to seeing, but skin-colored comedones, blackheads, and basically just a ton of clogged pores as smoking increases sebum peroxidation. If you haven’t been told already: quit now! It’ll definitely help curb your breakouts.


The lower parts of your face are far and away the most susceptible to hormonal issues. According to, “hormonal acne is caused by an excess of the male hormone androgen (which includes testosterone). These hormones can over-stimulate the oil glands and clog pores where the acne bacteria grow.” Another reason? Sorry ladies, but it could be down to that time of the month. Women can see acne flare up in these areas around seven to ten days before their next period.

So if you’re seeing consistent acne in these areas, especially of the cystic variety, your best bet might be speaking with your doctor, as it might just be an internal issue that’s best solved with medication, birth control, or a prescription-strength topical treatment. However, if hormones just aren’t your thing, gut health definitely affects your hormone levels– especially if you’re eating high-carb foods or dairy with added hormones. Take a look at your diet and see if cutting back on sugars, white bread, processed foods, and dairy will help reduce acne.

If you’re sure that hormones aren’t your thing, it could actually be something you haven’t thought of: haircare products. “I’ve discovered chin breakouts are often related to ingredients in hair care products. Many women react to Argan/Moroccan oil in haircare by getting chin breakouts,” added Dr. Loretta. Same goes for the neck and underside of the chin. She recommends switching to a sulfate-free shampoo and diluting your conditioner about half-and-half with a product called Infusium 23 Leave-in Treatment.


Although less common than some of the other areas we’ve discussed, ear acne is definitely something worth noting. The reasons behind it are pretty straightforward, though. Phew! Dr. Loretta tells us that ear acne, “is sometimes related to an oversight in cleansing our ears. If you’re acne prone and using an acne wash it’s good to apply it to your ears once a day if your acne extends around your hairline (read: temples) and behind your ears.” The pores on your ears a lot smaller than the rest of your face, so they can get clogged very easily. be mindful of all products used in and around your ears (because let me tell you from experience, ear acne is painful.)

According to facial mapping, having acne constantly reappear on your ears is also directly related to the kidneys. So basically, it’s all down to dehydration and sodium intake as you might need to help flush your kidneys out. To fix this, drink more water, avoid caffeine and carbonated beverages, and reduce your intake of salty and/or processed foods (which contain quite a lot of sodium).

Of course, you should consult with a doctor about other possible treatment options if your acne becomes a serious problem, but face mapping is a great way to start. After all, figuring out possible causes means figuring out possible solutions!

Feature image Vanessa Granda

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