When you’re going through puberty, one of the things you learn is that oil on your skin leads to pimples. You’re told to wash your face regularly to keep pores clean and avoid breakouts. So, it might seem a bit counter-intuitive as an adult beardsman to be massaging oil straight into your face. You might find yourself wondering whether beard oil will cause acne.
Oils in quality beard products are not likely to cause acne. The oils that cause breakouts are more common in other products and our sebaceous glands. As long as you use a good, hydrating beard oil and maintain reasonable face-cleaning habits, you will be blemish-free.
By way of explanation, let’s dig into all things oily and pimply. With a little bit of rudimentary biology, you’ll know which beard products to use and which to avoid.
Not All Oils Are Created Equal
There is a system that shows which oils are most likely to clog your pores. It’s called the Comedogenic Scale. This metric came into existence in the 1950s as a way to test the dermatological effects of industrial chemicals. By the late 1970s, it had found purchase in cosmetics.
To this day, makeup producers tout their comedogenic score. It denotes – in extremely general terms – how likely their product is to cause skin blemishes. The scale is 0 to 5, with 5 indicating the most likely culprits for acne.
A note of caution: plenty of researchers and pundits warn that the Comedogenic Scale shouldn’t be taken as gospel. There are many factors that can lead to a person’s skin becoming irritated, and everyone’s sensitivity to acne is different.
With that being said, these scores do have scientific backing, even if they may over-simplify their findings. For our purposes, the scale is a useful instrument.
We don’t want to turn this article into high school chemistry, but, as a whole, products with lots of different oils and alcohols are often not great for the skin. Single-oil products or water-based products are likely to be much easier on skin. The Scale can tell you the ingredients to head towards and the ones to avoid.
The Worst Oils to Have On Your Face
Remember when you were a teenager and had new zits on your face every day?
If not, you got off easy, my friend. The rest of us were fighting a constant battle with acne. The cause was likely a natural oil produced by our sebaceous glands called sebum. There’s always some of this oil on our skin. It hydrates skin, cleans away impurities, and even emits pheromones to attract a mate. During puberty, your body produces excessive amounts of it. Sebum is a 5 on the Comedogenic Scale.
Other common oils that fall on the 4 to 5 on the scale include:
- Coconut Oil
- Linseed/Flax Seed Oil
- Palm Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Wheat Germ Oil
Now, you don’t need to avoid these oils like the plague, but it’s probably a bad idea to massage them into your skin every day. As such, you should sparingly use beard oils that have them as bases.
What Oils to Look for in a Beard Product
The root of the matter here is that high-quality beard oils tend to use low comedogenic products as their carriers. Good facial hair care companies understand the unpleasant effects of certain ingredients on facial skin.
So, by and large, beard oil will not cause acne breakouts on its own.
As a whole, you should pay close attention to the ingredients of anything you put in and on your body. Even if you’ve had good experiences with your particular product, you should confirm that it doesn’t contain large quantities of the oils listed above.
By that same token, it is a good idea to seek out beard oils, balms, styling products, and conditioners that contain these carrier oils with comedogenic ratings of 2 or lower:
- Argan Oil
- Castor Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Lanolin Oil
If you have a good beard product with one of these as its carrier oil, you can rest assured it will not contribute to acne breakouts.
Good Beard Oil Actually Fights Breakouts
All this information might make it seem like beard oil is little more than an acceptable risk to clear skin.
On the contrary, these products are an important tool in fighting skin blemishes. A good beard oil imparts nutrients and restorative moisture to the skin below your facial hair.
When you treat your skin well, your glands don’t need to step in and attempt to fill the gap. A face treated with low comedogenic beard oil, then, will be less susceptible to dryness, irritation, flaking, and oiliness. This will reduce the likelihood of blocked pores or redness, the hallmarks of acne.
Of course, beard oil is only one part of an overall strategy to rid your face of blemishes. You need a holistic action plan to keep your face clean and clear.
An All-Encompassing Acne Action Plan
A clear complexion begins with regular washing and moisturizing. This is true for your forehead, nose, neck, and back. It’s also true for the skin under your beard. A concerted cleaning and hydrating routine is essential to thwarting acne.
However, it’s not a good idea to take scalding hot showers with industrial-strength soaps. You don’t want to rid your face of all oils, because that will likely result in your sebaceous glands going turbo.
Remember: Sebum does many fine things, but it is also extremely likely to clog your pores. That’s a fast-track to pimples and other blemishes.
As a general rule, you should wash your face with warm but not hot water and use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner developed for use on facial hair. Next, you’ll want to pat dry your clean beard and massage a nice, low-comedogenic beard oil into your face. This will moisturize your face and beard and reduce the need for your body to compensate with more natural oils.
You’ll also look pretty slick afterward.
Take extra care, too, when exercising, doing strenuous work outdoors, or eating greasy foods. These activities can load down your facial hair with high-comedogenic oils, including sebum, that will clog pores and lead to breakouts.
The Bottom Line
There are no guarantees in life, and that certainly pertains to your complexion. Many factors – from the environment to genetics and beyond – contribute to your propensity toward acne.
However, you probably don’t need to worry about your beard oil as a major contributing factor in spotty skin. A well-made product with a low-comedogenic carrier oil, allied with good overall attention to cleanliness and hydration, will help you to a bright, smooth complexion.
Now, if you want to go even deeper into the benefits of a solid beard oil, you should check out our recent article on how it’s worth it to oil up.