Update 10/04/22. When it comes to adult acne, I often see it concentrated in the chin and jawline areas. These breakouts tend to be painful, underground, and cystic in nature. Unfortunately, they don’t always come to a head and are difficult (but not impossible!) to get rid of.
I’ve had a lot of experience helping people manage cystic breakouts over the last 30+ years as an esthetician. I’ve even dealt with them on my own face! Keep reading to see my eight best tips for preventing chin and jawline breakouts. You’ll be on your way to clearer, healthier-looking skin in no time.
What Causes Chin and Jawline Breakouts?
Hormonal shifts can stimulate oil production, which leads to an increase in bacteria getting trapped in pores. This results in sore, painful breakouts, like pustules and cysts. Chin breakouts are most common for females who are between the ages of 21 and 45.
These types of breakouts don’t usually respond to traditional drying spot treatments. They tend to be bigger blemishes that sit deep within the skin, so traditional spot treatments just dry out the surface and leave the bump underneath. And even if you use traditional spot treatments, cystic breakouts can still last up to three weeks and leave marks that linger even longer.
How Can I Get Rid of Chin and Jawline Breakouts?
1. Try Removing Dairy From Your Diet for Three Weeks
Your skin actually acts as an excretory system. It is thought that milk contains proteins that trigger the body to release a hormone, IGF-1, and sugars that cause inflammation. When you eat more dairy than your body can digest, it can be excreted through cystic breakouts on the chin and jawline. That’s why I recommend cutting out dairy (yogurt, milk, and all cheese) for three weeks to see if it makes a difference. If no new breakouts appear, this very well may be the underlying cause.
It’s important to know that you can suddenly develop an intolerance to dairy even if you’ve never had one before. The body is uniquely strange in this way!
Why Does Dairy Cause Breakouts to Appear in the Chin and Jawline Areas?
Dairy cows are often given growth hormones. Through the consumption of milk, cheese, and yogurt, our own endogenous hormones can be affected. These mimic the hormones that affect oil production in the skin, triggering the blemish process.
Also, there are many sebaceous glands in the face. Hormones are fat-soluble, and the body can use these glands to excrete fat-based hormones, specifically in the chin and jawline area.
Note: If you LOVE dairy (who doesn’t love cheese and ice cream?!), you don’t have to avoid it forever. If you’ve pinpointed dairy as the underlying cause of your breakouts after a three-week elimination, you can try slowly introducing it back into your diet. If you start getting breakouts again, you’ll have an understanding of your body’s tolerance level. For some people, they can consume a little dairy but not too much. For others, avoiding it completely is the best bet.
2. Avoid Touching Your Face
All blemishes are related to bacteria being trapped in pores. That’s why you’ll want to prevent any unnecessary bacteria transfer from your hands to your face. Did you know touching your face all day long, without intentionally doing so, makes your face one of the dirtiest parts of your body? Think about it—how often do you rest your face in your hands while at your desk? How often do you touch your face or pick at it when you’re thinking? Try to become more conscious of these bad habits, so you can break them.
At the very least, wash your hands frequently and cleanse your skin at night to remove any potential breakout-causing bacteria. I recommend using a non-drying, sulfate-free cleanser with salicylic and lactic acid, like the AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser. Salicylic acid can help keep bacteria out of the pores, and lactic acid smoothes and fades post-breakout marks.
3. Clean Your Cell Phone
Just like with touching your face, cell phones can potentially worsen chin and jawline breakouts by transferring bacteria. And trust me, there are plenty of bacteria on your cell phone! Make sure to wipe it down daily to avoid making your breakouts worse.
4. Only Treat the Affected Areas of Your Face
This is an important one. If you only have breakouts on your chin and jawline, you should only treat these areas with blemish-fighting products. That’s because, if you use drying cleansers, masks, and serums over your entire face, you’re effectively drying out the skin there for no reason. It can make the skin on the upper half of your face very unbalanced and unhappy—especially if you’re an adult and have aging concerns.
It may seem inconvenient to use certain products in certain areas, but this is what will make your skin look and feel its best.
5. Use Non-Drying Blemish Products
When dealing with chin and jawline breakouts, you want to prevent breakouts from appearing in the first place. Of course, this is easier said than done. However, minimizing the bacteria that are trapped in pores should help significantly.
To do this, start by using a non-drying, alcohol-free serum that contains salicylic acid. This ingredient is a keratolytic beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that’s famous for its ability to penetrate into the pore lining. By using a salicylic acid serum, you can help prevent the appearance of breakouts. Why a serum? It’s most effective because it works over the course of many hours to penetrate deep into the pores.
I recommend using the BHA Clarifying Serum. Use it three nights on, three nights off. Alternate it with a hydrating serum to give your skin a break. Lastly, always use a moisturizer over a serum to seal in the active ingredients and maximize effectiveness.
6. Spot Treat Blemishes (and Don’t Pick Them)
When dealing with chin and jawline breakouts, it’s so important to treat each one correctly. Every move you make determines how long the breakout and the post-breakout mark will last.
To make it simple, I created a Zit Care Kit that contains four specialized products, plus my special tools, to help you treat every type of blemish with the least amount of injury to the skin. Every blemish has a life cycle and you need to treat it with the right product at the right time. It’s important to work with Mother Nature, not against her. This kit helps to do just that. Trust me.
The Renée Rouleau Anti Bump Solution is included in the Zit Care Kit but is also sold separately. It’s very effective at spot treating cystic blemishes. Unlike other traditional drying spot treatments, it won’t prolong them (you can read more about that here).
7. Clean Your Pores
Older blemishes in which the infection didn’t properly purge (leaving you with small whiteish, non-infected bumps) can sometimes contribute to new breakouts. These are called closed comedones or simply clogged pores. They can continue to get re-infected until they are cleaned out. It’s extremely beneficial to get professional facials to clear the blocked pores, or you can try doing it yourself at home. Either way, clean pores can dramatically prevent breakouts.
8. Consult Your Gynecologist to Balance Hormones
If you are taking birth control, it may need to be adjusted. Or maybe you’re peri-menopausal and your hormones are acting up. Gynecologists are well aware of how hormonal fluctuations can cause breakouts. They may have some helpful suggestions.
If You Get Period Breakouts, Start Treating Your Skin a Few Days Before Your Cycle
Just before the start of a woman’s cycle, there is more progesterone in the skin. This leads to water retention, causing the skin to appear puffy. When this occurs, it puts pressure on the pores and creates a narrower pore lining. Additionally, oil can thicken during this time due to hormonal imbalance and an increase in testosterone. When the thicker oil is trying to get through a narrower opening, it creates an environment in which breakouts can begin.
The Rapid Response Detox Masque is the perfect solution. Use it a few days before the start of your cycle. For best results, use a gentle facial scrub prior to applying the mask. If you get regular breakouts, you can even use this mask daily.
If All Else Fails, Talk to Your Doctor About Prescription Medication
I always think that prescription medication (especially oral antibiotics) should be a last resort. However, if you’ve exhausted every possible option to manage your chin and jawline breakouts, this may be worth trying. Getting to the root of the problem is always best, however, it’s just not so easy to figure out. If there was a one-size-fits-all approach, we would know about it. Consult a doctor or dermatologist to determine which medication is best for you.
There you have it. Chronic breakouts are hard to manage, especially hormonally driven cystic blemishes on the chin and jawline, but these tips should help you in your quest for clear skin!
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”