In some cases, you need to wear a hat—you know, to go to work, play sports, and/or protect yourself from the sun. But sometimes your poor forehead can’t take. And it starts to sprout acne like there’s no tomorrow.
To prevent hat acne, it’s important to (a) keep your hat clean, (b) keep your forehead clean, and (c) pad your hat or helmet with a moisture-wicking material.
Keep reading to find out more about hat acne and how to prevent it.
What is Hat Acne?
Despite what your pore-free friends might tell you, hat acne is a thing. And it’s formally known as acne mechanica.
According to an article from the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, there are two things you should know about this type of acne:
- It’s caused by friction, pressure, heat, and/or trapped sweat.
- And it’s typically more difficult to treat than regular acne.
Oh, and it’s really common in football players—there are tons of sports dermatology articles dedicated to this particular fringe case.
1. Keep Your Hat (Or Helmet) As Clean As Can Be
If you’re reading this article, I think it’s safe to assume that your hat has seen some sh**. I mean, just think about how much sweat, forehead grease, and dirt it’s accumulated over the years. And now think about all that sweat, grease, and dirt rubbing against your forehead.
Pretty gross, right?
Okay, now that you’ve realized the err of your ways, let’s talk about how you can clean your hat.
Some baseball caps hold up okay in the wash, but some don’t. A handwash is usually your best bet if you’ve removed the care label. To do this, pretreat with something like Oxiclean > fill your sink (or a bucket) with cold water > pour in some mild detergent (like Woolite) > soak your hat for an hour or two > rinse > air dry.
Helmets are another story. Some helmets—ahem, the expensive ones—have removable linings. In this case, you can remove the lining, stick it in a mesh bag, chuck it into the washing machine on delicate, and air dry (unless the care label says otherwise). On the other hand, if your lining doesn’t come out, grab some mild soap and go to town. A lot of people use baby shampoo to do their bidding because it’s so gentle.
Pro-tip for helmet-heads: Keep alcohol wipes in your car so that you can sanitize your helmet on-the-go.
If your hat is made from silk, wool, straw, or any other fancy fabric, please do a Google search to find out how to properly care for it.
2. Wear A Bandana Underneath Your Hat
Real talk: it’s easier to keep a bandana clean than it is to keep a hat (or a helmet) clean.
And since bandanas are both affordable and easy-to-clean, you can choose to wear a different bandana every day of the week. Or, for those of you who get extra sweaty, you can change your bandana throughout the day.
If that wasn’t enough, bandanas can also reduce the friction/pressure that often leads to forehead acne—the added padding buffers you from any unwanted rubbing.
3. Stick Panty Liners On The Inside Of Your Hat
A lot of equestrians use this trick. And for good reason. The thing is, panty liners are absorbent, cushioned (great for loose helmets), and disposable. They’re a super convenient way to keep your hat and forehead clean.
I know some reader might be wary of going to the store to buy panty liners, so here’s an Amazon link to some affordable and UNSCENTED liners.
Pro tip: Make sure to look for panty liners, not pads. The former is small enough to fit inside your hat, the latter isn’t.
4. Get Your Hair Out Of Your Face
Bangs are beautiful. Except when they cause hat acne.
Often enough, bangs trap oil, sweat, dirt, and dead cells on your skin. This is a recipe for disaster. Well, not exactly. It’s a recipe for clogged pores. And everyone knows what clogged pores can turn into. Yep, pimples.
To make matters worse, using pomades, gels, or other hair products can irritate the heck out of your skin as they often contain comedogenic (aka pore-clogging) ingredients.
So, before you put on that hat or helmet, swipe your hair back and away from your forehead. I know it might not look cool, but at least you’re not inviting extra pimples to the party.
5. Stop Fussing With Your Hat
Sometimes things get itchy and uncomfortable, so you take your hat off and put it back on. Or maybe you move it from side to side. Or you make any other type of adjustment to it.
I mean, it’s only natural to change things up throughout the day. But you have to remember that you’re dealing with acne mechanica. So those adjustments are causing friction. And that friction is a major source of this type of acne.
That doesn’t mean that you have to keep your hat on your head at all times. If you’re sweating like a pig, of course you can take off your cap to clean up. Just make sure to reduce unnecessary/fidgety adjustments.
6. Angle Your Hat So That It Sits On Your Hairline
This won’t work with all hats. And you’ll definitely take away some style points by doing this.
But by tilting your hat so that it sits on your hairline (instead of your forehead), you’re might save your forehead from the brunt of the damage.
To be completely honest, this isn’t a perfect solution. In reality, you might move your acne up into your hairline. But it might be worth a try if your hat-type allows it.
7. Rethink Your Skincare Routine
If you don’t have a skincare/acne-care routine in place, it might be time to start one.
To remedy hat acne, do what you would do to remedy regular acne. That is, wash your face, use a treatment (like salicylic acid, Differin gel, benzoyl peroxide, etc.), and slather on some moisturizer.
Since everyone’s skin is different, you generally have to try a whole bunch of products before you find ones that work for both your skin type and your skin concerns.
8. See A Dermatologist
It’s always a good idea to make an appointment with your local dermatologist when you’re dealing with any type of skin condition. Especially if you’re dealing with acne. After all, dermatologists are pros and they can give you a formal diagnosis, along with a customized plan-of-action. They might even prescribe you something more powerful (like antibiotics) if your acne is particularly stubborn.