Recently, I was chatting to a friend on WhatsApp, and we got onto the topic of our skin. We were both complaining that we were suffering a breakout of spots. I said, “Tell me about it, I’ve got spots along my jawline”. Who gets spots on their jawline?! I cried.
Me! Replied my friend. “Don’t ‘normal’ people get spots higher up on their face and that’s that?”
It turns out that she too was suffering the same as me right now, a spotty jawline, and neither of us could work out why.
The conversation then went on to talking about the fun we used to have when we worked together as we wistfully reminisced about the good old days and felt mutually sad that lockdown had prevented us from meeting up so far this year.
But I was still curious. Why a spotty jaw? So, being scientifically minded, I set about doing some research. What causes spots and acne on the jaw, and what can we do about it?
Here’s what I found out…
What causes spots along the jawline?
My research has led me to discovering that actually, acne breakouts and spots on the jaw is quite a common thing. Somehow, I’ve reached my mid 40s without either noticing it or having had it. (I probably have had it, I just haven’t been so aware of it as I have now.)
The causes of jawline acne are varied and include the new phenomenon of the wearing of face masks and coverings and the age old problems of fluctuating hormones and stress.
Perhaps it’s a good idea to start with the most topical reason for acne breakouts along the jawline - the wearing of face masks and coverings.
This is perhaps why my friend and I have only just become aware of getting spots on our jaw. Since the majority of us have been wearing face masks to go about our normal daily business of shopping, travelling and ordering a coffee, ‘maskne’ is a new skin problem.
Maskne, a mashup of the words “mask” and “acne” is a new type of acne caused by wearing face coverings.
Wearing a mask or face covering for long periods of time causes friction from the fabric or disposable mask rubbing against the lower half of the face. It also makes us touch our faces more, which can transfer dirt and bacteria to our skin.
Finally in this perfect storm of acne causing ingredients, is the moist, warm conditions caused by wearing a mask that we’re breathing into. Bacteria thrive in these conditions, which can add to the possibility of spots, acne breakouts, redness and irritation.
Incidentally, if you’re a cyclist or you ride a motorbike, the chin strap of your helmet could also be causing jawline acne. Make sure you clean the inside of your helmet regularly, paying special attention to the chin area.
Women are particularly susceptible to hormone related acne around the jaw. Puberty, periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding and the menopause can all result in acne as a result of fluctuating hormones.
This is generally to do with rising levels of testosterone, a male hormone or androgen that’s present in female bodies too. Rising androgen levels cause an increase in sebum production, the wax like substance naturally produced by the skin. This causes pore blockages and tell tale acne spots.
Stress related jawline acne is also related to hormones. Living a stressful life results in rising levels of a hormone called cortisol.
This results in higher levels of inflammation and a lowered immune response - the perfect combination for stressed out skin.
Touching your face at your desk
Another reason our jawlines can develop spots and acne breakouts, is the action of resting our chins on our hands. Our chin and jaw is the most common area of our face to touch or hold with our hands.
Touching our face, especially for long periods of time, transfers whatever we have on our hands, onto our faces. This could be anything from hand cream, to oil from the food we might just have eaten to dirt and bacteria.
Hand cream is often too heavy and oily for the skin on our faces. It can block the pores and lead to acne spots. The same goes for the oil from our lunchtime falafel wrap or chicken sandwich.
Dirt and bacteria are bad news for the skin, where they can become trapped in the pores, leading to acne outbreaks and spots. This can be especially bad news if we then have to wear a face mask or covering for a while, trapping it on the skin whilst creating a humid environment from our breath becoming trapped behind our mask.
Many of these causes of jaw acne are caused by congestion on the skin. Congestion, or blocked pores, can also be caused by dirt and bacteria becoming trapped in the pores by not cleansing the skin properly and applying a heavy moisturiser over the skin, effectively blocking everything in.
Other causes of jaw acne, particularly in men, is the wearing of a shirt with a tight fitting collar, and shaving with an old, dirty or blunt razor. So try to mix up your clothing and replace your razor blade regularly, cleaning it out between shaves.
How to treat jaw acne
One of the best ways to help manage acne prone skin anywhere on the face or body is to adopt a good skin care regime. One that nourishes and supports the skin, whilst not blocking the pores or overloading them with excess oil.
The Sönd skin care range is based on skin nourishing alkalising silica salts and plant botanicals. We’re super proud of our range and we developed it to support all skin types, including those with acne prone skin.
And we’re delighted to announce our latest product, the Clear Out Face Mask! Developed using zeolite and bentonite clay, it draws impurities from the skin, helping to manage congestion.