How to Clear Up Acne Between Your Eyebrows, According to Dermatologists

For starters, put down the tweezers

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Breaking out between your brows? We’ve all been there. And the thing about these pesky pimples is that they’re right smack dab in the center of your face. Like a third eye that you swear everyone is looking at when you’re talking to them.

Fortunately, they’re usually pretty easy to clear up. We asked three board-certified dermatologists to share their insights on why we break out here, specifically, and what we can do about it.

Meet the Experts:

  • Dr. Sandra Lee aka Dr. Pimple Popper, a board-certified dermatologist in Upland, California. Lee is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the American Society for MOHS Surgery.
  • Dr. Jennifer Chwalek is board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group with with fellowship training in procedural dermatology and in cutaneous laser surgery. Chwalek graduated from Vassar College with honors and received her medical degree and residency training from the University of Maryland where she was elected to the national medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha.
  • Dr. Michele J. Farber is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Farber’s expertise includes skin cancer as well as general, cosmetic, and procedural dermatology.

What Are the Different Types of Acne You Can Get Between Your Eyebrows?

"It's possible to get various types of acne between the eyebrows, ranging from comedonal acne to inflammatory cysts," shares Farber. More specifically, this area is prone to:

  • Pustules: little pus-containing bumps that are typically red and tender
  • Papules: small, raised bumps that don't have any fluid in them
  • Cystic acne: large, swollen bumps that are tender and deep within your skin
acne between eyebrows-a woman applying a face mask to her forehead
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What Causes Acne Between Your Eyebrows?

  • The location. “The glabellar area (the medical term for the region between the eyebrows) is actually a very common place for people to break out,” says Lee. “This is because it’s part of your T-zone (which starts at your forehead and follows down the length of your nose and ends at your chin). The T-zone is one of the oiliest areas of your face because it has the highest concentration of sebaceous glands.” And in this case, more sebum equals more problems.
  • The hair follicles in this area. “Sebaceous glands empty into your pores and can clog your hair follicles causing inflammation. So, if you notice, acne really only occurs where there are hair follicles and not so much on the non-hair-bearing areas of your skin—like the palms of your hands, soles of your feet or along your mucous membranes (i.e. your lips or the insides of your nose and mouth),” says Lee.
  • Common hair removal procedures. One of most common culprits for between the brow bumps is…drumroll…tweezing. Or waxing. As Lee explains: “When you pluck (or wax or thread) your hair, you pull it out at the root. As it grows back, it needs to grow a little bit under the skin before it projects beyond the surface. If the incoming hair gets trapped underneath the skin during this process, it becomes 'ingrown,' and appears as a pimple-like bump.”

How Do You Treat Acne Between Your Eyebrows?

According to Farber, using products with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and over the counter retinoids like adapalene are a great place to start. "Prescription topical antibiotics and retinoids, or even oral medications, can be prescribed by your dermatologist for more severe cases," she adds.

Both Chwalek and Lee agree that using benzoyl peroxide can "help keep the area clear of any acne-causing bacteria, which will help prevent future pimples from ever forming in the first place."

Chwalek also recommends sulfur products if your skin doesn’t tolerate BP well. For seborrhea, you’ll need to see your dermatologist for a topical antifungal (like ketoconazole cream) or a steroid like a hydrocortisone cream.

How Do You Prevent Acne From Forming Between Your Eyebrows?

  • Rethink your hair removal. “If you are prone to pimples in this area, my best advice would be to skip plucking or waxing your brows. You may want to try shaving the hair instead, so you’re not removing the hair from the root—or there’s always the option to get laser hair removal for a more permanent solution,” advises Lee.
  • Consider what you’re using on your face. "It's important to avoid occlusive ingredients and oil-based products that can clog pores," cautions Farber.
  • Practice good skincare and hygiene. Ideally, you'll want to completely wash off your makeup every night before bed and keep any brushes that you routinely use to apply products clean as well.
  • Take a look at your haircare routine. Are you currently using any heavy conditioners or styling products like oils or serums? If so, either swap in something lighter or, at the very least, try to keep those products away from the hair around your face. And on that note, if you have bangs, pull them back during workouts and wash them daily to keep them from getting greasy and matted down to your forehead.

Anything Else to Consider, Doc?

If the bumps or pustules are accompanied by redness and flaking of the skin, it could be seborrhea. “This is another name for dandruff and it can occur on not only your scalp but other areas of your face—especially near your eyebrows,” says Chwalek.

The Top Products for Clearing Up Acne Between Your Eyebrows

OK, now that we’ve covered the why’s and how’s, let’s discuss some of our go-to products for treating acne between the eyebrows. Note: These are best suited for blackheads, whiteheads or newly budding spots. (For deeper, cystic acne, you’ll want to see a derm to figure out the best course of action, which could include a combination of oral and topical treatments.)

The One Mistake You Might Be Making with Your Acne Treatment

1. Differin 0.1% Adapalene Gel

Differin gel is the first FDA-approved acne retinoid available without a prescription. The magic sauce is 0.1 percent adapalene, which helps regulate cell turnover, keeping pores from clogging, while also reducing any underlying inflammation. It's also known to be gentler on your skin than other retinoids, and thus, a good option for those who are new to the ingredient.

2. SLMD BP Spot Treatment

Benzoyl peroxide is a tried and true remedy for acne. And this particular spot treatment is formulated with moisturizing ingredients like vitamin E and soothing allantoin to protect your skin from drying out while still treating the spot (or spots) in question. After washing your face, apply a thin layer over any bumps to help bring down swelling and clear up bacteria that’s lingering behind.

3. Paula's Choice Resist BHA 9

If your skin doesn’t tolerate benzoyl peroxide well or you have a cluster of small spots to tend to, this salicylic acid packed treatment (which boasts a whopping nine percent of the pore-clearing ingredient), is just as hard on bumps as it is on stubborn blackheads.

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Treatment

This French staple combines 5.5 percent benzoyl peroxide with 0.4 percent LHA (a type of salicylic acid) to quickly kill off any acne-causing bacteria, while gradually smoothing the overall texture of your skin. We love the pointy tip applicator that doles out the teensiest pea-sized amount of cream each time (which is all you really need for the spot between your brows and then some).

5. Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch

If you tend to only get the one-off pimple between your brows, we’d recommend spot treating it with a hydrocolloid patch, like this one. The waterproof material creates a little cocoon over the pimple, allowing it to heal faster, while also delivering beta salicylate and white willow bark to the area. Plus, it reduces the risk of mindless picking (and subsequent scarring).

6. Dr. Dennis Gross DrX Clarifying Mask

For weekly maintenance, smooth this creamy mask over any troubled areas. Kaolin and bentonite clays draw out excess oils, while sulfur (which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties) clears up and calms down inflamed skin. Leave it on for ten minutes before rinsing off or leave it on as an overnight spot treatment.

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...