Why Pimples Keep Showing Up in the Same Place

Updated: Feb. 26, 2021

End the vicious cycle of super stubborn pimples with these derm-approved tips.

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If you can predict the location of your next zit as accurately as your next period cycle, you may be a victim of the “pimple pattern phenomenon.” Although you may be cursing the laws of nature for allowing pimples to keep rearing up like a bad Tinder date, it’s actually our own habits that end up being the main cause. We spoke with Alain Michon, MD. cosmetic physician and Medical Director at the Ottawa Skin Clinic, to find out why you might be dealing with continuous acne breakouts—and how you can stop them.

Using the wrong makeup

The price tag on makeup might not always matter, but ingredients definitely do. “Comedogenic makeup causes blockages in your pores and can result in acne breakouts from blackheads,” says Dr. Michon. “If a specific area of your skin is constantly breaking out, check the makeup label to see if it might be the culprit. Ideally, all of your makeup products should be non-comedogenic.” (These are the beauty products you should always splurge on.)

Hair products

If your acne is concentrated on your forehead, blame your hair-styling routine. Acne is common on the forehead, and hair products, including hair spray and hair oils, can definitely be to blame. “These products aren’t optimized for skin  care, and the ingredients can cause breakouts,” says Dr. Michon. Do your best to avoid getting these products on your skin.

Applying makeup roughly

Acne mechanica can be :triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction or rubbing of the skin.” According to Dr. Michon. “We see this most often near the eyes as eye shadow tends to be applied more vigorously than other products. Simply change your method, and your skin should clear up in no time.”

Touching your face

Do you ever catch yourself casually stroking your face or leaning your chin on your hand? You’re not alone—the average person touches her face an average of 3.6 times per hour, according to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. But this common habit transfers bacteria from your hands to your face, which can lead to breakouts. “The more often you touch a specific area of your face, the more likely you are to expose the area to bacteria and oils,” notes Dr. Michon. “This is especially problematic if you eat greasy foods often and touch your ear or chin without washing your hands thoroughly after eating.” Read on for the other parts of your body you should never touch.

Picking and popping pimples

Yes, the pimple popping high feels pretty freaking great. There’s no feeling that replicates the joy of getting rid of those suckers once and for all, but “once and for all” might be more temporary than it seems. “Although popping your pimples is a seemingly quick fix, doing so can expose the pores near the original zit to its bacteria,” Dr. Michon says. “This creates a cycle that keeps acne occurring in the same area. Even if you wash the area immediately after popping, it can still cause more pimples.” Find out the dermatologist-approved way to pop a pimple.


Sometimes, it’s not you—it’s those pesky hormones. The practice of examining the location of acne on the face to diagnose health issues, known as face mapping, dates back thousands of years to the days of ancient Chinese medicine. Although the technicalities of the method have evolved over time, the core foundation remains the same: by studying where your breakouts lie, you can discover potential health issues inside your body, and find a way to nix both the internal and external issues. Find out what the acne on every part of your body is trying to tell you.