Why Am I Breaking Out On My Cheeks?

Why Am I Breaking Out On My Cheeks?

Table of Contents

No one wants acne, especially in an area as prominent as the cheek.

Acne is caused when the pores in your skin are clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and the dirt and grime that the skin faces daily. It can appear as pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads.

Cheek acne, like all other forms of acne, can have many causes and treatments. Let’s take a look at the specifics of why you’re breaking out on your cheeks.  

What are the Causes of Cheek Breakouts

For dermatological reasons, the face is separated into multiple zones. The two most important when discussing face clarity are the T and U zones.

The T-zone refers to the area covered by the forehead, nose, and central chin. Those with an acne-prone T-zone often experience acne because of high oil production in the area. High oil production can clog pores, which can then lead to breakouts.

how to treat acne

Your cheeks are a part of the U-zone. Depending on the person, the chin can also be a part of this zone. Unlike in the T-zone, those with U-zone acne most likely suffer from dry skin. Although somewhat counterintuitive, dry skin is just as bad as oily skin when it comes to acne production.

As Miami based board-certified dermatologist Annie Gonzalez explains, “For some people, it just happens to be where their skin develops acne… but in general, isolated breakouts on the cheeks are a byproduct of the environment and poor skincare.”

Your environment and how you treat your skin is very important when it comes to having a clear face. Factors such as having dirty sheets, touching your face, using a poor skincare routine can all play a role in acne production.

Ways To Prevent Cheek Acne

As cheek acne can be largely brought on by your environment and daily habits, there are actions you can take to mitigate the chance of developing cheek acne.

Here are a few ways you can prevent cheek acne:

1. Regularly clean pillowcases and sheets

The face comes into contact with a pillow case for roughly 7 hours per day. If that pillow case isn’t clean, that means this breeding ground for fungi, bacteria, dirt, pollen and other allergens is touching your pores for almost a third of the day.
It takes just one night of forgetting to wash your face before bed for the day’s grime to be transferred.
It is recommended that you wash your pillow case at least once per week, or at least switch it out for a clean one.

2. Limit the amount of times you touch your face

Just think about the amount of objects our hands touch in a day. From phones to keyboards to door handles, or hands can touch some dirty things. The more you touch your face with dirty hands, the more bacteria and dirt gets into your pores. Try to avoid touching your face, but if you must, make sure your hands are clean first.

face with acne

3. Use proper skincare products

There are specific products for specific types of skin, and it’s important that you use the right one for your skin type. When buying products it is crucial to buy the one that is right for your face. There are many factors to consider when choosing skincare products. Examples include:
  • Type of skin (dry or oily)
  • Sensitivity level
  • Harshness

Make sure that facial products don’t use hard chemicals or strong fragrances, as they can both be too hard on the skin.

On top of regularly cleaning your pillowcase, be sure to clean your makeup brushes and sponges as well. An old or dirty makeup brush can spread around bacteria even on a freshly washed face.

It’s also important to note that scrubbing hard to clean well is not needed, and can actually be a hindrance to your complexion. The skin of the face is more sensitive than other areas of the body, and it needs gentle care to thrive.

4. Improve Metabolic Syndrome  

Unfortunately, metabolic syndrome has many negative impacts on the body, including impacting skin health. Metabolic syndrome includes a cluster of conditions that increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

While it is good to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels for a host of medical reasons, improving on these factors can also lend a hand in preventing cheek acne.

Use Skincare Products to Treat Breakouts

To prevent sudden face and cheek breakouts, it’s important to have a solid skincare routine in place. It is good to have a go-to routine consisting of at least a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer to make sure your skin is cleaned and hydrated at the start and end of the day.

Let’s take a look at what your routine should look like.


It’s important that your face is washed with a gentle cleanser. All aspects should be gentle – from the way you scrub to the chemicals used, your face should be treated with care.

Before washing, always make sure your hands are clean.

It is best to let the skin air dry. To speed up the process, fan your face with your hand or paper. If you must pat your face dry, always use a clean towel or cloth. Just like your pillowcase, wet towels can become a breeding ground for bacteria. It is best to avoid them on your face altogether.

The products used in the cleanser are very important. It shouldn’t be harsh enough that it irritates your skin, but it should have enough power to it that your face becomes clean.

There are many types of cleansers out there, so be sure to choose the best that works for your skin type. The cleansers that are best for oily prone skin won’t be what’s best for dry skin.


After making sure your face is properly washed and dried, it’s time to apply serums. Serums are highly concentrated, lightweight formulas that absorb quickly and penetrate deeply. Often antioxidant-rich, serums are made to address specific skin issues like sun damage, signs of aging, and acne.

There are many out there, but for those with cheek acne it’s best to pick one with acne-fighting ingredients. Read on for what ingredients you should look out for in your products.


Moisturizers tend to be creamy and thick and do exactly what they say: they moisturize your face. The goal of moisturizer is to seal in hydration and prevent water loss. If you remember, having dry skin can be just as bad as having oily skin. It’s important to find a balance, and a good moisturizer will do that for you.

On top of providing hydration, moisturizers also balance your skin’s natural oil production and prevents signs of aging, all while keeping your skin soft and smooth. To prevent cheek breakouts it is important to choose the moisturizer that’s right for your face. Ultra-dry skin needs a heavier, oilier cream to lock in moisture, while those with oily skin benefit from a lighter amount of moisture.

Skin health is important, both for your body and your complexion, so consider buying a moisturizer with SPF included. All three steps are important when trying to clear acne-prone skin. Cleanser is needed to clear the skin of impurities, while the serums target specific issues and the moisturizer seals everything in.

As mentioned before, here are ingredients you should consider when treating cheek acne.

Must-Have Acne Fighting Ingredients

There are many cosmetic ingredients designed to clear your face of unwanted acne, but these three are at the top of the list for providing the complexion you’re looking for.

The ingredients should be strong enough to work on stubborn cheek acne but gentle enough that it won’t upset your skin. Used correctly, these ingredients can provide you with the skin you’ve always wanted.

The three ingredients you should look for are:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic Acid

Tea tree oil

Also called Melaleuca alternifolia oil, this essential oil has been proven to help prevent and treat acne.

This oil works to fight three of the main causes of cheek acne: it kills microbes, reduces inflammation, and prevents pores from clogging.

Cynical research suggests that a concentration of just .5% is high enough to kill acne-causing bacteria, but many products containing tea tree oil have amounts between 5-20% – more than enough to get the job done.

Benzoyl peroxide

This popular acne treatment is best for killing pimple and cyst causing bacteria. If your cheeks are full of black or whiteheads, this ingredient is less important to add.

This chemical is available in products at a concentration of 2.5-10%. However, 10% is quite high. Although it may sound like you want to use the strongest stuff to treat heavy breakouts, high concentrations can irritate and dry out the skin, exacerbating your acne problems.

pimples and zits

Salicylic acid

This is the ingredient you should use if you have blackheads or whiteheads. This acid gets into the pores to break up the oil and dead skin cells that clog pores.

Concentrations range from .5-2%, and it is best to start with the lowest concentration possible. If you don’t see any results, bump up concentrations.

Look at what’s in all of your products. If they don’t have any of these three ingredients, it might be time to upgrade.

Final Thoughts

Cheek acne is stubborn to get rid of, but changes to lifestyle and your skincare routine just might be able to give you the clear complexion you’ve been looking for.