forehead bumps - be gone!

Subclinical Acne – What it is and Why You Have It.

You know those bumps that aren’t QUITE pimples? The ones that live on your forehead and never seem to pop or go away?  Turns out, there’s a more technical term than “forehead bumps” for these pesky blemishes – and we’ve got the tricks you need to get ’em gone.

Subclinical acne – what it is and why you have it.

If your forehead is covered in lots of small colorless or red bumps, you may be dealing with subclinical acne. This type of acne can cause the skin’s surface to look and feel uneven, without ever developing into the typical “pimple” – pus-filled and inflamed. Rather, subclinical acne is simply congested, clogged pores.

These little bumps are caused by an excess of sebum – the waxy, oily substance that your sebaceous glands naturally produce. When there is an excess of sebum, dirt, and dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, your pores become clogged, resulting in protruding follicles and a bumpy texture. Subclinical acne can occur in large numbers on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead. It is usually most common on the forehead and cheeks, because the oil glands on these two parts of the face are highly active.

Subclinical acne is most often tied to your lifestyle, stress, and/or hormonal changes. So how can you reduce its appearance? 

1. Up your cleansing game

Since we know that subclinical acne is caused by clogged pores, the first step in reducing them is to improve your cleansing technique. Often times, even after washing our faces, our skin is still covered in a layer of dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities!

First off, take a look at the cleanser you’re using. The best type of cleanser to use will be an oil-based cleanser, like our facial cleansing oil. Oil dissolves oil, making a cleansing oil extremely helpful. If you're not into oil cleansing, try our oil to milk cleanser, which can be rinsed off like a more traditional cleanser. Foaming or soap-based cleansers can dry out the skin, which will actually lead to MORE oil production, as your body will try and make up for what you’re stripping away!

On top of using an oil-based cleanser, another technique to utilize is double cleansing. This may seem counter-intuitive – especially if you’re used to drying cleansers – but double cleansing with an oil cleanser can make a HUGE difference for your skin. Think of the first round of cleansing as prepping your skin for the deeper cleanse. Gently, but thoroughly, cleansing your skin twice will help to clear and remove dead skin cells. Our oil to milk cleanser is perfect for your second cleanse, because it gently cleans the skin without stripping it of its own natural oils.

Do a double cleanse only once a day — preferably at night, when your skin really needs it, after a day of makeup, dirt, and pollutants!

2. Did someone say tone? 

We did. Lots of times! That’s because we know how essential toning is in finishing the cleansing process. On top of helping to extract any leftover oil or dirt left on your face (which is possible even after double cleansing!), using a toner helps to balance your pH levels and decrease excess oil production. Toning can help your skin really breathe!

Our raspberry vinegar toner has a slightly acidic pH of about 3.5, which makes it great for cleansing and purifying skin. Our rosewater toner is gentler, with a pH level of 5.5, but is still great for soothing skin and helping balance sebum.

3. Lightly moisturize

Of course it's always important to moisturize. However, while you're working on clearing out subclinical acne, you want to make sure not to overwhelm your skin with anything too heavy. We recommend sticking to a lighter moisturizer, like our golden elixirwatermelon hemp oil, or texture smoothing cream.

4. Steer clear of makeup for a few days

While you may have the urge to cover up, the best option for your skin is to leave it as clean as possible. Heavy foundations and makeup can trap excess oil and dirt in your pores. If you feel like you can’t go bare-faced, then try to opt for an all-natural, lightweight facial powder that will allow your skin to breathe.

5. Don’t pick

As tempting as it is to try and pop these annoying blemishes (trust us, we know), avoid picking at all costs.

This is especially important for subclinical acne, which won't normally break the skin on its own, as the bumps are often just congested pores. Picking at them could lead to the irritation and scarring, and can cause breakouts to worsen.

The best bet is to let your skin naturally regenerate to flush out the congestion.


6. Mask! 

Using a purifying face mask a few times a week can help you unclog those pores even faster. We love our chlorophyll mask because it helps deeply cleanse and clarify the skin while also supporting healthy circulation and calming angry skin. 

Another great option is our sea kale clay mask, which soothes, exfoliates, and purifies the skin *without* drying it out.

7. Drink a ton of water

Drinking enough water is essential for keeping your skin clear. Our cells are nourished and hydrated by water, and dehydration can cause your skin to compensate by overproducing oil. Double certified MD, Dr. Amy Shah, told us recently that she recommends drinking between 10-14 glasses of water a day! For some extra flavor and benefits, try adding lemon or other fruit to your water.

We hope that this post helped clear up the mystery around those pesky forehead bumps – and that it will also help clear up your skin! The key factor in treating subclinical acne is to keep your pores clear – through your routine (give that double cleansing a shot!), lifestyle habits, and diet. If you have any questions at all, email us at!



Silvia on

I get occasional outbreaks of Rosacea Acne. Very difficult to get rid of and as usual I needed antibiotics this time. Dermalmd Acne treatment certainly helped to relieve the pain and swelling and this acne treatment cleared my skin completely.


Lizzie G on

Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts 👍. You are doing great work! I just want to share my success story. Hope this helps. I’ve been using Retin-A (Tretinoin). Very happy 😊 I found ‘ QACNE365 ’ in google and got retin-a ❤️. It is hands down the most effective anti-acne, anti-dark spot, anti-whatever skin flaw you may have. It is the only thing that has actually helped with my acne. People comment on my skin daily!


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Luluya Tekle on

So I have had these “ bumps “ for like 2 years bow & they make me super insecure . I have tried about EVERYTHING . & just want to know if H&S shampoo will heal clear them . Or maybe the other dandruff shampoo . Please let me know . They are such an insecurity and school is about to open up !!


Yvonne on

I’m 52 and on hormones and my face it terrible! Acne and oily skin. What do I do besides using retinal/ retina


Jen on

Someone in the comments said they used a anti-dandruff Ketoconazole shampoo as a 10 minute mask, and I happened to have some called ‘Nizoral’ in my cabinet, so I decided to give it a go and I can not express how WELL IT WORKED!!! my forehead was covered in really tiny red and skin-toned bumps that were always there making my skin texture look bad, but that never turned into full-blown white heads, and I had tried EVERYTHING for them (AHAs, BHAs, tea tree oil, retinol, charcoal, … the whole shebang). Nothing worked, but I massaged about a teaspoon of the Nizoral onto my face in the shower and left it on for about 10 minutes while I was in there. The whole first day I could see it slowly going away every time I checked, and three days later it’s 95% gone. It doesn’t treat all acne, it didn’t do much for the actual big bumps, but I’m so happy just to get rid of that background noise that made my skin look worse.


EArlie Rosario on

I had a really bad breakout and I was turd told that I was allergic to something but after that I seen a dermatologist because I kept having breakouts dry skin and pulse light bobs I was told I had Rosacia these pussy bombs just moved from around my forehead and my nose area cheek area Gina area to the sides of my face they seem to never stay in one place I think it’s from dust mites but it’s dry skin to I can’t use soaps on my skin at all. I don’t know what kind of facial wash to use besides Sarah V hydrating wash. I had flawless skin now I’m so bumped up & scared up I’m ashamed to go out.


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Lizzie on

Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts 👍. You are doing great work! I just want to share my success story. Hope this helps. I’ve been using Retin-A (Tretinoin). Very happy 😊 I found ‘ QACNE365 ’ in google and got retin-a ❤️. It is hands down the most effective anti-acne, anti-dark spot, anti-whatever skin flaw you may have. It is the only thing that has actually helped with my acne. People comment on my skin daily.


Haiden M on

I’ve had these bumps on my forehead forever and have been trying to figure out what they are and how to get rid of them. this article was so helpful!!!! I just want to express my gratitude! :)))


Jackie on

Dang I’m 10 but my forehead hurts like heck help me I got this one big one that’s the on that hurts the other ones are not even centimeter thick this on is like an inch thick reply one a week to see if this works


Ellia Malek on

I just got these little bumps. I really don’t like these. They have been bothering me for days. I know l just got them but l’m concerned because l’m only 9. I got this a couple months ago and it just went away. This time it is not going away. I am going to try everything this article told me but this is just feedback 😊


Ellia Malek on

I just got these little bumps. I really don’t like these. They have been bothering me for days. I know l just got them but l’m concerned because l’m only 9. I got this a couple months ago and it just went away. This time it is not going away. I am going to try everything this article told me but this is just feedback 😊


Ellia Malek on

I just got these little bumps. I really don’t like these. They have been bothering me for days. I know l just got them but l’m concerned because l’m only 9. I got this a couple months ago and it just went away. This time it is not going away. I am going to try everything this article told me but this is just feedback 😊


Mabel Jackson on

I read something that rubbing an ice cube on forehead bumps helps them go away, is this true?


Florida Davis on

I naturally have freckles and my ma ok with them, but recently I noticed an age/ sun spot on my forehead – and that is not what I want to have! I ordered dermalmd skin lightening serum and apply it specifically on the spot I want to get rid of – hopefully, it will disappear soon!


Arthur Gans on

I think I have subclinical acne I am using cetaphil for it and I don’t know if it’s working.
I have used acne wash and kept it on as a moisturizer and it made my forehead dry. Should I keep using cetaphil lotion


Valerie on

I have struggled since my teenage years here and there with bad breakouts that last for a couple of months at a time. No acne wash or treatment ever helped. It just dried out my skin and the acne was still there. I have also had challenges with back and chest breakouts. I purchased Dermalmd Blemish Treatment Serum on Monday, received it on Tuesday. I tried it Tuesday night and this morning my face was noticeably more clear. I was so surprised that it actually worked overnight. I had a bad under the skin pimple on my chin, the ones that hurt. The bump was next to go. Highly recommend.


Annie on

What about exfoliators? Can I use one along with these products for subclinical acne?


Meghan on

Do you have any recommendations for a lightweight powder to use for makeup? I am trying to find a natural one that won’t make my acne or rosacea worse, but something i can wear on days at school I need to look more professional

Thank you!


Nadia holmes on

i had this issue for so long and one therapist work in Nu waxingworkshop in Hong kong she helped me and she mention the causes and did provide me with oil based cleanser and some water base base moisturizer and they did help me a lot, i know it may sound like an ad but i just share my experience how i got ride of them.


Liv Bennet on

I have had a rough time with spots for about a year now, i wouldn’t say its as severe as acne but i do have a lot of bumps on my forehead, around my eyebrows and on my cheeks and nose area, i’ve tried washing my face everyday with acne products but it seemed to make it worse and i really want to know if there’s a way to get rid pf the small bumps, any suggestions?


faneshia on

i think i have fungal acne it itches and red its on my cheeks chin and forhead and temples i was using vanicream cleanser cause thats what it say too use on skin science and i use neutragena oil free gel miosterizer cream but wake up oily and shiny so i dnt know wat too do plus im getting cyst here and there
i use the shampoo just started spot treating with it but idk im really lost and frustrated


sofia on

african black soap got rid of my forehead bumps VERY QUICKLY, however it is a little harsh so i only recommend if you have tougher skin. i have been using it for more than 2 years. after that, i use a witch hazel toner and a water based moisturizer (if its summer) and if its winter, i like using a thicker moisturizer like cetaphil or ponds. its just what works for me.


Precious on

If your looking for something that is 100% natural that gets rid of it try okana skincare. I know this sounds like an ad but it really helps and there are a lot of reviews on it.


Kierstin on

When you double cleanse does it/should it be with 2 different or the same oil based cleanser?


Sarah on

It’s great to finally find some info about this as it’s a bit of a rabbit hole on the internet. I’ve never had these “bumps” before, but it all started when I was travelling around in hot countries (and a lot of sweat and pollution was in circulation). I’ve always had fairly clear skin and never suffered from acne before. I use coconut oil to remove eye make up and used to put the oil all over my skin once a week. I’ve cut down on moisturising (esp through the summer) and sun cream makes it worse so I’ve stopped using it on my forehead and switched to a high spf tinted moisturiser by gel instead.. I’ve given the H&S shampoo a go, it worked at the beginning but doesn’t seem to clear up that much. I’m going to try focusing on toning next – and maybe tea tree. But I’m cautious as I’ve got sensitive (combination) skin. There’s a few tips to try in here so I’ll give them a go and let you know! Any further suggestions welcome :)


Msvk on

L I agree with you. When I used shampoo that was anti dandruff and with ingredient that you mentioned, the acne did leave but returned once I started using a regular head wash. And Sherrie Trehan I somewhat agree that our skin knows to moisturise itself.
This article was very helpful thankyou cocokind


L on

Turned out that my flesh colored bumped were fungal acne and products with oils, fatty acids, and esthers were feeding it. The only three acceptable oils for skin with Fungal Acne are mineral oil, Squalane, and MCT. In two weeks what haunted me for two long dreary anxiety inducing years were completely gone!!! Reddit really explained the science of fungal acne called pityrosporum folliculitis or malassezia folliculitis. From there I was referred to youtube.
What I did :
1) Wash face with oil free cleanser and pat skin dry
2) Use anti-dandruff shampoo with Ketoconazole as it’s Active ingredient as a 10 minute mask then rinse off and pat dry. Weird but THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP, this is what eliminates the fungal acne!!!
3) Moisturize with oil free lotion.


Jordy Rose on


I am wondering what is the difference between subclinical acne and fungal acne. I have never had any acne and suddenly have these stubborn bumps all over my forehead and temples! Trying to figure out if I need to dive into the “anti fungal” route – or if it would be worth a shot to just up the cleansing game (feeling like everything was enflaming it, I stopped cleansing) and toning!

Let me know!!


Alexandria Abbott on

Hi there!! i have been using all four of these products for about a week now and was wondering how long it would take to notice a change? it looks to me as if i’m getting more? i don’t know ?


cocokind on

Hi everyone! It seems like there’s been some confusion in the comments – to clarify, we always recommend moisturizing after washing your face, but we’d suggest sticking to a lighter moisturizer if you’re dealing with forehead bumps. Hope this helps!


Gemma Paisley on

Instead of just NOT moisturizing after washing (which I made the mistake of doing until I realized better), which is like crash-dieting your skin, invest in an oil-free moisturizer. They can help your skin bounce back in no time! Oil-Free Moisture for Combo skin by Neutrogena is very helpful, as are many products on this site! Happy Cleansing!! :)


Maria Waugh on

Hi, I followed the cleanse and tone and no or very little moisturiser, but still have one spot that is totally dry but won’t completely disappear, is this normal?.


Stephanie on

It doesn’t say not to moisturize, they advise to to use a heavy moisturizer..


hannah jenkins on

I use to have super bad acne, then the dermatologist put me on Epiduo Forte, it worked super well super fast but all of a sudden recently my cheeks and forehead are getting these tiny little bumps on them and I’ve never had a problem with them before. Any ideas?


Erin Bennett on

I like this worked. I’m twelve and I am self concealer about my skin. My forehead was covered in them but now they are clearing. I don’t wear makeup anymore and haven’t got about a week and it helps a lot. I don’t need foundation just do the bits like eyes and eyebrows. This was helpful and I’m a lot more confident!!


Allison M. on

I find the advice not to use moisturizer very perplexing. When I don’t moisturize, my skin gets crazy oily. However, if I moisturize with the right oils for my oily skin, it doesn’t get nearly as oily. I’m a big fan of a lot of your products, but I’m really questioning this advice.


Rinal Shah on

Love this article- super helpful! You should update to feature your new Oil to Milk Cleanser!


Alexandra Staub on

You say about not using moisturizers, but I’m curious if organic Shea butter at night counts? And also, what should I do for SPF during the day? Does oil cleansing go before or after traditional cleansing when using a double cleansing routine? Is it okay to use a silicone scrub brush, I feel as though this has been working for me? What will the bumps do as they start to go away on their own? How long will this take to work?
P.s. I have them pretty much all over my face. My cheeks, jawline, chin and patches on other places including my chest, neck, and forehead. They sound very similar to the type of acne you describe.


Sandra Mitchell on

Moisturizer is defiantley needed after cleansing your face. Why would you recommend not using a moisturizer?


Sherrie Trehan on

2 things.

A good cleanser, and some tea tree oil. Leave the tea tree oil overnight and you should be able to see a difference. Also avoid makeup or any moisturisers. Often we think we need moisturisers but our skin has the ability to moisturise itself. The skin does not recognise man made moisturisers better than its own. Just wash twice a day with a gentle cleanser even if your skin is oily and avoid makeup and moisturisers. Try this for just 1 week, and you WILL see guaranteed results.


moses richardson on

i need some help yall to get theses bumps off my face what will i need

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