Hormonal Acne: What Causes It & Tips For Clearing It
Over a year ago, if you looked in my Google search history, you would probably find a long list of “How to cure acne” searches. I was 22 years old and I was dealing with painful cystic acne that I couldn’t get rid of. It was absolutely horrifying and made me not want to leave the house. I always had the occasional pimples or breakouts around my period, but this was something new that I wasn’t used to. This was definitely one of the toughest and most frustrating times for me. It took a huge toll on me emotionally and it made me miserable. I found myself searching for the thickest foundation that would cover up my skin, and anytime I tried to cover it, it just ended in a dilemma. it. To spare you the hours a day on Google, I’m here to help you get to the bottom of your acne.
What Causes Hormonal Acne?
This may seem obvious, but your hormones are likely the main cause. When our hormones are out of balance, we’re more likely to deal with skin issues another common cause is blood sugar issues. Certain foods like sugar, or eating too man carbs at once can cause your blood sugar to spike, which leads to extra sebum production and high androgens, like testosterone.
Another common cause of hormonal acne that people don’t consider is, your stomach. Gut health is so important for clear skin. Some medications that can put a damper on your gut health are antibiotics and birth control. I give some recommendations later on in the blog for gut health.
My Acne Story
The dermatologist appointment never ran smoothly for me. I was prescribed different antibiotics harsh cleansers, and steroid creams that would work great for months and then suddenly just stop working. My last dermatologist appointment, she told me that my acne was caused by internal factors and she couldn’t guarantee anything would work besides Accutane. I can’t remember if I cried, but I remember my stomach dropping. Accutane is one of the harshest acne treatments on the market and the side effects are insane. I couldn’t believe that was my option. Accutane is so strong that if I wanted to try it, I had to sign a wavier for it. There was no way I was trying Accutane.
I felt hopeless after my appointment and went on a rapid Internet search of acne treatments. I came across a Facebook support group called Healing Acne Naturally and I joined it and began asking questions. This was one of the most helpful things I did. In this group, I learned all about the different types of acne and possible causes. Dozens of articles and books later, and I knew what I had to do to cure my acne. I had to get healthy on the inside!
Healing Acne From The Inside Out
If you go down the aisle of any drug store, you’ll see a ton of acne treatments. There is a face wash for everything these days! Of course, what you put on your skin is important, but what you put inside your body is even more important. Acne is a direct reflection of what’s going on inside your body. Of course, everyone is prone to breakouts here and there, and just because you get an occasional pimple doesn’t mean you have to jump and assume something is wrong, but if you’re dealing with chronic breakouts, despite having a good skincare routine and eating healthy, something may be off. For me, it was my hormones. My entire face was clear, except for my chin and jawline, which is typically hormonal or gut related. I did hours of research each night, searching for the best solution. I read about the importance of vitamins and diet for your skin. Although I was eating a “healthy” diet, I was still eating foods that were common for breakouts such as dairy, nuts, seeds, and etc.
Eliminating Inflammatory Foods:
Don’t categorize these foods as “Bad” because they aren’t necessarily bad, they just are known to cause inflammation, or are common allergens. Here are some main foods that I eliminated for a while. A lot of people start with just sugar, dairy, and gluten and are able to see great results from limiting those alone. I personally still avoid majority of these foods, with exception to eggs and some sources of sugar such as honey and stevia occasionally.
Vitamins & Supplements
1. Probiotics: Probiotics are key for a healthy gut. An imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut can show up as acne and other skin conditions. A probiotic is also highly recommended for anyone coming off of birth control or antibiotics, as both are very damaging to the gut.
2. Omega 3’s: Fish oil is essential for healthy hair, sin, and nails. Another option is to use flax oil, but most people find the supplement to be easier
3. Zinc: Zinc deficiency is way more common for women than you’d think. Research shows a correlation between acne and a zinc deficiency. Zinc can help reduce inflammation and androgens, which are known to trigger acne.
4. B Vitamins: A high quality multi-vitamin that includes all of the B vitamins is important whether you have acne or not.
My Fave Products
While I truly believe acne should be treated from the inside out, I know what it feels like to just need something to apply topically to help your skin temporarily. These skincare products help my skin, but as soon as I eat something that makes me breakout, I still breakout regardless of what I’m using topically. Trigger foods for me are, too much fruit, almonds and cashews, too much dark chocolate, and dairy. I honestly am always trying new skincare products, so I will have to do a separate post on all of the ones I’ve tried so far.
Here are some of my skincare favorites right now:
1. Rosehip seed oil: This is by far my favorite oil! I’ve tried a few different brands and I’m not really particular about any specific brand. I currently use the Trilogy brand, which I order from Amazon. This oil fades scars and dark spots, moisturizes brightens and hydrates skin, and treats acne. I notice my skin is so soft and plump feeling after I use this.
2. Aztec Clay Mask: Clay is great for acne prone skin, especially the oily type. The clay can help absorb the oil and tame breakouts. I try and use this 1x a week. I add a dash of turmeric and ACV to it and leave it on for 30-40 minutes. Beware, it makes a mess and your skin will feel like it’s pulsing, but that’s all normal.
3. bioClarity: This is a plant based skincare line that I’ve been using for about a month or so. I use the Clear Skin Routine line.
How Is My Skin Now?
Over a year later, and I’m happy to say my skin has dramatically improved! I still have a ton of post cane scars, and deal with occasional breakouts if I’m bad with my diet, but overall, I don’t wake up to painful cystic acne anymore (Unless I splurge and have a little dairy ) and I don’t spend hours before I go out trying to cake up my face. Everyone is different, but for me personally, what I put inside my body has the biggest impact on my skin.
Cates, Trevor. Clean Skin from within: the Spa Doctor's Two-Week Program to Glowing, Naturally Youthful Skin. Fair Winds, 2017.