Hormonal acne can be a frustrating skin issue to deal with. You might be physically and emotionally feeling the effects of a hormonal roller coaster, and that can show on your face too. Maybe you’ve searched the internet for a hormonal acne treatment only to find conflicting information.
Exactly what is going on here? And is there a way to avoid it?
Let’s first understand what is actually happening. As hormones rise and fall, your skin responds to the changes in many ways. The bump in testosterone around day 14 (ovulation) stimulates the skin’s sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This feeds the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria that lives on every person’s skin. P. acnes in the right situation can cause inflammation and infect pores.
As the bacteria starts increasing over the next 7 days, the steady rise in progesterone swells the pores shut. Ordinarily you would want smaller pores, but in this case, it traps the oil, bacteria and dead skin cells under the skin. Still chowing down on the oil, the bacteria now invades surrounding tissue causing swelling, closed comedones (whiteheads), and large painful cystic acne under the skin. These hormonal acne breakouts usually appear on the jawline and chin area, although they can appear elsewhere.
Just about the time this activity is at its worst is when all the hormone levels drop and you get your period. Then the cycle starts again.
Is there a way to prevent this? Possibly.
1. Knowing the cycle, and timing your treatments just right to keep the skin clear and free of excess oil may be the key. Schedule your monthly facial 2 weeks before your period for deep exfoliation, an enzyme or chemical peel, and extractions.
2. Plan to use a detoxifying and oil-minimizing clay mask (try MOON’s Sacred Beauty or Clear Skin mud mask) 2 or 3 times per week during week 2 of your cycle.
3. Switch to a salicylic acid and/or glycolic/mandelic acid cleanser for that crucial week keeping pores more open and reducing excess dead skin cell and oil build up.