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.
4. 1-2 drops of organic tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) in your hand mixed with your cleanser each morning can help control bacteria and oil on the skin. Refrain from applying tea tree directly to skin.
5. If you feel cystic acne starting to brew under the skin, the key is ICE! Fill small paper cups with water and keep them in the freezer, and use them like an ice pack. Move the ice in a circular motion all around and over the cystic area for 2 minutes after cleansing 2-3 times a day. This will shorten the active acne duration by reducing the swelling and allowing the pores to open and eventually purge. Never apply heat to swollen acne.
6. Especially avoid dairy, peanuts, seaweed, kelp, algae, and chlorella. Increase Omega 3 fatty acid foods like chia seeds, and drink a bit more water than usual.
7. Make sure you are very consistent with your skincare routine by cleansing, toning, and moisturizing daily.
If your hormonal acne is off the charts, you may want to be evaluated for PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) which is a group of symptoms that results from an imbalance of hormones. If you think you may have PCOS it's important to get evaluated because it can put you at risk for other chronic illnesses down the road.
If you still need an acne specialist, I’m here for you with the Face Reality Acne system.
Hormonal acne can be annoying, but proper planning and treatments can help lead to healthier skin long-term!