Reader Question: Battling Hormonal Acne

I’ve said it before, and it’s still true: I can’t resist a plea for help. Which is why, when Amanda emailed me asking for tips and relief from her hormonal acne, I was spurred into action! Here’s what she said:

The past year and a half my face has gone from one to two pimples on any given day to a full blown acne attack. When I was in high school it was mainly forehead and the occasional chin pimple but nothing crazy. I am now 22 years old and have the worst acne on my cheeks and jaw line (20 plus everyday) plus, the occasional forged pimples popping up weekly and very congested/dull looking skin everywhere (small bumps the color of my skin on pretty much my whole face). My face is combination/dry and I even have crows feet and forehead wrinkles already!

Man, can I sympathize. I’m also an unfortunate victim of hormonal acne, but after lots of research and lots of trial and error, I’ve discovered a few techniques that I think might help.* Since Amanda’s skin is combination/dry and mine is combination/oily, I’ve been both researching and considering my own tactics to come up with some things she might try—but I think these are techniques that can work on just about any type of skin that’s battling a hormonal acne invasion. Here goes, Amanda! I hope you’ll let me know how they work for you.

Don’t over-exfoliate. A little exfoliation is fine, but a lot is not better. Limit (gentle) exfoliation to once or twice a week—hard scrubbing and exfoliating too frequently can exacerbate the problem instead of offering relief.

Avoid dairy as much as possible. Amanda did mention that she eats dairy products about three times a week, and unfortunately, there are plenty of studies that prove a direct link between milk and acne. Milk can be loaded with hormones (both naturally-occurring and added), which can stimulate your skin’s sebum production, which can produce acne. If your skin is acting up, try removing dairy from your diet for a week or two and see if you notice a change. If so, add it back in slowly, or try to avoid it entirely.

Moisturize with facial oils. Amanda mentioned that her skin tends to be dry—sometimes overly dry skin can stimulate acne, just as oily skin can. (The idea is to find a balance between the two!) I really like facial oils. Here’s what I would try if I were Amanda: tea tree oil applied directly to the acne-prone areas (it has antibacterial qualities), and then a gentle, skin-calming oil (grapeseed oil, tamanu oil, and evening primrose oil are all great options) all over. Two I like: balancing facial serum from Co-Op 108 and Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil.

Supplement. I have noticed a difference in my hormonal acne (along with a few other benefits) since I started taking my Nordic Naturals Omega Woman supplement. It’s an Omega-3 supplement that contains fish oil and evening primrose oil, plus hormone-balancing ingredients.

Avoid caffeine. Here’s the thing: I love coffee. I try not to drink too much of it, but man, do I love it. I’m pretty good with all of the other recommendations I’ve made here, but this is one I really have a hard time with. The good news? There’s no proven direct link between caffeine and acne. However, caffeine tends to spur your body to make cortisol, the stress hormone, which can stimulate your skin’s oil production…which can cause acne. As with dairy, I’d say try eliminating caffeine for a few weeks, see if you can tell a difference, and then add it back in slowly…keeping a close eye on your skin.

Do you have tips or advice to add? I’d love to hear what works for you! —Aleigh


(Image via Colin Kinner)

*Statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness, disease, or condition.

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3 Comments on Reader Question: Battling Hormonal Acne

  1. KellyLove said on

    Great advice! I bought the Clarisonic Mia last year after you posted a review and use it 3 or 4 times a week (with the sensitive skin brush and good cleanser, either Juice Beauty Acne Cleanser or Philosophy Purity). One thing my derm told me about cheek and jawline acne: Clean my phone! I use eyeglass wipes (usually on hand to clean my glasses) to clean my phone and case at least once a week. I think it’s helped, at least in that area.

    Oh, and jawline/neck area: look at the ingredients in your hair products. If you have hair that touches your face EVER, consider that your hair products might be to blame.

    And drinking tons of water and green tea.

    >> Reply

    • indigo+canary said on

      Ooh, all good tips, Kelly! Thanks for sharing. :) –Aleigh

      >> Reply

  2. Amanda said on

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! :)

    >> Reply

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