If you struggle with hormonal acne, you are not alone. Though acne is often associated with teenage skin, the truth is that the hormonal imbalances we struggle with in adulthood can also cause acne breakouts. Hormonal breakouts are common in women in their twenties, thirties and even forties. These acne flare-ups tend to occur on a persistent monthly cycle and can range from a few pimples on the chin, to painful cystic breakouts.
Although it is best to address hormonal imbalances holistically with a doctor or other medical practitioner you trust, there are some things you can do for your skin to help with the process of treating and preventing hormonal acne.
TIPS FOR TREATING HORMONAL ACNE
1.) Learn about your hormones
If we could give just one tip to anyone who wants to troubleshoot breakouts, it would be this one. Learning about your hormone cycles and symptoms can be incredibly beneficial for troubleshooting hormone-related skin issues. Once you learn a bit about the various hormone cycles and how they work, you will start to get an idea of how to work with these changes and fluctuations in your body, which will in turn benefit your skin.
One easy way to learn more about your hormones is with a period-tracker app or by reading up on the subject. Two books we love for learning about your hormones are: Woman Code and In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life both by Alisa Vitti.
2.) Modify your routine 4-7 days prior to your period
As long as you have some idea about the timing of your cycle, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. About four to seven days before you expect your period is the ideal time to cut breakouts off at the pass. To do this, we recommend stepping up your skin care to include either an active cleanser or some light chemical exfoliation. You can also alternate a bit of both during that 4-7 days prior window. This would also be an ideal time to schedule a facial (or perform your own at home) to help combat hormonal acne.
The idea is to clear the pores of buildup and balance out oil production, so that breakouts don't have the conditions they need to form. In the days that follow during your period, you will want to stick to gentle products only. So this is your chance to exfoliate. We prefer a chemical exfoliant over a manual scrub for hormonal acne, to reduce the risk of inflammation in the skin.
3.) Avoid over-exfoliating
Although we recommend light exfoliation right before you expect hormonal acne, it's important to be mindful and not over-exfoliate before or during a breakout. Aggressive scrubs or brushes for the face can actually be very harmful for the skin and exacerbate acne.
Additionally, the skin tends to be more sensitive around your period and the time that hormonal breakouts appear. While it may be tempting to break out the big guns in the form of more aggressive treatments or products, the skin is more likely to become irritated or inflamed. Stick with gentle, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory products and your skin will be much happier.
4.) Know about ingredients that help hormonal acne
If you are looking to prevent hormonal acne, some great ingredients to incorporate regularly are vitamin C and retinol. Vitamin C helps boost the skin's immunity and ability to regenerate, whereas retinols (or retinol alternatives) are great for keeping the skin turning over and accumulating less buildup.
If it's past the point of prevention and you are struggling with an active hormonal breakout, we like ingredients like salicylic acid, licorice root and niacinamide for calming acne. AHAs like glycolic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid and lactic acid are also great for gentle exfoliation, helping digest any excess buildup on the surface of the skin.
5. Continue to hydrate and nourish the skin
When dealing with a monthly hormonal flare-up of acne, you may be tempted to stop moisturizing or using oil-based products. However, we strongly advocate for leaving these products in your routine. It is especially important, during a breakout, to keep skin hydrated, so that it can continue to repair and regenerate. Many facial oils are also anti-inflammatory.
If your skin is dry, there's no sense in starving your entire face of moisture, just to punish the parts that are breaking out. Continue to use your regular moisturizer or opt for one that is oil-free if you are concerned about excess oil. That said, if you aren't afraid of facial oil, using a bit of oil during a breakout can actually be very beneficial for helping the skin to rebalance and heal faster.
GLOWTOCOL FAVES FOR HORMONAL ACNE
Gentle Active Cleansers
Retinols & Retinol Alternatives