by Michael Wong·
By Geelda Raoofi
Today I will be talking about hormonal acne. You may already know your skin type, are caring for your skin properly, and using all the right products when you develop hormonal acne. A few reasons this imbalance could happen include pregnancy, starting or going off birth control, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), or another reason that causes too much or too little of a hormone in your body. I will share with you some tips and tricks on how to regulate those hormones and clear your skin.
Just like waiting to see results from a series of treatments and/or improvement of skin conditions, this takes time and consistency. The last thing you want to do is over-treat your skin. Some may think that loading up on acne-fighting topicals multiple times throughout the day is a solution, but this can actually do the complete opposite because it will dry out the skin causing irritation. This dryness can lead to your skin producing more oil which will lead to more breakouts. When I first started to get acne many years ago and didn't know the first thing about my skin, I did just that. I thought I was doing everything "right" and why isn't my skin improving? It's so important to learn about your skin type, getting to the bottom of what is causing these breakouts, and what you can do internally and externally to heal your skin. Reasons for those breakouts can be different for each person, and that's why speaking to a skincare specialist is the best way to get to the bottom of it before trying to find solutions.
When it comes to home care, what I usually do is a clay mask every other day (on my entire face). I will spot treat the areas with the breakouts more frequently (4-5 times a week) and then use a different hydrating mask on other parts of my face that have already been treated with the clay mask the day before. The last thing you want to do is suck out every bit of natural oil in your skin. Having some natural oil is actually necessary in order to have normal, healthy skin.
Since hormonal acne is something that happens from within, applying products and getting treatments is simply not enough to help clear your skin. What you put into your body plays a huge role in how fast your hormones and skin bounce back to normal. There are supplements to take that are essential to hormone regulation, and many of us don't get enough of these vitamins in our everyday diet so these supplements are the best way to ensure you are getting what your body needs to recover and repair to its original state.
The supplements that are known essentials for skin health include:
- Vitamin A: this can reduce sebum production, and it has anti-inflammatory effects because it promotes the body's antioxidant response. You can use this vitamin both topically and orally, but more research has been done on topical retinols being more beneficial when it comes to acne as well as brightening the skin.
- B vitamins: these vitamins help support the liver, which helps with detoxification and estrogen dominance. Vitamin B6 helps with rebalancing hormones by elevating progesterone and dropping estrogen. Deficiency of B vitamins can lead to dry skin and acne.
- Vitamin C: this supports collagen production and wound healing. Vitamin C is one of the most popular topical ingredients used in skincare due to it being such a powerful antioxidant, but you also have to keep in mind how important it is to consume enough of this vitamin as well. When you apply this vitamin topically and take supplements, you have enough to support your skin from the inside out. This vitamin is found in the food most of us consume regularly including citrus fruits, leafy greens, tomatoes, and berries.
- Vitamin D: A lot of us may not know that Vitamin D helps repair skin damage and prevent infections as a result of skin injuries. The best way to get Vitamin D is from sun exposure (limited amounts of course! About 20-30 minutes of sunlight is recommended daily), but during the winter or if you don't spend much time outside, supplementation may be necessary to reach an optimal level.
- Vitamin E: this has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could help the skin.
- Zinc: this has anti-inflammatory properties and, when used topically, can help reduce inflammation caused by chronic skin diseases.
- DIM (Diindolylmethane): this helps regulate estrogen by blocking androgen receptors. It stops male hormones like testosterone from getting into the receptor, and the negative effects it has on the body (like instigating acne).
- Myo-inositol: this helps by reducing androgen production (reducing sebum production) and increasing insulin sensitivity.
- Omega-3s: these are a type of essential fatty acid found in fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds. They can interrupt inflammation signals from inflammatory cytokines that can contribute to acne and other health problems.
- Magnesium: this is not a typical supplement for acne, but it promotes stress relief and is involved in the metabolism of our hormones. It can also help with estrogen balance by promoting the excretion of extra estrogen that could contribute to hormone imbalances.
Aside from these supplements, there's some lifestyle habits that are just as important. This includes getting enough sleep, drinking enough water daily, changing your pillowcase frequently, and reducing your stress levels. When you do notice breakouts, don't pick at them. Do not try to extract them by yourself unless you're trained on how to do it properly, because doing it improperly will make your skin worse. It is best to get extractions done by a skincare professional on a monthly basis if you are someone who deals with a lot of blackheads and congestion.
Now we will talk about products because this is just as important when it comes to skin healing/regulation. Less is more and a simple routine is ideal during this stage. I usually use a cleanser with acne fighting ingredients in the morning (e.g. lipohydroxy acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide). For my night routine I would double cleanse with an oil based cleanser first, followed by a gentle cleanser after. I would use a serum with acne-fighting properties, followed by hydration (lightweight moisturizer), and SPF to protect the skin and prevent it from becoming dry. Usually when you use ingredients that exfoliate or are meant to clear acne, you will notice your skin feel tight and dry. It is ideal to use a mask and serum to soothe the skin before applying other products when the skin is feeling this way. SkinCeuticals: Phyto corrective serum and Phyto corrective mask are usually what I reach for when my skin is feeling sensitized.
Products to reach for when going through hormonal breakouts that we carry at AE.R:
- SkinCeuticals: LHA Cleanser
- SkinCeuticals: Retexturizing activator
- SkinCeuticals: Triple lipid restore 2:4:2
- SkinCeuticals: Retinol 0.3/0.5/1.0
- SkinCeuticals: Clarifying clay mask
- SkinCeuticals: Physical fusion: UV defense SPF 50
- ZO: Gentle cleanser
- ZO: Exfoliating cleanser
- ZO: Acne treatment pads
- ZO: Dual action scrub
- ZO: Complexion clearing masque
- ZO: Wrinkle and texture repair
Treatments that we offer to help with hormonal acne breakouts:
- Bela MD facial - A specialized treatment that combines serum infusion and diamond microdermabrasion to take your microdermabrasion facial to the next level
(You have three to pick from: microdermabrasion, customized, or luxe based on what your skin needs).
Fotona Acne treatment - Reduces acne inflammation through photoselective absorption and controlled heating effects. Nd:YAG laser safely penetrates the skin to an optimal treatment depth to thermally and selectively destroy overactive sebaceous glands.
- AE.R 8 Clarify Facial - A gentle peel to exfoliate the skin with no downtime, followed by a customized mask. *pregnancy safe
- AE.R Calming Hydrate Boost Facial - The perfect facial that is meant to hydrate and calm the skin. Suitable even for sensitized skin (has no contraindications). *pregnancy safe
My favorite treatment for hormonal acne would be a chemical peel. This dissolves away the dead skin cells without the aggressiveness of physical exfoliation. It is often best to only stick to chemical exfoliation if you have a lot of active acne. Once this has cleared up, you are able to do more physical exfoliation without worrying about causing inflammation or spreading bacteria to other areas of the skin.
Foods you should focus on having should be more wholesome and unprocessed. These include unsweetened beverages, anti-inflammatory herbs and spices (e.g. turmeric, black pepper, garlic, ginger, etc), fruits, vegetables, whole grains and starchy vegetables, healthy fats, plant based dairy alternatives, high quality proteins, and legumes. Things you should be avoiding that could worsen hormonal acne are processed foods, dairy, and things with high sugar content. These include most dairy and milk products, highly processed foods (fast food, chips, frozen meals, white bread), sweets and sugary beverages (candy, cake, soda, energy drinks, juice, etc).
I hope this helped you learn a bit more about hormonal acne. It's just a friendly reminder to not forget to care for yourself internally because what you do on the outside is not enough when hormones are causing your skin to act out. If this is something you feel like you are struggling with, reach out to us today to book your consultation.