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My Hormonal Acne Journey: How I Cleared My Skin

January 19, 2022

Hormonal acne is something many of us experience without even realising. Discover the best skincare products that will help heal your acne.

Author: Isabella Dockery & Sam Pennington

Reading time: 8 minutes

What Is Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne is an acne breakout caused by changes in hormone levels in the body. Having hormonal imbalance can lead to increased sebum production, resulting in blackheads, whiteheads, and even cystic acne.

Hormonal acne is something many of us experience without even realising. This type of acne may appear all of a sudden and cause you to feel less confident. Hormonal acne is treatable with skincare products, so you can have your clear skin back in no time.

Hormonal Acne Causes?

This type of acne links to both increasing and decreasing estrogen levels, meaning that you may experience hormonal acne during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.

Another hormone that can contribute to acne breakouts is testosterone. People with naturally higher levels of testosterone, such as those with polycystic ovary syndrome, are more likely to experience hormonal acne. Testosterone activates sebum production, which can cause your skin to feel oilier and clog your pores, causing acne.

Stress related hormones, such as cortisol, can also contribute to excess sebum production, causing hormonal acne outbreaks.

Why Am I Suddenly Getting Hormonal Acne?

During the menstrual cycle, hormone levels fluctuate in the body. This can trigger acne breakouts and the appearance of blackheads. Pregnancy also causes changes in hormone levels, as progesterone and estrogen production increases.

Equally, if you have stopped taking the contraceptive pill, you are very likely to experience acne due to the changes in estrogen and progesterone levels in your body. It is very common to experience cystic acne or see the appearance of whiteheads and blackheads with the change from synthetically regulated hormone levels to your natural hormones. This is because, this causes a hormonal imbalance immediately after you stop taking the pill. As your skin adjusts to your hormones, you may experience acne. This process equally occurs during natural changes in hormone levels such as puberty and menopause.

High stress levels are another common cause of hormonal acne, as increased cortisol causes acne. This means that if you have been experiencing a prolonged period of stress you may see the effects on your skin with the appearance of acne.

How Do I Know if My Acne Is Hormonal?

One of the most common ways that hormonal acne appears is in the form of hormonal acne chin. The appearance of acne in the lower half of your face is often attributed to hormonal changes. This is due to the high levels of oil glands that are stimulated by hormonal changes in the lower half of the face.

Another way to tell if your acne is hormonal is if it coincides with your stress levels or hormonal changes. If you experience acne regularly once a month, it can most likely be attributed to the fluctuating hormones caused by the menstrual cycle. Equally, if you find you have acne when you are experiencing high pressure and stress, the hormone cortisol might be causing imbalances in your body that account for the appearance of acne.

Furthermore, people with hormonal acne often have cystic acne, rather than blackhead or pustule acne. Cystic acne is the appearance of red, large, sore acne. This doesn’t mean that if you don’t have cystic acne but your skin breakouts coincide with natural hormonal changes in the body, that your acne cannot be hormonal.

How To Treat Hormonal Acne?

The best way to get rid of acne caused by hormones is to change your diet, regulate your hormones and maintain a good skincare routine.

Having a diet high in probiotics, such as yoghurt and kefir, can improve your hormonal acne. Cutting out dairy can improve your skin’s appearance. As well as this, increasing your omega 3 intake by eating foods such as fish and chia seeds can also help. Equally vitamin A has been proven to help with the appearance of hormone-related acne.

Taking a supplement such as a reliable porbiotic can support your skin from within. Skin and gut health are intricately linked. Probiotics containing billions of different strains of friendly bacteria boost digestive and immune health so you can achieve clear, calm skin.

Supplements are another great way to regulate hormonal imbalances. DIM supplements for acne contain Diindolylmethane (DIM), which heals skin inflammation by helping regulate your hormones. It also has the benefit of reducing the appearance of swelling.

Osmosis Skin Defense is a great example of this, as not only does it contain DIM, it also contains vitamins A, C and E. The added vitamin A prevents acne by normalising oil production and helps fade acne scars. The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin C and E minimise breakouts. Furthermore, vitamin C is also beneficial in fading acne pigmentation, while vitamin E promotes skin regeneration, speeding up the skin’s healing process to reduce already present acne.

What Is the Best Face Wash for Hormonal Acne?

The best face washes for hormonal acne are those containing gentle exfoliating ingredients such as papain¹,lactobionic acid² and alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)⁴ or beta hydroxy acid (BHA).

Papain is a papaya fruit enzyme. It acts to exfoliate by releasing the bonds holding dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. This allows them to be gently removed.

As well as this, lactobionic acid also acts as a gentle exfoliator. As well as being an exfoliator, it is also a humectant, which means it has effective moisturising properties. Since it is more gentle than regular acids, it is ideal for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

Furthermore, AHAs such as lactic acid increase cell turnover, and help to remove dead skin cells on the epidermis. This makes them great for targeting acne. AHAs  smooth skin texture, diminish fine lines, and fade dark spots. Exfoliating with AHAs helps to loosen and remove clogged pores. On top of this, continued use of products containing AHAs may also prevent future clogs from forming.

BHAS are also great for acne-prone skin as they can penetrate deep into the skin. They have the ability to bypass the oils on the skin to effectively dissolve the sebum and dead skin which clog pores and cause acne. As well as this, BHAs also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

All of the above exfoliating ingredients are also excellent in reducing the appearance of acne scars.

The Best Skincare Products for Hormonal Acne

One of the best acne treatments is the Intensive Clarity Treatment 0.5% Pure Retinol Night. This product contains a variety of acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, retinol and niacinamide. Retinol is one of the most effective treatments in calming acne as it stimulates cell turnover and is anti-inflammatory. This means it minimises the appearance of acne and prevents further hormonal breakouts. Intensive Clarity is also an effective cystic acne treatment as niacinamide soothes inflammation and reduces oil production. Niacinamide is gentle and effective, meaning that this treatment won’t irritate sensitive cystic acne. Niacinamide also reduces water loss, keeping your skin hydrated which is essential in preventing excess oil production, and calms sensitive acne.

The Acne Gel from skincare pioneers PCA Skin is another great skin clarifying product. This gentle, fast-acting gel uses 2% salicylic acid to clear existing breakouts and blemishes. Excess oil production is reduced, as well as unwanted discolouration. As well as this, it also helps to prevent future breakouts. Furthermore, the product utilises a unique OmniSome delivery system to allow for deeper penetration of its key ingredients.

Hormonal Acne After Pregnancy: How To Treat It

Around half of pregnant women experience hormonal acne. While it is still easily treatable, more care needs to be taken with the products used during pregnancy. Any acne treatment or product containing isotretinoin, oral tetracyclines, topical retinoids, or those that rely on hormonal therapy are generally not pregnancy-safe.

Products containing retinol and high levels of salicylic acid have been found to cause complications during pregnancy.

Instead of using the above ingredients, we recommend products containing azelaic acid. It treats the key symptoms of hormonal acne such as pigmentation and skin dullness, as well as wrinkles. Both glycolic acid and azelaic acid are regarded as safe to use during pregnancy.

How Long Does It Take for Acne Caused by Hormones to Go?

Adding acne clearing products to your daily face routine, should see hormonal acne disappear after around eight weeks. After your acne goes away, it's important to continue with your face care routine in order to prevent hormonal acne from returning when your body experiences hormonal changes. If you stick to your daily face care routine, you’ll be able to maintain healthy skin and minimise breakouts.

How to Clear Acne Scars

After your acne has gone, it is common to experience scarring or hyperpigmentation. Acne scarring usually goes away on its own, but when dealing with cystic acne scars it can often take up to six months before your scars fade. Some scars are more stubborn, and treatment is a necessity to ensure they disappear.

There are several treatments and serums out there, specifically for acne scars. Look out for brightening products or those containing vitamin C. Vitamin C combats hyperpigmentation by stimulating collagen production, and also helping to brighten your complexion. This reduces the appearance of pigmentation and gives you an even skin tone.

Similarly hyaluronic acid also supports collagen in your skin, minimising the appearance of pigmentation.

Exfoliating acids, such as the ones discussed above, are also great. AHAs and BHAs work to resurface your skin, reducing the appearance of scars and pigmentation.

To summarise, your hormonal acne is not a helpless cause! There are many ways you can treat the skin issue, such as using supplements like probiotics, or topical skincare products.

It's best if you try to identify the cause of your hormonal acne, whether this be stress or factors such as pregnancy. That way you can tailor the best and most effective treatment for skin.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at to arrange a free skin care consultation with our scientific team. We're always happy to help!


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