Updated: Aug 24
Hormonal acne is a symptom of a suboptimal cycle that manifests on the surface of our skin. Usually forming around the chin & jaw & ranging from papules & pustules to deep, painful cysts, these frustrating symptoms of internal imbalance are often treated with topical skincare.
I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE skincare & believe in a great skincare routine… but women with hormonal acne know the struggle of searching for that amazing holy grail product, finding a serum or mask that helps clear their skin up, then trying to maintain clear skin as their breakouts come back again and again.
Does this sound like something you can relate to?
The hard truth is that you can own every skincare product in Sephora or from a medical grade skincare source-- and they might be great products-- but until you’re also addressing what’s happening on the inside, you’re not going to be able to heal the root cause of your hormonal acne.
You might be thinking “ok, what’s the root cause?” The answer is “that depends.”
The first step towards healing your hormonal acne is by tracking your cycle & figuring out when your breakouts occur. This is the #1 way to figure out which hormones are playing a role in your hormonal acne.
Instead of only tracking your period, you should track or journal your cycle every day.
Helpful observations for the most accurate data on your cycle can include:
- The day of your cycle (Day 1 of your period is Day 1 of your cycle & most cycles last 21-35 days)
- What your skin looks like (if a new breakout is forming, where it appears, if a breakout is healing, etc.)
- Your mood, energy, & stress levels
- Digestion & bowel movements
- Biomarkers like cervical mucus, basal body temperature, or ovulation predictor kits, which help you confirm when you're shifting to a different phase of your cycle
If you currently have no idea when your breakouts are occurring, but you think they’re hormonal, start there! After 1-3 cycles, you’ll get a good idea of when hormonal acne is popping up & when it's healing or your skin is more clear.
The second step towards healing hormonal acne is using the information you've gathered to help you figure out your hormonal acne type.
Here are the 4 main hormonal acne types:
If you break out around ovulation, this is usually due to high testosterone (an androgen) that is overpowering estrogen OR suboptimal estrogen detox-- which means that on a lab test your estrogen could show up as normal, but your body still isn’t doing an ideal job of processing the excess estrogen once it's been used by your body.
You also could be someone who deals with a lot of bloating, cramps, breast tenderness, or hormonal headaches.
If you break out before your period, this is usually due to low or suboptimal progesterone. If progesterone looks normal on paper, then stress & imbalanced blood sugar could still be hijacking progesterone’s calming/ normalizing effects & contributing to your hormonal acne.
You also might be someone who deals with fatigue, irritability/ anxiety/ low mood, & brain fog.
If you break out when you’re stressed, this is due to cortisol & DHEA-S, which are two hormones produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol spikes your blood sugar by tapping into your liver’s protein stores & turning it into glucose so that your body has energy to combat stress. DHEA-S is also meant to help your body combat stress, but has an androgen-like effect & increases sebum production in your skin.
You might also experience cravings, low energy (especially in the mornings), irritability/ anxiety, & poor sleep. Ovulation Type & Stress Type can also be very similar to women who have hormonal acne & PCOS, since their breakouts are often caused by androgens & imbalanced blood sugar.
Post-Birth Control Type
If you’ve been on hormonal birth control & are now experiencing hormonal acne, this is due to side effects of birth control. For one, hormonal birth control typically works by preventing ovulation, which flatlines your sex hormones & stops your entire cycle. For some, this will temporarily clear up acne-- but it also reduces supportive & skin healing hormones, like estrogen.
Secondly, hormonal birth control depletes certain nutrients (like B vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, & zinc) & changes the gut microbiome. This can also result in increased inflammation & acne.
You also might be really trying to figure out how to regulate your cycle & could be dealing with a variety of other post-BC or PMS symptoms… including ones you may not have experienced prior to birth control.
It’s possible to have more than one type or to have hormonal acne that pops up at different times due to inflammation, but usually, there will be one type you relate to the most.
Once you know your type, you can better start to address the underlying cause & balance your hormones.
Heal Your Acne & Glow From Within
Now that you know your hormonal acne type, you can learn how to heal, nourish, & take care of your skin from the inside out! I’m now offering 90-minute Cycle Synching Consults, as well as 1:1 coaching that lasts 8-16 weeks depending on your goals & needs so that you can learn how to achieve glowing skin & happy hormones.
Using data about your cycle, I’ll make an assessment about what parts of your lifestyle will make the greatest impact on achieving the results
Cycle Synching Consults are the only short term way to work with me individually. They provide a longer session (75-90 minutes) so that we can discuss your data & goals, then I’ll create a one month plan for you after our session.
My 1:1 coaching is the best way to work with me long term & comes with personal support for the entire length of the program, a collection of exclusive lifestyle guides that teach you how to use your hormones as life hacks, plus access to an incredible app that can help you track hormonal acne on a face diagram, nutrition, your workouts, your cycle, & more! This app shares your data with me for an elevated level of support. This is ideal if you want to work on hormonal acne, but also have other goals you want to achieve at the same time!
Beauty is truly more than skin deep & I’m looking forward to helping more women feel truly confident in their skin all month long!