How to treat hormonal acne: such a loaded question! It’s something that I’ve struggled with for a long, long time. And it has taken years and years to find treatments that have made a noticeable difference. I’ve been on numerous antibiotics, tried all the creams, read different studies and articles etc. While I don’t have all of the answers, I do know much more about hormonal acne, its causes, and some techniques, products, and professionals that have really helped me along this journey. I wanted to share all of this knowledge with you in today’s blog post; it’s a long one but packed with info!
11 Tips for How to Treat Hormonal Acne
#1: Have Your Hormones Checked Out
Surprise! We’re talking about how to treat hormonal acne so, of course, I’m gonna mention hormones! Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. If you’re noticing major breakouts or cysts popping up around your periods, definitely talk to your doctor about it. You could have a hormonal imbalance that’s causing those breakouts. Your doctor might recommend conducting some bloodwork to see what’s going on hormonally for you. This info can provide lots of answers when it comes to treatment of hormonal acne! That bloodwork can also determine the right form of birth control or best pill for you if that’s the route (or one of the steps) you decide to take to treat your hormonal breakouts. If you really want to dig into it, consult an endocrinologist!
#2: Consult a Dermatologist
Next, I recommend consulting a professional that knows all about skin. They went through many years of school just learning about it! A dermatologist will be able to tell you how to treat hormonal acne from a medical standpoint whether that’s through topicals or medication. Nine times out of ten I try to avoid being on antibiotics of any sort, but when it comes to hormonal, cystic acne, I feel a bit differently.
Hormonal acne or cysts are painful and not to mention unsightly. They’re some of the hardest zits to cover with makeup! They can arise from your body’s over-sensitivity to bacteria. Antibiotics help to fight that bacteria and calm your skin’s overreaction. I wouldn’t use this as a long-term solution, but I would recommend considering an antibiotic until your skin has calmed down. (Or ask your derm about Spiranolactone!) I have the same perspective when it comes to cortisone injections of cysts. There are just some that are so awful they MUST be injected!
The topical creams and ointments that a dermatologist prescribes can be helpful in overturning your skin cells faster and drying up the surface of those pesky cysts. I do have to emphasize drying here. Prescribed topicals have higher percentages of chemicals in them, so they are much stronger than your average over-the-counter option. To avoid over-drying your skin (read: extra oiliness as a result), start by applying your topical once a day every other day.
#3: Find a Trusted Esthetician
One of the best things that have happened to me on this journey was finding Becky Dyke at SkinZoneRX. She is such a wealth of knowledge about skin, causes behind breakouts, and recommending products and treatments to help with my acne. Becky helped me construct a regular skincare schedule that I have stuck to 95% religiously (some nights I get lazy – sorry Becky! But I always take my makeup off!). She walked through each step and product to explain to me what each product does and why it’s important in my routine. Something that I love about Becky is that she asks what products you’re currently using and tells you whether to keep using what you have or to consider an alternative. She’s not going to push an entirely new and expensive skin care regimen on you which I really appreciate! It’s also not a billion steps that are a pain to remember or exhausting to apply.
I now know so much more about my skin, why it behaves the way it does, and what products to use to treat my breakouts. It’s all about turning over those skin cells baby! Think retinol and salicylic or glycolic toners and face washes. If you’re in the DFW area, I highly recommend going to see Becky whether you have issues with your skin or not. Tell her I sent you!
Finding a trusted esthetician has been monumental for me in learning more about how to treat hormonal acne. You can use the weekly planning template I shared in this post to plan out your skincare routine! I’ve made a few recommendations on there based off of what I’ve learned from Becky 🙂
#4: IPL Laser Treatments
I started going to Becky because I wanted to address what I thought was scarring from my acne. She explained to me that what I was experiencing was actually acne staining. Because of the olive undertones of my skin, red or purple stains stay behind long after my acne has subsided. And one of the best ways to combat this is through IPL laser treatments. This laser speeds up the skin’s healing cycle and overturns that staining more powerfully and quickly. I’ve noticed amazing results from these treatments. They are an investment, so this is something I’d recommend further down the line once you’ve gotten your breakouts under more control.
This was another suggestion from Becky! Vitamin C strengthens your immune system which is huge when it comes to combatting hormonal acne breakouts. This will strengthen your body’s reaction to bacteria and hopefully reduce the amount of hormonal acne or cysts you see. I have been taking two Vitamin C pills each day for a few weeks and can see a noticeable difference in my skin. Everything seemed to calm down and redness wasn’t so intense.
#6: Sulfur Mask
I read about this mask on Into the Gloss quite awhile back. It has now become my go-to for shrinking cysts. I’d consider it essential in a how to treat hormonal acne arsenal! To be honest, I lather it onto areas that are prone to cysts or breakouts – primarily my T-zone. I’ll usually leave it on for at least 10 mins and if things are really bad I’ll even sleep with it on! During a breakout, I’ll try to use this mask every night or every other night to dry things up. This mask has even helped some smaller cysts develop a white head!
#7: Spot Treatment:
- Acne Spot Stickers: When a pimple finally rises to a white head, pop one of these stickers on it overnight to dry it up. This will prevent you from scarring or staining your skin when trying to pop the pimple. These have been a life-saver for me because I am SO BAD about picking at my skin. It’s maybe one of my worst habits…
- Mario Badescu Drying Lotion: Use this in the same way as the acne spots! There’s usually not a night that goes by when I don’t have this on at least one zit. The most important thing I can say about it is that IT WORKS.
- Liquigel Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory. Acne and cysts are inflammation surfacing on your skin. When I feel cysts coming up or have a particularly inflamed part of my face, I’ll cut open a liquigel and dab it onto my skin. It calms everything down and reduces the size of a cyst!
#8: Avoid Eating Dairy (and sugar…)
Trust me. I’m groaning and rolling my eyes as I write this. Such an inconvenient truth! But when I have been really focused on eating a clean, plant-based diet, I have noticed big changes in my skin. I once did a 21-day sugar detox and my skin was 98% CLEAR. I recommend starting with eliminating as much dairy as you can. Dairy has been proven to cause acne! There’s science behind it. If I go too hard on the cheese, I can expect at least 2 pimples to pop up the next day.
#9: Drink Mint Tea
This one *could* be an old wive’s tale, but it’s still worth mentioning. Try drinking spearmint or mint tea every day. It’s refreshing and packed with antioxidants to fortify your skin against bacteria. This won’t be a one-and-done solution or clear anything up overnight. But it is a good tactic to implement to combat your hormonal or cystic acne over time.
#10: Clean Up Your Makeup
Have you read my post about how to switch over to a clean beauty routine? You might want to go read it now if you haven’t! The FDA doesn’t have nearly as stringent requirements on what chemicals can be included in makeup as it should. Other countries are way more intense! The ingredients used in drugstore or big name makeup brands can have extremely negative effects on not only your skin but, more importantly, your whole body! Okay, off my soapbox, back to hormonal acne. As I mentioned before, hormonal acne and cysts pop up from a reaction to bacteria. By slowly changing your beauty products over to clean alternatives, you can start using things that are healthier for your skin and won’t clog your pores and create a breeding ground for more pimples.
A great place to start on this journey would be at Credo. It’s a 100% clean beauty retailer. Every product they offer has undergone rigorous scrutiny to be sold on their shelves. You can buy with confidence from them! They can help you switch over your products by finding clean beauty equivalents to what you’re currently using. And they’ll reward you for bringing in your empty containers of “dirty” or clean beauty products!
#11: Stress Management
Last but certainly not least, manage that stress, girl. SO much easier said than done. When we get stressed our bodies produce cortisol which then produces, you guessed it, pimples! There are so many ways to manage your stress, so find one that works best for you. Start by thinking about what situations get you the most stressed. Is it work-related? Could it be solved with time management? Ask yourself these questions, and I hope you’ll find a way to better manage your stress. I am so far from being an expert in this realm. *Please leave recommendations* But I do know that having a day planner, making a daily to-do list, and a task-management program (Trello) for work helps reduce my stress immensely. But exercise, going for walks, and reading are also other ways I combat getting over-stressed!
That’s all I have on how to treat hormonal acne…for now. I will continue to update this post on how to treat hormonal acne with any new findings or insights! You can always find my skincare and beauty products linked here.
If any of you struggle with hormonal acne, what are some of the techniques you’ve used to treat it? Let me know via DM on Insta or email me. I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and learned!