Hormonal Acne: What it is and how to treat it

Hormonal acne is something that affects or will affect most of us- regardless of your skin tone, skin type, age, gender or skin care routines. Hormonal acne generally isn’t avoidable, so it’s best to focus on how to care for your complexion by treating the acne and maintaining healthy skin. 


What is Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne is linked to overproduction of sebum (the oily substance in your skin glands), which clogs pores and leads to pimples. It is typically referred to as “adult acne” as it generally occurs in those between ages 20-50 and arises due to a fluctuation of hormone levels within your body and commonly seen in pregnant and menopausal women.


Identifying Hormonal Acne

 Hormonal acne affects both men and women and usually shows up in the form of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and cysts- depending on testosterone or estrogen levels. Testosterone generally causes more sebum and can create more of an oily effect to skin, which can clog pores. Most people experiencing hormonal acne refer to it as cystic, which means the acne is generally deep under the skin's surface and typically more painful and sensitive to touch. 

Growing up, it was probably common to experience acne on your t-zone (forehead, nose and chin), but hormonal acne will mostly form on the lower part of a person’s face and sometimes show up on the neck, back, shoulders, and chest. Noticing acne popping up on your jawline or the bottom of your cheeks? This is most-likely hormonal acne. 


Treating Hormonal Acne 

The trick to treating hormonal acne is knowing your skin well. What is your skin type? Do you have any skin sensitivities? If you aren’t sure, we recommend visiting a dermatologist to help you learn more about your skin and the best ways to care for it. If you can’t make it to the dermatologists, take a quick quiz online to help you out. Knowing your skin type and being aware of your concerns is important before beginning any treatments or trying new products. Here are some general recommendations to help treat hormonal acne;


Tea Tree Essential Oil 

A natural approach to treating hormonal acne (and any acne for that matter) is Tea Tree oil. This oil is best known for its antibacterial and inflammation reducing properties which make it the perfect ingredient to add to your skin care routine if you are experiencing acne. Apply a drop of it to a cotton pad and dab onto your blemishes as a spot treatment or dilute it into your facial cleanser or in a carrier oil to apply to your entire face. 

Non-Comedogenic Oils

It is important to ensure that your skin is still receiving the moisture and nutrients it needs- even if it’s producing more oil than usual. Ensure you are moisturizing with creams and oils that are non-comedogenic, meaning they will not clog your pores which can cause acne to worsen. 

Scentuals Beauty Oils are non-comedogenic and an oil like Rosehip or Argan are great lightweight oils to absorb quickly to nourish your skin without adding a heavy greasy feeling. 

Over-the-Counter Retinol Products

Retinol is a great product to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, scars and uneven skin tone in addition to reducing acne as it works to speed up the skin cell turnover process. If your acne isn’t too severe, you can introduce an over-the-counter retinol product to help improve your complexion. Ensure you start with a gentle and low percentage retinol and incorporate it into your skincare routine slowly- once every few nights to build up tolerance and to ensure no irritation occurs. Always use SPF every morning when using retinoids as they increase skin's sensitivity. 

Double Cleansing 

If you haven’t started double cleansing yet, we recommend you do (and check out our blog post on it to learn more!). Double cleansing is a great way to ensure you are effectively removing all makeup, dirt, environmental irritants and excess oil from your face daily. This helps clear pores and works to prevent any additional acne from popping up.  

Silk Pillow Cases 

Although there isn’t much scientific evidence to support the reduction of acne when using a silk pillowcase, experts do say that the silk fabric is softer and there is less chance of skin irritation like other fabrics may pose to your skin. Consider swapping the cotton pillowcases in for silk ones- they’re great for your hair too! 

Eating Habits

Although our eating habits are not directly responsible for hormonal acne, there are some foods that can affect our hormones which can be helping our acne worsen. There are foods that naturally reduce inflammation and some foods such as highly processed foods, sugary items, and dairy that can alter your hormones and affect your skin negatively. Regardless of your eating habits, we recommend drinking lots of water throughout the day to help keep your skin hydrated and healthy. 

Discuss with Doctor

There are many factors at play when it comes to hormonal acne and the best ways to treat it. If your acne persists after an extended period of time and is not relieved by anything you have tried, a visit to your doctor is recommended. A doctor will be able to discuss further options with you which might include prescriptions or hormonal balancing birth control. 

The important thing to remember when it comes to hormonal acne is that you are not alone- and acne affects nearly 80% of the population during their lifetime. Experiencing hormonal acne can be frustrating, scary and disheartening, but there are many resources available to help. 

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