DEFEATING hormonal acne 101
I went off the birth control pill and got a hormonal IUD (Mirena) in early January (read more about the procedure and the side effects). And WOW, did my skin take me through a pimply and emotional rollercoaster. Keep reading for my tips on getting through a hormonal outbreak.
I had been on the pill for about three years—three years of blissful, relatively blemish-free skin. Before the pill, I would get hormonal outbreaks around my T-zone, but nothing really terrible. About a month after getting my IUD, I began breaking out profusely on my forehead and around my nose. I got tiny, slightly painful, really annoying pimples scattered about my forehead, and it seemed like every day I’d wake up and there would be more! Although the Mirena’s hormones are supposed to stay localized inside your uterus, it was either the IUD hormones or going off the pill’s hormones, or both, that caused this sudden hormonal imbalance in my body.
After a lifetime of dry skin, I had zero clue what to do with my suddenly very oily, acne-prone T-zone. So I turned to my best friend: Google.
Here are some things that worked for me:
- Cutting down on the amount of caffeine, sugar, and dairy I consume. These foods amplify hormonal imbalances, essentially making hormonal breakouts worse. I’ve noticed even before I had these intense breakouts that the amount of sugar I eat directly correlates with the number of pimples on my face…so sacrifices had to be made. I basically stopped drinking milk and have been avoiding processed foods, which tend to contain a lot of sugar. Although I already don’t normally consume much caffeine, I’ve limited myself to 2 or 3 caffeinated drinks a week and I always drink tea instead of coffee.
- Using chemical exfoliants instead of harsh physical exfoliants. Physical exfoliants, which include scrubs or using a washcloth to rub your skin, can cause tiny tears in your skin which actually make your skin more prone to acne. Instead, I use a cleanser with both AHA/BHA, which are chemical exfoliants that clear your pores and get rid of your dead skin cells. This is a lot gentler for your skin. You can read more about the AHA/BHA method here.
- Moisturizing. I was hesitant at first to put more oil on my oily skin, but using a facial oil to make sure that my skin is moisturized throughout the day seems to tame the oil production. Make sure your moisturizer, and the rest of your skincare and face makeup while you’re at it, is non-comedogenic, meaning that it doesn’t contain any ingredients that clog your pores (complete list here).
- Spot treating acne with tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properies that make it an effective natural treatment for acne. You can dilute it with water or a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, or just use it directly. It may be irritating for sensitive skin so do be cautious and test a little on your skin before rubbing it all over your face. I dot it directly on any acne I have before I sleep.
- Taking hemp oil supplements. Sounds weird, but they’re used to treat eczema and acne. You can also put hemp oil directly on your skin. Not really sure how it works, but you can read about it here. I’ve noticed that my skin looks healthier and my pores seem to look smaller. Hemp seed is also supposed to help balance hormones (it’s used to treat PMS), reduce sugar cravings, and relieve joint pain.
I hope this was helpful. Let me know your skincare tips for managing your hormonal outbreaks, if you have any!