Whelp, here we are again to unfold the ever-tangled mysteries of female hormonal acne! But before we delve into the nitty gritty….
What is Female Hormonal Acne?
Well, for one thing, ALL acne stems from imbalanced hormones, so if you’re getting acne, it means your hormones aren’t quite doing what they’re supposed to.
Acne isn’t as normal as we think. It definitely happens for a reason because hormones don’t just fool around, there has to be a REASON, a root cause if you will, that is making them imbalanced. Something is behind it all and it’s causing you to get breakouts.
So what’s influencing these hormones and making them go haywire? Unfortunately, there are MANY different things that can affect your hormones and cause them to become imbalanced.
It seems like almost all hormonal imbalances end up causing some form of acne which is why treating hormonal acne is difficult and the reasons for it are hard to unravel. The best way to find out what your specific imbalances are is to get your hormones tested. This way, you have a clear idea of what needs to be re-balanced which is much easier than guessing. I used the women’s fertility test by Everlywell to do this which helps eliminate a lot of guesswork.
So, what is female hormonal acne? In a nutshell, it’s known to be the most common form of acne in adult women and most often appears around the mouth, jawline, and chin.
It is typically cystic and quite painful to touch and gets worse before and during ovulation and menstruation. This type of acne often goes hand in hand with terrible PMS symptoms and irregular periods.
What Causes Female Hormonal Acne?
Female hormonal acne is caused by estrogen dominance. This creates an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone due to frequent contact with environmental or dietary xeno/phytoestrogens like plastic and soy products. This is most often where the imbalance begins.
Some women may have very low estrogen and higher progesterone, but it isn’t as common as estrogen dominance. It does happen though which is why getting your hormones tested is essential for pinpointing which hormones you need to focus on.
Other factors that can disrupt hormones include:
- Eating a diet high in processed foods
- Consuming too much sugar
- Taking the pill/using other forms of oral contraception (this can also include shots, implants, rings, IUD, and the morning after pill)
- Chronic stress
- Poor sleep
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Not eating enough calories
- Substance abuse
- Using toxic beauty care products that inhibit hormone communication
- An overburdened liver
- Thyroid problems
- Insulin resistance
- And many more!
Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? I wasn’t kidding when I said hormones can be complicated!
However, there are 3 things that I have found to be effective in straightening things out and getting you the clear skin you’ve always wanted.
How to Clear Female Hormonal Acne
If you’re wondering how to get rid of acne naturally, first and foremost you need to….
Clean Up Your Diet and Lifestyle!
One of the easiest things to start doing is eating healthier since diet and acne go hand in hand.
If you eat a ton of processed junk, begin by swapping those things out with healthy alternatives. You can never go wrong with a whole foods diet, especially a whole foods plant-based diet. These foods are full of bio-available nutrients your body needs to rebuild itself from the inside out. Just taking a multivitamin won’t cut it either. You need to be eating REAL food every single day. No more processed junk! Also, find out what your food allergies are and avoid them. Allergens cause acne as well, so you need to pay attention to how your body reacts after eating certain foods.
Please refer to this article to learn more about food sensitivities.
Lowering your intake of inflammatory foods (aka acidic foods) that are high in saturated fat will help lower inflammation in the gut while also significantly lowering androstenedione, the precursor of testosterone.
This means cutting out the processed foods and topping up on more alkaline-rich produce and whole food alternatives instead of meats, baked goods, and sugary treats.
Eating more greens also means higher fiber consumption which has been found to decrease high levels of testosterone, DHT, and DHEA.
So as you can see, eating healthy has some seriously positive implications for regaining hormonal balance!
Eliminating dairy from your diet is also going to help tremendously. DHT is a hormone that binds to the oil glands in our skin and is found in cow milk products. When you consume dairy, your DHT levels rise causing more DHT to bind to your oil glands and “turn them on”. This causes oiliness and clogged pores which, in turn, causes breakouts.
Getting quality Sleep, lowering stress, and getting outside in the sun are great things to change too! This will get your body moving and your lymphatic fluid flowing which allows for better detox, an uplifted mood, and overall more restful sleep.
These are all key methods to start implementing every day in order to improve hormone levels.
Don’t forget to change to all natural skincare while you’re at it (Beauty Counter is a great brand that is very clean!). Believe me, this one helps a lot. You may not even realize how many chemicals you’re putting on your body that affect your hormones. I HIGHLY recommend that you check out the EWG website where you can search your beauty products and see what they contain. I guarantee they’re FULL of toxins that are only making your skin worse. Start by cutting out these products one by one until you’re using safe natural alternatives. This will help balance hormones and give your liver a much-needed break.
Once you have taken action to improve your diet and lifestyle, you can work on the 3 steps below to get rid of your hormonal acne for good.
For those of you out there who get stressed and anxious about the breakouts that just won’t go away no matter how clean your diet is, this is for you. It’s the same protocol that I’m using for my lingering acne…and guess what? It’s working!
Start taking DIM and Vitex
If you know that you have estrogen dominance, then these are the supplements that are going to help you the most.
Diindolylmethane, or DIM, is a great supplement that aids the liver in dealing with bad/excess estrogens. It will help you detox the bad estrogens to make room for the good estrogen. I like this DIM supplement.
Vitex is an herbal supplement that helps regulate hormone production. It has an affinity for the pituitary gland, helping it get progesterone and estrogen levels back in balance.
It’s particularly good for women who have low progesterone in the luteal phase (the days after ovulation until the day before your next period) and high estrogen levels.
Low progesterone symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Hormonal acne
Symptoms of high estrogen include:
- Heavy periods
- Gas and bloating around your period
- Tender Breasts (may include fibrocystic lumps)
- Irregular periods
- Increased PMS
Since vitex affects the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland by increasing the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), it slightly inhibits the production and release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which helps lower high estrogen and raise progesterone.
When taking vitex, it’s important to keep track of your menstrual cycle. I encourage you to take notes on any changes you may experience such as the length of time between each period, the length of your follicular phase, and the length of your luteal phase.
If you experience more acne breakouts, it could be that your progesterone is too high. This is why you only take vitex for a few months.
Vitex should be taken for about 3-5 months. Take a break from it after this time and see if it’s rebalanced your estrogen/progesterone levels.
You can also start eating one raw carrot a day to help eliminate excess estrogen in your body. Carrots contain a special fiber that attaches itself to excess estrogen where it is then harmlessly eliminated from the body through your stool. It’s a super non-invasive way to help balance estrogen dominance. You can read more about this here.
Another non-invasive method for hormone balance I want to mention is Seed Cycling. This is where you eat two different seeds for each phase of your cycle in order to encourage balance. It’s worked wonders for tons of women and is a safe method to try out. You can read how to do seed cycling here.
Detox and Support your Liver
Excess/dominant estrogen and the liver are closely linked because your liver is responsible for detoxing hormones. A normally functioning liver will have no problem sorting out the overabundance of estrogen under normal circumstances, but since people with hormonal acne don’t have balanced hormones, the liver becomes overwhelmed and the excess estrogen gets recirculated through the body. This inevitably results in acne.
In order to reverse these effects, you must detox the liver to make its job easier. One method of doing this is to do a liver flush. While a little drastic for some people with delicate constitutions, it has worked well for many people. I’m not going to lie, a liver flush isn’t a very fun experience, but most people will notice a huge difference once their liver is better able to detox and sift through the excess estrogens. If liver flushing isn’t for you, read on! There are supplements that can do it for you in a much more non-invasive manner though the results may take longer. I am personally okay with a slower approach.
Milk Thistle is a fantastic herb that supports and protects the liver from synthetic chemicals by strengthening liver cells and its ability to detox. It’s also a gentle herb which makes it suitable for those worried about detox symptoms. I definitely recommend taking it! Some people have seen dramatic results just by taking 2 capsules of milk thistle per day. I recommend this milk thistle supplement.
Burdock root is an herb that will purify the blood, detox the liver, and balances blood sugar (another factor DEEPLY involved in getting clear skin). It’s also incredibly nourishing for hair, skin, and nails too so what’s not to love? I recommend this burdock supplement.
You can also eat more of certain foods to help support a healthy liver. These include:
- Organic green tea
- Dark leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Lemons and limes
- Carrots (raw!)
Reduce Your Stress!
This is probably the hardest step for most of us. However, it is imperative to reduce stress if you want clear skin.
When you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol (aka the stress hormone) which inhibits natural processes in the body. Stress particularly affects the endocrine system which is why hormone levels become imbalanced. This is how chronic stress almost always shows itself in the form of acne.
Some examples of stress include:
- Being too obsessed with diet (also called Orthorexia Nervosa)
- Not eating well/ being over-restrictive
- Not getting enough sleep
- Not getting enough exercise
- Worrying too much
- Letting emotions get the better of you
- Low self-esteem
- Chronic fatigue
- Hair loss
- Anxiety or depression
- Unstable mood swings
- Over-all poor health
- Weight gain (because cortisol in your system keeps your body from burning calories!)
Working on lowering stress will almost always be the key to getting clear!
Begin by making small changes if this third step seems too overwhelming for you, I know it can be hard to lower stress when the cause seems to be out of your control. It’s really about your frame of mind and what you allow to “get to you”.
If this is still difficult, consider taking nourishing herbs like lemon balm, holy basil, or Rhodiola (don’t use if you have a warm constitution). They will greatly reduce stress and nourish your adrenals at the same time so that you don’t feel burnt out. In essence, these herbs allow you to react to stress in the best way possible.
You can get Lemon balm HERE.
Holy Basil HERE.
And Rhodiola HERE.
Another supplement I can’t live without is Natural Calm. It’s a powdered form of magnesium that really helps curb stress. It’s also good for encouraging restful sleep and even improves digestion.
Other ways to reduce stress include:
- Going for walks
- Yoga and other forms of gentle centered movement
- Doing an activity you enjoy
- Breathing deeply for a few breaths
- Taking a relaxing bath after a taxing day
- Listening to music
- Using essential oils for stress relief
- Venting to a good friend (it’s never good to hold in emotions!)
It’s important to know that you will see and feel results in about 3 months after beginning.
Don’t give up! Consistency is KEY for reversing hormonal acne.
Good luck =)
What have been your tips and tricks for clearing female hormonal acne? Please share in the comments below!
You may also enjoy reading:
Essential Oils for Hormonal Acne
Essential Oils for Fertility
Can You Balance Hormones With Carrots?
6 Skincare Tips That Cleared My Acne Naturally
The 7 Step Routine You Need to Get Clear Skin
What are the Best Oils for Your Skin Type?
The Best Essential Oils for Your Skin Type
Is That Oil Good to Use for Acne?
The Oil Cleansing Method
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