Is Your Acne Hormonal? How to Tell, Plus How to Fix It
While all pimples and zits are recognized as major annoyances, acne takes things to a whole other level. When you’re dealing with acne, it’s important to understand which type you’re suffering from so that you can target the right solutions. Read on to find out whether your acne is hormonal, and what you can do to make it better.
What is acne?
Acne is a super common, chronic skin condition that causes pimples and spots. It usually appears on the face, but also the back, chest, and shoulders. Acne is a low-risk condition, meaning that you technically could just live with it. But the truth is that it negatively affects people’s self-esteem and quality of life. What’s more, severe acne can cause scarring, sometimes for life.
How can you tell if it’s hormonal acne?
Hormonal acne is different from a random bout of acne that might strike here and there. There are a few hallmarks of hormonal acne. Here are some common ones:
You’re way past puberty
Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or older, if you’re still breaking out on a regular basis, you might be suffering from hormonal acne.
You’re breaking out on the jawline area
Teenage acne, which usually erupts around puberty, tends to affect the T zone (aka forehead, nose, and chin). Hormonal acne, on the other hand, tends to happen on the jawline and lower cheek area.
You’re getting painful, angry cysts
Rather than typical blackheads and whiteheads, your hormonal acne flares up with inflamed cysts. Hormonal acne cysts are more tender to the touch and swollen.
Your breakouts have a cyclic nature
Hormonal acne has a cyclic pattern to it, much like the menstrual cycle. For adult women, hormonal acne breakouts tend to happen just before or during your period.
Are there risk factors for hormonal acne?
Your gender and age
Hormonal acne affects mostly women aged 20-40, though younger women as well as older women can also be affected, especially around puberty and menopause.
Your stress levels
As with all things, stress tends to multiply health concerns. High stress levels can be a factor in hormonal acne because of cortisol, aka the stress hormone. Too much cortisol can cause your other hormones to fall out of balance.
Your glycemic load, through the release of insulin, can influence hormonal health for the better or for the worse. So lower the simple carbs and work more protein and good fats into your diet.
Low-grade, chronic inflammation
All forms of acne, including hormonal acne, are seen as inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is involved in most health issues, from pain to fatigue to hormonal imbalance.
So what can you do?
There are holistic ways to address hormonal acne. Here are a few of them:
Healthline recommends upping your daily intake of inflammation-fighting green tea. Try delicious drinks spiked with matcha powder for variety, or go for green tea capsules. Other plant-based anti-inflammatories include turmeric (either juiced raw or in capsule form), and spices like ginger.
Load up on fiber
Wholesome dietary fiber helps fight hormonal acne because it helps stabilize blood sugar (and insulin production). What’s more, fiber helps bind with excess estrogen and eliminate it from the body.
Ditch the hormone disruptors
In your home, ditching hormone disruptors means choosing furniture and children’s toys free of flame retardants, as well as organic food free of pesticides and herbicides. But you should go beyond your home and diet: your skincare products can be a source of hormone disruptors, too. In skincare and cosmetics, fragrance and perfume likely means phthalates, which you’ll want to avoid. Choose skincare free of parabens, too.
Follow the right self-care routine
When you have hormonal acne, experts recommend you cleanse your face once or twice a day with a balanced cleanser that won’t strip away natural oils. (Try this purifying gel cleanser to help balance sebum, clean blemishes, and reduce skin irritation).
Your cleansing routine should be followed with a splash of alcohol-free and pH balanced toner. Choose one with no added perfume or fragrance (try this one to tighten pores and re-mineralize).
Clean out your skincare and keep your basics simple. Stick to a cleanser and toner and add a facial moisturizer as needed (try this one to balance sebum production and fight bacteria), and a purifying masque for the occasional treat (try this one to balance hormonally challenged skin).
With the right approach, hormonal acne flare-ups can be minimized, and maybe even banished. You just have to keep your goal in mind and stay motivated!