Skin Health From The Inside Out
One thing I learned in the process of fixing my skin, was that there isnt an overnight solution and the problem was as much internal as external.
When we isolate the skin and try to treat it externally as an independent organ, we miss a tremendous number of internal factors.
I was shocked to learn that those with digestive problems like Crohns Disease and IBS were also more likely to have skin problems, and certain medications that helped with skin conditions were also helpful to digestive troubles. One study also found that those with bacterial overgrowth in the gut were more likely to suffer from severe skin conditions like acne.
I found that those with leaky gut were more likely to suffer from cystic acne and skin troubles, and as we did the GAPS protocol to heal my sons gut problems and allergies, my skin improved too.
Though the specifics will certainly vary by individual, addressing gut problems and improving gut health are important steps to dealing with acne. The process is slow, but lasting. The specific things I found helpful in improving my gut health and inadvertently, my skin health are:
I personally found that balancing hormones was a big factor for me. Hormone balance is a moving target, especially for women, but these are the steps that helped me. Several close friends had their acne drastically improve just by removing sugary drinks and pasteurized dairy so that is a great place to start if you still consume those.
What Are The Best Natural Oral Treatments For Hormonal Acne According To Dermatologists
Low levels of critical nutrients can affect your body’s production of hormones and make your cells more sensitive to androgens. By putting good things into your body, you’ll get the good stuff out of it – AKA healthier skin and a glowing complexion. Your body cannot produce essential minerals on its own, so you must be getting enough of these key nutrients in your food or oral supplements.
Though there are several different treatments available to combat this condition, treating adult acne calls for a different approach and a customized management plan versus adolescent acne. Harsh acne treatments designed for other forms of breakouts are not what you should be reaching for. Instead, dermatologists suggest a more holistic approach to healing hormonal acne. Many natural ingredients can help clear blemishes, visibility, reduce signs of inflammation and redness, and reduce excess oil production.
DIM supplements – the best natural treatment for hormonal acne
Vitamin B5 – the most important vitamin for people with acne
Vitamin B5 can enhance skin healing and help reduce stress. B5 has also been shown to help moisturize the skin and enhance its natural barrier function.
Antioxidant vitamins: Vitamins A and E
Vitamin E is also often used as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The fat-soluble properties of vitamin E allow quick absorption into the skin, leading to faster healing times. It also helps promote collagen production to keep the skin plump and moisturized.
Experiment With Acne Lasers
There are a few different types of in-office lasers your dermatologist can use to target and destroy bacteria within your skin, the most popular of which is Aerolase. Aerolase penetrates the skin, kills bacteria thats involved with acne, and also delivers whats called a heat shock that shrinks the oil glands and helps cut down on oil production, says Dr. Howe.
Its not overly painful, and it can be effective on some types of acnebut only to a certain degree, and not on everyone. I always warn patients that its expensive, around $300 to $400 per session, and results will depend on their acne, says Dr. Howe, who uses Aerolase in conjunction with a tried-and-true hormonal acne treatments, like a topical prescription and/or an oral prescription. Just know that lasers are not a long-term fix: Almost all patients will need a monthly maintenance treatment, he says.
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Natural Women’s Skincare For Hormonal Acne
One of the most important things you can do for clear skin is to choose gentle skincare that is right for your skin and free from hormone disrupting chemicals. Many conventional products are loaded with endocrine disrupting chemicals and other harsh chemicals that could further contribute to hormone imbalances and contribute to hormonal acne.
Check your skincare products for ingredients that are known endocrine disruptors here.
While scrubbing your skin aggressively with rough exfoliators may seem like the answer, it can actually damage the skin barrier and worsen inflammation. Instead, opt for a simple skincare routine that includes a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and spot treatment.
Be sure to cleanse your face twice daily, in the morning and at night before you go to bed. Choose a natural cleanser that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils.
Follow up with a light, non-comedogenic moisturizerwhich means it won’t clog your pores. For spot treatment, there are over the counter tea tree oil products available. Tea tree oil is a natural plant oil with anti-inflammatory properties that could help clear up spots and speed up the healing process. Pure tea tree oil is strong on its own, so I dont recommend applying it directly to the skin.
Changing your pillowcase at least weekly can also help with preventing clogged pores.
Sip Some Spearmint Tea
Spearmint tea may help improve hormonal acne.
There are anecdotal claims that drinking spearmint tea can clear hormonal breakouts. Though research is sparse about its effect on acne specifically, spearmint tea has been found to reduce certain hormones associated with acne. Research has found that excess androgens, a group of hormones that includes testosterone, increases sebum production in the skin.
Hormonal acne commonly presents around the mouth and jawline, and may appear during the menstrual cycle.
A 2019 study found that levels of the androgens testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate may affect acne severity, and suggested that hormonal treatments focusing on androgens and their receptors in the skin may be effective in treating this type of acne.
In a 2010 randomized controlled trial focusing on women with polycystic ovary syndrome, consuming spearmint tea had anti-androgen effects and reduced testosterone levels in the study’s participants. However, spearmint tea has not been found to decrease DHEA-S levels.
How to use: To see if spearmint tea has an effect on your hormonal acne, drink two cups a day for at least a month. If you are on any medications, especially those that affect your hormones , talk to your doctor before starting this regimen.
Note: The role androgens play in acne formation has been a subject of much research, and, in 2020, the FDA approved a topical androgen receptor inhibitor for use in the treatment of acne.
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Add More Hormone Balancing Foods To Your Acne Diet
The most high impact step that you can take to clear up your skin is to eat more hormone-friendly foods.
There are 5 categories of hormone-balancing foods that I suggest focusing on:
- Cruciferous vegetables: theyre ideal for detoxing excess estrogen and therefore, supporting a healthy ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Remember that even if your body is making more androgens and less estrogen, your estrogen to progesterone ratio can still be off balance. Therefore you can still be in an estrogen dominant state that contributes to acne. Example of foods to eat are cauliflower, bok choy, radishes, broccoli, kale, collard greens and cabbage.
- Plant proteins: plant proteins are more nutrient-dense and more anti-inflammatory than animal proteins. Example of foods to eat are nuts, seeds, beans, quinoa and broccoli.
- Naturally fatty foods: fats are the raw material for all of our sex hormones as well as all the adrenal hormones. Example of foods to eat are avocados, coconuts, nuts, seeds, nut butters and olives.
- Antioxidant-rich fruits: antioxidants help fight off the damaging effects of inflammation at a cellular level. Example of foods to eat are oranges, blueberries, melons, papayas and mangoes.
- Green vegetables: theyre high in chlorophyll which supports detoxification. Example of foods to eat are cucumber, kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula, microgreens, dandelion greens.
Why You Are Experiencing Adult Acne
Maybe you feel like your skin is going through its second puberty. Maybe this is your first go-round with acne. Either way, breakouts are no less distressing as an adult.
Hormonal acne symptoms tend to show up on hormone sensitive areas of the face the cheeks, jawline, chin, and neck and tend to be deeper rather than surface blemishes. Acne is one of the most common skin complaints in adults and grown up breakouts can be especially stubborn to deal with, since traditional acne products are often ineffective. Thats because what you are seeing on the outside is a result of whats going on inside. Bacteria is only playing a small part in hormonal acne, so you’ll need a new strategy to deal with it.
Our hormones fluctuate throughout our monthly cycle. Estrogen is at the helm of good looking, well behaved skin, and its responsible for keeping the complexion looking young, firm, and healthy. Since its the happy skin hormone, the complexion usually looks clear when estrogen is balanced.
Estrogen peaks during the second week of the cycle, during ovulation, then dips just before your period begins. During this dip and the progesterone surge that accompanies it is when most women see an uptick in breakouts that often last throughout their period. Women in perimenopause or those who are past menopause can also experience hormonal acne symptoms, since estrogen tends to diminish as we age.
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What Causes Hormonal Acne And Why Am I Experiencing It
Hormone imbalances are the primary cause of hormonal acne flare-ups. Hormonal acne can be triggered by menstrual cycles, menopause, and even your birth control pills and hormones coated IUDs. Using the wrong skincare, eating the wrong foods, and stress can affect our hormones and cause more acne.
Androgen hormones are referred to as “male hormones,” but they are present in males and females. The most well-known androgens are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone Research has shown that there are androgen receptors in the base of the oil gland that lines pores, so if there are high testosterone levels in the body, they are more likely to bind to these receptors. More oil means more acne-causing bacteria more acne-causing bacteria means more blockages and breakouts.
Natural Topical Ingredients For Hormonal Acne
Natural herbal ingredients can visibly clear the skin, reduce signs of redness and irritation, and offer a balancing sensation to overly dry or oily skin types. Oils may not be the first ingredients to come to mind when addressing hormonal acne, but its important to remember that balance is key and there are several natural oils that help to beautify the skin and lessen the appearance of breakouts.
Evening Primrose Oil is one ingredient that works well on hormone imbalance acne, helping to diminish the appearance of breakouts and clogged pores. The oil is rich in Omega 6 essential fatty acids including the rare Gamma-linoleic acid. By keeping the skin well nourished it calms oil production from pores, reduces the appearance of redness, and helps you create an even-toned, radiant look. This oil is also well suited to protect and condition menopausal and post-menopausal skin, which may suffer from increasing dryness. All ages can benefit from this ideal natural hormonal acne treatment oil.
Several other oils that can be extremely helpful for hormonal acne are hemp seed oil and tamanu oil. Hemp has a perfect ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and offers softening, absorbent properties that are good for all ages. Tamanu is an ideal oil to help skin that is recovering from breakouts. It has some very unique phytochemical nutrients that help your skin build new cells, making those breakout marks a thing of the past quickly.
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Follow A Low Glycemic Diet
A 2021 research review reported that folks with acne tend to have high blood sugar levels and that eating sugar on the reg tends to be associated with higher rates of acne.
The possible solution? A low glycemic index diet .
An LGID involves eating foods that are low on the glycemic index . This means they slooowly break down into sugar in your bloodstream, helping to keep your blood sugar stable.
High GI foods like sugar, white bread, and cookies increase your blood sugar. Long story short, high blood sugar leads to high insulin, which can also boost other hormones. And when hormones get out of whack, well say hello to hormonal acne!
A small 2007 study supports the idea that following an LGID helps with acne. In a 12-week study of 43 dudes with acne, those who followed an LGID ended up lowering both their zit count and their body weight more than those who ate high GI foods.
Your Diet May Be The Culprit
Food is one of the primary contributors to fluctuating or increased hormone levels in our bodies.
The typical American diet is acidic and high in saturated fats, processed grains, meat fats, and refined sugar. It is also low in fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, fiber, and antioxidants. Research has shown that this can cause an imbalance in testosterone and androgen levels, respectively. Therefore, a healthy diet is one form of natural treatment for hormonal acne. Another way to balance hormone levels is by taking certain herbs and vitamins. Both these items are discussed in more detail below.
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Low Dose Birth Control Pills
These tablets and devices are low in Estrogen and, therefore, tend to increase the bodies Androgen levels as the Estrogen drop. Think of a teeter-totteras one goes down the other goes up.
As a general rule of thumb, those with the potential for higher androgenic symptoms should be avoided for people prone to acne because they promote breakouts. As an acne sufferer, it is critical to speak with your doctor about selecting a form of birth control that is higher in estrogen and lower in androgen potency.
SOLUTION: Take out the IUD or come off the low-dose birth control pill and switch to a safe tablet if you are on birth control for a said reason. Here at Natural Acne Clinic, we are not proponents of using birth control pills or devices to balance hormone levels or to clear acne. With that said, it is ok to be on certain types of birth control to prevent pregnancy and keep your skin clear.
How To Deal With Hormonal Acne
Hormonal acne is basically the result of all those hormonal reactions taking place in your body. All those tiny zits and pimples on your forehead and on your chin are on account of certain chemicals. To solve the problem of such acne, you need a chemical solution as well. Obtaining these chemical solutions, however, does not necessarily have to involve the use of dozens of expensive products and creams. Instead, here are some of the natural home-based alternatives that can provide you with the chemical solutions required to deal with hormonal acne.
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Consider Your Diet To Avoid A Hormonal Imbalance
How to treat hormonal acne has a lot to do with your diet, namely the consumption of dairy. “Studies have shown that dairy can worsen acne,” says Jeremy Fenton, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group. “Dairy has been shown to stimulate testosterone production in people who consume it, and spikes in testosterone can worsen acne. Dairy also naturally contains its own hormones, such as estrogen, which can exert their own impact on a person’s hormonal balance.” The worst culprit, believe it or not, isskim milk and fat-free dairy. Fenton explains that removing fat from the dairy concentrates its food items and causes them to be absorbed by the body faster, meaning hormonal spikes occur more quickly.
Foods high in sugar are another culprit to blame. “I would recommend avoiding refined flour, sweets, and processed carbohydrates,” says Fenton. “The exact mechanism isn’t known for certain, but we believe that these refined carbs lead to an insulin spike, which causes a hormonal cascade that can increase inflammation and oil production.”
Drink Juices To Amplify Your Results
Weve talked about how beneficial smoothies are for acne, but what about juices?
Well, they are like a super concentrated shot!
So, whats the difference between smoothies and juices?
The main difference is with smoothies you blend the whole fruits, veggies and so on.
So you get a lot of fiber. That fiber is great for your gut and also essential for keeping you regular .
On the other hand, juices dont contain fiber. But what they do have is all the nutrients that are in the food.
Heres the dealin a large smoothie you may use 1 or 2 carrot. But to make a large glass of juice, you will use about 5 or 6 jumbo carrots. Thats a lot of carrots and therefore, a lot more nutrients .
When it comes to smoothies vs. juices, both are very effective. You cant go wrong with either.
So use one or both. Totally up to you.
Heres a tasty juice recipe to try:
For tips on how to use these recipes, see the next section below.
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Supporting Your Hormone Health Is A Lifestyle
Your diet is a holistic experienceyou have to take the rest of it into consideration, Vitti says. Are any of the above a surefire fix for hormonal acne? No, she states. But can they start to give you a sense that if you change more of your diet, you can get more results? Yes.
The hormone expert recommends tracking your symptoms and successes in a period-tracking app like MyFLO and using her books WomanCode and In The Flo to create a hormone-healthy diet that works for you and your lifestyle. You may also want to visit a professional to have your levels checked, work on lowering your stress levels, and avoid using cosmetics and cleaning products that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Yes, its a lotbut to see meaningful change, you need to get committed to helping your hormones, Vitti says. Its only fair. After all, as your hormonal acne proves, theyre committed to helping you.