Hormonal acne is the worst. Even if you check all of the boxes when you are fighting acne, such as drinking water, following a clean diet, exfoliating, changing your pillowcases, etc. you could still break out constantly due to hormonal issues.
I struggled with hormonal acne for years before I found out that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and that hormonal acne is one of the symptoms. Even though I try incredibly hard, this has been one of the hardest things that I have had to deal with. It is not easy walking around with red dots all over your face.
I suppose I could put on make-up, but I do not see the point. Besides, I have not really worn make-up regularly in four years. I have become way too attached to my extra twenty minutes of sleep in the morning, because I do not have to put on make-up or style my hair (yeah, I do not do that either. We only use my hairdryer when we want to get the fire going at my house).
I do not have anything against wearing make-up, but when my hormonal issues became worse four and a half years ago, my acne became really bad and the make-up did not help at all. I went from being a girl who obviously had acne to a girl who was obviously trying to hide her acne. So, I stopped.
My hormonal acne has improved significantly over the last few years after I cut out sugar, gluten, soy, dairy, and any processed foods 90% of the time, but I cannot change the fact that I have PCOS.
By this, I do not mean that I have accepted the fact that I will always have skin problems, because I will never give up trying. The only thing is that when your acne is hormonal, you have to try harder and focus on healing your body first and treating the cause of your breakouts.
I have managed to get rid of about 50% of my acne (although it could be more, but I struggle to look at the way I look objectively, and often feel as if my acne is still as bad as it was four and a half years ago).
If you are feeling frustrated with your own hormonal acne, here are a few tips that have helped me improve my skin so far:
Not Picking Your Skin
This is probably the hardest tip for me to follow. Picking my skin is one of my nervous habits (I also bite my nails, which does not help with the whole trying to look good thing).
When you pick your skin, you are not only spreading bacteria and introducing more bacteria, but you can also cause damage to your skin and end up with scars and pigmentation marks that will stay for years.
Not Eating Junk Food
If I eat gluten, soy, and certain sources of dairy, then I can guarantee that my skin will break out in the next few days, especially my forehead. These might not make you break out, but if you do have a condition like PCOS, then chances are, they might increase the amount of inflammation you probably already have. Your skin becomes inflamed when you break out, so it makes sense to want to follow a diet that lowers inflammation.
Reducing my Carb Intake
I know this is not what you want to hear, but when you eat carbs, your blood glucose levels rise, as well as insulin. This means that, if you have PCOS, your ovaries will produce more androgens (male hormones), which can then trigger the production of more sebum by your skin. Sebum is the oil that, when mixed with dead skin cells and bacteria, causes breakouts.
Therefore, I am sure that you can understand why I have chosen to follow a diet that is low in carbs.
What Is My Plan for The Future to Fight Hormonal Acne?
The main things that I can do are to reduce stress and to try and fix my gut health. Cortisol (a stress hormone), when elevated, also leads to the production of more androgens, and therefore, more hormonal breakouts, which is why reducing stress is crucial.
I was also on three courses of antibiotics at the beginning of the year, and have not paid enough attention to fixing my gut health.
Your gut microbiome (gut bacteria) can affect your skin a lot, and you can improve your gut health by consuming enough probiotics through supplements and fermented foods like yoghurt, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut, and also making sure you get enough fibre and enzymes in your diet to help support digestion and feed your healthy gut bacteria.
It also entails that you cut out foods that can damage your gut health, which includes sugar, processed carbohydrates, and hydrogenated fats.
These are a few things that I have found helpful and that I believe will help me in the future. If you are familiar with this battle, I wish you the best of luck, and will keep you updated on my experience and what works for me, as it could hopefully help you as well.