Retin-A, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are advertised to treat acne, but no topical medication or skincare routine will directly treat your hormonal acne. 

This is not to say that your skin can absolutely benefit from a quality skincare routine (cleansing/ moisturizing/ barrier support), but this does not address what is going on internally... your hormones are out of balance.

How do I know if my acne is hormonal?

If you have been tracking your breakouts and notice that they typically occur during your luteal or menstrual phase of your cycle, you’re probably dealing with hormonal acne. Hormonal acne can be incredibly frustrating and sometimes can feel like nothing is working, but what if we are just being guided in the wrong direction?

The conventional approach to hormonal acne is either birth control or some kind of topical, but neither of these options address the root of the issue.

Hormonal acne is a sign that the body is out of balance. The best way to get the body back in balance is to support the body’s foundational needs: a happy gut, balanced blood sugar, a fully functioning detoxification system, a regulated nervous system and a synchronized circadian rhythm.

Here are some ways to start:

  • Eat foods that are nutrient dense (meat, fish, butter, healthy fats) and seasonal produce to supply your body with the essential nutrients it needs to build, maintain and perform
  • Chew your food thoroughly to set digestion up for success
  • Consider digestive enzymes/bitters or Betaine HCL to give your digestion a boost (a temporary option while things are getting back on track!)
  • Balance blood sugar by eating protein, fats and fiber with carbohydrates, reducing excess sugar consumption, minimizing stress and walking after meals. There is a strong connection between blood sugar and hormonal imbalance. 
  • Learn and implement relaxation techniques to keep the nervous system regulated. Consider adaptogens!
  • Prioritize sleep quality by minimizing blue light after sundown (blue light blocker shades really help) and by exposing your eyes to natural light first thing in the morning before artificial light.
  • Support your liver by reducing alcohol consumption and by consuming liver-supporting foods and herbs
  • Generate a well-balanced exercise routine. Rest when your body is tired.
  • Hydrate your body with mineral-rich water
If you are not seeing improvements in your hormonal acne and you are only focusing on your skin care routine, it may help to focus on steps like these to build a strong foundation internally in your body so your skin can thrive.


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April 03, 2024 — Maxine Nathan