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Whether you’re 15 or 55, acne can be a major source of stress. Breakouts always seem to happen at the worst time, and if you’re dealing with them on a regular basis, your acne can have significant impact on your mood, confidence, and more.
Over the past decade, I’ve worked with thousands of women, many of whom struggled with acne. The most common type I see is hormonal acne.
Your hormones play a central role in your skin health. They influence skin elasticity, wrinkles, aging, and breakouts.
Fortunately, you can prevent hormonal acne, both with a good skincare routine and with a few lifestyle changes. In this article, I’ll share my top strategies to prevent hormonal acne and make your skin glow. But first, let’s talk about why hormonal acne happens.
What causes hormonal acne?
Hormonal acne is exactly what its name suggests: acne caused by changes in your hormones.
As women, our hormones are changing constantly throughout the month. They fluctuate based on where you are in your cycle, your stress levels, what you eat, how much you sleep, and a variety of other lifestyle factors.
Acne is caused by a bacterium on your skin called Propionibacterium acnes. P. acnes is always on your skin, but it’s usually balanced out by other bacteria that prevent it from causing acne. However, under the right conditions — excess oil, dead skin buildup, clogged pores, and so on — P. acnes can start to grow in numbers and colonize skin, causing a breakout .
Your hormones play a major role in your skin’s oil production, how much your pores get clogged, and changes in skin cell development that can make your skin more hospitable to acne-causing bacteria.
3 simple ways to reduce hormonal acne
Improving your hormone balance can help you address the root cause of acne, preventing future breakouts and giving you smoother, more elastic skin. You can also change your skincare routine to discourage P. acnes from growing.
Here are my three favorite strategies to reduce hormonal acne.
Use tea tree oil
Balancing your hormones can take time. It’s worth it in the end — addressing the root cause means you won’t get acne at all in the future — but for instant improvement in breakouts happening right now, I suggest adding tea tree oil to your skincare regimen.
Tea tree oil is a powerful antibacterial, and it’s especially effective against acne-causing bacteria. People with moderately severe acne who used a tea tree oil gel daily had significantly fewer breakouts, and when they did break out, the acne wasn’t as bad .
Tea tree oil keeps P. acnes at bay and can also balance oil levels in your pores, making it a great immediate treatment for acne. Most people are fine using 100% tea tree oil without diluting it, but if you find pure tea tree oil irritates your skin, try mixing it with a carrier oil that won’t clog pores. I like sweet almond oil or jojoba oil.
Stop eating dairy and sugar
Diet is one of the most important aspects of hormone balance. Foods like dairy and sugar can cause hormonal shifts that contribute to acne.
Milk is rich in progesterone and precursors to a variety of sex hormones, and eating a lot of it may throw your hormones off, triggering hormonal acne . You may also be lactose intolerant without realizing it. Symptoms of lactose intolerance aren’t always severe. For many people, eating dairy can trigger hormonal acne without other obvious symptoms [3,4].
Sugar is another common cause of hormonal acne. Sugar has a drastic and immediate effect on your sex hormone levels, which can contribute to hormonal imbalance  and acne .
If you’re struggling with hormonal acne, try cutting out dairy and sugar for the next 30 days. You may see a marked improvement in your skin. You may also feel happier and more energetic as your hormones come into balance.
Take a hormone-balancing supplement
For extra hormone support, I suggest trying Hormone Helper. I formulated it specifically for women, based on my own past struggles with acne and thinning hair.
Hormone Helper contains vitamins, herbs, and precious nutrients that support healthy hormone production and boost your body’s ability to regulate your sex hormone levels. It may also relieve common menstrual symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings. If you struggle with hormone imbalance, Hormone Helper can support you as you get back to feeling like your happy, healthy self.
That said, Hormone Helper on its own won’t compensate for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle, so make sure you try all three of the above strategies to relieve hormonal acne. And for personalized health and lifestyle advice tailored to your body, try taking my Power Type Quiz. It takes into account your hormones, skin type, and more, and uses the results to give you personalized suggestions for how to look and feel your best.
- Liu, P. F., Hsieh, Y. D., Lin, Y. C., Two, A., Shu, C. W., & Huang, C. M. (2015). Propionibacterium acnes in the pathogenesis and immunotherapy of acne vulgaris. Current drug metabolism, 16(4), 245-254. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26264195
- Enshaieh, S., Jooya, A., Siadat, A. H., & Iraji, F. (2007). The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 73(1), 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17314442
- Kucharska, A., Szmurło, A., & Sińska, B. (2016). Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologii i Alergologii, 33(2), 81. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/#S0003title
- Juhl, C., Bergholdt, H., Miller, I., Jemec, G., Kanters, J., & Ellervik, C. (2018). Dairy intake and acne vulgaris: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 78,529 children, adolescents, and young adults. nutrients, 10(8), 1049. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115795/
- Caronia, L. M., Dwyer, A. A., Hayden, D., Amati, F., Pitteloud, N., & Hayes, F. J. (2013). Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism. Clinical endocrinology, 78(2), 291-296. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22804876
- Kucharska, A., Szmurło, A., & Sińska, B. (2016). Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologii i Alergologii, 33(2), 81. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/