How to control hormonal acne
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Fertility Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
If you’re trying to conceive, you might find your skin breaks out more than usual, which may affect your self-esteem. These outbreaks might be due to:
Coming off the contraceptive pill
Coming off acne drugs like Accutane (linked to birth defects)
Fluctuations in your hormones
I personally suffered from bad acne during my teens and early adulthood, but I’ve managed to clear up my skin by adjusting my diet and lifestyle. The following 15 natural solutions work well for me. I do have to stick to them though, otherwise my spots come back. For professional advice, make sure you speak to a qualified dermatologist.
1. DITCH DAIRY
I decided to ditch dairy after I read about how dairy consumption can lead to acne, because of the natural hormones it contains and its inflammatory properties. After just a few weeks of going dairy-free I had visibly clearer skin. There are so many alternatives available now; it’s not as hard as it sounds. Instead of cow’s milk, I have unsweetened almond milk or oat milk. I don’t tend to have much soya milk though, as soy is a phyto-oestrogen that mimics the effect of oestrogen in the body.
2. DRINK MORE WATER
Drinking water helps to keep your skin hydrated and flushes out toxins. If you’re dehydrated, your skin will lose moisture and become dry. This can result in increased dead skin cells that can clog up your pores. At the same time your skin acts as a ‘third Kidney’ eliminating toxins from your body as there are too many for the liver and kidney to handle. The toxins leave the skin through sweating. This results in a change to the pH of your skin, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply.
3. SELENIUM-RICH FOOD
Multiple studies have shown the benefits of the dietary mineral selenium for acne. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, salmon and whole grains.
4. VITAMIN D
Studies show that vitamin D can reduce inflammation in the body. If you’re trying to conceive, ideally you want to take a supplement containing vitamin D, but you can also get it from exposing your bare skin to direct sunlight or from foods like oily fish and egg yolks.
5. GREEN TEA
Green tea is particularly rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Although it does contain caffeine, it contains less than black tea and coffee.
Spices like turmeric, cinnamon and ginger help to prevent inflammation by inhibiting the enzymes that cause it.
7. HEALTHY FATS
Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect. They can be found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring), flaxseeds and chia seeds.
8. FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Berries like blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are particularly high in antioxidants, as well as leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli.
9. COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which converts in the body to monolaurin, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and so helps to strengthen the immune system.
10. FERMENTED FOOD
Fermented foods like Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), Kimchi (fermented vegetables) and yoghurt, can help to support the immune system by fortifying the gut microbiome. You need a good healthy balanced gut bacterium for processing toxins and lowering inflammation.
11. AVOID / RESTRICT
Dairy, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, red meat and processed foods can all trigger an inflammatory response in the body. Cut some of these out of your diet then see if they make a difference to your skin. For me, cutting out dairy, red meat and refined sugar has had the biggest impact.
12. NATURAL SKIN PRODUCTS
Although Tea Tree oil is commonly used in products to treat acne, I personally find Neal Yard’s Remedies Palmarosa range and Geranium range work wonders on my skin. I have a daily routine where I wash, cleanse and moisturise my face before I add any make-up. A few times a week, I use a facial polish to exfoliate and decongest my skin. I also moisturise my arms, back and chest, which helps to reduce any pimples in these areas.
13. FACIAL STEAMS
Steam helps to cleanse facial pores. You can buy a facial steamer or make your own, just be careful if you choose the latter option. Fill a quarter of a bowl with hot water, position your face over the top of the bowl and hold a towel over your head. This will trap the steam. Don’t place your head too close to the hot water though as the steam could burn your skin.
14. NATURAL HAIR PRODUCTS
I used to find that hair products would seep into my skin and cause spots around my hair-line, which meant I’d always have to wear my hair up. I don’t have this problem anymore as I use natural products on my hair that are ‘skin friendly’ such as argon oil and coconut oil.
15. YOGA / MEDITATION
If I’m feeling stressed, I really notice how my skin becomes more spotty. To help keep my body relaxed and mind calm, every day I schedule in at least 15 minutes of yoga and 15 minutes of meditation. If it’s a sunny day, I tend to do these outside, as I find sunlight helps to clear my skin and it means I can soak up some vitamin D too.