Whether you are in your teenage years or in your mid-thirties, hormone fluctuations can aggravate skin and cause it to flare up. Estrogen, a natural Inflammatory hormone will keep things calm, but around that “time of the month” the drop in estrogen can cause the skin to break out more during that time. Testosterone and other androgens increase oil production which can clog the pores. Did you know that just before the start of a women’s cycle, there is more progesterone in the skin? This causes water retention, resulting in the skin appearing more puffy or bloating. When this happens, it can put pressure on the pores and can create a narrower pore lining. When you have thicker oil trying to get through a narrower opening, an environment is created within the skin where breakouts can now form.
Hormones from your teenage years should start to level out by your mid-twenties. However, the fluctuation in hormonal levels right before and after your cycle can stimulate sebaceous glands to produce excess oil! When you reach your early to mid-thirties growth hormones slow down. The result is often those tiny little lines around your eyes and mouth, which should be a wake up call to start getting serious about caring for your skin. Stress hormones are in full swing at this time of your life. Many women at this time are juggling a career and a family. Stress not only affects acne flare-ups, it worsens the overall skin condition. It induces the adrenal glands into overproduction of cortisol, a steroid which in turn tells sebaceous glands to make more oil.
The following are good symptoms of hormonally caused acne
If they seem to appear around the same time every month
-Often times before the start of your menstrual cycle are considered hormonal.
If breakouts are mainly on the chin or jawline
-These typically are the cystic type, which appear as hard, painful bumps that can develop deep within the skin and linger for weeks.
Pregnancy or starting/stoping birth control pills
-This most certainly could be a cause since these definitely have an affect on hormones.
So.. how can you manage skin during this time?
Modify your skin care routine slightly about 3 to 5 days prior to the start of your menstrual cycle
-Replacing or adding 2-3 products in your current routine with ones that focus on clearing away bacteria to prevent the formation of breakouts. I suggest switching up your cleanser and adding in a spot treatment formulated with salicylic acid. If you breakouts only happen in certain areas, you might consider only using these products on that area only.
Why salicylic acid?
Salicylic acid is famous for its ability to penetrate the pores to help clear out the bacteria without irritating the skin or causing dryness. It’s important to understand that most acne products are intended to dry out breakouts when they are in their active stage; while this is appropriate for someone who has pustular acne, its simply not for someone who is looking to treat adult acne or “hormonal acne.” Plus, adult skin types need to focus on keeping the skin in a hydrated state to encourage the slowdown of lines and wrinkles.
Try eliminating dairy from your diet
– When you develop cystic acne on the chin or jawline it could be a sign that you are getting more dairy in your diet than your body can tolerate. The hormone levels in milk may play a role in excess sebum production, which promotes acne. Since sebum production is influenced by androgen and hormonal mediators (such as insulin-like growth factors found in milk), the consumption of milk, cheese, and yogurt may become factors that influence endogenous hormones and mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin. Try switching your milk out for almond milk and try dairy free cheese if this is an issue you experience.
Take your vitamins!
– Vitamin B6 may help ease PMS symptoms by improving metabolic function and hormone metabolism. Vitamin B6 can also help the body manufacture neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which aids in the body’s ability to cope with stress. I’ve had some people feel like taking a vitamin B6 vitamin a week prior to their cycle has helped with their monthly breakouts.
Try taking oral probiotics
– Our digestion can be effected by stress, which shifts our inner microbial systems leading to inflammation. Eventually the gut lining becomes leaky and toxins are released into the bloodstream causing inflammation throughout the body. This can result in a flare up of breakouts due to the shift in gut bacteria. Oral probiotics may regulate the imbalance of bacteria and reduce oil levels. You can find supplements with probiotics in your local grocery store, in yogurts with active cultures (assuming dairy isn’t your cause of breakouts), and also in miso soup, Yumm!
References from Renee Rouleau advice section