As if getting acne isn’t frustrating enough to deal with on its own, there are also so many things in our environment and our daily lives that can contribute to the acne situation. For instance, we know that stress and skimping on proper sleep can lead to unwanted breakouts. That late night at the office to meet a deadline at work could lead to a crop of blemishes smack-dab in the middle of your chin.1,2
Even though acne is genetic, the myriad of environmental factors plays a massive role. Your likelihood of dealing with acne can even be related to where you live, too. Those of us who live in larger or congested cities are more likely to deal with skin disorders and issues than those who are out in the country and around cleaner air. But not to fear – knowing the things in your life that can contribute to acne can help you know how to prevent and treat the acne that you may be struggling with.3
One of the things that most of us have to deal with at some point in our lives is birth control, and while it’s not true for all types of the birth control pill, most work by manipulating your hormone levels. And guess what? Hormones can cause all kinds of acne, and hormones can even be more likely to cause acne along the jawlineand acne around the mouth. 4
Bad news, right? And hormones are the worst for those random mood swings that can try to derail you, too, which can cause stress and even more acne, wash-rinse-repeat… but they’re also very necessary for keeping your body chugging along smoothly. After all, we need them to keep our reproductive system in check, as well as our mental and physical health, too.
Curious to learn more about the relationship between hormones, acne, and the role your hormonal contraceptive can have in the whole mix? Read on, friends, because today we’re going in-depth on the subject – and, most importantly, we’re going to show you how to keep birth control from throwing you a curveball.Below, we’ll dive into the connection between your hormones and acne and also discuss natural ways to fight hormonal acne.
Hormones and Acne: What's the Connection?
We all know that, in the most simple of terms, acne flare ups can happen due to clogged pores. Dead skin cells, which are constantly forming and sloughing off, can build up on the surface of our skin way too easily. Combine it with an unpleasant cocktail of sebum, pore-clogging ingredients in our skincare, and throw in a dash of C. acnes, and you’re all but setting out a welcome mat for pimples. 5
Then there are all the environmental factors everywhere that barrage your face every day with dirt, oil, irritants, and other impurities. This can make it all but impossible to keep your face completely clean. But how do hormones tie into this?
These guilty, acne-causing hormones are also known as androgens, and everyone has androgens in their bodies. Furthermore, these androgens fluctuate throughout our lives, ebbing and flowing over the years. We’ve even given a label to many of these hormonal changes when children are making the transition to adulthood: puberty. 6
And no doubt, both parents and tweens alike dread the onset of this time of our lives, knowing what it brings to the table for our complexions. However, acne isn’t just for teenagers, and adults are just as likely to develop breakouts. In fact, nearly half of all adults – something like 51 percent of women and 43 percent of men – will find themselves dealing with hormonal breakouts in their twenties and beyond. 7
But what causes these acne breakouts? Like we said before, it’s those pesky androgens, and they are often the hormones to blame for it. When it comes to acne, an increase in androgens causes an increase in sebum production, and sebum is the oily substance on your skin that can – you guessed it – clog your pores. 8
Women have to deal with androgens fluctuations more often in their lives because of menstruation and imbalances that can occur due to hormonal birth control. Excess hormones can happen before, during, and even after your period, which can result in what seems like a never-ending battle with a spotted face. And certain medications, especially birth control and similar contraceptives, work by affecting hormonal fluctuations, which can cause even more acne flare-ups.
Can Birth Control Improve Acne?
The upside to all of this is that some types of hormonal birth control medications can actually help with your whole acne situation. Birth control pills have even been prescribed to people specifically for the treatment of acne breakouts. So in a nutshell, yes.The birth control pill can help improve acne, but make sure you talk to your healthcare professional first. 9
We’d like to state that we do NOT recommend birth control simply for acne. Prescriptions have side effects, and most of the prescriptions used to treat acne can mask the root cause or even make it worse (like antibiotics damaging our healthy gut bacteria). But if you plan to take the pill for actual pregnancy prevention, you may as well get the kind that can help clear you up ( like Yaz) versus the ones that can break you out (like the Mirena).
Oral contraceptive pills have been found to provide symptom relief for many acne sufferers, mainly because of the hormones involved. But be warned, birth control works by effectively shutting down the communication between your brain and your ovaries and essentially pumping the body with synthetic hormones. And this can come with a wide range of additional health issues.
That said, hormonal birth control basically acts like a “bandage” to underlying health issues and is not addressing the root cause of what’s breaking you out. While it can help treat acne in some women, there could be something else at play that’s leading to your blemishes. We recommend trying to get to the source of your skin issues, rather than trying to mask them with hormonal contraceptives.
Sure, birth control has its benefits and can help you get clear skin, but those breakouts are your body’s way of trying to send you a message and birth control is shutting down that line of communication. When in doubt, listen to what your body is trying to tell you – as well as what your healthcare provider has to say. Remember, your body is a system, and your skin is part of it, too. A holistic, whole-body approach is always going to be the best way to approach acne treatment.
What to Do if Birth Control Caused or Worsened Your Acne
While most people report that starting a specific type of birth control can help control their acne, there are quite a few of us who have the exact opposite reaction. For those of you, you probably actually had your hormonal acne from birth control made worse, or have acne crop up where you never had it before.
So can birth control cause acne? Absolutely. But if this is the case, don’t fret, as there are things you can try to get rid of hormonal acne from oral contraceptive pills. The first suggestion that we want to float here is to talk to a healthcare professional. It may be simple enough to switch to a different birth control that may not affect you as negatively as the one you are currently on. 10
If it was a case of hormonal acne from birth control, doing this may clear up your face completely. Another option would be to try a non-hormonal type of birth control, as there are many available out there on the market. A non-hormonal form of birth control may help in other areas, as well.
Aside from these tips, care for your skin as you would if you had acne caused by anything else. Some things you can do to help mitigate these common skin problems include:
- Don’t pick at or pop your pimples, as that can push the bacteria down deeper.
- Keep your skin clean of any bacteria and pore-clogging substances.
- Wash your face both morning and night using a gentle cleanser, then chase it with a lightweight moisturizer or collagen serum.
- Try using alpha-hydroxy acids, such as mandelic or lactic acid, to unclog those pores. 11
- You should also use water-based or non-comedogenic cosmetics.
- Make sure your over-the-counter skin care treatments won’t clog your pores, either.
And most importantly, you just need to be patient! Healing your skin from acne after stopping birth control isn’t going to be a quick fix, no matter what is causing your skin issues. Your breakouts likely didn’t just show up suddenly overnight, so they’re not going to vanish just as quickly, either. But in time, they will start to go away, and you can finally start to enjoy clear skin once more.
What to Do if You Get Acne After Stopping Birth Control
Getting acne after stopping birth control is super common, especially if it is hormonal birth control that you’re quitting.There is something called “testosterone rebound effect” that can cause a super flare of hormonal acne, especially around the mouth. Avoid taking excessive amounts of B12, D, or Zinc as these in excess can also increase testosterone, adding fuel to the fire.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of hormonal acne as efficiently as possible, definitely incorporate the hormonal acne supplement MINDBODYSKIN, which helps to balance androgens, inflammation, and detoxification naturally. You will also need to be very patient and focus on detoxifying the lymph system (hot yoga, saunas, cold plunging, and sweaty cardio are all going to help speed this up while providing the extra benefit of endorphins to de-stress you).
It can take up to three months or more for your hormones to even out after stopping hormonal birth control, so while you may see some results before then, it’s best to always remain patient and gentle with yourself. Yes, MINDBODYSKIN will help you get clearer faster but you should still go ahead and do all the things that are good for any acne breakout, as we mentioned above.
As always, pay close attention to what you are putting in your body. Consuming excess alcohol, fried foods, and foods with a high glycemic value can all affect your liver health and therefore affect your skin. Hormonal birth control can also lead to nutrient deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc-- all of which can contribute to skin health. We recommend using only moderate amounts of zinc and B12 though (be careful with levels above 200% RDV as they can potentially increase testosterone levels. Vitamin C and magnesium are fine to take as much as you’d like though!
Double-clicking on MINDBODYSKIN here for a moment; to help combat the hormonal fluctuations of coming off birth control, adding in this hormonal acne supplement can truly work wonders and we can’t recommend it enough. The reviews speak for themselves and it can really help prevent scar damage by making your skin less acneic and more resilient to post-birth control chaos. If this overwhelms you and you’re looking for more support with this process, we recommend working with an acne nutritionist! 12,13
Finally, you’ll also want to make sure your skincare products are doing you good instead of working against you. Look for products that are non-comedogenic and won’t cause excess clogging of your pores. And by doing all of these things, you can help make sure that your skin remains smooth and healthy and free from acne after stopping birth control, no matter what type of contraceptive you use!
- The association between stress and acne among female medical students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5722010/
- Acne Severity and Sleep Quality in Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7445853/
- Association between exposure to ambient air pollution and occurrence of inflammatory acne in the adult population. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8439009/
- Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015761/
- Cutibacterium acnes as an Opportunistic Pathogen: An Update of Its Virulence-Associated Factors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7913060/
- Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360964/
- The prevalence of acne in adults 20 years and older. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17945383/
- Profiling and Hormonal Therapy for Acne in Women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3969667/
- Which birth control pills can help reduce acne?https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279209/
- Influence of Contraception Class on Incidence and Severity of Acne Vulgaris. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7263356/
- Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6017965/
- Diet and acne: A systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8971946/
- Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23852908/