Hormones and Acne

Hormones and Acne

CEO of CLEARSTEM Skincare
By: Danielle Gronich

Danielle Gronich, known as The Acne Guru™ is the formulator and CEO of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that uses premium ingredients to correct acne, acne scars, DNA damage, and melasma. Danielle studied cellular biology and genetics throughout her education and has had a passion for solving acne

Danielle Gronich, known as The Acne Guru™ is the formulator and CEO of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that uses premium ingredients to correct acne, acne scars, DNA damage, and melasma. Danielle studied cellular biology and genetics throughout her education and has had a passion for solving acne

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There is a huge misconception that hormonal acne can’t be helped, or that we just have to deal with it as is. Not true. The fact is, both your diet and the supplements that you take play a pivotal role in determining your hormonal equilibrium. 

Not sure if something you’re doing is causing your breakouts? Well, to help clear things up (no pun intended!), here are the more common hormonal factors that can most commonly affect acne.

What Is Hormonal Acne?

First of all, let’s go ahead and define “hormonal acne.” In brief, hormonal acne is simply a type of acne that is caused by your hormones. Easy peasy, right?

Eh, not quite. That’s kinda a blanket definition of the condition, and the relationship between hormones and acne is much more complex than that. Sure, hormonal acne is usually associated with breakouts that occur during that time of the month, but there’s a bit more to it.

Believe it or not, pretty much all types of acne are actually hormonal. Now, to be fair, this is a slight oversimplification of things here. However, for the most part, acne vulgaris is largely a hormonal condition.

“But,” you might be protesting, “I only get breakouts when I’m stressed. Plus, I’m a guy. That has nothing to do with my hormones.”

Wellll… not quite. You see, cortisol is a stress hormone. And when your stress levels rise, so do your body’s cortisol levels. (1)

Boom. Acne breakouts, right there on your face (and body). (2)

Also? While women are more likely than men to get acne, it’s actually the male hormones that are responsible for these breakouts. So being male is not a get-out-of-acne-jail-free card. (3 & 4)

Okay, fine. But wait – both of your parents had acne, their parents had acne, and their parents’ parents had acne. That means that your acne is also genetic, and not hormonal.

Hold up, not so fast. Yes, your genes play a huge role in whether or not you get acne, but they’re not the cause of the acne itself. Rather, it’s more of a genetic predisposition to actually getting it. (5)

Something still has to trigger the breakout. Whether it’s that time of the month (hormones), stress (as we’ve already established, also hormones), medications (which can affect your hormones), or even just systemic inflammation (and yep, we’re talking about hormones here, too), acne doesn’t just simply happen idiopathically. (6)

In fact, it’d be much easier to try to narrow down what isn’t hormonal acne. Acne is often caused by clogged pores, which happens when your skincare and makeup contain pore-clogging ingredients (like shea butter, ethylhexyl palmitate, and coconut oil). But that doesn’t mean hormonal shifts won’t make it more inflamed. Example: generally women see PMS acne but it’s only flaring at that time of the most due to increase in testosterone & drop in estrogen. When clients eliminate the pore-cloggers in their products they find that PMS acne also decreases because the pore is now clear and less bothered by hormone changes.

In the big picture, hormones play a huge role in acne but often times the acne is triggered by something else as well- here are some common things can contribute to breakouts:

  • Acne caused by weather changes. This is due to increased sebum levels, clogged pores, and an inflammatory response due to the presence of C. acnes (Cutibacterium acnes, the artist formerly known as Propionibacterium acnes) at the site of the congestion. Your hormones determine how much sebum you create, and we already established that inflammation is hormonal. (7)
  • Acne caused by friction. “Acne mechanica” is an inflammatory response due to congestion and irritation at the site (think “maskne”),which can trigger excess sebum production at the site- this is both an immune & hormonal response. (8)
  • Caused because you picked at your spots. Okay, first of all, if you pick – stop doing that right now and use an ice roller instead! You’re increasing your chances of spreading a nasty breakout and infection across your beautiful face. But yes, picking releases prostaglandins, which are a type of hormone designed to help treat active infections. (9)
  • Caused by your diet. Got into the ice cream again? Couldn’t say no to that chocolate bar your BFF offered you? Doesn’t matter… the foods you eat (especially dairy and eggs) can affect your hormones, causing painful breakouts on your skin and body. (10)
  • Caused by pore-clogging ingredients in your skincare or makeup AKA “Acne cosmedica” We can’t strongly emphasize enough the importance of checking for pore-clogging ingredients before you try something new, but yes. Even those clogged pores trigger an immune & hormonal inflammatory response.
  • Caused by coming into contact with an allergen. We’re beating a dead horse here, friends. Histamine is a hormone, and that’s the culprit of your breakout. (11)

Look, don’t overthink things too much right now. It’ll make your head spin around and your brain explode, and you don’t want to have to deal with that mess.

We’ll be diving deeper into these topics in a few minutes, but the TL;DR here is that all acne is related to hormones but not for the reasons you think. Regardless of your gender, your age, or your Zodiac sign, being in touch with the things that affect your hormones is vital for your health. Jumping straight to a toxic medication just to override your hormones has long-term side effects that you do not want. 

For the sake of this article though, we’ll illustrate the component of acne that is caused by your reproductive hormones. Estrogen and testosterone, to be more precise.

While it’s usually your male hormones (also known as “androgens'') that cause the acne breakouts, estrogen isn’t off the hook just yet. Having excessive amounts of estrogen can actually lead to inflammation, causing a flare-up. (12)

Even more interesting is the fact that elevated estrogen levels can cause your body to convert its existing testosterone into something called DHT. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is the more potent form of testosterone – “super testosterone,” if you will – and when it comes to acne triggers, it’s a real doozy. (13)

How’s that for an interesting science lesson? Anyway, now that we’re established what hormonal acne is, let’s go ahead and explore who can experience it. (Spoiler alert: Virtually nobody is immune to hormonal acne!)

Who Does Hormonal Acne Affect?

For the most part, it’s safe to say that pretty much anyone can get hormonal acne. However, while everyone can get it, it doesn't mean that everyone will get it. Some people are just more susceptible to hormonal acne than others.

If you happen to be between the ages of twenty and fifty years young and are female, then congratulations. You fall exactly into the right demographic of people who are more likely to develop hormonal acne. (14)

Of course, that doesn’t mean that hormonal acne is limited to this age group or gender. Teenagers, for instance, are especially vulnerable to hormonal acne. The combination of fluctuating hormones, sugary diets, and puberty is the perfect storm for acne breakouts.

Heck, even infants can get hormonal acne. (We know. Life is cruel, but a few zits on a baby’s face doesn’t make them any less precious or adorable!) (15)

And of course, menopause is also prime acne time for many women. So if you’re over the age of fifty and still get a menstrual period, or your body is going through The Change™, then you’re still going to have to deal with spots. 

You may still even get them after menopause, too. Fortunately, though, it’ll be a lot less frequent by then.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have to wait until you’re in your fifties and sixties to start to experience clear skin. There are ways you can banish those breakouts once and for all, but it does require careful diligence and the right products.

For starters, you’re going to have to avoid all of your acne triggers. (We’ll dive into those in the next subheader, so don’t click away just yet!) And, of course, you’re going to need to build up a skincare routine.

What Causes Hormonal Acne?

When it comes to hormones and acne, there’s no one single, root cause for it. A vast number of things can lead to these hormonal breakouts, which can sometimes make it feel like you’re navigating a minefield of pimples. (Yuck, how's that for a mental image?)

What acne boils down to, though, is clogged pores. If you get a clogged pore and it gets infected by C. acnes, then chances are pretty high that you’re going to get a breakout at that site.

Some things, though, are more likely to break you out than others. One biggie is the male hormone, testosterone. You see, people of all genders produce male hormones, and it’s these androgens that are responsible for most hormonal acne breakouts.

When your hormones get all out of balance, then you’re going to break out. But what causes that hormonal imbalance? A lot of things, really.

For starters:

  • Your diet. Certain foods (such as sugar, peanuts, dairy, and refined carbs) tend to be inflammatory, which can lead to breakouts. Furthermore, eating these carbs can spike your body’s insulin levels, causing your testosterone levels to soar and breakouts to follow. (16)
  • Your menstrual cycle. During certain times of the month, your body’s hormonal levels can fluctuate. As you near the middle of your cycle, your testosterone levels are going to be at their highest, leading to breakouts. Then, when your period strikes, your estrogen levels drop again and cause more flare-ups.
  • Your stress levels. This is a two-fer trigger. Not only does being stressed out increase your body’s cortisol and adrenaline (both of which are hormones that can cause breakouts) but it can also mess with your testosterone levels, too. (17 & 18)
  • Your pre-existing conditions. Finally, if you have a medical condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), you can have elevated androgen levels in your body. While this is a chronic condition, it is also manageable – and you can avoid the breakouts associated with it. (19)

While this can seem like a massive pile of gloom and doom, we promise that it’s not. Even though it may seem like acne is a life sentence without parole, hormonal acne is manageable. You just need to know how to do it.

The good news, though? You’ve come to the right place.

Testosterone and Other Androgens

We’ve already touched on this briefly, but the biggest takeaway that we want you to get from us is that testosterone surges are the biggest factor in hormonal breakouts. While estrogen can raise your body’s inflammation levels, it tends to be a whole lot less acneic than its hormonal counterpart.

Both men and women have estrogen and testosterone coursing through their bodies, but any changes in the existing levels can have a huge impact on your complexion. Everything from the things that you eat to the activities that you engage in can cause those levels to shift and fluctuate.

The outcome? You guessed it. Acne.

Take, for instance, your diet. Even if you eat “healthy,” the foods that you consume could be leading to your flare-ups. Food items like coffee, peanuts, and dairy can all raise your testosterone levels if consumed in higher doses. 

The thing is, you don’t even need all that much to trigger acne. Someone who is breaking out will see their skin worsen after consuming just a tiny bit of dairy (that splash of milk in your tea or that single cube of cheese? guilty!) or a single cup of coffee- especially if you’re dehydrated.

Other items that commonly trigger testosterone are zinc supplements and Vitamin D supplements, because the manufacturers stuff waaay too much concentration into a single dose. The devil is in the dosage, always. (20 & 21). 

During cold and flu season, we always start to see a flare-up in hormonal acne due to the use of zinc supplements. It’s practically a guarantee that you’ll get an acne breakout if you are already acneic and begin experimenting with zinc supplements. These breakouts typically hit the upper lip and mouth area where the deepest hair follicles are.

Another random supplement that can cause a spike in your T levels is (too much) calcium. Yes, we need calcium for strong and healthy bones and teeth, but we need it from the foods that we eat – and not the altered style and high dosage chemical cocktail that comes in pill form. (22)

The other super common vitamin that spikes testosterone and causes hormonal acne is too much B12. The dosages you see in supplements are insane, sometimes over 20,000% of your recommended daily dose. That dosage is too high for acne-prone skin, and these breakouts tend to hit the jawline and under the neck.

Hormonal Acne & Diet

Many people mistakenly believe that hormonal acne is an entirely internal process, making it something that’s completely out of their hands. That couldn’t be further from the truth. When it comes to managing your hormones, what you put into your body can play a huge role in your breakouts.

One huge factor that often tends to get overlooked is your diet. Food has a massive impact on your endocrine system, and what you eat can totally wreak havoc on your hormones. Even foods that appear seemingly innocent can still seriously devastate your complexion.

If you’re struggling with acne, then your diet may be the one to blame. You could be doing everything right otherwise, but if you’re chowing down on sugar and washing it down with alcohol, then you’re setting back your progress with every taste.

Long story short? If you want clear skin avoid dairy, limit eggs & gluten, and focus on proper skin nutrition. Here are some of the more common culprits to keep an eye on.

Sugar and Alcohol Over-Consumption 

Alcohol messes with hormones in a particularly vicious double-whammy kind of way. Initially it'll increase your body’s testosterone, then it’ll leave you with higher estrogen levels a few days later. Sure, a drink or two may be enjoyable on the weekend, but if you’re acneic? (23)

Just avoid it altogether when you can. The link between alcohol and hormonal acne is super straightforward, and it’s seriously not worth the painful rash of acne on your face once the buzz wears off. While the odd cocktail or glass of wine is fine in moderation, we don’t recommend drinking alcohol more than once per week if you are already acne-prone.

Then there’s sugar. Ugh, we hate to love sugar. It tastes incredible – cupcakes, cookies, and ooey-gooey fudge brownies, anyone? – but it’s one of the worst things you can ingest if you’ve got sensitive skin.

As we already pointed out, eating sugar can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. These elevated insulin levels can raise your testosterone levels, leading to acne breakouts. But like a late night infomercial that you didn’t even ask for, but wait – there’s more!

Elevated levels of insulin can also increase your body’s levels of something called IGF-1, or “insulin-like growth factor 1.” These can also send your testosterone levels soaring sky-high, causing breakouts like you’ve never seen before all across your face and body. (24 & 25)

Look, if you want clear skin, you’ve gotta avoid the booze and the refined sugars. Yes, it’s a tough hand you’ve been dealt here, but the crystal-clear skin you’ll get from sticking to a cleaner, hormonal acne diet is more than worth it. Trust us.

PRO TIP: if you’re going to drink alcohol you can support your liver by taking milk thistle, and stick to clean drinks like vodka-soda with lots of lemon.

Milk and Dairy Products

Let’s get a show of hands of those of you who love a nice hot latte in the morning to wake yourself up. Oh, you drink your coffee black, but you’ve been known to down a pint of Häagen-Dazs on the weekends? Well… about that.

You see, when it comes to hormones and acne, dairy is going to be your arch-nemesis. Unfortunately, just like sugar can raise your body’s levels of IGF-1, so can milk products. And when we say milk products here, we mean all milk products. (26)

This includes everything under the dairy umbrella: cheese, ice cream, milk, and even whey and casein supplements. If you’re eating any of these things, and you’re noticing that your skin’s still breaking out, then it might mean that you’re long overdue to break up with dairy.

Before you rush out and replace all of your favorite cow’s dairy products with soy, though, think again. Soy can also mess with your body’s hormones, causing all sorts of problems with your reproductive health. A little bit here and there is fine, but you don’t want to overdo it.

PRO TIP: Almond and Oat milk are delicious and some even have more nutrition than milk, so you are not losing anything by switching. 

Chocolate

Is there anything more delicious than a square of dark chocolate during that time of the month? Or any time, really? Yeah, we don’t think so. 

However, your face might disagree. A number of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have shown that chocolate consumption can actually increase your risk of developing acne. This is independent of the sugar found in it, too, which we already know can make your breakouts worse. (27, 28, 29 & 30)

So if it’s not the sugar in the chocolate causing it, then what’s the big deal? Well, there’s two hypotheses. For starters, chocolate contains theobromine, which is a mild stimulant and can cause acne breakouts.

Then there’s the fact that cocoa is also fairly insulinemic, thanks to its unique amino acid profile. That means that if you’re noshing on a bar of yummy 85% dark fair trade deliciousness to boost your moods, you may also be inadvertently stimulating your body’s insulin levels. (31 & 32)

Remember, raising your IGF-1 levels can cause breakouts. And since cocoa can increase your IGF-1 levels, you’re just setting yourself up for more acne. If you’re starting to follow a hormonal acne diet, then chocolate is going to have to take a hike. (33)

Menstrual Cycle Breakouts 

Ah yes, the monthly curse. Believe it or not, your skin’s pores have generally been clogged all month (see the list of secret pore-cloggers). However, the skin can maintain a relatively peaceful skin-hormone balance until PMS week strikes.

That’s when your body’s testosterone levels start to soar, and then we see the acne start to present itself. Once our patients rid their routines of pore-cloggers and begin exfoliating at the right level for their skin type, they can successfully dodge those unwanted PMS flare-ups extremely well!

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

PCOS, also known as “polycystic ovary syndrome,” is a condition that is directly linked to a high-androgen hormone profile. In turn, this can result in persistent acne all month long. There is, however, a way to minimize the acne effects of PCOS.

You can do this by eating a low-androgen, low-inflammation diet. The 80/20 rule (that is, having 80% of your food be healthy stuff, and about 20% come from “fun” stuff), along with alkalizing green juices, can make a world of difference here. Those with PCOS should avoid all alcohol and stimulants, too, as they can increase the risk of breakouts.

Medications, Pharmaceuticals, and Drugs 

Not sure if your meds are causing your breakouts? In a nutshell, anything that can keep you up at night can also make you break out. This can include medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, just to name a few. 

Even non-stimulant medications can be to blame for your breakouts, so just because it doesn’t cause you to count the ceiling tiles of your bedroom in the middle of the night, it doesn’t mean that it’s entirely blameless. You can easily look up the name of your prescription and “testosterone” in Google, and see if there’s a correlation. (34 & 35)

It’s important to not make any changes to your prescriptions without consulting your doctor beforehand, though. However, by bringing it up with them, you can see about switching to a different medication that might not break you out.

High-Androgen Birth Control 

There’s a number of reasons why your doctor might prescribe a lower-estrogen birth control for you. Whether you have a history of blood clotting, you’re over the age of 35, or you have other contraindications, you might not be a good candidate for certain types of contraception. (36)

That said, some of the lower-estrogen birth controls out there can also be really high in androgens. Now, remember, women have both male and female hormones in their bodies. It’s when those male hormones start to surpass the female hormones that skin issues start to arise.

If you’re breaking out a lot more since starting birth control, it might be a good idea to reach out to your doc and see if you may be a candidate for a different brand or type of contraceptive. There are other brands out there that can be low in both estrogen and testosterone, allowing you to continue to use it – but without the acne breakouts.

We’re not here to tell you to start or stop your birth control, as all prescription changes should follow a chat with your OB-GYN or general practitioner. However, it’s best to avoid the following types of birth control if you’d also like to avoid acne: (37)

  • Depo-Provera
  • Nuva-Ring
  • Lo-Estrin
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen-Lo
  • Microgestin
  • Hormonal IUDs

Hormonal Acne & Supplements

In your quest to be healthy (and have healthy skin!), it’s normal to want to start adding supplements to your diet. After all, the backs of the bottles of these hormonal acne supplements make all sorts of promises for clear skin, healthy nails, silky hair…

And those bottles are liars. Now, that’s not to say that all vitamins and supplements are going to be bad for you. But if your skin is breaking out, then it might mean that it’s time to purge your medicine cabinet.

Biotin

The exact mechanism of action for biotin (also known as Vitamin B7) isn’t very well known, but what is known is that this vitamin is a real bully when it comes to your skin. Not only does it increase keratinization, but it also blocks the absorption of Vitamin B5 in your body. (38)

What’s that mean in plain English? The same way biotin helps you get thicker hair and nails also causes thicker, more clumpier skin cells, which means pores are likely to get clogged and lead to acne breakouts.

Also, your body needs ample amounts of B5 (pantothenic acid) to maintain clear skin. This vitamin plays a major role in your endocrine system, regulating the production of stress and reproductive hormones. Because biotin is absorbed at the same site in your intestines, it can inhibit the ability to properly utilize B5. (39, 40 & 41)

Casein and Whey

You just got your sweat on at the gym, and now you’re wanting to refuel with a nice protein shake blended with super greens, ice, and a few scoops of casein or whey protein powder. Is this a great way to get big and strong muscles?

Sure, but it’s also a way to get nice and big breakouts across your face and body, too. Remember, dairy products increase your insulin levels and IGF-1. While doing so is fantastic for muscle synthesis, it’s also a fast-track to painful cystic acne across your skin.

Caffeine

A lot of us don’t think of caffeine as a supplement. It’s more like an “I’m going to face-plant onto my desk right now if I don’t have this cup of joe right now,” necessity. We sorta kinda need it to survive, right?

But here’s the thing about caffeine. It isn’t just a supplement. It’s also a drug. 

Sure, that sounds like we’re coming down harsh on everyone’s favorite stimulant, but it’s the truth. It’s literally the most widely used psychoactive drug in the entire world. And you can buy it on any street corner… from your favorite barista. (42)

Is it delicious? Oh heck yes. But it’s also a one-way ticket to Zitzville.

The same reason that caffeine makes you feel awesome after you drink it is the same reason it breaks you out. That jittery feeling you get after sipping on it is caused by it affecting your parasympathetic nervous system, and you already know that messing with your adrenals and cortisol can cause breakouts. (43)

Vitamin B12

Also known as cobalamin, this vitamin is considered to be an essential vitamin, which means that your body can’t synthesize it on its own. Whenever someone goes vegan, one of the first things they're asked (other than “Where do you get your protein?”) is if they’re getting enough Vitamin B12. (44)

But as important as B12 is, overdoing it can backfire and harm your skin. Not only can it decrease estrogen levels and raise progesterone in your body, but it can also feed the bacteria on your skin. (45

Yes, you read that right. Taking Vitamin B12 can make C. acnes proliferate like crazy. (46) We mentioned the spike in testosterone earlier in this article but it’s worth mentioning again because so many B-vitamin supplements contain a ridiculous amount of B12 and it can cause major acne for all these reasons.

Vitamin B6

Also known as pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 doesn’t usually get a lot of attention from the media like its much cooler older cousins, B12 and biotin. However, because it plays a vital role in keeping both your central nervous system and immune system healthy, supplementation of it is on the rise. (47)

But you know what else is on the rise? The amount of acne breakouts you’ll get if you start to overdo it on B6. Now, researchers aren’t entirely sure why Vitamin B6 can cause acne, but one hypothesis is that it can increase your body’s levels of progesterone while simultaneously decreasing estrogen. (48 & 49)

Anabolic Steroids

Okay, let’s just get this out of the way right here and now. If you’re using anabolic steroids for them mad gainz in the gym, you’re just setting yourself up for failure on all fronts. Not only can that cause serious and possibly irreversible damage to your endocrine system, but it can also destroy your face and body. (50)

Have you ever heard of the terms “acne fulminans,” “acne papulopustulosa,” or “acne conglobata”? Basically, just try to picture such a huge amount of large, painful lesions so tightly packed together that it looks like the entire topography of your skin has completely changed.

That’s what these use of anabolic steroids can do to your skin. Steroids can lead to disfiguring and permanent scarring of your skin.  Seriously, it’s just not worth it. (51 & 52)

How Do I Know If I Have Hormonal Acne? 

The big, pressing question that a lot of you probably have on your minds is if your acne is related to a real hormone problem. For that you will want to get labs done with a doctor of your choice who you know specializes in hormone health. 

Since we’ve already established that pretty much 99% of all acne can be related to your hormones in some way, the next step is determining if your breakouts are caused by these hormonal factors (most are under your control).

For instance:

  • Does your acne get worse after eating certain foods?
  • Do you break out during your time of the month?
  • Is your acne largely concentrated around your chin and along your jawline? (4)
  • Does it flare up when you’re stressed out?
  • Is there an underlying condition (such as PCOS) that may be contributing to it?
  • Are you taking certain medications or supplements that have been shown to cause breakouts?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then there’s a fairly decent chance that your acne is hormonal. But that’s not necessarily bad news. It’s actually pretty good news, in fact, since you now know what’s causing it.

That means you can also start treating it, too. Is there anything more empowering than taking charge of your health? We don’t think so.

Here’s the deal. By staying away from the specific things that can break you out – whether it’s sugar, dairy, or even certain supplements that you might be using – and taking good care of your skin, you can keep most of those breakouts at bay. Yes, it sounds complicated, but it’s really not as difficult as it may seem.

You’ll want to start with a good skincare regimen, though. The last thing you want to do is throw a bunch of  harsh, drying creams on your face. This will only backfire, leading to more inflammation and accelerated aging.

Instead, reach for gentle products, ones that will soothe your irritated skin. We strongly advise that you use a SLS-free facial cleanser, as it’ll remove dirt, oil, and makeup from your skin without stripping it.

Once you’re done washing your face, we recommend that you introduce serums to help combat those existing breakouts. Using a mandelic acid serum is a great way to unclog your pores. This product will help dissolve all that gunk trapped in your pores and get you back on the path to glowing, radiant skin. 

After leaving the mandelic acid alone to work its magic for 10 minutes, you’ll want to follow up with a stem cell serum. Look for one that doesn’t have any strong perfumes or fragrances. You also want to avoid anything with comedogenic ingredients such as hydrogenated vegetable oils or carrageenan, as they can make breakouts worse.

On the other hand, highly beneficial ingredients such as saw palmetto and green tea can help tame that hormonal beast ravaging your skin. Plus, it’s clinically proven that topical stem cells can help treat a myriad of skin issues and even turn back the hands of time, so there’s seriously no reason to not reach for one in your skincare routine. (53, 54, 55 & 56)

Finally, you need to take a closer look at your current lifestyle. Treating your skin breakouts is more than just using the right combination of ingredients (though they definitely help!). You also need to take a holistic approach to your skincare.

Strive to get at least eight hours of sleep each night, as that can help reduce inflammation and balance your hormones. Get plenty of water and stick to a maximum of two caffeinated beverages a day. You also want to eat a nutritious and balanced hormonal acne diet, one that’s chock full o’ leafy greens, low-sugar fruits, and lean proteins. (57, 58 & 59)

And finally, you gotta learn to love yourself. We know it sounds counterintuitive, especially if you’re struggling with hormonal acne breakouts, but self-care and compassion are incredibly important to maintaining clear skin.

First and foremost, you’re totally worthy of love, no matter what your skin looks like. Now stop and go back and re-read that. Yes, it’s worth repeating it twice: you deserve love, regardless of your complexion. Your skin is not a reflection of your worth or beauty.

Our goal is to paint a bigger picture for you than the tidbits of info you get a derm appointment. Things like diet, stress, and skincare are HUGE for treating acne but so is loving yourself and making time to relax and be still (60)

Look, having acne sucks, full stop. There’s no need to sugarcoat it or tiptoe around this fact. If you have breakouts, though, then you probably already understand this completely.

Fortunately, attaining clear skin doesn’t have to be some impossible task. All it requires is education about what causes acne in the first place, followed by a solid game plan to help you get rid of it completely. And by following the advice we’ve provided for you here, you can finally have the skin you’ve always dreamed of having.

Once you start taking charge of your skin and develop a regimen to treat it, you’ll start to see those results before you know it. And in doing so, both your skin – as well as your self-esteem – will thank you for it!

 Danielle Gronich | @danielle.the.acne.guru

 

Sources:

Source 1: StatPearls: Physiology, Cortisol https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538239/

Source 2: The Impact of Psychological Stress on Acne https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28871928/

Source 3: The prevalence of acne in adults 20 years and older https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17945383/

Source 4: Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015761/

Source 5: Genome-wide meta-analysis implicates mediators of hair follicle development and morphogenesis in risk for severe acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290788/

Source 6: Hormonal control of inflammatory responses https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2365405

Source 7: Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Proprionibacterium acnes) and Shoulder Surgery https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6874694/

Source 8: Occasional acne; an acne variant https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489559/

Source 9: StatPearls: Prostaglandins https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553155/

Source 10: Effects of Diet on Acne and Its Response to Treatment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7847434/

Source 11: StatPearls: Biochemistry, Histamine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557790/

Source 12: Estrogen Signaling in Metabolic Inflammation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4226184/

Source 13: Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015761/

Source 14: American Academy of Dermatology: Adult Acne https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/really-acne/adult-acne

Source 15: StatPearls: Infantile Acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541124/

Source 16: Insulin regulates testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin concentrations in adult normal weight and obese men https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7852532/

Source 17: The association between stress and acne among female medical students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5722010/

Source 18: Stress-induced increase of testosterone: contributions of social status and sympathetic reactivity https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18472114/

Source 19: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pcos

Source 20: Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8875519/

Source 21: Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21154195/

Source 22: Testosterone levels in athletes at rest and exhaustion: effects of calcium supplementation https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19099204/

Source 23: Acute Effect of Alcohol on Androgens in Premenopausal Women https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/35/1/84/142595

Source 24: Over-stimulation of insulin/IGF-1 signaling by western diet may promote diseases of civilization: lessons learnt from laron syndrome https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3141390/

Source 25: Correlation Between Serum Levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, and Dihydrotestosterone and Acne Lesion Counts in Adult Women https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/393279/

Source 26: Association of dietary intake of milk and dairy products with blood concentrations of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in Bavarian adults https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31089868/

Source 27: Dark chocolate exacerbates acne https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26711092/

Source 28: Chocolate Consumption May Make Acne Vulgaris Worse https://www.aafp.org/afp/2017/0115/p122a.html

Source 29: Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025515/

Source 30: Use of dark chocolate for diabetic patients: a review of the literature and current evidence https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5699188/

Source 31: Cocoa powder increases postprandial insulinemia in lean young adults https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14519800/

Source 32: Insulin resistance in severe acne vulgaris https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4565837/

Source 33: Mechanism of action of cocoa on bone metabolism in calcium- and estrogen-deficient rat model of osteoporosis: Evidence for site and dose-related responses and involvement of IGF-I https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464620300177

Source 34: Drug-induced acne and rose pearl: similarities https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900370/

Source 35: StatPearls: StatPearls https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459207/

Source 36: StatPearls: Oral Contraceptive Pills https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430882/

Source 37: The state of hormonal contraception today: benefits and risks of hormonal contraceptives: combined estrogen and progestin contraceptives https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21961825/

Source 38: A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/

Source 39: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of a Novel Pantothenic Acid-Based Dietary Supplement in Subjects with Mild to Moderate Facial Acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4065280/

Source 40: Pantothenic acid and biotin https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002410.htm

Source 41: Role of the sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter (SMVT) in the maintenance of intestinal mucosal integrity https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpgi.00240.2016

Source 42: The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5445139/

Source 43: Espresso coffee increases parasympathetic activity in young, healthy people https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19178791/

Source 44: Vitamins and Minerals for Older Adults https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals-older-adults

Source 45: Dietary intakes of vitamins B2, B6, and B12 and ovarian cycle function among premenopausal women https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7186155/

Source 46: Vitamin B12 modulates the transcriptome of the skin microbiota in acne pathogenesis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6049814/

Source 47: Vitamin B6: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

Source 48: Acne related to dietary supplements https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32941710/

Source 49: Nutritional factors in the etiology of the premenstrual tension syndromes https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6684167/

Source 50: Endocrine Society: Steroid Abuse https://www.endocrine.org/~/media/endosociety/files/advocacy%20and%20outreach/position%20statements/all/steroidabusepositionstatementwheader.pdf

Source 51: The dark side of beauty: acne fulminans induced by anabolic steroids in a male bodybuilder https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23069972/

Source 52: Severe ulcerated 'bodybuilding acne' caused by anabolic steroid use and exacerbated by isotretinoin https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20602651/

Source 53: Natural Hair Supplement: Friend or Foe? Saw Palmetto, a Systematic Review in Alopecia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7706486/

Source 54: Green tea polyphenols may be useful in the treatment of androgen-mediated skin disorders https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11346351/

Source 55: Stem Cells in Skin Regeneration, Wound Healing, and Their Clinical Applications https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632811/

Source 56: The role of stem cells in anti-aging medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31345319/

Source 57: Sleep and inflammation: partners in sickness and in health https://www.nature.com/articles/s41577-019-0190-z

Source 58: The Impact of Sleep and Circadian Disturbance on Hormones and Metabolism https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377487/

Source 59: Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529263/

Source 60: Self-esteem levels and cardiovascular and inflammatory responses to acute stress https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18644432/

CEO of CLEARSTEM Skincare
By: Danielle Gronich

Danielle Gronich, known as The Acne Guru™ is the formulator and CEO of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that uses premium ingredients to correct acne, acne scars, DNA damage, and melasma. Danielle studied cellular biology and genetics throughout her education and has had a passion for solving acne

Danielle Gronich, known as The Acne Guru™ is the formulator and CEO of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that uses premium ingredients to correct acne, acne scars, DNA damage, and melasma. Danielle studied cellular biology and genetics throughout her education and has had a passion for solving acne