Whether your teen years were filled with pimples or clear skin, acne can feel like part of a youthful past. However, adult acne is (unfortunately) a common skin issue—and it’s primarily caused by hormones.
Hormonal acne can be a frustrating condition, ebbing and flowing over time. In the quest for clear skin, it may be tempting to turn to harsh ingredients and medications. Luckily, there are solutions like non-comedogenic products and functional lab testing available that can guide you to a glowing complexion (minus the irritation and peeling). For those seeking natural supplements for hormonal acne, explore options like MINDBODYSKIN® 2 from CLEARSTEM Skincare, formulated to target oil, digestion, detoxification, PMS, and hormones simultaneously.
To clear up the issue, let’s explore how to treat hormonal acne naturally.
What is Hormonal Acne?
Hormonal acne is an incredibly common condition, affecting almost half of women in their 20s and a quarter of women in their 40s.1 Depending on a person’s skin condition, hormonal acne can include any of the following lesions:2
Technically, hormones aren’t a direct cause of acne. Instead, they indirectly lay the groundwork for pesky pimples to form by messing with sebum (skin oil) levels and inflammation. The hormones that are most likely to create acne-favorable conditions are:
- Androgens – During puberty, hormones called androgens are responsible for the increased sebum production many experience in their teens. Typically, you can blame high levels of the androgens testosterone and DHEA for acne.
- Cortisol – Known as the “stress hormone,” cortisol regulates metabolism, helps form memories and creates your body’s stress reaction. However, too-high cortisol levels can lead to a cascade of poor health effects, including acne. 3Too much stress, whether physical or emotional, is typically the cause of high cortisol.
- Estrogen and progesterone – There’s a reason more women experience adult acne than men—and it comes down to female hormonal shifts with menstruation.4 While no research directly links estrogen and progesterone to acne, the naturally fluctuating hormone levels over the menstrual cycle may trigger sebum production or inflammation.
- Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) – A non-sex hormone, IGF-1 controls the release of growth hormone in your body, often spiking during puberty. Since IGF-1 can increase sebum production and inflammation, it may indirectly cause hormonal acne.5
What Triggers Hormonal Acne?
Hormones are a complicated, ever-changing system. From skin health to hunger, these substances are the showrunners of nearly every aspect of your physical health. But what exactly runs the hormones that influence acne?
The difficulty of hormonal acne is its many potential triggers. If you’re uncertain what triggers your hormonal acne to flare up, it may be any of these common causes:6
- Puberty – During puberty, both boys and girls experience a surge in androgen levels. This hormonal change is one of the main reasons why acne is common during adolescence. However, adults with hormonal acne can rule out this trigger.
- Menstruation – If you’re a woman who experiences hormonal acne once per month, then menstruation may be the culprit. During the luteal phase (the week before menstruation), your body increases androgen levels, which can trigger acne breakouts. In fact, one study found that 65% of percent women reported worse acne around their menses.7 There is a way to prevent acne before your period naturally with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle habits.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – In women, high androgens may signal polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that often comes with excess acne and body hair.8>/sup>
- Pregnancy – When pregnant, your body experiences an entirely new cocktail of hormones that may trigger hormonal breakouts. Up to 42% of pregnant women experience new or worse acne due to these hormonal changes.9
- Menopause – Women going through menopause may experience hormonal fluctuations. Typically, the lower estrogen production during menopause may allow androgen levels to spike, boosting acne levels.
- Medications – Certain medications that affect hormone levels, such as corticosteroids, may trigger mild acne as a side effect.
- Stress – If you’re strung out, it may lead to a pesky pimple or two. Stress can trigger hormonal imbalances, including increased androgen production that can contribute to acne breakouts.
5 Ways to Treat Hormonal Acne Naturally
In the traditional world of acne treatments, harsh topicals and pills can reduce pimples—but often at the price of irritation, peeling, and other side effects.
The good news? There are natural solutions that can manage hormonal acne breakouts without unwanted symptoms.
So, what does “natural” actually mean? In the case of acne, natural refers to any treatment that uses ingredients or methods derived from nature—no synthetic or chemical substances in sight. From leafy greens to better sleep, let’s explore how to treat hormonal acne naturally.
#1 Change Your Diet
Will that slice of pizza actually show up as “pizza face”? Fortunately, the answer is no—but research shows that certain foods and dietary habits do impact your skin and acne levels.10
Certain foods boost androgens and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), both of which can raise sebum production and lead to further clogged pores. Similarly, any foods that create inflammation in the body (especially allergenic foods) may contribute to acne.
While everyone’s body has individual responses to foods, these foods are known to trigger hormonal acne flares:
- High-glycemic foods – Foods with a high glycemic load (or high sugar) will trigger the release of insulin, a blood sugar-regulating hormone. In turn, this can boost IGF-1 levels, which may flare acne.11
- Dairy – The jury’s out on whether dairy causes acne by triggering the release of IGF-1 or directly passing down hormones from the cow’s body. However, it’s safe to say that high dairy intake correlates with a higher chance of acne—up to 16% more likely.12
So, what foods can translate to glowing, blemish-free skin? It comes down to a minimally-processed, nutrient-dense diet. Reach for foods that are low-glycemic, as well as rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin D, and minerals. Overall, this hormonal acne diet will lower inflammation levels and support regulated hormone levels.
#2 Pump Up the Exercise
That “post-workout glow” is more than temporary. Exercise can play a vital role in both physical health and skin health.
Research shows that regular physical activity can regulate hormones and blood sugar levels, reducing any excess sebum production.13 Additionally, cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow, which may deliver more acne-busting nutrients to your skin. A bonus? Exercise also reduces stress—and less stress equals improved hormone levels and skin health.
If your routine lacks a good sweat session, consider adding any of these heart rate-boosting activities to your week:
- Speed walking
- Jump rope
- Bodyweight circuits
#3 Rest Up
It’s not called “beauty sleep” for nothing. Sleep is truly the key to all things wellness, from energy levels to clear skin.
During deep sleep stages, the body enters its repair mode—including for your skin. Quality sleep promotes optimal blood flow to the skin, ensuring that it receives the nutrients and oxygen necessary to heal lesions.14 Also, adequate sleep supports hormone levels, reducing the chance of hormonal fluctuations that trigger acne.
Not sure if your rest time is up to par? Experts recommend that adults get at least 7 hours per night.15 Try to implement a soothing bedtime routine (teeth brushing, reading, sipping tea, etc.) if you’re having trouble achieving 7 hours on a regular basis.
#4 Consider Skin-Friendly Supplements
From metabolism to energy levels, your body runs on the vitamins and minerals you consume. Sometimes, acne-riddled skin needs an extra boost of these substances to find balance. That’s where supplements enter the picture.
By targeting hormone regulation and supplying skin-boosting nutrients, certain supplements can soothe hormonal acne. Consider adding these research-backed supplements to your routine:
- Zinc – An essential mineral for wound healing and immunity, zinc may also ease acne breakouts. Zinc shows promise in controlling sebum production and regulating androgens, which may reduce hormonal acne.16
- DIM – Standing for diindolylmethane, DIM is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. By flushing out excess androgens and stimulating digestive enzymes, a hormonal acne supplement with DIM may directly stop hormonal fluctuations from triggering acne breakouts.17
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in walnuts and salmon, omega-3 fatty acids are an excellent anti-inflammatory substance for the body. In turn, this may trickle down to clearer and calmer skin in acne sufferers.18
Remember: always consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your routine, as they may interact with medications or health conditions.
#5 Check Your Hygiene
Unfortunately, everyday life is filled with pore-clogging substances. When mixed with inflammation and excess sebum from hormonal imbalances, you have a recipe for acne.
The easy and natural solution? Upping your hygiene game.
To keep your skin free of pore-clogging bacteria, dirt, and pollutants, follow these clean tips:19
- Cleanse your face twice per day with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser
- Avoid touching your face, which can transfer oils and dirt to your skin
- Wash your pillowcases once per week
- Clean your phone screen with an alcohol wipe
- Shower post-exercise to remove any sweat that can clog pores
- Avoid popping pimples, as this can boost inflammation and lead to scarring
Treat Your Hormonal Acne with CLEARSTEM
No matter the cause, acne is a frustrating skin condition—but it’s not a death sentence for your skin. If you believe the hormonal imbalance is causing those jawline pimples, you don’t have to rely on irritating topical treatment options or medications. With these natural solutions, you can help your body find a balance to create glowing, healthy, and clear skin.
What is the best place to start your natural acne journey? A robust skincare routine for acne-prone skin.
At CLEARSTEM, we understand that acne is a complex and personal skin condition. Our anti-acne products treat acne from the inside out, from hormonal acne supplements to our gentle face cleanser and moisturizing masks. Additionally, to truly understand the underlying causes of your acne, our CLEARSTEM Functional Lab Testing is a game-changer.
Developed with top acne specialists, this test offers personalized guidance to uncover the specific triggers behind your breakouts. By analyzing various categories like stress, blood sugar, hydration, hormones, possible infections, immune response, and inflammation, we can interpret what your blood reveals about the health of your skin. Discover the combined power of natural ingredients, scientific insights and clean beauty by exploring our soothing acne-fighting collection today.
- Cleveland Clinic. Hormonal Acne: What Is It, Treatment, Causes & Prevention. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21792-hormonal-acne
- Cherney, Kristeen. Types of Acne and How to Treat Them. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/types-of-acne
- NIH. Study of psychological stress, sebum production and acne vulgaris in adolescents. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17340019/
- American Academy of Dermatology. Women More Likely Than Men To Be Affected By Acne As Adults. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071019155627.htm
- NIH. Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Increases the Expression of Inflammatory Biomarkers and Sebum Production in Cultured Sebocytes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318522/
- NIH. Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360964/
- NIH. Perimenstrual Flare of Adult Acne. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4142818/
- Watson, Stephanie. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. https://www.healthline.com/health/polycystic-ovary-disease
- NIH. Acne and rosacea in pregnancy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28070633/
- Advances in Dermatology and Allergology. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. https://www.termedia.pl/Significance-of-diet-in-treated-and-untreated-acne-vulgaris,7,27313,0,1.html
- NIH. Insulin resistance in severe acne vulgaris. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26366152/
- NIH. Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115795/
- Cleveland Clinic. Does Working Out Help Acne? What Experts Say. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/does-exercise-help-acne/
- Allure. Acne Could Actually Be Messing With Your Sleep. https://www.allure.com/story/acne-sleep-quality-study
- Mayo Clinic. How many hours of sleep are enough? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
- Byrdie. Dermatologists Say Zinc Is an Underrated Acne Treatment—Here’s How To Use It. https://www.byrdie.com/zinc-for-acne
- Byrdie. This Little-Known Supplement Stopped My Hormonal Acne Breakouts For Good. https://www.byrdie.com/dim-hormonal-acne-4691308
- NIH. Acne vulgaris, mental health and omega-3 fatty acids: a report of cases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2577647/
- Teen Vogue. How to Get Rid of Acne: 29 Best Skin Care Tips From Dermatologists. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-treat-a-breakout