I am a big believer in treating problems from the inside out - addressing the root cause of your issues, instead of just covering them up with a temporary solution or medication. Of course there come times when medication is needed, but even then, I suggest accompanying the treatment with holistic remedies aimed at healing the root cause, that will help you both in the short and long-run (just make sure to always check with your doctor). And that applies to hormonal acne, too!
As you can imagine, your diet is a huge part of the "hormonal-acne puzzle", but, not ALL. Apart from food, there are other crucial aspects that are key to take into consideration, that may serve as helpful tools in helping you achieve your beautiful, clear skin.
HERE ARE 5 LIFESTYLE TIPS TO HELP WITH HORMONAL ACNE:
1. LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to understand that your “stress hormone” cortisol will affect ALL your hormones, including your production of androgens. (If you're unclear what androgens are, and what they have to do with acne, READ last week's blog ;)). So it’s KEY that you find a way to de-stress. Find what works for you. Ask yourself WHAT is making you stressed, and get to the root of it. If you tried yoga, deep breathing and mediation, but that hasn’t helped, maybe talk to a therapist / health or life coach. Just know that if you’re stressed, this can be the #1 thing that you need to fix. So, make it a PRIORITY to manage your stress, and don’t give up until you find inner peace. Your skin will thank you! (p.s.- I KNOW its hard, I'm still working on this one myself!)
2. LESS IS MORE. So many people are using harsh creams and washes, which can end up over-drying our skin and doing more harm than good. Not to mention all the hormone-disrupting chemicals they often contain. I HIGHLY suggest making the switch to more gentle and NATURAL SKIN CARE PRODUCTS that are suitable for acne-prone skin. Try using a mild natural cleanser (I love SW Basics), a mild toner with natural anti-bacterial benefits (ex. rose water with a bit of apple cider vinegar and/or tea tree oil), and moisturizing face oils for acne-prone skin. (Some good oils for acne include: Hemp seed oil, Rosehip oil, Evening primrose oil and essential oils like tea tree and lavender).
3. EXERCISE (with a clean face). Exercise is crucial for balancing your hormones, but also take caution to not stress out your body. I’m a fan of low-impact full body exercises such as Barre and Yoga (which also help with stress) as well as weight training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Just find what works for you, and do some exercise REGULARLY (ideally almost every day). WHEN EXERCISING, I recommend not wearing any makeup. Be careful to AVOID touching your face during/after exercise as bacteria spreads quickly in gyms, and make sure to wash your face with water and a gentle cleanser after your exercise.
4. RELAX & GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP. Make sure to get the rest you need. You've probably heard me say before that getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night is key for just about everything health related! And while you’re at it, stay clean. Wash your pillowcases every few days with a non-toxic laundry cleaner, and try a non-toxic night serum and/or cream that helps with cell turnover overnight. While not completely natural, I still find retinol works wonders, too.
5. TRY SUPPLEMENTING. Always check with your doctor/health practitioner to see what supplements are best for you specifically, but these are supplements that have shown to help with hormonal balance and overcoming hormone-related acne:
- Vitex (chaste berry) and Maca (both are adaptogens that help balance hormones)
- Spearmint tea, Reishi mushroom, Red Clover, Peony and Licorice are commonly used in eastern cultures to help balance excess androgens and PCOS (I personally take licorice drops daily).
- Cinnamon helps to balance insulin and glucose levels, which is highly linked to excess androgens and PCOS. Sprinkle cinnamon on your breakfast and snacks, and take a supplement (preferably with chromium) after meals.
- Zinc helps with acne (as well as with controlling appetite and balancing hormones). Take a supplement (and fill up on: oysters, liver, pumpkin seeds, and dried watermelon seeds).
- Liver support supplements including certain amino acids such as NAC, milk thistle and B-vitamins (on top of the foods I mentioned last week) help with getting rid of excess hormones.
- For women with PCOS related acne, try “Seed Cycling”: take 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds plus 1 tbsp. flax seeds (freshly ground) from Day 1 to Day 14 of your cycle (essentially from day 1 of your period till ovulation), and take 1 tbsp. sesame seeds and 1 tbsp. sunflower seeds (freshly ground) and Evening Primrose Oil from Day 15-Day 28 of your cycle (from ovulation till right before menstruation).
Lastly, for all the women... make sure to tune into your feminine side every day. I had read about this and was skeptic at first, but have actually seen now, in many cases, that it helps! You need to give your body the message that you are female, because often times when we're working hard and spending time in competitive environments, our bodies end up producing more male hormones. So give in to your feminine side, accept and acknowledge your more sensitive side, and believe it or not, this can help reduce your androgens and bring your body back into balance.
Give these natural remedies a shot when dealing with hormonal acne, and as always, please comment/share your experiences or any comments on the topic.
Sending you lots of acne-free love,