Acne as an adult woman is plain unfair.
People expect teenagers to have acne, not women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
But it happens. And it happens a lot.
The Canadian Dermatology Association states that 20-30% of adults aged 20 to 40 experience acne and of those, 75% of them are women.
While acne has a number of contributing factors, hormonal imbalances are one of the most common ones.
My client, Cara, is a perfect example of what happens when hormones need to be levelled back out. When she first came to see me Cara said, “I can’t get a handle on my acne. It pops up constantly at the same time of the month and is the painful ones under the skin that take forever to heal. I thought my skin would be clear now that I’m 36. I feel so self-conscious all the time and just want it to go away.”
She had tried numerous prescriptions for her hormonal acne including the birth control pill and Spironolactone. Cara had also spent a small fortune on skincare products and facials. Not to mention she had been going regularly for cortisone shots that were beginning to scar. This had been going on for 8 years. She was exhausted by it all and just wanted to feel beautiful in her own skin again. Based on her symptoms and health history, I knew hormonal balancing would be key for the real healing she was after.
There are typically four signs that hormones are causing your chronic breakouts.
Sign #1: The location
Hormonal acne typically appears along the jawline, chin and even neck.
Sign #2: The type
While you can still have whiteheads and blackheads, hormonal acne tends to be more cystic. They’re the sore, red and angry ones below the skin.
Sign #3: The timing
Hormonal acne usually pops up at the same time in your cycle every month. For some women it’s around ovulation and for others just before their period.
Sign #4: The stress
Women that have high levels of stress have an increase in cortisol. Known as the stress hormone, cortisol, can impact other hormones as well. This sets you up for a winning combination when it comes to hormonal acne flare ups.
If your acne doesn’t seem to line up with your hormones, other factors can be at play (usually a combination of poor gut health and liver toxicity).
I like to think of hormones as an orchestra. When all the hormones are balanced they flow in harmony together. But when one hormone goes out of tune, the entire melody (aka your body) is impacted.
Dietary and lifestyle factors are the two biggest culprits for throwing off this finely tuned hormonal orchestra.
Things like poor diet, chronic stress, oral contraceptives, hormonal replacement, and exposure to endocrine disruptors fall under those two categories. Underlying medical conditions can also be contributing factors to hormonal imbalances.
For my client Cara, it came down to her to diet, stress, and previous use of the birth control pill. Those are the three areas we focused on in order to get her hormones back in balance.
The food you eat has a tremendous impact on the health of your hormones and is something I focus on heavily with my clients inside The Clear Skin Solution — including Cara. Diet becomes the foundation then we are able to tailor a couple supplements to the individual.
But when it comes to food, I make sure my clients include lots of nutritious food that love up on their hormones, especially these four:
Hormone-Loving Nutrient #1: Healthy fats help to stabilize blood sugar and reduce stress hormones in the body.
Hormone-Loving Nutrient #2: Cruciferous vegetables contain sulphuric compounds that support liver health and glucosinolate which helps the liver produce detoxifying enzymes. A healthy liver is able to properly filter hormones.
Hormone-Loving Nutrient #3: Adequate fibre intake to help flush excess hormones through the digestive tract.
Try raspberries, artichokes, or carrots.
Hormone-Loving Nutrient #4: Vitamin B rich foods help with the production and metabolism of hormones.
Overall, make sure to consume a healthy diet and avoid hormonal acne triggers like dairy. Reducing stress and getting quality sleep will go along way to helping your hormones as well.
Want to go more in-depth?
Listen to our podcast episode “Is Your Acne Hormonal?” here!