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Hormonal pimples: How they occur and what you can do about them

Hormonal pimples are a very special kind of unwelcome guest: They always come at the wrong time, they stay for far too long and they are guaranteed to ruin your good mood every time. The fact is: For many of us, hormonally-related acne and blemishes unfortunately do not end at the end of puberty or even first appear in our lives in our 20s. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. In this article I'll tell you how you can recognize hormonal pimples, where they come from and what really helps against adult acne.

Hormonal pimples and what helps against them

Photos by Ron Lach and Laura Mitulla

What are hormonal pimples?

The term “hormonal pimples” usually refers to blemishes in adult women that are triggered or influenced by a hormonal imbalance. Bad luck for us, because: These pimples, blackheads and undergrowth appear exactly when our hormones are already going crazy:

  • in the second half of the cycle
  • after stopping the pill
  • during pregnancy
  • with the onset of menopause

The fact is: Every form of acne (including pimples in the teenage years) is related to hormonal changes in the body. That's why the term "hormonal acne" is actually a bit misleading. Some dermatologists therefore consider “cyclic acne” to be more appropriate in adults.

How do I know if I have hormonal acne?

You can often recognize hormonal impurities by their appearance: Often they are not (just) the well-known - and passionately hated - blackheads and unpleasant pus pimples, but rather underlying deposits under the skin. They can, but do not have to be, inflammatory. Inflammatory cysts are visible as bumps on the surface of the skin and can be quite painful.

These 5 signs indicate hormonal pimples:

  • Your puberty is long over.

According to statistics, hormonal acne largely affects women aged 20 to 50. And there are quite a few of them - so you are definitely not alone with this problem. Between the ages of 30 and 39, one in three people are said to be affected by pimple flare-ups 1 . Other studies show that between 12 and 54% of women suffer from breakouts 2 .

  • Your chin and the lower half of your face are often affected by blemishes.

If the cysts and pimples appear mainly on the chin , jawline and lower part of the cheeks, this may be a sign of hormonal pimples 2 . There are many sebaceous glands around the chin. If these (stimulated by hormones) produce more skin oil and dead skin cells are not removed quickly enough, these are the perfect conditions for clogged pores, bacterial growth and pimples. However, the underlays can also occur on the forehead, back, chest and shoulders

  • Your pimple breakouts come at regular intervals.

In surveys, up to 85% of women report that their acne breakouts regularly worsen around menstruation1. Hormones are to blame. If androgens such as progesterone increase in the second half of the cycle while estrogen levels decrease, progesterone dominates for a short time. This stimulates sebum production - ideal conditions for those unwanted period pimples .

  • Your lifestyle lacks balance.

I know it and you probably know it too: the well-known vicious circle of too much stress, too little sleep and an unhealthy diet . Studies show that simple carbohydrates like white flour can affect our hormonal balance and promote acne through their effect on insulin levels 3 . If stress also comes into play, the stress hormone cortisol also causes increased oil production in the sebaceous glands 3 . Unfortunately. Because that means: The next acne outbreak won't be long in coming.

  • Squeezing pimples doesn't work.

Hormonal pimples can appear as normal blackheads and small pus-filled blisters 3 . But with hormonal acne you also have to deal with bump-shaped cysts that sit under the skin. These inflammations lie deep beneath the surface of the skin. If you try to express it, you will only spread the accumulated sebum and pus into the surrounding tissue instead of draining it outwards.

Has popping pimples become an addiction for you? We'll tell you how you can get rid of this habit in our article Expressing pimples - How to pick less .

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What to do about hormonal pimples?

If your hormonal acne is very stressful for you or the inflamed cysts are severe, it makes sense to visit your trusted dermatologist. However, mild forms of hormonal impurities can often be effectively treated with just a few changes to your care routine. This helps against hormonal pimples:

Rethink your care routine.

The basic care must be right : Good basic care, which is based primarily on mild but thorough cleansing and moisturizing care, creates optimal conditions for healthy skin. Active ingredients and treatments come second.

  • Deeply effective facial cleansing

Intensify your evening facial cleansing in the second half of the cycle with the Oil Cleansing Method . It frees your skin from existing blackheads and prevents new deposits. Take a few minutes to cleanse with oil and massage your face lovingly, it's worth it. Not only will your skin be clean and well cared for afterwards, the facial massage also creates space for a mini break from everyday life. This moment of self-care can be very beneficial, especially in the second half of the cycle, when many women also struggle with mood swings.

  • Soothing moisturizers

The care products you use on your stressed skin should be moisturizing and mild. As already mentioned above, the focus in basic care should not be on fancy active ingredients to combat impurities (e.g. salicylic acid); first of all, the skin's moisture balance must be right. We recommend our FIVE facial serum , which hydrates your skin with rose water, hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Use it alone or for dry skin together with the FIVE Facial Oil Balance , which locks in the moisture from the serum and additionally nourishes your skin.

If excessive sebum production results in very shiny skin on your face , you can try not using facial oil or facial cream in your routine. Instead, only use the oil-free FIVE facial serum , which provides your skin with long-lasting moisture without leaving a sticky film.

The hydrating serum contains the moisture boosters hyaluronic acid and glycerin, as well as soothing organic rose water.

Rely on targeted additional care.

Have you found a basic care routine that gently brings your skin back into balance? Then the most important step for relaxed skin in harmony has already been taken. But sometimes your skin needs more. That's why I recommend that you supplement your basic care with effective additional care if necessary.

  • Preventative facial peeling

From the second half of the cycle onwards, use a mild peeling two to three times a week in the evening. This removes sebum and skin flakes that accumulate in the pores and prevents calluses that can develop into pimples. Mild enzymes, such as the enzyme peeling from Santaverde, are suitable for peeling.

Classic peels with small abrasive grains also work, but should not be used on inflamed pimples and skin areas. You can find instructions for a DIY peeling in my article Make your own peeling .

  • Soothing healing clay oil mask

Healing clay definitely belongs in the “oldie but goodie” category. And it is (still!) a real insider tip against hormonal pimples and impure skin . There's a good reason for this: healing clay acts like a kind of magnet that simply pulls dead skin cells and excess sebum out of your pores.

Studies even show this: In a pilot study published in 2012, scientists from the University Hospital of Zurich and the Berlin Charité had 133 test subjects with impure skin and acne use a healing clay mask with jojoba oil 2 to 3 times a week over a period of six weeks 4 .

At the end of the study period, a reduction in blemishes, discolorations and pustules of 54% compared to the original skin condition was observed. Pretty convincing, right?

My tip for an effective DIY mask against acne and hormonal pimples: Mix a heaping tablespoon of healing clay powder with a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of facial oil . Allow the mask to dry on your skin for 15 to 20 minutes and remove any residue under lukewarm water using circular movements. Tip : Sensitive and dry skin types should not leave the mask on for quite as long, but wash it off as soon as it dries.

The balancing FIVE facial oil for oily skin prone to impurities contains sebum-regulating organic jojoba oil and antibacterial organic oils made from black cumin seeds and grapefruit peel.

  • Use creams with retinol

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is often used in acne therapy 1 . Because with this you kill several birds with one stone. The active ingredient stimulates cell regeneration and ensures that dead skin cells are removed before they can clog your pores and promote bacterial growth 2 .

And they can do even more: their cell-regenerating effect also ensures fewer wrinkles and a uniform skin tone (bye, pimple marks!).

Unfortunately, there are also a few catches:

  • If you are using retinoids for the first time or have sensitive skin, dryness and irritation may occur.
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant soon, retinol is taboo . In this case, I recommend seeking medical advice.

Pamper yourself and your skin with real skin & soul food.

We have already discussed the connection between our diet and impure skin above. Instead of the don'ts, it's about the dos. This is what you should eat if you want to effectively fight acne and hormonal pimples from within :

  • Probiotics , aka lactic acid bacteria. They ensure clear, flawless skin and strengthen the immune system - the phenomenal effects of probiotics on our health are hotly debated in research. Studies show that probiotics can both block the growth of the acne bacterium Propionibacterium acnes and inhibit the insulin-like growth factor IGF-1, which is considered an acne trigger 5 .

Good sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as pickles and sauerkraut, as well as apple cider vinegar and kombucha.

  • Prebiotics . Together with probiotics, they form a perfect dream team for beautiful skin from within. Because prebiotics act like fertilizer for your better half. In order to optimally benefit from the health-promoting effects of good probiotic bacteria, you should integrate the two together into your diet.

Good sources of prebiotics include onions, garlic and asparagus, as well as fruits such as apples, bananas and pears.

  • Complex carbohydrates . Also known as slow carbohydrates, they have one particularly great property: They consist of long molecular chains. Our body needs time to break down and utilize these. This is good for our blood sugar levels. Because it only increases slowly and flatly after consuming complex carbohydrates. Things are different when we eat simple carbohydrates (pasta, flour, sweets and fast food).

    They trigger an unhealthy chain reaction in the body. Simple carbohydrates lead to an increase in the levels of insulin and the insulin-like growth factor IGF-16. This stimulates the production of certain hormones (androgens), which in turn stimulate sebum production - this can lead to hormonal pimples.

Good sources of complex carbohydrates include brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, oatmeal, legumes and whole grain bread.

You can get even more tips on the right diet for clear skin in my article Nutrition against pimples: How to reduce impurities .

Conclusion: With the right strategy you can effectively combat hormonal pimples!

In this article I showed you what hormonal pimples are, how you can recognize them and what really helps against hormonal acne in adults . Finally, I would like to encourage myself and you to accept each other as we are. Each of us has flaws, there is no such thing as perfect skin. Treat yourself to conscious self-care on a regular basis, do what makes you happy and integrate skin-pampering care products with soothing ingredients into your daily skincare.

Here you can discover the FIVE facial serum with precious rose water made from organic Damask roses and the antibacterial FIVE facial oil Balance .

I wish you all the best!
Anna

Sources

  1. Zeichner, Joshua A et al. “Emerging Issues in Adult Female Acne.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 10.1 (2017): 37-46.
  2. Branisteanu, DE, et al. (2022). Adult female acne: Clinical and therapeutic particularities (Review). Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 23, 151. https://doi.org/10.3892/etm.2021.11074
  3. Bagatin, Edileia et al. “Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice.” Anais brasileiros de dermatologia vol. 94.1 (2019): 62-75. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20198203
  4. Meier, Larissa et al. “Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioned skin and mild acne--results of a prospective, observational pilot study.” Researching Complementary Medicine (2006) vol. 19.2 (2012): 75-9. doi:10.1159/000338076
  5. Bowe, Whitney P., Kober, Mary-Margaret Kober, The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging, International Journal of Women's Dermatology, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2015, Pages 85-89, https://doi .org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2015.02.001.
  6. Penso L, Touvier M, Deschasaux M, et al. Association Between Adult Acne and Dietary Behaviors: Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(8):854–862. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1602

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