The beauty industry is built on the idea that the path to good skin is paved with expensive topical products. Don’t bother trying to map an alternative route, it taunts, because such a thing does not exist! If my overflowing bathroom cabinet is anything to go by, this is a very effective strategy, and one that has ensured the industry is worth upwards of $532 billion today.
Don’t get it twisted: Topical skincare routines are important, but they're just one piece of the breakout banishing puzzle. A comforting thought if you’ve tried every product under the sun, but still struggle to keep your disobedient skin in line.
If this all sounds a little too familiar, it might be time to turn your gaze inward. While the factors that lead to acne are complex and multifactorial—sebum production, acne-causing bacteria, and blocked pores among them—two of the major culprits are hormones and inflammation.
Raucously funny and brilliant Netflix show, Big Mouth, dished out a lot of important lessons on toxic masculinity, internalized misogyny and female pleasure over the course of its three seasons. If I had one criticism, though, it’s that they really missed the opportunity to educate viewers on the link between hormones and acne by not including an acne-specific Hormone Monster. In an ideal world, Maya Rudolph’s raspy-voiced Connie would be here to do the enlightening, but since we live in an imperfect world, I must be the one to do it. I may not be as sassy or entertaining as the Monstress herself, but nevertheless, here goes…
A lot of acne is hormonally driven—including the type that plagues teenagers during puberty—but, as Dr. Samer Jaber of Washington Square Dermatology in NYC states*, “When most people talk about [hormonal acne], they’re talking about acne in adult women.” According to a study by the American Academy of Dermatology, roughly 50 percent of women in their 20s and more than 25 percent of women ages 40 to 49 are affected by hormonal acne.
Hormonal acne is generally related to a woman’s menstrual cycle and the fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone that accompany it. Convinced this could be you? To decipher whether the cause of your acne is hormonal, some signs to look out for are cyclical flares each month, dotted along the lower face, jawline and/or around the mouth. These zits are usually deeper, painful pimples (as opposed to blackheads, whiteheads and blocked pores).
Taking a multi-pronged approach is your best bet in saying ‘laters to hormonal acne. ZitSticka KILLA patches aside, a change in diet and the incorporation of key vitamins can help to alleviate hormonal zits. Many evidence-based studies suggest cutting dairy and sugar can help to reduce the frequency and severity of breakouts. According to Anne Chapas, the founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology, “The spikes in blood sugar which arise from eating high-glycemic foods causes oil production, which in turn causes acne… We know that those cause a harmful hormonal environment.”
As for nutrients, there’s a few heavyweights to keep in mind when going into battle with your hormonal breakups. Zinc reduces the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can clog pores and increase pimple-causing inflammation. Chromium improves insulin sensitivity, and helps to abate the aforementioned spikes in blood sugar levels that cause pimples. Omega 3 helps to regulate acne-causing hormones, such as testosterone and androgen. And, vitamin B6 can help to regulate any hormone irregularities that cause acne flare ups, helping to keep skin clear, and especially during menstruation.
As for inflammation? A Lactobacilli and/or Bifidobacterium probiotic helps to rid the gut of bad bacteria that causes inflammation. Nicotinamide has potent anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe redness and blotches caused by acne. And, selenium helps the body to produce glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that combats inflammation.
The good news: We’ve put all these acne-fighting nutrients and probiotics into one neat little pill, the SKIN DISCIPLINE supplement. Learn more about it here.