What Happened to My Acne When I Went Off Birth Control
By: Hannah Smith
Ah, hormonal acne—known for being incredibly stubborn, hard to vanish, and oftentimes painful. I began experiencing breakouts long before I actually hit puberty, and I kept experiencing them afterward. Over the course of five years, my mom took me to six dermatologists, all of whom told me the same thing: Don’t use moisturizer. Well, I can safely say drying the sh!t out of my face didn’t do anything—in fact, it arguably made my acne worse and kicked my sebaceous glands into absolute overdrive, effectively turning my face into an oil slick for years.
If you know the struggle, you know how large a hit acne can take on your confidence, and after seeking help from “experts” for years with no change, I decided to look internally. I began simply with introducing more anti-inflammatory foods into my diet and while I did think it helped, there was simply no amount of blueberries I could consume that would set my acne at bay.
After consulting with my primary care doctor at the time, we decided it’d be best to try hormonal birth control to see how my skin reacted.
I began birth control right as I turned 17, and one month later, my skin was already showing vast improvement. It was clear the birth control was working to tame my acne and so I kept with it—why quit a good thing? I never even changed the form or brand, and have subsequently used the same pill to regulate my hormonal acne for eight years now (I’m about to be 25—*ahem!* quarter life crisis.)
That is, until a month ago. To prepare for an upcoming surgery to my knee, I was instructed to go off of my birth control for at least a month prior to my surgery and to remain off of it for another four to six weeks afterward. While I completely understood why I had to go off of it (if you aren’t aware, hormonal birth control puts you at risk for blood clots which is considered risky on its own, but especially when going under the knife), I was deeply afraid. Deeply afraid! Quit the same acne-clearing pill I’ve been taking every single day for eight years straight, cold turkey?
I was convinced my skin would react and figured I’d document my journey coming off of the pill in case this was something other people were struggling with.
First thing’s first: When going off of birth control, particularly the oral type, you have to be sure to do it *correctly*. Speak to your doctor for the best guidance, but generally speaking, you want to make sure you don’t stop in the middle of a week and if you can, try to finish out one pack before fully stopping. I personally stopped halfway through my pack in order to line up with my surgery.
In that first week, my emotions were running high and frankly, by the end of the week, I at first couldn’t tell if my breakouts were caused by stress or coming off the pill itself.
After a quick face-mapping, it was safe to say the breakouts I was experiencing were hormonal-based. Off the bat, I began to get way more breakouts surrounding my mouth, chin, and jawbone, most of which were also quite deep and painful. As you can see below, there were definitely some KILLA worthy pimples popping up. KILLA proved to be really helpful in bringing some of these deep, blind ones to the surface or even shrinking them before they really showed up. That big red mark on my chin? Never even surfaced thanks to two nights of KILLA.
One week out, I also noticed my skin appeared much more oily than I liked (ya know, a little reminiscent of that middle school oil slick I was referring to earlier), so I decided to work SKIN DISCIPLINE back into my routine.
By the end of week two, what would typically be the week I get my period, my breakouts weren’t quite as intense as they would usually be. Because I stopped the birth control mid-pack, I didn’t get my period that week which could have also effected how my skin was reacting, but overall I was happy with how my skin looked despite the fact that it was definitely under hormonal duress.
When I first introduced SKIN DISCIPLINE into my routine about a year ago, it took about a month to see true results. My body seemed to acclimate to it much faster the second time around. By the end of week two my skin was overall less oily (not perfect, but NOT an oil spill). My deeper, more painful cystic babes subsided as well—rather, I was experiencing small clusters of pimples, but these were incredibly easy to handle and went away with little intervention, most of which I do credit to SKIN DISCIPLINE.
Although I felt lucky to have not experienced such a slew cystic acne, there were still some dark marks left behind exactly where my pimples had been. To handle these, I brought in the big guns (aka HYPERFADE). After about three uses of HYPERFADE, my marks had faded enough for me to not notice them 24/7.
Since I was happy with the results from, I decided it would be best to keep it in my routine so long as I was off of birth control. SKIN DISCIPLINE truly did a great job of keeping my oil and general breakouts under control and much more manageable than they were without it in my routine.
By the end of week three, I experienced barely any new breakouts. Aside from one little bugger on the side of my temple, there were no new cysts, no new whiteheads, my scars were fading, and my oil production felt under control—so my entire face felt under control without any birth control.
Hormones will be hormones, and unfortunately my time of the month finally came. Though I typically break out significantly surrounding my period, I actually didn’t this time around. There was a small cluster near my chin, but it wasn’t anything a few GOO GETTERS couldn’t handle and after one night, they were mostly dealt with.
Typically, the week leading up to my period is truly the worst for my skin, which might explain the random one on the side of my temple that popped up the week prior. With my regimen of SKIN DISCIPLINE, one KILLA, and one GOO GETTER, that was pretty much MIA by the end of week four, and I’ll be putting a HYPERFADE on to get any remnants gone.
One month off of my birth control and it’s safe to say that my skin didn’t react nearly as much as I thought it would. I was expecting the worst and that I would fully revert back to what my skin was like in eighth and ninth grades, but with the proper product(s) on hand, I was able to keep it under control. After this experiment, it’s safe to say that my hormones are definitely different than they were when I was a teenager—so perhaps I don’t need hormonal intervention for my acne anymore, after all. Two thumbs up!
Thank you for sharing your story, Hannah! <3
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