Friday, December 8, 2017

How to Clear Hormonal Acne

Hello, beautiful! A long time ago (as in, back in May) I wrote a post about getting my IUD, which was super well-received. I was so happy to be able to share my birth control story with you guys and hear yours in return.

One thing, however, that I couldn't have known back then was how the IUD would affect my skin. For background, I have always had terrible hormonal acne, but it was suppressed for years when I was on the pill. Once I went off the pill, I noticed I would break out once a month and always at the same time - but the acne would clear up shortly after.

What changed when I got the IUD was that instead of clearing up, the hormonal acne on my chin and forehead stuck around all. The. Damn. Time! No matter what products I used or what I ate, the acne never got better - yet it never got worse. And it was always in the same place every time.

Well, eventually I learned that the location of my acne had a meaning - and what the acne on my chin was trying to tell me was that my hormones were out of whack. So, I caved and scheduled a visit to a dermatologist to see if she could help me clear my hormonal acne once-and-for-all. There, she taught me that it's extremely common for women on the IUD to experience this resurgence of hormonal acne - so, if you're like me, you might also be curious about why hormonal acne happens and what you can do about it.

Together, me and my derm decided on a routine of prescription and drugstore products to help keep my acne at bay - and today, I'm going to share that routine with you. I'll also give you some of my best skin tips to help you clear your skin no matter what stage you're at.

My Current Skincare Routine

Cleanser: Sulfur Cleanser

Despite its rotten egg smell, sulfur is actually pretty effective at clearing acne. Sulfur dries and exfoliates the skin, so blemishes disappear and you're left with silky-smooth skin. The sulfur cleanser I'm using right now is a prescription product that you can only get from a dermatologist. Its primary ingredient, however, is an ingredient in many over-the-counter skincare products as well - try the Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask from Sunday Riley for a solution available at your local Sephora.

Topical Treatment: Differin

If you haven't heard of Differin, this potent acne treatment needs to be on your radar. It used to only be available by prescription only and has now become the first and only retinoid acne treatment that's available over-the-counter. Once a day, I simply apply a thin layer of the gel to my breakouts (before my moisturizer) - and the next day, I wake up and watch my blemishes shrink dramatically. 

Moisturizer: Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

I have combination skin, which is a lucky combination when you also suffer with hormonal acne. In other words, every acne treatment I've ever used has left me with itchy, dry, flaky skin. This moisturizer, recommended by my dermatologist, is available at your local drugstore and will combat dry skin like no other. Even if you don't have dried-out skin from harsh acne treatments, it's a great thing to keep in your winter beauty routine to combat all that dehydration and wind burn. 

Face Mask: Aria Starr Dead Sea Mud Mask

I've been striving to use this face mask once or twice a week since I purchased it on Amazon. I noticed it was one of the most popular beauty items Amazon sells, so I couldn't help be curious about it - and as soon as I tried it, I totally understood why. This stuff really works! I can feel the mud mask sucking the dirt and grime out of my pores as it sits. Although it's a bit nasty to clean up, the glowing results I get are totally worth a little bit of mess.

My Best Tips for Clear Skin

  • Don't be afraid to moisturize. The beauty industry has taught us to fear oils and moisturizers with those ominous words like "comedogenic" - but in reality, they couldn't be further from the truth. Many people with acne actually have sensitive, dehydrated skin (especially if they use a lot of drying treatments, like benzoyl peroxide or retinoids). So, it's absolutely essential to use a moisturizer in combination with your skincare routine - and don't skimp! 
  • Drink lots of water. And, on the topic of staying hydrated, what goes inside your body is just as important as what goes on top of it - so, don't forget to keep that water bottle full and carry it with you wherever you go. Additionally, eating lots of fruits and veggies (such as cucumbers, tomatoes and peaches) will help you hydrate from the inside out.
  • Hands off! If you get acne on your chin or cheeks, think about how often you probably touch those spots throughout the day - without even thinking about it! For example, I often rest my chin in my hands when I'm bored in class. However, these bad habits take a tough toll on your skin. My advice? Keep your hands as far away from your face as possible and whatever you do, DON'T PICK!
  • Take your vitamins. The Hair, Skin and Nails vitamins by Optimal Solutions are my absolute favorite way to pack in all those healthy nutrients you need to keep your skin glowing, soft and shine-free. Biotin strengthens your hair, whiles vitamins C and E give your complexion a much-needed boost. Keep up a healthy regimen of vitamins and you'll be on your way to clear skin in no time! 

What are your best tips for clear skin? LMK in the comments below or @haleymarieblog on social media!