Firstly I'll make it clear that what we're discussing here is not the likes of a single nasty blemish which pops up at a certain time of the month and lingers in pain for a few days before disappearing for three weeks. Although by all means any of the products below would be ideal for said blemish, the topic on the table today is of a slightly more long-term variety...
Hormonal acne typically consists of incredibly sore, inflamed cystic blemishes. These can mostly be found on the cheeks, jawline, chin, temples, and around the mouth; and rather than disappearing completely, they tend to fade into pink marks which can scar incredibly easily. Like many women, when I hit my twenties my skin made a complete turnaround; my highly blemish prone T-zone cleared up, and my previously flawless cheeks and jaw were beset with such a swarm of angry red blemishes... Not ideal!
I'd curated a fantastic lineup of skincare to cater for my skin prior to this turnaround, but as the cause of hormonal acne is [as the name suggests!] based upon hormones, my failsafe blemish busters were no longer having the desired effect. I soon realised that no matter what I was using, the breakouts on my cheeks continued to appear. If I did happen to use an unsuitable product, then a tell-tale sign of its incompatibility with my skin would be a breakout on my T-zone.
Over the past few months I've made considerable changes to my what's going into my body [this can really effect hormone balance], and have seen considerable changes in my complexion. Making a conscious effort to drink more water, swapping out coffee for green tea, and cutting back on my dairy and sugar intakes have done the world of good [I'll speak more about this next week]. Whilst skincare may not be able to prevent hormonal breakouts, certain ingredients can certainly help to calm the redness, reduce inflammation, and heal scarred skin. Below I've shared the products which through cleansing, exfoliating, and treating, have proven successful in dealing with the aftermath of my hormonal breakouts.
CLEANSE La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel : Finding a simple, hydrating cleanser which purifies and nourishes the skin without causing irritation is key to managing hormonal breakouts, and this French pharmacy favourite is a bona fide crowd-pleaser. Since blemish-prone skin can also be dry and dehydrated, harsh cleansers can easily aggravate the condition, but this gentle gel cleanses thoroughly, and without compromising on hydration levels. Dead Sea Spa Magik Black Mud Soap : Whether or not you believe in the healing benefits of Dead Sea mud, this soap is rich in minerals and sulphates which are well known for having a purifying and calming effect upon acne-prone skin [and is free of all nasties!]. Since using this I've found inflammation has been massively reduced [thanks for the recommendation Bridie!].
EXFOLIATE Radical Exfoliating Pads* : Rich in AHA and BHA exfoliants [acids which gently exfoliate skin cells and encourage cell turnover], these pads are your queue-jump ticket to clearer, brighter skin. The red marks left by blemishes are usually only a few layers deep, so with each use you're one step closer to fading the pigmentation. PIXI Glow Tonic : In much the same way as the above, this toner smoothens, exfoliates, and brightens the skin. The formula is alcohol-free and a little less concentrated than Radical pads, so is ideal for those with dry or especially sensitive skin types. Raccine Ultimate Hydra Gentle Refining Scrub* : Typically, manual exfoliants are not quite as deeply penetrating or effective as their chemical counterparts, but this gentle scrub contains AHAs, BHAs, and a finely-milled formula which gently buffs away dead skin cells [the best of both worlds]. Ideal for bi-weekly pre-mask exfoliation.
TREAT Eve Lom Rescue Mask : This deep cleansing clay mask does a little bit of everything, including working a treat in instantly fading redness and reducing the size of blemishes. It heats up upon application with a slight tingling sensation and leaves my skin noticeably clearer, calmer, and brighter upon removal. Literally the only mask I used when my skin was at its worse as nothing else has quite the same calming effect. Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion : Mario Badescu has something of a cult following in the States, where the brand is a favourite of anyone who is serious about outting congested and blemish-prone skin. This astringent lotion is best used upon targeted areas, as it is drying. Dotted onto blemishes however it reduces pain, swelling, and redness in a matter of hours. In comparison to other targeted spot treatments I've found this to be the most effective when dealing with cystic acne.
Stay tuned for Part II next week, in which I discuss dietary tweaks and the products which have helped to repair, protect, and hydrate my skin during hormonal breakouts.
If you have any product suggestions I'd love to hear them, so do share below!
**As always, I am not a dermatologist and I speak only from what experience I have gained either in dealing with my own skin, during my training as a beauty advisor, and in assisting friends and family with similar issues.