Does your skin feel bumpy, red and irritated? That’s how mine used to feel all the time. I would get spots between my eyebrows and around my nose, but the most frequent spot acne would show up for me after stopping birth control was my chin and jawline. However, this does not mean that hormonal acne cannot exist on other areas of the face, back and neck. I would get patches of red bumps on the sides of my upper chin (this can be seen in the top photo that is included in this post) as well as deep, cystic acne along my jawline. You can see a leftover red mark from this kind of pimple on the right side of my chin in the bottom picture. (Red marks stick around long after hormonal acne is gone, however, I have a solution for those too which I will get to later!).
In the past, I have been able to “dry out” regular pimples with rubbing alcohol, salicylic acid, etc. What I have learned is that this does not work well for hormonal acne, because the problem under your skin. It is very hard to prevent it with anything that you put on your skin, rather, the prevention comes from diet and lifestyle changes which I will discuss later. The best you can do externally is to try to leave your skin alone and avoid ingredients that will cause inflammation. As someone who has also suffered from dermatitis, I’ve learned that almost EVERYTHING can cause inflammation. The less harmful ingredients there are in your products, the less likely you are to experience inflammation. One of the books that has helped me to clear up my skin is Clean Skin from Within by Dr. Trevor Cates (also known as The Spa Dr.). She is a naturopathic practitioner with her own line of gentle, non-comedogenic skin care products that do not strip the skin of its natural pH, as my other products do. In her book she lists five commonly used ingredients to avoid:
- Formaldehyde releasers
- Mineral oil
- DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamide), and TEA (triethanolamine)
Source: Clean Skin From Within by Dr. Trevor Cates
After throwing away my skin care products and cosmetics that contained these ingredients and switching to Dr. Cates cleanser, antioxidant serum and moisturizer, I noticed a significant improvement in my skin. It helped my skin achieve a good balance, preventing it from getting to dry or too oily. The fourth product that this set comes with is a glow boost. Since my skin errs on the side of being oily, I do not use this all over my face but rather mix it with the serum to make an eye cream per Dr. Cates’ advice! Although she recommends throwing out ALL products that contain these ingredients (and 15 other less common but still bad ingredients), it seemed like a waste to throw out all my lipstick, eyeshadow, expensive perfumes and hair products. I still use hair products and perfume that contain bad ingredients sometimes, but I have swapped the products that go directly on my face and products that I use frequently such as toothpaste and shampoo. Here are some of my favorites:
The dermatologist had previously prescribed me adapalene gel, which I used for a few months without success. I know it has been known to work well for some people, but for me it actually caused more redness. As many people who suffer from hormonal acne likely have skin that is more sensitive and prone to inflammation, I would not recommend using this. I started out thinking it would be a cure-all, not realizing that what you put on your skin is just part of the equation when it comes to hormonal acne. Diet and lifestyle habits are equally important, which is something I will touch on later.
I think what is most important to remember is that when it comes to what you put on your skin, less is more. At one point, before I discovered Dr. Cates’ products, I was experiencing constant red bumps on my chin that would become white heads and would pop when I put a warm compress on them, but then the red bumps wouldn’t go away! They would just stick around! As you can imagine I was very frustrated, and my mom suggested that I stop using all my products and wash my face once a day with water and nothing else. I thought she was crazy! Because I work from home, I was able to try this for about a week and a half (I had to stop because I was going to a wedding and needed to put on makeup), and lo and behold, it actually improved the appearance of the red bumps, and many of them went away! Putting literally nothing but water on my skin worked better than the harsh products I was using. This experience showed me that when it comes to your skin, more is not better.
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