If you find yourself breaking out around the same time each month, it may be related to your menstrual cycle and hormonal fluctuations. At the beginning of the third week of a woman’s cycle (about 2 weeks before your period starts), the sex hormones progesterone and estrogen decrease (if no egg has been fertilized), and there is an increase in the effect of testosterone. Combined with bacteria and inflammation, these hormonal changes trigger the production of sebum leading to pimples and cysts. Excess oils on the skin and hair follicles provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and clogged follicles. The lower half of the cheeks, the chin, and the jawline region are the most common areas for hormonal breakouts.
Controlling Acne During Your Period
While hormonal changes are a common cause of breakouts during menstruation, there are ways to keep sebum production and acne under control at the sebaceous gland level.
Sticking to an acne-fighting skincare routine will help remove excess oil and clear clogged pores. Dr. Zenovia’s Clear Complexion Collection is a complete acne complexion-correcting line consisting of five breakthrough products specifically curated to treat blemishes, balance sebum production, and help reduce the appearance of acne scarring while keeping the skin calm.
Dr. Zenovia’s products are the only dermatologist-developed topical, over the counter skincare products on the market scientifically formulated to address hormonal acne. Additionally, Dr. Zenovia’s products contain the first-ever, medical-grade technology clinically formulated to help address the appearance of hormonally impacted skin. The REG-ulate360 Complex™ includes a unique Phytoestrogen component to help balance hormonal fluctuations at the skin level. By regulating hormonal fluctuations at the skin level you experience fewer acne flare-ups.
Morning Skincare Routine
Dr. Zenovia recommends incorporating the following steps in your daily morning acne-fighting skincare regimen:
Step 1: Rinse your face and hands with lukewarm water.
Step 2: Pump Dr. Zenovia’s 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cleanser into dampened hands. Gently massage the cleanser onto your face using a circular motion, avoiding the eye area. Rinse your face with warm water and pat dry.
Step 3: Apply a thin layer of Dr. Zenovia’s 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Spot Treatment to affected spots/areas, blending into your skin. Start by applying just once daily and gradually increase to 2-3 times daily as desired. If your skin is extra sensitive or excessive inflammation occurs, reduce to once daily.
Step 4: Appy a rich layer of Dr. Zenovia’s Aloe Vera Blemish Soothing Moisturizer onto your clean face and neck using a circular motion.
Step 5: Apply a sunscreen of your choice to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVA/UVB rays.
Night Skincare Routine
Since the skin works to repair itself while you sleep, Dr. Zenovia recommends incorporating active acne-fighting ingredients including Retinoids and Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Glycolic and Lactic Acid into your nighttime skincare routine. Plus, Retinol can break down in the sun, and AHAs increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun so it’s best to use these ingredients in the evening. An effective PM regimen to follow includes the following steps:
Step 1: Rinse your face and hands with lukewarm water.
Step 2: Pump Dr. Zenovia’s 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cleanser into dampened hands. Gently massage onto the face using a circular motion, avoiding the eye area. Rinse with water and pat dry.
Step 3: Gently swipe Dr. Zenovia’s 10% Glycolic Acne Control Peel Pad over clean skin. These peel pads help remove dead skin cells and unclog the pores.
Step 4: Take a pea-size amount of Dr. Zenovia’s Advanced Retinol Night Repair Treatment onto your fingertip. Starting at your chin, apply in upward and outward motions.
Step 5: Apply a rich layer of Dr. Zenovia’s Aloe Vera Blemish Soothing Moisturizer onto your clean face and neck utilizing a circular motion.
Tip from Dr. Z: Dr. Zenovia notes that it’s important to gradually introduce ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid, and Retinol into your skincare regimen. If excessive dryness or irritation occurs, reduce application. Additionally, as these ingredients can increase sensitivity to the sun, be sure to follow with SPF during the day.
Hormonal changes during menstruation can lead to cravings for hi-carb and sugary foods. While it may be tempting to snack on candy and donuts, try to opt for healthier alternatives such as fresh fruit, or a homemade smoothie. Processed foods containing sugar and refined carbohydrates rank high on the Glycemic Index (GI). The higher the GI number associated with a type of food; the faster insulin levels rise after consumption which leads to inflammation and worsens acne. Sticking to a diet that consists of foods low on the GI (such as citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables) will help regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels which can decrease the skin’s inflammatory response. Inflammation-producing enzymes attach to and break down the skin’s collagen, a process known as Glycation. Glycation can increase the skin’s aging and also worsen acne.
Anti-Acne Skin Tips
In addition to healthy eating, certain lifestyle habits can help keep the skin clear. Physical and emotional stress can cause cortisol levels to increase which can prompt your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Decreasing stress by exercising, meditating, and being more mindful will decrease levels of cortisol and reduce hormonal acne. Your cortisol levels may also increase if you aren’t getting enough quality sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night.
When exercising, gently pat your skin with a clean towel if you start getting sweaty. It’s especially important to shower and change into clean clothes as soon as possible after a workout too. If you can’t get to a shower after exercising, Dr. Zenovia’s 10% Glycolic Acne Control Peel Pads are terrific at wiping down sweat and oil on the skin. Making sure your pillowcase and phone screen are clean is important as well.
Dr. Zenovia also recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ daily. Protecting your skin barrier from harmful UVA/UVB rays will help prevent the darkening of acne scars. Dr. Zenovia’s Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30 is formulated with transparent nano-zinc oxide giving you broad-spectrum mineral protection for radiant, even-toned skin.
Hormonal Birth Control & Prescription Treatments
If over the counter products don’t seem to be helping your hormonal breakouts, consult a board-certified dermatologist about treatment options. The internal process of hormonal stimulation can be controlled by oral medication. Hormonal birth control pills containing anti-androgenic progestins are best for treating acne compared to birth control pills with androgenic progestins. Dr. Zenovia recommends the drospirenone-containing combined contraceptives to her patients, like YAZ. To see an improvement in acne, it may take up to 2-3 months on the pill. This is because hormones need time to regulate and normalize in our system.
A trial of spironolactone (not a contraceptive) can also help with hormonal breakouts. This medication helps stabilize the androgen influence at the follicle level. However, if you want the combined benefit of contraception (pregnancy prevention), menstrual cycle regulation, and acne control then the birth control pill may be right for you.
Both topical and oral medications can help control hormonal breakouts. Having an evaluation from an acne specialist is important, especially if you have cysts or acne scars.