You go through years of raging teenage hormones which come hand-in-hand with seemingly endless breakouts, and then you reach adulthood and think you’re finally free. But lo and behold, you are not. Adult acne affects over 50% of women, with one of the most significant triggers being hormones. More specifically, the hormonal imbalance that occurs if you stop taking the contraceptive pill.
The pill increases levels of oestrogen in the body, which in turn suppresses the production of male hormones (e.g. androgens) and reduces levels of sebum production on the skin. So what changes? When you come off the pill, your body needs to readjust to the significant reduction of oestrogen. This causes androgens to sky rocket and can cause fierce acne on your face, chest and back.
If you have this reaction, it is likely that your skin will be at it’s worst between 3 and 9 months post-pill. While it is more than tempting to go back on the pill in a quick-fix attempt, it’s best to push through this hormone rebalance as your skin should return to normal by 12 months. Nevertheless, there are a few things that can make this transition a little bit easier.
While taking supplements isn’t going to immediately solve all of your acne woes, certain deficiencies can certainly aggravate your skin. Zinc and omega 3 are the two of the biggest culprits.
Zinc: Studies show that people with zinc deficiencies are more prone to acne. Taking a zinc supplement (specifically zinc picolinate or zinc methionine) can reduce acne levels by up to 50%.
Omega 3: Research has also shown that taking an omega 3 supplement can help reduce the inflammation of blemishes.
I’m going to go ahead and assume you are aware that maintaining a healthy, nutrient-rich diet will help optimise your skin health because, lets face it, you aren’t going to get perfect skin if you eat rubbish all day, every day. Nonetheless, there are some factors you may want to consider:
- Avoid high GI foods (e.g. sugar and white carbs), as these spike your insulin levels and lead to a series of unfortunate events, ultimately causing increased oil production and acne.
- Dairy is another major factor that can exacerbate acne. Milk contains a high level of hormones which are wonderful for little baby cows but can cause inflammation and spots on your skin. Try switching to dairy-free products, such as almond milk, to ensure you still get enough calcium.
Skin Care Routine
As well as calming acne from the inside-out, it is also very important how you treat your skin from the outside. Having a consistent and well-structured skin care routine is an important factor for healthy skin and improving acne. Post-pill hormones will add excess sebum to the day-to-day grime and dirt that builds up on your skin. It’s important that you thoroughly cleanse your skin morning AND evening so that it has less chance of clogging your pores.
You can also use topical treatments after cleansing to give a boost to your skincare regime. Salicylic acid (BHA) can penetrate through the oil in your pores and help clean them out. Glycolic acid (AHA) exfoliates your top layer of skin, removing the dead skin cells which bind with excess sebum and clog pores. Finally, Benzoyl Peroxide is very beneficial as an anti-bacterial treatment, killing any acne-causing ‘nasties’ on the skin.
Whilst these tips can significantly improve the severity of post-pill acne, the outcomes will differ from person to person. What works for one individual may not work the same for another, so do what feels best for your own skin. Most importantly, clearing your skin is about consistency and patience – it’s not going to happen overnight but it also won’t be forever.