Hormonal Acne 101Feb 15, 2020
Let's talk about hormonal acne! So many adults nowadays are dealing with pimple breakouts or cystic acne. Unfortunately, we are a society that looks to over-the-counter pharmacies or doctors who can prescribe medication like antibiotics, Benzoyl Peroxide, Retinol-A cream, Salicylic Acid or even BIRTH CONTROL (!?!?).... without addressing our diet and lifestyle first!
You see, we absolutely love modern-day science, however, those types of medications and topical ointments are more often than not covering up the problem like a bandaid. They are not curing the problem or getting to the root of the problem.
That is like painting the leaves of a tree green, instead of watering the roots! So as soon as you run out of the medication or you stop taking it, you bet that your pimple problems will be coming back! Not to mention, all of those medications can have both mild & severe side effects like depression, insomnia, and liver and gut problems.
Instead, we like to look at the health problems from a holistic perspective.
The food you eat, the drinks you drink, the beauty products you lather on your skin and hair, the cleaning substances you utilize daily ALL have to be eliminated out of your body! If not, then these chemicals can mimic estrogen (called xenoestrogens) that can remain circulating around your body. This improper metabolization of estrogen can cause MAJOR PROBS with your hormones.
So ladies, let's talk.
The reality is that we have a 28-day cycle and it is very common for us to experience hormonal acne. However, you can make simple lifestyle and diet changes that can improve your skin all month long.
We're all about raising your awareness through education, and to help give you some natural suggestions on how to clear your skin! This article just might be exactly what you've been looking to be acne-free...
Welcome to Hormonal Acne 101! We're going to cover:
- What causes hormonal acne (what is happening internally with our hormones?)
- Reasons you're breaking out
- Foods to avoid
- Foods to add
- Supplement Suggestions
- Switching to non-toxic skincare
- Our brand recommendations
Let's start with the biggest question of all....
WHY AM I BREAKING OUT?
Alrighty first, let's just note that your SKIN is the biggest organ in your body that has the main job of ELIMINATION.
The skin is also BFFLs with your liver, your large intestines, and your lymphatic system. They are tight-knit and work together as a team to process and eliminate toxins from your body (One would say they are #SquadGoals)
Acne tends to rear its ugly head when there is some sort of endocrine imbalance. You might notice that pimples appear mid-cycle (around ovulation) or right before you menstruate.
Here is a common misconception...
- "It's normal to get pimples before/during your period and it's something that I have to deal with as a woman"
We're here to tell you that although it is common, hormonal acne is not actually normal. In fact, it is your body's way of telling you that something is off that needs your attention!
This is what can be happening...
- Your body is not processing, eliminating or detoxifying appropriately - Estrogen and testosterone are at their highest levels and if your body is not processing, eliminating and detoxifying appropriately then that extra estrogen and testosterone can accumulate.
- Excess estrogen - This imbalance can cause excess estrogen and skin inflammation.
- Excess testosterone - which causes an overproduction of oil from your sebaceous glands on your skin and in your hair. Hello, grease ball!
- Liver malfunctions & nutrient deficiencies - Healthy livers absorb all of the vitamins and minerals (which helps prevent deficiencies). However, it is common today for our livers to get bogged down due to high inflammatory diets and lifestyle. Unfortunately, a sluggish liver will have trouble processing all of the nutrients. According to FLO LIVING (<-- that site has SO MANY resources for you!), a common deficiency for women is ZINC and when we are deficient, our pores become irritated by bacteria and show redness.
- Abnormal or irregular menstrual cycle- No bleed? Inconsistent? Heavy or super light? These are all signs that there is an endocrine imbalance which means your estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone can be all over the place! This can cause acne (as we learned earlier in this article)...
- Poor diet and gut health -Common culprits like dairy, peanuts, soy, processed oils, caffeine, gluten can cause "leaky gut" (an increase in intestinal permeability where bacteria and toxins are able to "leak" through the intestinal wall, creating a slew of inflammatory responses). So now, you have a liver and large intestine who can't do their jobs to the best of their ability which can result in passing the buck off to our skin (the largest organ in our body). Your skin tries with all of its might to eliminate the toxins but the overload can cause skin inflammation.
- You're taking synthetic birth control - If you're on birth control pill, the high dose of hormones tells your brain to stop talking to your ovaries. This reduces the production of testosterone, which is simply why doctors are always SO QUICK to prescribe birth control to those suffering from acne issues. Here is the unpopular truth - By lowering testosterone (and oil production), you’re also completely messing with your mood, motivation, and libido too because we NEED testosterone, too. In fact, as soon as you come off the pill, the acne problems might return with a vengeance! This is why women get addicted to staying on the pill because they think it is helping them long term. We're here to change your perspective on this...
TO SUM IT UP -- If your diet and lifestyle are causing all of your elimination organs to not work optimally, then circulating toxins will show up on your face as acne. Simultaneously, a buildup of toxins will cause hormonal imbalance! The excess hormones (estrogen and testosterone) will be prevented from leaving the body properly and cause you to have all the hormonal symptoms – from acne to PMS.
FOODS TO AVOID TO PREVENT HORMONAL ACNE
We know that we are ALWAYS talking about how what you eat breaks down to the cellular level and becomes you. We're here to remind you again that what you are consuming needs to be processed and eliminated appropriately...and when it's not, it can show up on your beautiful face!
Our main goal with our diet is to support our body in elimination and detoxification. As we touched on earlier, our liver needs to appropriately absorb enough micronutrients to work efficiently. Foods that are highly inflammatory can cause that LEAKY GUT problem in your intestines. When your liver and large intestine are working at a subpar level, your skin steps up and tries to eliminate the toxins – resulting in skin inflammation and acne.
Here are some foods that are particularly bad for women with problems like hormonal acne that we'd advise you to do your best to:
Added/Artificial Sugar - We all know that this is not going to help your skin became any clearer :)
Dairy- We love dairy as much as the next person but a lot of the dairy options nowadays contain synthetic hormones that can put our hormone levels into a tizzy.
Peanuts - common allergen and can cause inflammation within the body (still love ya PB). The easiest way to avoid this is to opt for almond butter!
Soy - Phytoestrogens contained in soy create extra estrogen within the body (hello hormonal imbalance). *Please avoid anything with the GMO label on soy products.
Inflammatory Oils - Let's get this straight...canola, grapeseed, safflower oils and other vegetable oils are processed at such a high heat that it changes the molecular state of the oil making them extremely inflammatory. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio gets skewed and when there is excess consumption of omega-6s, that's when you can see some big hormonal issues!
Gluten - Similar to dairy, gluten has probed to be inflammatory and can affect your gut health.
Caffeine - We love coffee just as much as the next person but when you notice you are hormonally imbalanced, it's best to avoid it until you can find some stability. Caffeine can affect your levels of essential B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc which can affect your skin.
Alcohol - As we learned, your liver already has enough work to do! When you drink alcohol, the liver drops EVERYTHING in order to process and eliminate the drinks you just had. Let's lessen our chance for a bogged down liver and reduce our alcohol consumption!
Healthy fats and high-quality proteins - Firstly, protein is incredible for balances our blood sugar and the reality is that women are typically not getting enough in their diets! Protein also provides us amino acids and fatty acids that are the building blocks of many of our hormones so making sure to include high-quality proteins (like grass-fed, organic or pasture-raised) and healthy fats (like walnuts, avocado, salmon) in your daily diet can help nourish your hormones!
Fiber- Bowel movements are COOL... The fiber helps us flush out any excess estrogen which may be the culprit causing those hormonal imbalances that lead to acne!
Tons of greens- Naturally and gently detox your body every single day with veggies. There are countless of benefits to eating colorful whole foods...so make your plate look like a rainbow! The more colors, the more free-radical fighting antioxidants (which give your skin that beautiful glow and combat the aging process!)
Want some other little tid bits? Try this...
Add cinnamon to errrrr-thang: Cinnamon is proven to help balance our blood sugar (which regulates our insulin, which regulates our hormones, which keeps our systems clear of acne)
Add turmeric into your diet: Turmeric (with cracked black pepper) will activate curcumin which can reduce inflammation and make it a lot easier for your cells to use insulin!
Eat cruciferous veggies like broccoli and kale: These veggies can help estrogen get processed through your liver and eliminate through your bowels! This helps flush out that excess estrogen
Add in zinc foods: Oysters and green beans might help you regulate your testosterone levels!
Another method you can try is...
SEED-CYCLING: This philosophy is all about eating nutrients from specific seeds during their respective phase in the menstrual cycle.
- Follicular and into the Ovulation Phase - 1 tbsp of flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds daily. Flax helps bind estrogen and bring it out of your body! Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which helps boost progesterone (your feel-good hormone that is needed to keep the ratio estrogen: progesterone balanced)
- Ovulation and into the Luteal phase - 1 tbsp of sesame and sunflower seeds daily. They both also help bind to excess estrogen and provide selenium that helps support the liver.
*Side note - The best way to consume seeds are raw, organic, and unsalted. If you're toasting them yourself, avoid inflammatory oils like canola, vegetable or grapeseed (they sound healthy, but we promise they are not). Opt for high-smoke point oils like avocado or coconut oil.
*Don't worry, we'll do a whole blog on seed-cycling*
If you have already made some of those lifestyle and diet adjustments, then you can consider taking supplements for extra love and support (of course, when OK'd by your doctor!).
Here are the supplements that we take that can help balance your hormones and in turn help you prevent your hormonal acne:
PROBIOTICS (One that can survive your stomach acid)
When your gut isn't getting the love that it needs through your diet, it shows on your skin (cystic acne, pimples, rosacea). Invest in a quality probiotic and take it daily! This might just want you to need to notice your skin improvements.
This is actually one of the most common nutrient deficiencies and it's a shame because it's responsible for over 300 biochemical processes in our bodies (from maintaining muscle and nerve function, to brain health, to building bones, and supporting your immune system). On top of that, a lack of this nutrient can cause #skinprobs and inflammation. According to FLO LIVING, buying a magnesium combined with calcium supplement can lower the C-reactive proteins in your body which cause that inflammation. Plus, calcium is great for skin cell renewal.
Omega-3 fatty acids are so clutch when it comes to lowering your inflammation. If you are not consuming high-quality fish 2-3x a week, you can supplement with fish or flax oil..whatever floats your boat.
As we said earlier, let's avoid that common deficiency for women! We don't want our pores getting irritated.
Please don't skimp on this one! Your skin needs these vitamins to regenerate and renew. We highly suggest investing in B-complex (we use a Prenatal to get our B vitamins) because it includes B6s which are great for hormonal or pre-menstrual acne. B6 helps prevent prevents the inflammatory and overproduction of oil (aka Sebum).
You have probably heard us talk about this 1,000x...because it MATTERS! What you put on your skin (which is the largest organ in your body) gets absorbed into your body and affects you down to the cellular level. So if you're putting toxic chemicals into your body and on your skin, you bet your butt there will be toxic gook wanting to come out through your pores!
Won't dive into the dirty details today, but you can read more here. We challenge you to pick ONE beauty or skincare product that you use daily and switch to a nontoxic version of that brand.
For example, here are some switches we made:
- Dove Deodorant -> Primally Pure Non-toxic Deodorant
- Batiste Dry Shampoo -> Primally Pure Dry Shampoo
- CVS Face Wash -> Beauty Counter Non-toxic Face Cleanser
If you're looking to switch:
- Don't forget you can get10% off your Primally Pure order with code: BALANCEDBEYARS. They just came out with the BEST eBook ever for Skincare. We're not kidding... it's incredible.
- If you're interested in BeautyCounter, make sure you Shop through Alaina!
We've made the switch slowly but surely over the years and we've never felt better about our skin! Just remind yourself, what you put on your skin MATTERS.
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Inside of Power of Periodization, we periodize our workouts and eating habits to align with our hormonal patterns and the 4 distinct phases of our menstrual cycle.
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