Hormonal Acne, what actually works?

Since I was 18, I have come and gone from having monthly bouts of ‘unwanted visitors’. Over the past 9 years I have been on a journey of having a few months of clear skin, followed by a big breakout or a ‘bad patch’ of spots for weeks on end.

It started to progress when when I was 20 in University. I became used to spots appearing on my chin a week out from my period, like clockwork. Among my early twenties it seemed to be a common thread of conversation amongst the ‘sisterhood’, that the period must soon be approaching when that first chin spot of the month appeared. It almost felt like a right of passage, and the stress of the spots were relieved by the fact that everyone seemed to be facing a similar issue. With concealer in one hand and a bottle of St Ives Exfoliator in the other, we were tackling the monthly spots together. It never crossed my mind at this point that hormone imbalances existed, or that these monthly spots could be an indicator of something deeper going on.

Fast forward to my mid twenties, my monthly spots were still hitting like clockwork. Although it seemed at this stage that most of my pals had outgrown their skin issues, and it began to hit home that perhaps I was doing something wrong? I was stumped, as by this point I had spent my my career dedicated to the health and wellness industry. I was the ‘healthiest’ I had ever been, I practised mindfulness, had a balanced wholefoods diet, and even had began making my own skin creams and tonics. I had switched my makeup to entirely organic, was on an extensive list of supplements, and was naturally managing my cycles without contraceptives. This was when I started to seek out a hormone specialist. I firstly went to visit a well known alternative Doctor who specialised in Women’s hormone health. I went onto a course of progesterone creams and adrenal support. 6 months later, nothing had worked.

A year later I sought out a Naturopath, who specialised in Cancer patients and hormonal imbalances resulting from Adrenal Fatigue. I did a hormone test. She put me onto a keto diet, adrenal support, liver support and slow juicing. 6 months later, nothing worked again.

Don’t get me wrong, these practitioners were wonderful and perhaps worked for many others. But nothing was stopping these pimples. And the pimples were getting worse. All I knew that they were related to my sex hormones, and that perhaps stress was a factor. At this point, I had been running my business for 4.5 years, and there was no doubt that I was under immense responsibility. However I didn’t ‘feel’ stressed or anxious – it was more an underlying feeling of constantly having a workload that I couldn’t leave at the front door in the evening. This feeling was all I had ever known.

Fast forward a year, and my skin issues were at an all time high. I no longer had hormonal acne at ‘that time of the month’ - it was now a permanent, unwanted friend that had turned up and wasn’t going anywhere. It was really hard, on my self esteem and mental health. I started to feel like an imposter. How could I be an authority in the wellness industry and represent a healthy lifestyle, when it looked like I personally had a very imbalanced internal body? 

Despite my love for natural and organic, I started to look for options that would cover up the state of my skin. I got desperate, and started looking for products that would at least give me some quick relief. It seemed to me at this point, it didn’t matter what I ate, or put on my skin – as nothing made a difference.

At this point of my life, I had never been under as much personal, financial and business pressure. I was in the process of selling my business of 6 years, (a process which is highly stressful). The pimples had spread from my chin, up my cheeks and down my neck.

It was at this point that I started to consider, a hormonal pill to regulate my hormones again. Going down this track is an option that I had tried to avoid my whole life, however I was really at my wits end. 

A few months passed and finally my business had sold, I had slowly started to unwind the pressures and responsibilities I had previously, and finally I had time to really address the issue.

I was at a yoga class one day, when a friend (also a Naturopath) saw my skin, and said she could help me. I initially felt really uncomfortable that she had so clearly seen that I was struggling with it. But I went ahead and took a session with her.

She said it would take three months at least to heal the skin and the scarring would take the longest to heal – but that she could definitely help me. I was a little sceptical, as I had heard this before, however I took her advice and immediately started the therapeutic herbal tinctures she blended me. I also took a practitioner grade Vitamin E, Zinc and Iron. She said it didn’t matter what I used externally (creams, make up) – it was an internal issue that needed to be fixed. 

No word of a lie, within 2 weeks my skin had started to change. The new pimples had stopped cropping up. I thought it was too good to be true, that it was a fluke, so I waited longer. A month later, still no new pimples, and scarring had started to reduce too.

Post Hormonal Acne

Post Hormonal Acne

It is now about 2 and a half months in. I am on my third bottle of herbs, and I will keep going. My skin has improved dramatically. Every morning I wake up and touch my skin to make sure no new friends have arrived, and so far – so good! My periods have also changed – they are longer, more regular (I have always had very light, short periods with 7-8 week cycles). I do get an odd spot occasionally, but I am absolutely okay with this. I have made friends with my body and respect that it’s learning how to come back to homeostasis.

Energetically, it feels like my body is slowly restoring itself. I think long term stress has played a really big factor in my hormone imbalance. I am trying to really let myself slow down and not put pressure on myself to push forward - patience is something I have always struggled with. I am prioritising my mental health, balance between home and work life, and staying kind, gentle with my body.

My experience with hormone healing is clearly unique to my own body, however I do believe finding the right Naturopath is key, and therapeutic herbs have been more powerful than I have ever experienced. Natural body products are clearly important, but what I have learned is that they won’t change the state of the skin from a deep level.  

If you’d like the details of my Naturopath, get in touch. Would love to hear if you have had a similar story – or any techniques that have worked for you.

Love, Olivia