Q&A: Why can’t I get my hormonal acne under control?

question for batty

Hi Batty,

I came across a link you posted via Twitter not too long ago. I’ve been following your brand via Instagram and Twitter, but it’s only after following the said link, that I realized you offer so much helpful information and Q&A on your blog.
I’ve suffered from hormonal acne for as long as I can remember. I was on the birth control pill for about 4 years, and my last dosage was in September, 2012. When I got off the pill, I got breakouts but they weren’t too severe or anything. However, months later, I broke out pretty badly mainly on my cheeks, and I was also having the monthly cystic spots on my chin.
After that breakout was resolved, I’m currently still breaking out every month on my chin. They can occur before AND after my monthly cycle. It’s very frustrating for me as I scar extremely easily – every little zit, whether I pick it or not, leaves a dark, purplish mark. For a period of time, I had green smoothies regularly and tried to clean up my diet by cutting back on processed foods, sugar, and no dairy. That seemed to help with my skin overall, but not necessarily preventing my chin breakouts.
I’ve been using green skincare products for about a year now. I love my facial oils and while some of them help to reduce the severity of my cystic spots, there’s still no solution so far that stops me from breaking out.
In the recent weeks, my chin has been freaking out a lot. I got the usual cystic spots, and also small ones with whiteheads only. I will get two at a time, and once they heal, the next day another one is brewing.
Since last week, I started on DIM Detox supplement by Pure Encapsulations, as I read that it’s helpful for those with hormonal acne. I’m not sure if my recent chin flare-up is due to the DIM? You mentioned that those on DIM should take a liver support as well – do you have any recommendations? I drink dandelion root tea and Yogi skin detox tea every day; do those count as liver support?
Apologies for the long email, but I appreciate any advice or suggestions from you.

batty's answer

Hi there!
Thanks for your email! Sounds like you’ve taken a lot of great steps in your clear skin journey! Below I’ve included a few of my thoughts after reading your email…
hormonal acne balancig1) Hormonal acne (showing up on your chin) is hands down the hardest and most stubborn acne to clear up, but you’re definitely on the right track by adding a DIM supplement into your routine. To answer your question about a liver supplement, I’d recommend milk thistle. You can get it as a stand alone supplement from most health food stores (and even the health section at larger grocery stores). The brand I use is called “Quest”. It may take a signficant amount of time for the DIM + milk thistle to clear your skin up (a few months is usually the minimum amount of time). It’s worth sticking with though because this combo is what has helped a lot of people get rid of the stubborn chin acne when cleaning up their diet + lifestyle + skin care products alone hasn’t. Of course cleaning up those areas usually results in a vast improvement as you’ve already experienced. Oh, and yes, the teas you mentioned will help but I’d still recommend including a milk thistle supplement.


2) A note about your blemishes leaving scars / hyper-pigmentation. I would recommend taking zinc for this. Zinc helps speed up healing and most people see a significant improvement after being on it for only a couple weeks. There’s also been scientific research studies that have shown that zinc improves the appearance of acne prone skin. I also have skin that scars easily and zinc has been the one thing that took my skin from a healing plateau to seeing my scars fade significantly within a few short months. I take 30 mg a day.


3) Continue to keep on a clean diet and lifestyle like you mentioned. For the diet aspect, mainly avoid processed sugar and processed foods. If you didn’t find that dairy had a big impact on your skin, you probably don’t need to avoid it completely. Just try to eat wholefoods (veggies + fruit + water + tea + green smoothies + whole grains) for the majority of your meals, and give yourself say, 5 – 10% of your diet (1 – 2 meals or snacks a week) for any foods that don’t fit into the wholefoods category. This is so you don’t stress too much about your diet because there are those few “free meals” where you can eat whatever you want. I say this because stress is a big player in hormonal acne. Without controlling /reducing/having a healthy outlet for stress, hormonal acne will continue to show up from time to time even if you’re doing everything else “right”.

FYI: key areas of a “clean” lifestyle to focus on are…

  • diet (as mentioned above)
  • sleep (getting enough good quality sleep)
  • exercise (walking plus something that builds strength, like yoga, are two easy ways to fit this in most days of the week. 20 – 30 min is all that is needed. Building strength is a great way to naturally support your body’s ability to balance hormone levels)
  • stress levels
  • product exposure (not just skin care products but also any house hold products as well).

It’s best to tackle the area(s) you struggle with the most and get it/them cleaned up first. That will help move your overall lifestyle to a “cleaner” state faster than trying to tackle them all at once. It sounds like you have a good handle on a lot of these. I just thought that listing them out again might be helpful.

4) If this isn’t something you’ve looked into before, be sure you’re avoiding “xenoestrogens”. Xenoestrogens are fake estrogen-mimicking chemicals. We are exposed to these in a number of ways. Cleaning up your diet and lifestyle (including a natural skincare routine) helps avoid a lot of these. Unfortunately, there’s a LOT of ways we can be exposed to them, and not all that can be avoided, but limiting the exposure we can control is a good start. These include…
  • birth control pills (which you already removed from your routine)
  • diet (non-organic animal products including farmed fish; pesticide residue on fruits & vegetables)
  • household cleaning products (including laundry soaps /dryer sheets /etc)
  • beauty products (again, this looks like an area you already cleaned up, but also note that feminie hygiene products can also contain xenoestrogens)
  • and one that often gets missed: PLASTICS. Try to avoid plastics as much as possible (especially when it comes to your food). If you do need to use them at any time at least make sure they are BPA free.


5) If after several months you don’t see any improvement while taking DIM + milk thistle (as well as all the other lifestyle actions we talked about), you may want to include a herb called Agnus Castus (also known as Vitex) into your routine. It will help stimulate your body to naturally raise your progesterone levels. Note if you’re on depo provera, it contains a progesterone-like chemical (and therefore Agnus Castus isn’t likely to have much of an effect although this isn’t true for all woman).
I hope that helps! 🙂 If you need me to clarify anything further please let me know.
All the best with your skincare journey!


lovebatty purple

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