Hormonal breakouts can appear whether you’re 18 or 48. They tend to appear as a smattering of blemishes – including spots, pimples, bumps, plus white and blackheads – around your lower cheeks and chin, either before, during, or after your period is due. And, instead of being a teenage only thing, they can often carry on being an irritation for decades.
Rather than reaching for the heavy duty make up and masking hormone related skin-flammation, we wanted to find out if there’s a way to minimise this, and have clear, glowing skin – no matter what time of the month it is.
What’s behind hormonal breakouts?
If you’re suffering from severe acne it’s worth seeing a specialist doctor, who can do tests and look at various factors and tell you for certain what is behind the problem. We are all so different and the exact cause of hormonal breakouts can be complicated, but certainly diet, stress and your skincare routine can cause a perfect storm for unhappy skin. Balancing your hormones and your blood sugar levels, managing stress and being careful not to eat foods which will cause inflammation (which can appear outwardly as spots on your skin) are all key.
Where to start?
We all know it, but being consistent about drinking water is a factor behind lovely, dewy, moisturised skin. Bottled mineral water is best, especially if there’s high amounts of magnesium, which is an anti-inflammatory that helps ease stress (which burns up your body’s stores of magnesium). If you can aim to keep a bottle by you at all times and take sips all day until 4pm, it will help clear your skin and you’ll notice that you’re less likely to snack. Make your own fruit-infused detox water if you want to keep it interesting, but before long you’ll notice that your body will crave water over other choices.
Research has shown that dairy and refined sugar cause inflammation in your body, which will show up on your skin. If you can cut right back on these during the week before, and the week after your period is due, you’ll notice that your skin becomes clearer.
There are so many great food swaps now that if you have a sweet tooth you will definitely be able to find something else to satisfy the urge. One of the major ingredients in Moon Juice’s cult ‘Beauty Dust’ is organic goji berry extract. They’re antioxidant, anti-inflammatory power-houses which are packed with mammoth amounts of vitamin C, plus are great for regulating blood sugar and studies show help alleviate depression. Having a bag of dried goji berries to hand and snacking on them before, during and after your cycle will help ease that yearning for sugary foods and help keep your skin glowing as well as keeping mood swings at bay.
Cayli Cavaco Reck, who owns top New York boutique Knockout Beauty, also recommends adding a teaspoon of Moon Juice’s pearl powder (another main ingredient in their beauty dust) to your tea, or coffee for ten days during your cycle – which she says is tasteless and will help banish blemishes and with skin that has lost its glow. In Chinese medicine, pearl is known for balancing hormones, plus it contains dozens of amino acids as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, strontium, selenium and copper.
Another food to consider eating a lot of before your period is either the humble cauliflower, broccoli, kale, bok choy, maca, collard greens, or any other members of the cruciferous family, which contains a compound that helps balance your hormones:
“I had a client who would eat a plate of cauliflower rice, lightly sautéed in olive oil, with lots of kale, turmeric and a couple of eggs gently stir fried into it every single day for ten days before her period was due,” says registered nutritionist Paula James. “She’d have it with avocado and courgette. It cleared her PMT in the first month and her skin didn’t break out for the first time in years, so diet really does make a difference – especially if you’re prone to getting PMT and then reaching for cookies and donuts.”
Likewise, eating organic smoked salmon regularly is said to have had a miraculous effect on Victoria Beckham’s skin.
Champagne, white wine and other forms of alcohol often cause breakouts, and worse, not only is white wine packed with sugar, it dehydrates you, overworks your liver and can cause red and/or puffy skin as well as spots and blemishes. If you can avoid it for the majority of the time and apply the 80:20 rule to booze (in other words maybe keeping it to weekends only), your skin will definitely thank you for it.
Banishing stress from your life isn’t easy, as we all have stressful lives, but trying hard to change your reaction to stress will help balance your hormones, which will keep your skin from flaring up. Meditation, yoga, practicing gratitude, or even just creating ‘a happy place’ that you can go to in your mind when you’re anxious, are all habits that your skin will love:
“When I was going through a bad divorce I had a lovely cottage that was for sale bookmarked on my phone,” says therapist Ann Morgan. “When I was having a rough day I would happily flick through the gallery of photos and imagined myself living in this little thatched cottage in the country, picking lilac, smelling roses, or eating vegetables from the garden. I never had any intention of actually buying the house, but it played the role of my happy place for a while. Our body doesn’t know the difference between real or imaginary so while it was a daydream, it was one that physically banished stress and made me feel mentally calm and happy. I have several clients who do this and swear by it.”
Last but not least is your skincare routine. What’s crucial is consistency and cleansing every day and night and remembering not to scrub, pick or use lots of products in the hope that it will help your skin, because that could well cause irritation and breakouts.
Monaco-based facialist Anna Karim says: “Wash your skin twice a day with your hands rather than with a harsh exfoliation brush, never sleep in your make up, and pick products that are gentle but effective. It’s really worth having at least one consultation with an expert who can advise you on specific products and a routine that will suit your skin and budget. If you’re hoping to calm pimples, soothe hormonal breakouts, help scars fade and stop spots from erupting then Odacité have a range of specialist oils which you dab gently on your skin after cleansing.”
Picking a high quality, targeted nutritional supplement will also help your skin, Lumity has seventeen skin-loving nutrients which soothe inflammation, restore balance and help rejuvenate your skin’s cells as you sleep. (And did we mention that beauty sleep is another component for gorgeous skin and balanced hormones)? No matter how tempting it is to stay up binging on Netflix, give yourself a strict bedtime, soak in some anti-inflammatory magnesium flakes and your skin will look fabulous as a result.
Like this? Here’s an expert guide to restoring your glow when you’re fatigued, or perhaps you’re feeling motivated to spring clean your beauty routine? If you’re in the mood to relax, did you know that this humble herb has skin soothing medicinal qualities? And, here’s some beauty tips from top A-list skincare gurus.