5 Ways To Deal With Hormonal Acne During Perimenopause

Like many women, I suffer from outbreaks of hormonal acne at certain points during my cycle. The spots tend to emerge in the few days leading up to the start of my period, and mainly occur around my chin and jawline. However, now that I’m in the perimenopause stage of my life, I’ve noticed changes to the type of hormonal acne I get. The spots are now more cyst-like; larger, deeper under the skin, and much more painful; and they have now spread to my neck, hairline and cheeks too. Plus, my pores are noticeably larger, and larger pores means more space for dirt to collect and for bacteria to breed, which of course means more spots. It has become an endless vicious cycle.

The changes and imbalances in hormone levels that happen during the lead up to menopause impacts the skin in a variety of ways. Collagen levels decrease resulting in wrinkles, sagging, and a dull complexion, and our skin can also become drier, more sensitive, and more acne prone. Whilst I don’t have a magic wand to completely halt the aging process altogether, I do have 5 things to share with you that can help make vast improvements in how your skin looks and feels and that will help you cope with those hormonal acne outbreaks during perimenopause.

Use The Right Skincare Products

As we get older our skin changes, and therefore so too do our skincare needs. A product that may have served us well in our 20s and 30s won’t necessarily be reaching our skincare needs as we move into our 40s, 50s and beyond. So, if you’ve been using the same products that you did when you were in the prime of your youth, it’s time to chuck them out, reassess your skincare requirements, and invest in some suitable products to treat your skin as it is now.

I’ve been using FOREO products as part of my 6-minute skincare routine for a while now and have been suitably impressed with the results. They offer solutions to every skincare need, from cleansing and moisturising, right through to salon standard non-invasive facials and also now a device to help clear up hormonal acne. The ESPADA is an FDA-cleared medical device that has been clinically proven to treat acne-prone skin. The way this bit of beauty tech works is by cleverly using laser-focused blue LED light and T-Sonic pulsations to penetrate deep down into the skin and destroy all that nasty acne-causing bacteria.

What I absolutely love about all FOREO beauty devices, but in particular the ESPADA, is just how simple they are to use. If we take the ESPADA as an example, all you have to do is register the device to the FOREO app on your phone (this gets you your warranty and tells you how to use it etc., but you don’t actually need the app to operate the device itself), make sure it’s charged up, switch it on, then hold the end of the device over the blemish you want to target, and the device does the work for you. You’ll hear and feel a slight vibration as the T-Sonic pulsations stimulate microcirculation, but it’s utterly fool proof as the device will only start working when you apply it to the skin. The blue light emitted from the end of the device precisely targets the affected area and this promotes blood circulation and skin renewal, while in the process eliminates bacteria, leading to fewer breakouts.

Another fantastic product from FOREO that can be used in conjunction with the ESPADATM device, or indeed on its own as a stand-alone spot treatment, is the ESPADATM BHA+PHA Blemish Solution. This is one of FOREO’s newest products and is a concentrated acne gel that is packed full of powerful, yet skin friendly ingredients, to treat and heal acne prone skin. I’ve noticed that my skin gets a lot drier these days; I still have the typical t-zone oiliness, but this is combined with patches of dry skin on my cheeks. And what I’ve disliked about spot products that I’ve used in the past is that they overly dry out my blemishes, making them crusty and flaky. This then leaves me feeling even more paranoid about the state of my skin and can sometimes result in my picking at them, which of course makes the problem a million times worse!

ESPADATM Blemish Solution on the other hand keeps skin moisturized whilst also targeting unwanted spots. A combination of salicylic acid, witch hazel, niacinamide, tea tree oil, panthenol, and lactobionic acid all help to:

  • Unclog pores
  • Gently exfoliate
  • Shrink blemishes
  • Fade imperfections
  • Reduce redness and inflammation
  • Soothe
  • Hydrate
  • Reduces excess sebum
  • Reduce infection
  • Prevent breakouts

So for someone like me, who suffers from deep, cyst like spots and large, clogged pores, this gel is quite literally a skin life saver. I find that a little dab of ESPADATM Blemish Solution on each blemish helps calm down any angriness and takes away the stinging pressure pain that can occur. And because it doesn’t dry my skin out, the temptation to pick at and burst the spot is much less.

When I have a good skincare routine in place, one that is simple and quick, I am much more likely to stick with it. Dabbing on some gel and then supercharging it with the ESPADATM blue LED light acne device for 30 seconds a time really isn’t an inconvenience. It makes me feel as though I am taking action, that I am the one in control, not my acne.

Hormonal acne isn’t nice. You think your teenage acne problems are a distant memory, but no, along comes the perimenopause and wham, it’s back with a vengeance. Acne can make you feel less confident, it can make you feel exposed, and vulnerable, and unattractive. And honestly, the way your mind plays tricks on you in perimenopause what with all the added anxiety, low mood, and heightened emotions, the stress of dealing with acne is really not something you need to add on top of all that. Finding ways to treat hormonal acne will help you feel better about yourself, and that is one of the reasons why ESPADATM Blemish Solution has earned itself a well-deserved place in my morning skincare routine.

To find out more about FOREO products click here.

Eat Skin-Friendly Foods

Healthy skin starts from the inside out. What you eat (and what you don’t eat!) will affect the appearance of your skin. Before we look at some of the skin friendly foods you should start incorporating into your diet, it would perhaps firstly be wise to look at some of the things you might be consuming that aren’t so good for your skin.

Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, fizzy drinks, processed foods, refined carbs, fried and fast food; basically all the things that taste good but that you also know you shouldn’t have too much of, they’re the things that are bad for your skin. I’m not saying cut them out entirely (although if you’re able to, you’re a stronger woman than I am!) but reducing your intake of them will have an effect on your skin health.

At first, you may find your outbreaks get worse, but this is all a perfectly normal part of the detoxification process. The body needs to flush out the toxins and unfortunately your skin bears the brunt of it, however if you then start eating a cleaner diet as well as implementing a better skincare routine and the other advice listed here, you will start to see the benefits.

So, what are some of the top skin-friendly foods then?

A hormone balancing diet includes a balance of healthy fats, complex carbs, lean proteins, whole grains, and nutrients like magnesium, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, C, D, and E. These can be found in high quantities in the following foods:

  • Oily fish – Salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This helps manage oil production, prevent dryness, reduce inflammation, and keeps skin hydrated and looking plump.
  • Walnuts – A rich source of selenium, antioxidants and vitamin B, consuming walnuts can help tighten pores, improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, and reduce acne.
  • Quinoa – A rich source of B3, this whole grain carbohydrate helps decrease the production of sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin, an excess of which can cause acne.
  • Turkey This lean protein is high in zinc and B3, which can help treat inflammatory acne.
  • BroccoliPacked with zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C broccoli also contains lutein, which helps protect skin from oxidative damage that causes it to become dry and wrinkled.

Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep, or lack of it, is one of the biggest lifestyle factors that can affect hormonal acne. And unfortunately, some of the main symptoms of perimenopause are sleep related.

Insomnia, vivid dreams, disrupted sleep, restless legs, night sweats, sleep-disordered breathing are all common issues experienced by women as they try to navigate their way through perimenopause. And as if they weren’t issue enough, the lack of sleep that comes as a consequence of these symptoms has many other effects on the body, one of which is the state of our skin.

Not getting enough sleep causes stress in the body. When the body goes into a state of stress, its automatic response is to send out more cortisol, a steroid hormone that regulates processes like our metabolism and immune system. It’s kind of like the body’s in-built alarm system, that goes off in reaction to stress to try and help calm it down, which in principle sounds like a good thing, right? The problem is that a spike in cortisol can lead to inflammation and an increased production of sebum, which then results in clogged pores and yep you guessed it, acne.

Getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, but there are some things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep:

  • Create a routine – Try to go to bed at the same time each night, as this will ensure you wake up at a similar time each day in the morning.
  • Don’t eat too late – Food eaten too close to your bedtime won’t have had chance to be digested properly, which means your body will still be working when it should be resting and this isn’t conducive to good sleep.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise is good for our health in many ways, especially ensuring we get a good night’s sleep. Just make sure you don’t exercise too late in the day as this may have the opposite effect and have you feeling too energised and wired to drift off to sleep.
  • Switch off screens – The blue light emitted from the screens on our phones and other devices affects the body’s response to melatonin, our sleep hormone. Switch off all screens at least an hour before bed and try reading or meditating instead.
  • Create a calm sleeping space – Blue is the most calming colour, so consider painting your walls a lovely light, calming shade of blue to encourage good sleep. Also think about the temperature of the room, any potential noise disruptions like a ticking clock, how comfortable your mattress is, and the firmness of your pillow.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Just over half of a woman’s body is made up of water, therefore keeping hydrated is beneficial to all aspects of our health. When it comes to the appearance of our skin, not drinking enough water can become clearly evident.

Because water helps to maintain the elasticity of our skin, if we don’t drink enough we become much more susceptible to wrinkles, fine lines, and acne.  The more hydrated your skin is, the less likely your pores will clog, and therefore your risk of suffering from acne is reduced. Water also helps to flush out toxins, so it essentially cleans us from the inside out. Again, this reduces the chance of acne.

One symptom that can be experienced by women during perimenopause is dryness, both in terms of skin and indeed other areas too. As we get older, the body finds it harder to retain water, so it’s a good idea to up your water intake if you have noticed that your skin is drier these days.

We should aim to drink between 5 to 8 glasses of water a day. Water is best, however other drinks such as tea, coffee, fruit juice, squash etc. all count towards your daily intake.

Ask Your GP About HRT

If you do all of the above, it is likely your skin will respond and start to look much clearer. However, the reason you’re experiencing hormonal acne is because your hormone levels are starting to deplete as your body changes throughout perimenopause, and so it stands to reason that topping these levels up would be an effective treatment. Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) can be an effective treatment against adult acne as well as the many other symptoms associated with perimenopause.

It is highly unlikely you will be prescribed HRT purely for the purpose of clearing up your skin, however if you are also experiencing things like hot flushes, night sweats, irregular periods, joint pain, loss of libido, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, headaches, mood changes, or anything else that isn’t ‘normal’ for you then it is worth seeking help from a professional like your GP or a menopause specialist.

Like most things, HRT is not a miracle cure. Finding the type of HRT that suits you best and getting the dosage right, is a case of trial and error and can take time. How long it takes to notice the effects of HRT will also vary from woman to woman. Some may notice subtle changes after only a couple of days, however on average it will take at least 3 months before any major changes will be felt and even then it may not get rid of the problem entirely. This is why it is so important to speak to your health professional beforehand and then arranging regular reviews if you decide to take this treatment option.

When your hormone levels start to balance out you should start noticing that your skin looks better and that you’re sleeping better too, which in turn will also help improve the appearance of your skin.

My perimenopause journey is far from over, (hey we’re forever a work in progress, right?) but one thing I can be sure of is that by following the advice above – changing my skincare to suit my current skin needs, eating a healthy diet, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and remembering to administer my HRT each day, that I am doing everything I possibly can to reduce my outbreaks of hormonal acne and to look good, but most importantly, to feel good in my own skin.

*Article written in collaboration with FOREO Sweden. All views and words are my own.

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