Hormonal Acne - Why It Happens And How To Manage It

Everyone gets the odd skin breakout now and again, but if you’re struggling with hormonal acne month after month - it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.
Adam Hamdi
Written by

Coni Longden-Jefferson

Everyone gets the odd skin breakout now and again, but if you’re struggling with hormonal acne month after month - it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. 

Here we’ll break down exactly why hormonal acne happens and share tips on how to take control of it so your skin can be happier and healthier! 


Key Takeaways


  • In adults, hormonal acne often occurs on the chin and jawline 
  • It is often linked to the fluctuation of certain hormones - including progesterone and testosterone 
  • Whilst hormonal acne is common - it can often be a sign of hormonal imbalance
  • Some medications and contraceptives can help manage hormonal acne - but many people prefer natural methods to minimise side effects 
  • Our MyCycle PMS supplement contains Evening Primrose Oil, which is known to reduce skin breakouts 


What is hormonal acne?


Hormonal acne is usually associated with an influx or dramatic fluctuation in your hormones. We might think about PMS skin breakouts - or being a spotty hormonal teenager! - but there is actually a bit more to it than that. 


Signs of hormonal acne

Firstly, let’s discuss how to tell the difference between hormonal acne and regular skin health issues. During puberty, hormonal acne usually appears in the T-Zone (the forehead and down the nose) but as we move into adulthood, it more commonly dominates the jawline and chin. 

These breakouts can be many different types of spots. In some people, it will manifest as blackheads or whiteheads and in others it can be more deep-rooted cysts that take a long time to heal.  

Hormonal acne also tends to be a recurrent problem and can often be tracked alongside the menstrual cycle or times of extreme stress - so keeping a note of when your flares-ups occur can be really helpful!. 


Why are my spots worse around my period?

Over 65% of people with menstrual cycles say their skin gets worse in the lead-up to their period - so if this is you, you aren’t alone!  Acne flares are one of the most common signs of PMS - but why does it happen? 

During this phase of your menstrual cycle (your late luteal phase), your oestrogen tends to be low and progesterone is dominant. The high levels of progesterone at this time can trigger skin breakouts. This is because it stimulates the sebaceous glands, which produce oil, or sebum. If not managed correctly, this sebum can block pores - causing acne! 

However, progesterone isn’t the only hormone that could be contributing to your skin woes. Testosterone is another common culprit of hormonal acne. We usually have a little testosterone surge around the time of ovulation, which is why some people also notice hormonal acne around the midpoint of their cycle - as well as just before their period. 

What hormonal acne could be telling you

Just because hormonal acne is common - doesn’t mean that it’s ‘normal’. In a healthy menstrual cycle, your progesterone and testosterone levels should fluctuate, but they shouldn't be out of control. If you are regularly suffering from extreme acne that seems to be linked to your menstrual cycle, the chances are you are living with some kind of hormonal imbalance. 

Hormonal acne is a very common sign of conditions like PCOS - especially PCOS linked to High Androgens (a group of hormones that include testosterone). You can learn more about PCOS here. But it could also be that stress or other factors, like diet or sleep, are influencing your hormone production. 


How to manage hormonal acne


If you are struggling with hormonal acne, there are lots of options available to you to help manage it. 



Firstly, we would always recommend chatting with your doctor. They may be able to offer some testing for hormonal imbalances, and there are various courses of treatment available on the NHS. 

They may suggest putting you on a hormonal contraceptive to try and control your menstrual cycle, or they may offer medicines like anti-androgen drugs or topical retinoids.

However, some people are concerned about side effects from both hormonal contraceptives and intense medicines, so they prefer to manage their acne naturally.   


In Clinic Treatments

You may decide to go and see a dermatologist or a beautician that specialises in hormonal acne. This can be a pricey option - but the results can be amazing. 

In-clinic treatments include chemical peels to help regulate sebum production and oil control and target the harmful bacteria within the skin. You could also try LED light therapy, which targets different depths of the skin to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation and oil production - leaving you with clearer, healthier skin. 


A Gentle Skin Care Routine

Looking after your skin is essential for reducing the risk of acne - and that doesn’t mean you have to have a crazy 9-step beauty influencer skincare routine! 

Ensuring you are removing your make-up at the end of the day, cleansing away any dirt and bacteria and keeping skin hydrated with a good moisturiser is the most important place to start. Everyone’s skin is different, so finding products that work for you is really key! 



What we eat is the foundation of all areas of health - including our skin. Foods that trigger inflammation and breakouts can be quite personal (some people may have an adverse skin reaction to even the healthiest of fruits or vegetables!) but there are a few common themes when it comes to diet and acne. 

Greasy foods are often linked to skin breakouts as are foods that spike your blood sugar levels - like sugar and unrefined carbohydrates. On the flip side, eating a diet full of Omega-3s (found in oily fish) and other natural anti inflammatories like berries and dark, leafy greens is thought to encourage improved skin health! 


Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a popular natural topical treatment for acne. It works by decreasing inflammation that can contribute to skin breakouts.  One study found that a 5% topical tea tree oil relieved symptoms in people with mild to moderate acne. You can find tea tree in many popular skin products like toners, or face washes, but you can also apply it directly to spots - just remember to dilute it first and do a patch test to ensure you won’t react badly! 


Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose Oil is another popular natural acne remedy. It contains 2 types of omega 6 as well as GLA acids - all of which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

By reducing inflammation, Evening Primrose Oil can naturally help to reduce skin breakouts and soothe hormonal acne - which is why we included it in our MyCycle PMS supplement! 

This supplement tackles some of the most common symptoms of PMS - from skin problems and cramps, to sore boobs and low mood - all with natural ingredients that have been chosen with your hormonal health in mind!