Tackling day-to-day acne is quite the process as it is, but when you add hormones into the mix, it gets increasingly frustrating. Getting hit with a hormonal breakout is a major letdown: it makes me feel like I have to start from scratch to get my skin balanced again. I know I’m not the only one who knows this struggle all too well. That’s why I spoke to some leading experts in the skin care industry to find out what causes hormonal acne, how to prevent it, and ways to manage once you have a flare-up.
Acne: An Overview
Let’s start with the basics of what causes acne in general. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always about the amount of oil but the quality of oil. Some of us get breakouts when the production of excess sebum and oil is too thick and waxy. “Instead of flowing freely through pores, this type of oil becomes blocked and forms a plug,” New York City dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross explained. That plug congests the pore and results in a blemish.
Oily complexions aren’t the only source of spots. If you have dry, flaky skin and still suffer from breakouts, you may have an oil flow problem. Dead skin cells prevent sebum from making it to the surface of the skin, so it gets trapped inside of pores and creates acne-causing bacteria. This typically results in blackheads, enlarged pores, and even drier skin.
Francine Porter, founder of Osmotics Cosmeceuticals, told me another root of acne can be “abnormally sticky skin cells” because they don’t properly shed, clogging hair follicles. That’s why cell turnover is so important when combating breakouts (more on that later).