Dermatologist advice and best products to use

You would be hard pressed to find someone who has never experienced a rash, whitehead, or blackhead. In fact, about 50% of women aged 20 to 29 and about 25% of women aged 40 to 49 suffer from hormonal acne, or acne caused by hormone surges, according to Daisy Jing, founder of the Banish acne brand.

“Fluctuating hormones can cause sebum or oil production to overdrive, causing cystic acne,” Jing explains. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, agrees. “The increased sebum clogs pores or mixes with acne bacteria, leading to increased acne – often on the face.”

Regardless of your age, hormonal acne can become a chore if you don’t have the right skin care routine and the right products to fight cystic breakouts around the chin, cheeks, and jawbone. Because acne is caused by trapped oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells, products that prevent clogged pores are more resistant to hormonal acne.

Coming up, TZR called on five of the top dermatologists to explain why hormonal acne occurs, how to treat it, and what products to have on hand to prevent it.

What is hormonal acne?

“Hormonal changes in the body usually play a role in stimulating the sebum-producing structures in the skin that lead to acne – all acne has a hormonal component ”, explains Dr. Carlos Charles, certified dermatologist and co-founder of 4.5.6 Skin. However, there are specific hormones (testosterone and androgens) that can increase the production of sebum in the skin.

For example, it’s common to experience hormonal acne during your period. “We have higher levels of androgens and estrogen during the follicular phase and periovulation causes an increase in sebum production, resulting in higher levels of skin lipids and a subsequent increase in skin microflora which leads to Rashes, ”says Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD FAAD, Miami- certified derm board and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare.

You may notice bleeding, scarring, pain, and hyperpigmentation when it comes to these types of rashes. “Due to the deep inflammation associated with these pimples, in melanin-rich skin they can often leave stubborn hyperpigmentation once resolved, or reddish spots that can take weeks to subside into lighter skin tones. Explains Dr Charles.

How to prevent and treat hormonal acne

So how do you treat hormonal acne, and better yet, how can you prevent it? It’s a good rule of thumb to wash your face morning and night and moisturize your skin with moisturizer. “If your skin is dry, it can also lead to increased sebum production in an effort to hydrate the skin,” says Dr. Hartman. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to treat hormonal acne.


All of the experts interviewed for this story recommend Spironolactone, a diuretic pill, to help fight hormonal acne. “It helps block receptors that bind certain forms of testosterone and other androgens, thereby minimizing the unwanted effects of these hormones, such as cystic acne,” says Dr. Charles.


Isotretinoin, also known as Accutane, is a vitamin A drug that has several beneficial effects in the treatment of hormonal acne. “Isotretinoin can change the way the skin responds to hormonal fluctuations by decreasing the overall activity of the sebum-producing sebaceous glands, thereby decreasing this form of acne,” Dr. Charles told TZR.

Skin care acids

Incorporating acids into your evening routine could be the difference between pimple-free and acne-free skin. The most common acid in skin care is glycolic acid. This acid dissolves the top layer of skin cells and “can remove clogged skin cells and prevent hormonal acne if used regularly,” Jing explains.

Salicylic acid is another great acid that will exfoliate the top layer of the skin, while also penetrating the pores to dissolve the sebum. Dr Ciraldo recommends investing in a product (usually a cleanser) with 2% salicylic and using it twice a day. “Salicylic, classified BHA [beta-hydroxy acid], is very effective at loosening dead cells from each other and penetrates well into pores to unclog them, to release stored and unhealthy oils and bacteria, ”she says.


Retinoids are vitamin A products that reduce pore blockage and prevent acne formation. “They can help regulate cell turnover, reduce keratin buildup in pores that lead to clogging, and control oil production,” says Dr. Hartman. If you are a novice user, however, there are some side effects. It is common for skin irritation and redness to occur, so if you go this route, make sure your treatment plan is in line with it.

Are there any side effects to the treatment?

“As with any new treatment, when you start a new topical acne product, start slowly and follow the label directions or those provided by your doctor (for prescription treatments),” says Dr. Hartman. “You may see an increase in dryness or redness on the skin, so be sure to hydrate your skin and always use sunscreen – especially since some acne medications can make the skin very sensitive to them. UV rays.”

Basically all acne is hormonal. However, the six dermatologist-approved products below can correct your current routine to prevent it and keep hormonal breakouts at bay.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of the sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

About Sally Dominguez

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