This blog has been written by Lauren, our Marketing & Content Executive.
One thing I’ve learnt in my early 20’s is that you never realise just how much of your self-confidence sits at surface level until that surface becomes compromised.
This blog is the acne blog I wish I read 3 years ago.
Where it all began
To cut a long story short, I spent the majority of my teenage years under-eating, over-exercising, and maintaining a dangerously low body weight.
At the time my reproductive hormones should have been working themselves out, becoming balanced and regular, they were for the most part, non-existent.
After a few years of putting in the work, and a few more spent playing the waiting game, my ovaries came back on line, and my period made an out-of-the-blue comeback; right when I was beginning to think it would never happen. I was so excited I wanted to tell everyone. It felt like I was a woman again!
Naively, I thought this was the end of my hormone woes but I was oh so wrong. This was just the start.
In starting up my periods again my body was essentially going through puberty again. And let me tell you, the second time around was much worse than the first.
My moods were all over the place, I gained weight, and experienced anxiety for the first time in my life. But most troubling of all was my skin.
Painful, red, inflamed lumps cropped up all over my cheeks, jawline and neck. They made me self conscious, tearful and obsessed with finding a ‘cure.’
Trial and error
My most searched google term changed from “how to get your period back” to “how to cure hormonal acne.” After approximately 1000 hours of learning, I knew everything there was to know about PCOS, insulin, androgens and acne (you can learn about the androgen-acne connection here if this sounds like a foreign language).
In an attempt to lower my androgens I adopted a low carb diet, which did nothing but raise my stress levels, give me insomnia and make my skin worse, not better. Lesson learnt: my hormones need carbs.
I was back to the drawing board, and this time my research led me down the path of oestrogen metabolism. More specifically, a potent herb called DIM, which promised to lower inflammatory oestrogen metabolites that have been linked to breakouts in some women.
I decided to try BePure EstroClear, which includes DIM alongside other powerful herbs that positively impact oestrogen detoxification pathways. On this powerful detox tonic I felt good initially, but after a month it became clear that it was doing more harm than good to my hormone health. My period vanished, my mood dropped, my libido went M.I.A, and I started having night sweats again.
As it turned out, at that time I probably had pretty low oestrogen levels and needed whatever oestrogen my body could produce. This wonderful feminising hormone certainly wasn’t the root of my skin woes, and taking an oestrogen cleaning product was therefore not a super duper idea. Lesson learnt: EstroClear is powerful! Great news if you need it, not so great if you don’t.
So after a year of getting my hopes up only to be disappointed and out of pocket, I felt helpless and lower than ever. I was turning down social invitations and other opportunities because I hated the way my face looked; this was definitely not how I should be spending my 20’s.
My GP prescribed me the pill to clear my acne in a matter of months; which it did. I wasn’t that crazy of the idea of putting synthetic hormones into my body, but when my skin cleared completely my only regret was not doing it sooner.
However, while the pill was providing some relief that I was very grateful for, it wasn’t addressing the root cause. I knew my acne would come back when I stopped taking it. Lesson learnt: the pill is a great tool when we need a ‘band-aid’ fix and a reprieve, but this wasn’t the end of my journey.
Then I met Eve...
Flash forward 6 months and my glowing skin and I managed to land a job at Eve Wellness. I felt like a fraud for being so clued up on hormones whilst suppressing my own. But I also knew that I was now in a really safe place, with so many great tools and resources around me, to try again.
The results of my first Eve Hormone Test test were beyond fascinating. My androgens were normal. My oestrogen was where it should be, and actually metabolising really well. I didn’t need EstroClear and I certainly didn’t need to be on a low carb diet (quite the opposite in fact).
What wasn’t quite right in my hormone picture was progesterone. My levels were a lot lower than they should be, indicating that I wasn’t having ovulatory cycles (the primary way we make progesterone is through ovulation, with just a little bit being produced in our adrenal glands).
It also indicated a level of stress & inflammation which was confirmed in my Stress & Adrenal test results.
With low levels of progesterone, my oestrogen-progesterone ratio was imbalanced. And for me, that meant that these two hormones rising and falling out of sync with each other showed up in my skin. (For other people it will show up differently, our hormones are incredibly complex and individual, which is why testing is so key. I would never have suspected progesterone was behind my acne!).
My report also included tailored lifestyle tips to support my progesterone levels, such as ditching coffee and opting for more low intensity exercise over HIIT.
As of today my skin isn’t yet perfect, but it’s definitely improving. After all, good things take time.
I’m a firm believer that every cloud has its silver lining. If I had never had a reason to learn so much about hormones I probably wouldn’t be working for Eve today.
Here’s a few things I have learnt about acne, both from my own journey and from working in an office full of health gurus:
- Regardless of whether your acne is hormonal in nature or relating to your gut or liver health, supplementing key nutrients are a great place to start. Skin loves zinc, omega 3, magnesium and probiotics.
- Many people will find their skin clears from cleaning up their diet (ditching processed foods, refined sugars and damaged fats), but that also doesn’t mean that everyone with acne eats poorly. Hormones are influenced by so much more than what you eat. I have a hunch that my struggle with acne is related to my ‘burnout’ Stress & Adrenal test results, which is likely my body playing catch up from the years I put it under a whole lot of stress.
- Skincare is important, but if the root of your acne is internal, no serum is going to clear it completely. Harsh ingredients can strip the skin and if your skin feels super dry and tight after cleansing, this is likely doing more harm than good. Opt for products that nourish and strengthen the skin's barrier and help it work as it should and be wary of oil-free products. Quality oils such as jojoba & hemp aren’t the devil, they’re actually incredibly nourishing and balancing for the skin and can help prevent acne scars later on.
- Neither a keto diet or a vegan diet are the answer. The best diet to support balanced hormones and clear skin one that’s nutrient-dense, supports ovulation, nourishes the adrenals and is anti-inflammatory.