Hormonal pimples are a very special kind of unwelcome guests: They always come at the wrong time, they stay far too long and they always manage to spoil your good mood. The fact is, for many of us, hormonal acne and blemishes don't end when we hit puberty, or even begin our lives in our 20s. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. In this article, I'll tell you how to spot hormonal breakouts, where they're coming from, and what really works to stop adult acne.
Hormonal pimples: How they occur and what you can do about them
What are hormonal pimples?
The term "hormonal pimples" usually refers to blemishes in adult women that are triggered or influenced by a hormonal imbalance. Bad luck for us, because: These pimples, blackheads and deposits appear exactly when our hormones are going crazy anyway:
- in the second half of the cycle
- after stopping the pill
- in pregnancy
- with the onset of menopause
The fact is, all types of acne (including teenage pimples) are related to hormonal changes in the body. Therefore, the term "hormonal acne" is actually somewhat misleading. Some dermatologists therefore consider "cyclical acne" to be more appropriate in adults.
How do I know if I have hormonal acne?
Often you can already recognize hormonal impurities by their appearance: Often it is not (only) the well-known - and passionately hated - blackheads and unpleasant pimples that are involved, but sub-surface deposits under the skin . They can be, but do not have to be, flammable. Inflammatory cysts are visible as bumps on the skin's surface and can be quite painful.
These 5 signs still point to hormonal pimples:
- Your puberty is long gone.
According to statistics, hormonal acne mostly affects women between the ages of 20 and 50. And quite a lot - so you're definitely not alone with this problem. One in three people between the ages of 30 and 39 is said to be affected by flare-ups 1 . Other studies show that between 12 and 54% of women suffer from breakouts 2 .
- Your chin and the lower half of your face are often affected by the impurities.
If the cysts and pimples appear primarily on the chin , jawline and lower cheeks, this may be a sign of hormonal pimples 2 . There are many sebaceous glands around the chin. If these (stimulated by hormones) form more skin fat and dead skin cells are not removed quickly enough, these are the perfect conditions for clogged pores, bacterial growth and pimples. However, the underlays can also occur on the forehead, back, chest and shoulders
- Your breakouts come at regular intervals.
In surveys, up to 85% of women state that their acne breakouts regularly worsen around menstruation1. The hormones are to blame. When androgens such as progesterone rise in the second half of the cycle while estrogen levels fall, progesterone briefly becomes dominant. This stimulates sebum production – ideal conditions for those unloved period pimples .
- Your lifestyle lacks balance.
I know it and I'm sure you know it too: the well-known vicious circle of too much stress, too little sleep and unhealthy nutrition . Studies show that simple carbohydrates such as white flour, through their effect on insulin levels, can affect our hormonal balance and promote acne 3 . If stress also comes into play, the stress hormone cortisol also ensures increased oil production in the sebaceous glands 3 . Unfortunately. Because that means: The next outbreak of acne is not long in coming.
- Squeezing pimples doesn't work.
Hormonal pimples can appear as normal blackheads and small pus-filled blisters 3 . But with hormonal acne, you're also dealing with bumpy cysts that sit under the skin . This inflammation lies deep below the surface of the skin. Therefore, if you try to express them, you only distribute the accumulated sebum and pus in the surrounding tissue instead of releasing it to the outside.
Have you become addicted to popping pimples ? We will tell you how to get rid of this habit in our article Squeezing Pimples – This is how you manage to pick less .
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What to do against hormonal pimples?
If your hormonal acne is very stressful for you or the inflamed cysts are severe, a visit to the dermatologist or dermatologist you trust makes sense. However, mild forms of hormonal imperfections can often be treated effectively with just a few changes in your care routine. This helps against hormonal pimples:
Rethink your grooming routine.
The basic care has to be right : Good basic care, which is primarily based on mild but thorough cleansing and moisturizing care, creates optimal conditions for healthy skin. Active ingredients and treatments only come second.
- Deeply effective facial cleansing
Intensify your evening facial cleansing in the second half of the cycle with the Oil Cleansing Method . It frees your skin from existing blackheads and prevents new deposits. Take a few minutes for the oil cleansing and massage your face lovingly, it's worth it. Not only is your skin clean and well cared for afterwards, the facial massage also creates space for a mini break from everyday life. Especially in the second half of the cycle, when many women also have to struggle with mood swings, this moment of self-care can have a very beneficial effect.
- Soothing moisturizer
The care products that you leave on your stressed skin should be moisturizing and mild. As mentioned above, the focus of basic care should not be on fancy active ingredients to combat impurities (e.g. salicylic acid), the skin's moisture balance must first be right. We recommend our FIVE facial serum , which hydrates your skin with rose water, hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Use it alone or with rather dry skin together with the FIVE Face Oil Balance , which locks in the moisture from the serum and additionally nourishes your skin.
If the excessive production of sebum is reflected in the skin on your face that is very shiny , you can try not to use face oil or face cream in your routine. Instead, only use the oil-free FIVE facial serum , which provides your skin with long-lasting moisture without leaving a sticky film.
Rely on targeted additional care
Have you found a basic care routine that gently brings your skin back into balance? Then the most important step for relaxed skin in harmony has already been taken. But sometimes your skin needs more. That's why I recommend that you supplement your basic care with effective additional care if necessary.
- Preventive facial peeling
From the second half of the cycle, use a mild peeling two to three times a week in the evening. This removes sebum and skin flakes that accumulate in the pores and prevents calluses that can develop into pimples. Mild enzymes, such as the Santaverde enzyme peeling, are suitable for exfoliation.
Classic peelings with small abrasive grains also work, but should not be used on inflamed pimples and skin areas. You can find instructions for a DIY peeling in my article Make a peeling yourself .
- Soothing healing earth oil mask
Healing earth definitely belongs in the "Oldie but Goodie" category. And it is (still!) a real insider tip against hormonal pimples and impure skin . There's a good reason for this: Healing clay acts like a kind of magnet that simply pulls dead skin cells and excess sebum out of your pores.
This is even shown by studies: In a pilot study published in 2012, scientists from the University Hospital Zurich and the Berlin Charité had 133 test persons with impure skin and acne apply a healing clay mask with jojoba oil 2 to 3 times a week over a period of six weeks 4 .
At the end of the examination period, a 54% reduction in blemishes, discolouration and pimples compared to the original skin condition was observed. Pretty convincing, right?
My tip for an effective DIY mask against acne and hormonal pimples: Mix a heaping tablespoon of healing earth powder with a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of facial oil . Let the mask dry on your skin for 15 to 20 minutes and remove the residue under lukewarm water with circular movements. Tip : Sensitive and dry skin types should not leave the mask on for so long, but wash it off as soon as it dries.
The balancing FIVE facial oil for oily skin prone to impurities contains sebum-regulating organic jojoba oil and antibacterial organic oils from black cumin seeds and grapefruit peel.
- Use creams with retinol
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is popular in acne therapy 1 . Because you're killing several birds with one stone. The active ingredient boosts cell regeneration and ensures that dead skin cells are removed before they can clog your pores and encourage bacterial growth 2 .
And they can do even more: their cell-regenerating effect also ensures fewer wrinkles and a more even skin tone (bye, pimple marks!).
Unfortunately, there are also a few snags:
- Dryness and irritation can occur if you are new to retinoids or have sensitive skin .
- If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant soon, retinol is off limits . In this case, I recommend that you seek medical advice.
Pamper yourself and your skin with real skin & soul food.
We already mentioned the connection between our diet and impure skin above. Instead of the don'ts, it's about the do's. This is what you should eat if you want to effectively fight acne and hormonal pimples from within :
- Probiotics , aka lactic acid bacteria. They ensure clean, flawless skin and strengthen the immune system - the phenomenal effects of probiotics on our health are hotly debated in research. Studies show that probiotics can both block the growth of the acne bacterium Propionibacterium acnes and inhibit the insulin-like growth factor IGF-1, which is thought to trigger acne 5 .
Good sources of probiotics are fermented foods like pickles and sauerkraut, as well as apple cider vinegar and kombucha.
- prebiotics . Together with probiotics, they form a perfect dream team for beautiful skin from the inside. Because prebiotics act like fertilizer for your better half. In order to benefit optimally from the health-promoting effects of good probiotic bacteria, you should therefore integrate the two together into your diet.
Good sources of prebiotics include onions, garlic, and asparagus, as well as fruits like apples, bananas, and pears.
Complex carbohydrates . Also known as slow carbohydrates, they have one great property in particular: They are made up of long chains of molecules. Our body needs time to break them down and utilize them. This is good for our blood sugar levels. Because after consuming complex carbohydrates, it only rises slowly and flatly. It's different when we eat simple carbohydrates (pasta, flour, sweets and fast food).
They trigger an unhealthy chain reaction in the body. Simple carbohydrates lead to an increase in the levels of insulin and the insulin-like growth factor IGF-1 6 . This stimulates the formation of certain hormones (the androgens), which in turn stimulate the production of sebum - this can result in hormonal pimples.
Good sources of complex carbohydrates include brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, oatmeal, legumes, and whole wheat bread.
You can get even more tips on the right diet for clear skin in my article Diet against pimples: How to reduce blemishes .
Conclusion: With the right strategy, you can effectively fight hormonal pimples!
In this article, I've shown you what hormonal breakouts are, how to spot them, and what really works to combat hormonal acne in adulthood . Finally, I would like to encourage you and me to accept us as we are. Each of us has flaws, there is no such thing as perfect skin. Treat yourself to conscious self-care on a regular basis, do what makes you happy and integrate skin-pampering care products with soothing ingredients into your daily skincare routine.
I wish you all the best!
- Zeichner, Joshua A et al. "Emerging Issues in Adult Female Acne." The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 10.1 (2017): 37-46.
- Branisteanu, DE, et al. (2022). Adult female acne: Clinical and therapeutic particularities (Review). Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 23, 151. https://doi.org/10.3892/etm.2021.11074
- Bagatin, Edileia et al. "Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice." Anais brasileiros de dermatologia vol. 94.1 (2019): 62-75. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20198203
- Meier, Larissa et al. "Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioned skin and mild acne--results of a prospective, observational pilot study." Researching Complementary Medicine (2006) vol. 19.2 (2012): 75-9. doi:10.1159/000338076
- Bowe, Whitney P., Kober, Mary-Margaret Kober, The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging, International Journal of Women's Dermatology, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2015, Pages 85-89, https://doi .org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2015.02.001.
- Penso L, Touvier M, Deschasaux M, et al. Association Between Adult Acne and Dietary Behaviors: Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(8):854-862. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1602