In my experience as a beauty editor and acne-sufferer, I’ve learned there are only two types of people in this world: Those who have experienced—or still do experience—adult acne, and those who sail through their 20s and 30s without ever needing to Google “cystic pimple” or grilling the Sephora salesperson about whether a new foundation is non-comedogenic.
If you sit with me firmly in camp A (and have the acne scars to prove it), it’s likely because of your hormones. While certain skincare products go a long way in clearing acne and fading scars (hi, jojoba oil), I’ve found that a two-prong approach is what really yields results; one that addresses what goes into your body as well as onto your body.
A few weeks ago, while preparing this post, I called hormone expert Alisa Vitti. Vitti herself suffered from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome—a nasty condition with symptoms like hair loss, severe acne, weight gain, and fertility issues. Doctor after doctor failed to cure her condition, so eventually Vitti took control, started researching, and developed an all-natural way to treat her illness through diet and lifestyle. It worked: She shed 50 pounds, cleared her cystic acne—even her hair became thick and shiny.
Next, Vitti he did what thousands of natural health proponents have done before her: She published a book. More noteworthy however, is that WomanCode by Alisa Vitti has been in the top 50 best-selling women’s health books of all time since it was published, was launched as a web series on Lifetime, sparked a new online hub for hormone treatment, Flo Living, and set the tone for Vitti’s new career as the “hormone whisperer.”
Through her online program, Flo Living, Vitti teaches women to “cycle sync.” She—and thousands of her fans—swear by the method for curing hormonal acne and other symptoms of hormone imbalance. “I teach my female clients to eat certain foods that balance the estrogen fluctuation each week of their cycle,” she explained, adding that estrogen and testosterone levels fluctuate during certain stages of a woman’s cycle.
We know that our skin is responsible for eliminating most of the toxins circulating in our body. But, Vitti stresses that it works within a larger detox system that includes your liver, large intestine, and lymphatic system. “These organs work together with your skin to eliminate toxins, and have to be considered together when treating the cause of hormonal acne.” If this system isn’t working properly, estrogen-mimicking chemicals we are exposed to through food, skincare products, and the environment will continue circulating in the body. “Any toxins that aren’t eliminated properly by your body’s natural detox system will show up on your face as acne.” Further, the buildup of toxins can cause your hormones to be imbalanced.” This excess buildup of estrogen and testosterone will also be prevented from leaving the body properly and will trigger hormonal symptoms like acne and PMS.
How to fix it
Reduce your exposure to toxins
Obviously, the first thing you can do is to reduce your exposure to potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals by eating organic food and using clean, natural skincare.
Eat more leafy green during ovulation
Then, get detailed with the types of food you eat and when. You can follow Vitti’s full program here) but the basic premise is to eat leafy green vegetables and vegetable-packed smoothies when you are ovulating, as this is when estrogen levels are high. Leafy green vegetables help your body to process and eliminate the the excess hormones before they trigger a breakout (or another nasty symptom). Not sure when you’re ovulating? Try a period-tracking app like FloLiving or Clue.
Boost the function of your elimination organs
Your body is already trying to eliminate those potentially acne-triggering chemicals and hormones, but you can certainly help it along the way. Micronutrients like TK work to detoxify you body. Avoid inflammatory foods that can cause leaky gut syndrome and put more pressure on two of your elimination organs. When the liver and large intestine aren’t working at their best, your skin will start to bear the brunt of the toxin-eliminating workload. The result? Skin inflammation and acne.