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On Hormonal Acne: Here's How To Tame It

February 05, 2021 Charlotte Cho


Hi there! My name is Diana and I’m the Marketing Manager at Soko Glam. We’re all skin care and beauty addicts here and perfect skin is something we all strive for.
I’m here to share my very personal experience with hormonal acne. It's something I’ve dealt with for a long time, and something I’m proud to say I now finally have under control. Just so you know, I’m not an esthetician (we have Charlotte for that!) and what I’m sharing is stuff I’ve researched and have found to work for me. 

Adult Acne 
Those are two words I did not think I’d ever encounter. I would say I was somewhat blessed with good skin growing up. I never dealt with acne, only the occasional pimple. While classmates were using Proactive or slathering on Noxzema products, I had clear skin without much effort, even if I slept in makeup (cardinal sin, I know).

I was in the clear throughout college, all the way up until I graduated and started working full-time. Freshly in the workforce, I wanted to make impact and advance quickly through the ranks. I worked long hours, most nights only sleeping around three hours. I took on a lot of responsibility and due to my lack of sleep, I was drinking obscene amounts of coffee to stay awake.

Within a few months, I started developing painful cystic pimples on my chin and along my jawline (cystic pimples are those large, red and painful breakouts deep under your skin, btw. Charming). I was in shock, to say the least. I had no idea why they were rearing their ugly heads or how to get rid of them. Then they started to accumulate. Soon, there were pimples on top of pimples and my whole chin looked like a crater.

The Struggle is REAL
I tried treating the breakouts with a spot treatment from Clean & Clear which boasts success amongst 100% of people within a day. Sounds perfect right? WRONG! I globbed the stuff on my chin religiously but new spots kept appearing while the old bumps took ages to go away. I also tried to stay extra clean and religiously wash my face every morning and night.

And then there's concealing. Hiding this eye sore was also challenging. Only really heavy concealers would cover up the redness. And as is the nature of makeup, it would fade throughout the day and just couldn’t hide the texture. I became pretty self-conscious socially, often covering up my chin in a way I thought looked natural but probably didn't. For years, I struggled with these painful bumps and it made me hate taking pictures. 

The Turning Point
It turns out, working for a skin care focused company was the turning point! After I joined Soko Glam, I finally decided to get smart with my skin care. I had no other major skin issues outside of my cystic zits but it was a big enough deal that I wanted to overhaul my entire skin care approach. 

I began incorporating the double-cleanse and saw major improvement in the texture of my skin. I started using pimple patches and they helped clear breakouts within a few days. I also started using the Benton Snail Bee line which miraculously cleared my pores and faded my acne scars.

After all of this, I thought I would be finally cured. To my surprise, my old "friends" still popped up quite often to say hello. The big difference was they didn’t stick around nearly as long as they used to.

I started getting desperate and researched like crazy. I Googled, “chin acne” and found all these articles connecting my acne issues to hormones. Here’s what I learned:

- Acne concentrated on the chin can be caused by hormonal imbalances, due to spikes in “androgens.”
- Hormonal acne is also caused by stress, fatigue and poor diet.
- Caffeine, sugar and dairy can cause hormonal imbalances.
- Hormonal acne can't be cured externally. Treatment needs to be adjusted through lifestyle changes.

After learning all of this, it was no wonder my spot treatments weren’t working. I needed to make an adjustment internally.
Treatment options included birth control and herbal supplements. I didn’t want to take birth control just for the sake of my pimples so I researched herbs that helped balance my hormones and reduce androgens. I started taking those first and I saw some progress. I was developing fewer pimples but they still appeared occasionally.

What Finally Worked
The herbs weren’t working as well as I had hoped so I decided to cut out coffee—the last straw. This was a big decision for me because I LOVE coffee. I love the way it tastes, smells, looks. I love it all. But for the sake of my face, I was willing to give it up.

I’ve now been coffee-free for almost over a year and I rarely get those unsightly cystic breakouts! Cutting out caffeine, dairy and sugar made a world of a difference for me but this may not be the cause for you. It took a lot of trial and error to get my acne under control and work for me. I think that’s what skin care is all about. You need to test each product/method and evaluate on your own skin. Also, seek professional help and do your research!

Here’s my current daily routine and how I treat the occasional breakout:

For breakouts I spot-treat with Smile’s PRID Drawing Salve. I read about this on a Refinery 29 article—it draws out the infection and speeds up the maturity process of the pimple. It’s a great and cheap option!

Have you ever experienced hormonal breakouts? What worked for you? Always down for more tips! 

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About Charlotte

Soko Glam co-founder and chief curator. Licensed esthetician sharing the love of all things K-beauty.

About Sokoglam

Bringing the best in Korean skin care, beauty, and culture Stateside since 2012. Discover, shop, and learn with us.