Fluctuations in testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and adrenocortical hormones levels can increase sebum production and cause acne.1
Whatever our life stage, hormonal changes have a way of fiddling with our skin too. Ask any teenager – 8 out of 10 have acne woes! 2 But puberty isn’t the only factor that causes hormonal changes which trigger acne. You can also get them before your periods. On the other side, pregnancy and menopause can improve acne in some and worsen them in others.3 Men and teenage boys aren’t immune to hormonal acne either.
In some cases, acne can be a sign that you’re suffering from a condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome which is characterized by an imbalance in your hormone levels. In these cases, you will need to treat the underlying hormonal issue as well.4
So how are hormones connected to acne? The pores of your skin have sebaceous glands which produce sebum, an oily substance that coats your skin, lubricates it, and helps to keep it from drying out. Hormonal changes cause your sebaceous glands to become bigger and produce more sebum. Excess sebum along with dead skin cells can clog up your pores. Bacteria caught inside then start to multiply and this leads to reddened skin and swelling – the beginning of a pimple.
The hormonal changes that accompany puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, or menopause are natural and normal for that phase, but certain topical remedies can mitigate its effects on your skin and help tackle acne. Many natural herbal remedies can also help by controlling sebum production or tackling acne-causing bacteria. Here are a few ideas that can help you:
1. Clean Your Face Gently Twice A Day
If you use cosmetics or even sunscreen, check the label to make sure that it’s “non-acnegenic” or “non-comedogenic.” This indicates that it won’t clog up your pores and promote acne. Also remember to remove all makeup when you clean your face.5
Cleaning your face in the morning and at night with a mild soap can help keep acne away. You could also use an ayurvedic cleanser by mixing 3 gm each of triphala and turmeric in 500 ml water.6 Also, clean your skin after intense exercise or any strenuous activity. Remember to be gentle and steer clear of rough scrubs and harsh soaps. Scrubbing your face too hard may actually worsen acne by irritating your skin.7 8
2. Apply Green Tea
Another commonly available ingredient that can tackle oily skin and fight acne is green tea. One study found that applying green tea for 15 days reduced sebum by 27%. Moreover, green tea can help inhibit the 5α-reductase enzyme. This enzyme converts less active male hormones into the active dihydrotestosterone which stimulates sebaceous glands to produce more sebum.9 Polyphenols like epicatechin-3-gallate and epigallocatechin-3-gallate present in green tea are thought to work as 5α-reductase inhibitors.
Brew a cup of green tea and apply it to areas prone to acne breakout. And if you want to amp up the power of green tea, mix in some lotus extracts. According to research, this combination works better than green tea alone.10
3. Wipe With Diluted Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil can strike a double blow against acne. One animal study found that the hormone testosterone caused an enlargement of sebaceous glands and thereby increased the production of sebum. But eucalyptus oil was found to reduce the size of sebaceous glands and bring it back to normal. This essential oil can therefore decrease the production of pore clogging sebum. It also acts against acne-causing bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes.11 12
While it’s often suggested that eucalyptus oil be directly dabbed on the pimples, it can be very strong for some skin types. Instead, add 3–4 drops of eucalyptus oil to half a cup of water, mix vigorously, and wipe the pimples. You can also spritz this mixture on your face. But even before using diluted eucalyptus oil, do a patch test to make sure your skin is not sensitive to it.
4. Use Cinnamon And Honey
Here’s a sweet combination that can rein in those zits. Both honey and cinnamon act against acne-causing bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes. And according to research, they work even better as a combo.13 Moreover, cinnamon is also thought to work as a 5α-reductase inhibitor and may help balance oily skin.14 Apply a thick paste of honey and cinnamon on your zits and rinse after 15–20 minutes. Do this once a day.
5. Dab On Some Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is a common home remedy for controlling oily skin.15 Studies show that it is also really effective against bacteria which cause acne. So what are you waiting for? Squeeze a lemon and apply the juice to get rid of zits.16
6. Apply Turmeric Paste
Turmeric has been traditionally used to clear skin of acne in some Southeast Asian communities. And studies have found that extracts of this spice can inhibit the activity of the enzyme inhibit 5α-reductase and reduce sebum production.17 Turmeric also suppresses inflammation caused by the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, which has a key role in the development of acne.18 Mix turmeric powder with a little water to make a thick paste and spread it on acne affected skin. Rinse once dry.
7. Mash Up Some Avocado
Here’s an unlikely ally in your fight against acne! One study found that an ointment containing avocado extracts inhibited the enzyme 5-α reductase and produced a marked reduction in the number of pustules and papules in people suffering from acne. 19 Mash the flesh of an avocado and apply it on acne-prone skin twice a day. Wash once dry.
8. Use A Clay And Jojoba Oil Face Mask
A jojoba oil and clay mask is a simple remedy that can tackle your acne. According to a study, applying the mask 2–3 times a week for 6 weeks reduced acne lesions by 54% on an average. So how does it work? The primary benefit of clay is that it has a drying effect and can deal with oily skin. Meanwhile, jojoba oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Blend clay and jojoba oil into an acne-busting facial mask and watch your skin clear up.20
|↑1||Ghosh, Sangita, Soumik Chaudhuri, Vijay Kumar Jain, and Kamal Aggarwal. “Profiling and hormonal therapy for acne in women.” Indian journal of dermatology 59, no. 2 (2014): 107.|
|↑2, ↑5||Why Do I Get Acne? Nemours Foundation.|
|↑3, ↑8||Acne. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.|
|↑4||Polycystic ovary syndrome. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.|
|↑6||Puri, H. S. Simple Ayurvedic Remedies. UBS Publishers Distributors, 2002.|
|↑7||Why Do I Get Acne? Nemours Foundation.|
|↑9||Sebum. Dermnet NZ.|
|↑10||Mahmood, T., N. Akhtar, and C. Moldovan. “A comparison of the effects of topical green tea and lotus on facial sebum control in healthy humans.” Hippokratia 17, no. 1 (2013): 64.|
|↑11||Bhatt, Deepika, Amit Kumar Sachan, Sanjay Jain, and Rakesh Barik. “Studies on inhibitory effect of Eucalyptus oil on sebaceous glands for the management of acne.” Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources 2, no. 3 (2011): 345-349.|
|↑12||Athikomkulchai, Sirivan, Rith Watthanachaiyingcharoen, Sujimon Tunvichien, Panida Vayumhasuwan, Paisarn Karnsomkiet, Prapan Sae-Jong, and Nijsiri Ruangrungsi. “The development of anti-acne products from Eucalyptus globulus and Psidium guajava oil.” Journal of Health Research 22, no. 3 (2008): 109-113.|
|↑13||Julianti, Elin, Kasturi K. Rajah, and Irda Fidrianny. “Antibacterial Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Cinnamon Bark, Honey, and Their Combination Effects against Acne-Causing Bacteria.” Scientia pharmaceutica 85, no. 2 (2017): 19.|
|↑14||Sivamani, Raja K., Jared R. Jagdeo, Peter Elsner, and Howard I. Maibach, eds. Cosmeceuticals and active cosmetics. CRC Press, 2015.|
|↑15||Patrick, Lisa. Natural Beauty Recipes: 60 Best Kept Secrets To `Care For The Skin: Natural Skin Care Tips. Speedy Publishing, 2013.|
|↑16||Shinkafi, S. A., and H. Ndanusa. “Antibacterial Activity of Citrus Limonon Acne vulgaris (Pimples).” International Journal of Science inventions Today 2 (2013): 397-409.|
|↑17||Zaman, S. U., and Naveed Akhtar. “Effect of turmeric (Curcuma longa Zingiberaceae) extract cream on human skin sebum secretion.” Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 12, no. 5 (2013): 665-669.|
|↑18||Jain, A., and E. Basal. “Inhibition of Propionibacterium acnes-induced mediators of inflammation by Indian herbs.” Phytomedicine 10, no. 1 (2003): 34-38.|
|↑19||Sharquie, Khalifa E., Hayder R. Al-Hamamy, Adil A. Noaimi, and Ali F. Tahir. “Treatment of Acne Vulgaris with 5-Alpha Avocuta Cream 2% in Comparison with Tretinion Cream 0.025%(Single Blind Comparative Study).” Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications 2, no. 03 (2012): 179.|
|↑20||Meier, Larissa, Rainer Stange, Andreas Michalsen, and Bernhard Uehleke. “Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioned skin and mild acne–results of a prospective, observational pilot study.” Complementary Medicine Research 19, no. 2 (2012): 75-79.|