If you didn't catch my original post on how to track your menstrual cycle for acne, check that out here. If you're all caught up there, check out this post on how to stop period acne naturally, stop acne during ovulation and more!
Ok, so now that you have gathered your data about your own cycle and when your breakouts tend to be the worst/most flared up, here are some of the most common scenarios and some recommendations I use in practice to help. Please note I can't go through every possible scenario, so if none of these situations fit into what you've learned about your body/cycle, you might want to try tracking your acne (see more info on that at the bottom of my previous blog post).
You break out mostly during/around ovulation
This typically means that the peak of testosterone that happens around ovulation is enough to set your skin off. This is usually either because you're sensitive to it, your body is already making a stronger version of testosterone (so when it peaks, even a little, your body responds as if it's reacting to a tidal wave of testosterone) OR you've already got borderline high testosterone. Ideally, it's best to figure out why your testosterone is elevated (usually because of stress, inflammation, the wrong exercise regimen, gut issues, etc), but for the sake of this post let's stick to some of the things I've found to be the MOST helpful for clients in this place.
Green tea has a component in it that helps prevent the conversion to testosterone. It's also anti-inflammatory and helps the body detox better, which makes it an AMAZING addition to your internal skincare routine if you experience ovulation breakouts. The dosage needed to get these benefits is at least 2 8oz cups of organic (I recommend loose leaf) tea daily (but be careful with this if you have iron issues). You can also use spearmint tea as well if you need a caffeine-free alternative.
Zinc can be a really great way to lower inflammation- decreasing the redness and ovulation cysts you might get around this time. It's definitely a bandaid solution, but many of my clients find it helpful! Check out my FullScript to see the dosage & brand I recommend (you'll have to make an account).
Contrary to popular recommendations among cycle-syncing experts, if you have ovulation acne you might wanna take it easy on the high intensity exercise during this time. I know it's the time where you may have the most energy and "ideally" the time for high intensity exercise, but the Cortisol spikes may trigger more inflammation and spike testosterone more than it already will spike naturally. My advice is to save the higher intensity exercise for your early or late follicular phase if you need to get some excess energy out without messing with your skin
You break out before your period/during your period
This is common either because, as I mentioned in my previous post, testosterone is the main acting hormone during this time and you may be a little sensitive, but there's another possibility as well: estrogen dominance. I see this in practice all the time! If you have late-cycle acne AND struggle with symptoms like severe breast soreness, severe PMS/period cramps, headaches or night sweats, you might be dealing with an estrogen dominance issue.
Support your detox processes. Follow an acne healing, detox-supportive detox diet (see my blog post on what that means here or join the Clear Skin Library to get access to recipes that take the guesswork out of eating for your skin the right way) and sweat more (passively, of course- think saunas, epsom salt baths, etc).
I have lots of clients who use zinc as a supportive measure during this time too (see above)
Kick up your fiber intake! Typically during the later phase of the menstrual cycle, blood sugar balance is a little wonky for most people which can trigger inflammation and excess oil production in the skin (so if you already have testosterone that's running the show that can show up as flared up acne). Getting in at least 30g of fiber every day can help balance blood sugar, feed the gut bacteria that help keep acne at bay and reduce inflammation during this time. The (big) bonus is that fiber can also bind and draw excess estrogen out of the body, so if that's your issue, this should help with that too!
There you have it! Remember, these are just the most common scenarios. If you are experiencing something different you can always schedule a 1-on-1 Acne Healing Intensive with Emily or do some testing with us to figure out what's going on for you. If you don't have a menstrual cycle check out my previous post on how to track your acne without regard to a cycle!
Here are some resources to help you:
Clear Skin Library: a recipe database & tool kit to help you figure out your acne on your own. Take the guesswork out of how to eat to heal acne naturally, get exclusive tools that I share with my 1-on-1 clients in practice and access to additional educational webinars & downloads to help you on your journey.
Acne Nutritionist store: this is my collection of all acne healing essentials I think you need to know about. Everything from tools to track your cycle, acne meal prep tools, supplies, supplements, courses & more!