Wellness Bloggers Tips for Taming Period Acne Flare-Ups

Nicole Pearl, Chelsea Williams, and Jenn Haskins share how they fend off blemishes.

Your breakouts may correspond to your menstrual cycle, but there could also be many other things going on. All of that is to say, “we don’t really know how much of your breakouts come from what piece of the pie,” says Marisa K. Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell – New York Presbyterian Medical Center. Therefore, the right treatment doesn’t just aim to regulate hormones but also targets acne-causing bacteria, keeps pores clear, and reduces inflammation.

For true hormonal acne, the best treatments a dermatologist can offer are prescriptions for medication like hormonal birth control or Aldactone (spironolactone), the latter of which has antiandrogen effects to reduce oil production, says Dr. Garshick. Androgens are “male” hormones, like testosterone. Women have androgens, too, and they increase oil production, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

But you may not need to go the medication route and instead want to rely on topical, dietary, and other lifestyle remedies to banish breakouts. Here are seven tips bloggers use to fight pimples:

Do Your Best to Resist Any Temptation to Touch a Blemish

When a pimple pops up, the first thing you might want to do is squeeze it. But Nicole Pearl, a beauty expert and founder of TheBeautyGirl.com (@nicolepearl1), maintains a smart hands-off policy. “I do my best to leave [a breakout] alone. Picking always makes the situation worse,” she says. A spot treatment containing salicylic acid is her next step when needed. A word from an expert regarding picking: If you need additional motivation not to do it, here’s food for thought. “Say to yourself, ‘I love to pick, and now I’m going to make something that will last six months.’ If you pick, you will leave long-lasting marks,” says Loretta Ciraldo, MD, a Miami-based dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare.

Take Measures to Help Prevent Yourself From Picking a Pimple

A brilliant trick to stop yourself from touching a zit: “I use Mighty Patches by Hero Cosmetics,” says Calyn Brooke , a fitness and wellness influencer (@calynbrooke). “These are clear hydrocolloid acne stickers that act as a protective cover to prevent picking. You can wear them out of the house too, since they’re clear and no one will notice,” she says. According to Herocosmetics.us, hydrocolloid looks like a small, flexible piece of plastic. It’s a self-adhesive patch made from pectin or gelatin that keeps the area moist to encourage healing. Most of all, it protects a pimple from the outside world, namely your hands, Hero Cosmetics notes.

Avoid Layering Too Much Makeup Over a Blemish

You get a zit, you cover it up with makeup (and then touch it up again later in the day). But rather than adding more layers, you may be better off taking them away. “My biggest tip for avoiding these acne flares is to quit wearing so much makeup. The less makeup on your skin, the less dirt and oil you’ll have clogging your pores,” says Monique Volz, founder of Ambitious Kitchen, a food and wellness website (@ambitiouskitchen).

Beyond hormones, the AAD points out, some cosmetics can actually cause acne, and this phenomenon has a clinical name: acne cosmetica. This often looks like tiny red bumps on cheeks, chin, or forehead; whiteheads; and pimples, but it takes a while to appear, making it tough to know that it’s your makeup that’s the problem. If you start using a new skin-care product and develop bumps shortly thereafter, your product may be the culprit. Purchasing skin-care products and makeup that’s labeled “oil-free” or “noncomedogenic” will help, as will cleaning makeup brushes weekly. The AAD advises doing this with lukewarm water and shampoo.

Turn to Tea Tree Oil to Fight Inflammation at the Root of Your Flare-Up

It’s not just oily skin types that are saddled with problems. “I have dry and sensitive skin, which reacts poorly to a lot of the ‘typical’ acne treatments. After a lot of trial and error, I finally discovered that tea tree oil works perfectly for my hormonal acne flare-ups,” says Jenn Haskins, blogger at Hello Rigby (@hellorigby). Clark explains this is a good option for some cases. “Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory, so it does help some people with acne,” says Clark.

Rigby uses Advanced Clinicals Tea Tree Oil because it also contains skin- vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-113/tea-tree-oil' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' >conditioning antioxidant vitamin E, as well as witch hazel to soothe redness and potential irritation. “The key is not to overuse it. I put a dot on the blemish and no more,” she says. Tea tree can be a bit irritating, says Clark, so if it causes redness or irritation, stop using it. In fact, some dermatologists recommend trying tea tree oil on your forearm for a few days before applying it to your face to see how your skin reacts.

Cover Your Skin With Charcoal to Help Prevent Breakouts

Along with being extra diligent about her skin-care routine to prevent pimples in the first place, Lestraundra Alfred, founder and host of the Balanced Black Girl Podcast (@balancedles), applies a charcoal face mask followed by spot treating with tea tree oil.

“Charcoal is designed to dry out blackheads and unclog pores,” says Garshick. “It’s activated by a ‘lifting’ effect, where it adheres to dirt and other debris in pores and pulls it out.” One mask to try: Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores.

Drink a Cup of Tea to Help Fend Off Blemishes

Better to avoid acne altogether, right? “I attack hormonal acne flare-ups before they even begin. I drink 1 to 2 cups of raspberry leaf tea per day a few days before my cycle starts and throughout my cycle to combat cramping,” says Chelsea Williams, MPH, wellness blogger at ThatsChelsea.com (@thatschelsea). “After hearing about the tea years ago, I tried it for myself to decrease hormonal breakouts around the jawline, reduce PMS symptoms, and alleviate cramping. In my experience, the benefits held true,” she says.

Red raspberry leaf is traditionally used during pregnancy (particularly for women looking to naturally bring on labor), but a 2018 article in Integrative Medicine notes that it also contains a variety of vitamins (A, C, and E) and minerals (calcium, iron, and potassium). While there aren’t studies that show the tea can control acne, it’s safe to drink. If you are interested in non- medication remedies (like hormonal birth control or spironolactone), Garshick says you might also try spearmint tea, which some small studies, including those referenced in a spring 2012 article in the International Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggest has antiandrogenic effects to reduce hormonal acne.

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