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The Hormonal Acne Handbook

By: Ashley Wittke, Shop Good Holistic Esthetician & Juana Diez, Shop Good Lead Buyer

It happens every month, like a recurring nightmare: your period arrives, and that clear skin that you have been finally getting along with is invaded by v. rude, inflamed bumps. And these aren’t your typical whiteheads. These bad boys can take up more precious facial square footage, they can be ultra inflamed, and to make matters worse, can be majorly painful.

Treating hormonal acne can be pretty frustrating and tbh, at times emotionally draining. It takes some serious effort to sort out the many different factors affecting our hormones, not to mention, the affect it can have on our self-confidence. But… we say: “don’t give up!” and “may we step in?” This week we’re offering just a little extra support because, trust us, you’re not alone!

Let’s break down the why’s + give you the how’s…


It’s a common myth that spots and pimples are a thing of the past once you enter adulthood (although we wish this was so very true). Hormonal breakouts can be caused by a few different factors, but there are few clues that can help tell us determine if your acne is related to your hormones – 

  1. Location: acne popping up along the jawline, chin and mouth area is likely to be related to hormonal fluctuations from menstruation, PCOS, menopause, or increased androgen levels (male sex hormones, like testosterone). This results in increased skin inflammation, excess oil production, clogged skin cells, and the production of the dreaded acne-causing bacteria – Propionibacterium acnes. 
  2. Timing: hormonal acne often times flares up predictably in a cyclical pattern… sounds familiar? While most women experience these breakouts the week before their menstrual cycle, during ovulation or even menses is common too. Generally, hormonal breakouts tend to pop up in the same place each month, so pay attention to the changes in your skin — and if you really want to crack the code, keep a skin journal!
  3. Appearance / sensation: forget the surface-level spots. Hormonal acne tends to be deep beneath the surface of the skin, cystic, and tender to the touch (you might even feel it without touching it). It probably won’t respond as well to topical spot treatments – and if you tend to be a picker, will usually leave a scar.



1. Say ‘see ya’ to stress. 

Can stress really cause acne? The short answer is YES. Increased levels of cortisol (a.k.a the stress hormone) can wreak havoc on the skin. How?

Stress = more cortisol = increased androgens

Got it… so what does this mean? These androgens actually increase oil production, which can lead to more acne. When your body is under increased pressure, you’re feeling exhausted or worried, or you’re simply a v serious goal getter…your hormone levels are affected, and can ultimately translate on your skin. Let’s face it, everyone has their problems (yes, even those people you see leading the “perfect” life ). When we hold on to our stresses and worries, we are wreaking havoc on our system. We become tense and stressed when we let negative emotions take lead. Often times breaking out as a result. So – deep breath! Don’t let the small things get to you and let that sh*t go. Holding on to things you can’t control is so NOT worth the breakout, amirite?

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Try Moon Juice Spirit Dust – Spirit Dust is an adaptogenic blend of uplifting super herbs and super mushrooms that help combat the effects of stress to expand peaceful awareness and align you with bliss. Add 1 tsp t0 coffee, tea, milk, water, smoothies, or mix into pancakes, yogurt or almond butter.

2. Show your gut some L-O-V-E. 

Think of your skin as a mirror – it is brilliant at revealing imbalances within the body. And when we say it all starts in your gut, we kind of aren’t kidding! Fatigue, autoimmunity, acne, hormonal imbalances – they all relate to the condition and health of your gut. You may have heard of “leaky-gut syndrome”, but let’s refresh your memory. Leaky gut occurs when the cells lining the intestines become loose, causing larger molecules to slip through the gut walls and enter the bloodstream. This creates an immune response and inflammation that can lead to a imbalanced hormone levels. Sugary, processed and inflammatory foods, devoid of nutrients are the worst offenders of a leaky gut and other gut issues. Heal your gut by loading up your plate with your fave fermented foods, and incorporate supplements like probiotics, essential fatty acids, and L-glutamine. All are essential, but L-glutamine plays a vital role in rebuilding, healing, and maintaining the structural lining of your digestive tract – promoting good digestion and nutrient absorption. 

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For clear skin from the inside-out, try  The Beauty Chef Inner Beauty Glow Powder, which uses a unique fermentation process to provide key nutrients to the body. This delicious powder includes both prebiotics and probiotics to encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, which are known to assist the skin and help treat breakouts.

3. Remember, you are what you eat. 

Sure.. you’ve heard this before, but it’s reaaallly true. It’s key to pay special attention to foods that are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Eating a balanced diet filled with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and healthy oils can hugely impact not just your overall health but also your skin. Try eating low glycemic foods that are organic – aka – fewer processed foods, refined carbs and sugars – and more sweet potatoes, greens, and grains like quinoa. Eating tons of EFA’s (essential fatty acids) can also help reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and reduce androgens.  If you have acne, you may be deficient in these magical efas! Incorporate healthy fats such as evening primrose oil, flax oil, EVOO, avocados, and nuts and seed on your plate daily. If this process sounds overwhelming, try starting small by cutting a few things out at a time and see what works for you. A well balanced, healthy diet is way better than a restrictive one!  Phew.

Try this insanely delish smoothie or a dose of #healthyhormones first thing in the A.M. – 

Add all of the ingredients to your blender and blend for a minute or two until the smoothie is nice and creamy. Pour into your fave glass and enjoy!

4. Flush stagnant toxins. 

We all know that lymphatic drainage is finally getting the praise it deserves. With regards to hormones, “estrogen dominance” is the main type of imbalance during our cycles. Between excess estrogens in our body, levels of xenoestrogens (an estrogen imitator) found in foods and plastics, and other endocrine disruptors, most women have too much estrogen relative to progesterone. This is where our lymphatic system comes in to play – since it is responsible for moving progesterone around the body. A well-functioning lymph will move freely, serving as a delivery system for progesterone to balance out that estrogen. This means when our lymph is stagnant or sluggish, it can increase the likelihood of hormonal imbalances… and all the symptoms that come with it!

So, what can you do to get that lymphatic system movin’ and flowin’? Try dry brushing. Dry brushing the body and face will help stimulate the lymph (and all its functions), improving the overall health and texture of your skin. Better yet, request lymphatic drainage as an add-on during your next facial!

5. Simple skincare is best – from the outside-in and inside-out!

You don’t want your quest for clear skin to cause more harm than good, right? Always remember – as counterproductive as it may sound, LESS is MORE when it comes to hormonal acne. Harsh ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid oftentimes strip the skin of it’s natural oils and actually cause more inflammation. And, guess what your skin is going to do next? Produce more oils, which in turn = more breakouts. Skincare is meant to nourish and protect – so focus on just that – natural ingredients that refresh and regenerate the skin without that added irritation.

We like to think of our refrigerator as a second skincare cabinet. Instead of relying on intense spot treatments and oil-stripping ingredients to clear up our skin, start diving deeper into your overall health and listen to what your body is telling you. Try swapping your benzoyl peroxide cleanser for leafy greens. Choose anti-inflammatory berries over that irritating and overly drying spot treatment.

BONUS! We’re including our favorite hormonal acne-balancing skincare protocol, and you can find each of these gems in our online shop! 

Cleanse – OSEA Ocean Cleanser – This mineral-rich organic seaweed gel cleanser will effectively remove excess oil and surface impurities while maintaining a hydrated, healthy looking complexion.

Toner – Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator – This multi-action product hydrates, tones, and moisturizes all in one. Aloe and herbal anti-inflammatories will calm, relieve redness and help reset the skin’s natural healing ability

Serum – Botnia Hydrating Serum – Hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3 delivers maximum hydration, vitamins and minerals deep into your skin.

Moisturize – Berlin Skin Sandalwood – This luxurious, lightweight cream with clear, even, and firm the skin without clogging your pores. Packed with antioxidants, this formula works to combat both breakouts and fine lines.

Exfoliate – URSA MAJOR 3- Minute Flash Mask – This treatment will quickly exfoliate dead surface skin cells while accelerating turnover – all without the irritation associated with harsh scrubs or chemical peels.

Treat – Province Apothecary Clear Skin Advanced Spot Serum – Featuring powerful organic Turmeric, this blend of exceptional plant botanicals soothe even deep-rooted problems without overly drying your skin.

SPF – Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 – Acting as a regenerating moisturizer and natural, broad-spectrum sunscreen. This delivers a potent combination of distinct herbal actives and plant oils to repair, moisturize, and protect the skin.  

Now that we have a better understanding of what our hormones are doing and what may be adding to any imbalances, start listening to what your body is telling (and showing) you. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for dealing with hormonal acne, but there are steps you can take to improve the quality of your skin. And, if hormone acne is still stressing you out – just reach out. Our team is here for you to help you on your journey to clear skin and #healthyhormones!


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