Do you suffer from breakouts once or twice a month? Aren’t breakouts meant to be exclusively for teenagers? Unfortunately, for many of us, hormonal acne (acne breakouts that happen around your period, or during ovulation) continues well in to our 20s, 30s, or even 40s. Menopause can also bring hormonal breakouts.
How is hormonal acne different from regular acne? If it flares up once or twice a month, usually around your mouth or jawline, and is often the painful, cystic, under-the-skin kind, you may be suffering from hormonal acne.
There are many fantastic natural, vegan, cruelty free face washes, toners and moisturisers, as well as topical gels and ointments available for helping to calm inflamed skin. Salicylic acid or glycolic acid are recommended ingredients. Many people also report giving up dairy causes a huge improvement in their acne. But if you have on-going problems with hormonal acne, you might want to think about treating the underlying causes, as well as finding good quality topical treatments. See your dermatologist for professional advice.
I’ve personally struggled with breakouts from my teenage years, throughout and in to my 30s. I’ve taken isotretinoin (roaccutane) on two occasions—this is an extremely strong drug with very serious side effects. Whilst it worked for a few years, eventually my skin started to break out again. Different types of the contraceptive pill can help, but coming off it again can lead to more breakout chaos. These are the 4 supplements that I found useful for finally clearing up my skin (and the one supplement that made it worse!).
Our bodies don’t naturally produce zinc, so we need to obtain it through food or supplements. It’s vital for many functions in our body, including skin health, wound healing and immune function. Caffeine in tea and coffee, stress, smoking and alcohol can contribute to depleting our zinc stores. There’s some evidence zinc supplements can help acne, especially cystic acne, as well help to treat the inflammation and scarring.
Magnesium is needed for our bone and muscle health, including DNA repair. Magnesium supplements are also used to aid relaxation and sleep – so try taking your magnesium in the evening. As magnesium can help the body to fight stress (a trigger of acne for many, due to the hormones produced in the fight or flight response), magnesium may help to improve your skin, too. Magnesium deficiency is very common – research has suggested 70% of us may have low levels. You can find magnesium in many fibrous foods too, including leafy greens and broccoli, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. NB: research has shown zinc supplements can inhibit magnesium supplement absorption, so take them at different times of day to maximise the benefits from both.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is well known for helping to regulate menopausal symptoms, but it can also be helpful for treating the underlying cause of hormonal acne: hormone imbalances. The fatty acids help to decrease inflammation, and also act as carriers for essential vitamins. Bonus: You can use the oil directly on your skin, too!
Advanced Nutrition Programme’s Skin Accumax – this is a product I was recommended by a friend, and I have found it really useful in clearing up my skin. Be aware, however, that it takes time to work, and is isn’t cheap—but if you’ve tried lots of other things to no avail, you might want to give it a try. It consists of a nutrient found in broccoli, as well as a combination of vitamin C, E, and high levels of vitamin A (which is the same ingredient used in isotretinoin – but it’s at a much lower level, not requiring supervision from a dermatologist. However, you still should not take it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding). I had no side effects from it (except my skin clearing up), and was delighted to find out that the ingredients are vegan.
B12 – can you take too much?
B12 is a super important supplement for vegans. Deficiency can take a while to develop, but over time, the symptoms can be serious. The Vegan Society recommends taking a 2000 mcg B12 supplement at least once each week, or 10 microgram supplement daily. If you eschew the supplement for fortified foods, you will have to have 3 servings of b12-fortified foods a day, each 4-6 hours apart, to maintain adequate levels. It’s usually easier to take a supplement to ensure this box is ticked. However, for some people, too much b12 can aggravate acne. If you’ve started taking a daily b12 supplement, you might want to change to less frequent dosage, or try a different brand (whilst still maintaining good supplement levels).
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