If your teen ever notices that their skin tends to flare up right around their period, they aren't alone! Period acne is very much a thing, thanks to the increase in hormone levels they experience during their menstrual cycle. We asked for our community for their go-to period acne skincare products, and they didn’t disappoint (as per usual, we knew we could count on you!)
Let's talk skin, cause for period acne, hormonal fluctuations, and of course, how to prevent and get rid of period acne.
Hormonal acne causes
Sex hormones known as androgens help start puberty and are responsible for the development of the body. This hormonal increase can cause the oil glands in the body to become overactive, resulting in them getting bigger. Often times, this results in too much oil production– which is also known as “sebum.” Excess sebum can lead to clogged pores, which often trap dead skin cells and other acne causing bacteria along with it. The end result? You guessed it! Acne.
Androgens aren't the only hormones responsible for hormonal acne. Hormonal fluctuations are a normal part of the menstrual process, answering the million dollar question as to why period acne is a thing in the first place.
Worrying about leaks while trying to figure out period acne is not ideal, obviously. For one less thing to worry about during your teen's period, we recommend our period underwear for teens.
Skincare for acne prone skin
You may have heard the term "acne prone skin" before. What exactly does this mean, and how do you know if it applies to your teen? Long story short, all it means is that your teen gets frequent acne breakouts. If this sounds like them, or if they are just always in the market for some new acne prevention and treatment tips, we have a few suggestions:
Remember, everyone's skin is different! What works for one person may not work for another, and that's okay! Your teen should always do what feels right for them.
A three-step acne treatment system
The first step is for their skin to be a clean bean. Using a gentle, non-drying face cleanser will help remove excess dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria that often leads to clogged pores and pimples. It's important to use a cleanser that won't aggravate acne symptoms, so look for products that contain anti-inflammatory properties, such as niacinamide.
They might say: Hey, I clean my skin everyday! Why do I still have acne?
Such a great question. A common misconception is that acne is the result of poor hygiene or bad eating habits. This is not true! While eating healthy foods and cleaning their skin can help prevent acne, there are a ton of reasons why someone may get pimples that have nothing to do with diet or good skin hygiene.
Toner! Toners can help close pores, protecting skin from dirt, germs and environmental pollutants.
Moisturize! If your teen is someone with oily skin, they may be thinking, "won't adding moisture to my skin make it even oilier?" This is a common misconception, but it isn't true. Skin of all types needs to be properly moisturized in order to stay healthy. To protect skin against harmful UV rays from the sun, consider having them using a moisturizer that contains SPF during their AM routine.
I've heard about benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid for skincare, what's the difference? Salicylic Acid is a common ingredient in many body washes, face washes and moisturizers. These help to gently exfoliate the skin and get rid of dead skin cells that can lead to whiteheads and blackheads. Benzoyl peroxide is stronger, and can be used as a spot treatment on pimples. It can be more drying, so they should moisturize afterwards and not use it more than twice per day.
Acne spot treatment
Spot treatments can be a great way to treat those stubborn pimples as they pop up. Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion is an example of a spot treatment that helps to dry pimples overnight. Only use a small amount of acne spot treatments on individual pimples as they appear. Acne spot treatments should not be used over the entire face, as they are very drying.
Pro tip: At the bottom of the bottle there’s a pink, almost clay-like cream and the rest of the bottle consists of a clear liquid. DO NOT – I repeat DO NOT – shake the bottle! (No matter how tempting it is). If it gets shaken around in your bag, let it sit on a flat surface for a few minutes so the pink clay can settle to the bottom, otherwise it won’t work as well. To apply it, stick a Q-tip into the bottle right into that pink clay, then apply directly on the pimple after cleansing.
Acne face masks
A great way to treat acne is for your teen to treat themself with a little self-care, such as a face mask. There are plenty of different options out there, so you may want to speak with a skincare pro to find out which face masks will be best for your teen's skin type. They should try not to use a face mask more than once a week (unless otherwise directed) as over-use can end up working against their skincare efforts.
When to speak with a doctor
If over the counter acne products with benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and/or other anti-inflammatory properties do not appear to help your teen's acne symptoms, or if they have other concerns regarding your health, always speak with a doctor. Their doctor may look at prescribing antibiotics or other treatments for their skin.
Home remedies for period acne
If you're more into the idea of home remedies for their period acne rather than going the store-bought route (because let's be real, skincare can be pricey!), we've got some recommendations for that, too:
Tea tree oil: a truly timeless remedy. With its anti antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, they can use it all over their face or as a spot treatment. But keep in mind, a little goes a long way! They can dilute tea tree oil with a bit of water to avoid any irritation, as it’s a pretty potent oil.
Ice, ice baby: Yes, ice! Ice reduces swelling, as I'm sure you know, and pimples are clogged pores and follicles, which result in them become swollen and pus-filled (i.e. pimples). Ice will help reduce the inflammation and redness. While it may not make their pimple disappear, it will help calm the skin and make it less noticeable.
Treat yo'self and your teen, DIY style: A DIY face mask can be made out of a couple of household ingredients, such as turmeric and honey. Mix about half a teaspoon of turmeric into one tablespoon of honey, apply it to your faces and leave it on for about five minutes. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and honey has antibacterial properties, which are both great for reducing the size of your pimples. Besides, relaxing self care might the exact remedy you both need while managing their period symptoms. Speaking of which, does caffeine help period cramps?
As with anything, do not apply these products to your or their face if either of you are allergic to them and always try a small patch test on the skin first.
A few words, human to human
In summary, breakouts, both during the menstrual cycle and not, are completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Like we said, everyone gets them, despite what Instagram filters would have you believe. Pimples are caused by a wide range of reasons, such as changing hormone levels, clogged pores and excess sebum, skin irritations, and so much more.
Speak to a doctor or skincare professional to learn about the right kinds of acne treatment for your teens' skin type, and encourage your teen to love their skin during all its changes, ebbs and flows. It's one of the natural, magical parts of being human :)