Okay, so here's my deal: I'm turning 23 in a few days and have never had to deal with facial acne 'til now. Which is awful, because aren't pimples, like, a teenager thing? Shouldn't I have left my #highschoolproblems behind ages ago? I've found that it's quite the opposite for me. In fact: before hitting 20, I had skin clear as a summer's day, but now that I'm nearing quarter life, pesky spots have only just begun appearing on the lower half of my face.
There's your cue, by the way. If you're above 21 and your zits are concentrated along the chin and jawline areas, bingo! You've got hormonal acne. Welcome to the club.
I actually want out of the club, so I took a trip to my dermatologist, who in turn told me to see my OB/GYN first. I was initially puzzled, but this is the first step! Once your derma affirms your suspicions and declares that your pimples are hormone-triggered, book an appoointment with your OB, stat. She'll tell you which foods to avoid, which habits to start, and which ones to break.
With that, here are 5 natural ways to keep hormonal spots at bay without the pill—tried and tested by yours truly, a fellow adult acne survivor. Stay strong, girls!
1. Eat good bacteria! Take a probiotic supplement or eat yogurt with live, active cultures once a day. Probiotics work by helping your gut ease the inflammation that can trigger a host of skin problems, including acne.
2. Tweak your diet. Eliminate dairy milk—especially skim, which may actually contain more pimple-producing hormones. A tasty, good-for-your-skin swap? Almond milk! Also, limit your intake of high glycemic index foods like white bread, rice, and pasta.
3. Get moving! Come on, haul yoursel off of that couch. Exercise boosts circulation, which can help dial down skin inflammation. Sweating also helps your pores breathe, so that should be enough reason for you to hit the gym!
4. Drink tons of water. This honestly sounds like a no-brainer, but I'm the type of person who can survive two days without a drop (no, seriously). It's been a month and a half since I quit the camel act, and my skin has never looked more luminous. Tip: It helps to keep a water intake tracker app on your phone!
5. Take some herbs—Vitex in particular! Also known as agnus castus or chasteberry, Vitex was particularly effective for me, seeing as my OB declared that my progesterone levels were low (resulting in hormonal imbalance and subsequent breakouts). Ingesting Vitex results in a shift in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, with a rise in the latter. Voila, clear skin!