Transitioning off of birth control can be a dream for some and a nightmare for others. If you’re planning to come off of birth control, you may be wondering what might happen to your skin. The answer is… it depends! It may get worse, improve, or stay the same depending on your natural hormones, the type of birth control you were on, and how your body reacts to changing hormonal levels.
How Birth Control Affects Acne
Birth control with estrogen in it tends to improve acne, while progestin-only birth control (hormonal IUDs and the “mini-pill”) tends to worsen acne.
If you were on a combined estrogen/progestin form of birth control and saw improvements in your skin, you may notice worsening acne as you stop birth control use as your natural hormones take the main stage again.
If you were on a progestin-only form of birth control and saw worsening acne during use, your skin may improve as you transition off of birth control.
Fluctuating hormonal levels oftentimes cause unpredictable changes. Just as you may have gone through a 3-month transition period when going on birth control, your body may experience a similar 3-month transition period while coming off of birth control. During the transition time is when acne may worsen as your body adjusts back to your natural hormones driving the cycle.
Here are 2 reasons why some people get cystic acne after coming off of hormonal birth control:
#1: Androgen Rebound
When taking birth control (aka exogenous hormones), androgens (which is a group of hormones that include testosterone) are suppressed. When the pill is stopped, androgen levels rise and can be produced in excess, leading to acne.
Androgens contribute to acne as they cause excess sebum production (an oily substance produced by the skin), which clogs hair follicles and lets Propionibacterium Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne, grow and flourish. It often leads to painful and cystic acne along the jawline.
Additionally, some people’s bodies over-produce androgens as in conditions such as PCOS. PCOS symptoms (such as acne) are often suppressed while on the pill. Therefore, when women come off of the pill, androgen levels rise and symptoms come back (aka the dreaded androgen rebound).
#2: Nutrient Depletion
Hormonal birth control has been shown to deplete a variety of vitamins and minerals that are key for healthy and glowing skin. When certain nutrients are depleted, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Zinc, it may further exacerbate hormonal acne.
How to Improve your Skin While Transitioning off of Birth Control
While having a good skincare regimen is always a good idea, treating hormonal acne with an “inside-out” approach will be more effective than using topicals alone.
Focus on whole-foods
Due to the gut-skin connection, inflammation in the gut can ultimately cause worsening acne on your skin! Use food as a way to keep your skin healthy as you transition off of birth control. Eat lots of anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits and veggies, healthy fats (think olive oil, avocado, and fish), lean protein, and whole grains. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as processed meals, dairy, and red meat during your transition period.
Keeping stress at bay is key for overall health, skin included. Chronically elevated cortisol (the stress hormone) throws off other hormones, including blood sugar, which impacts skin health. Make sure to incorporate at least 5-10 minutes of stress-reducing activities every day. Some effective ways to lower stress include breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and walking.
Regular Bowel Movements
Having a daily bowel movement is critical for healthy skin as it ensures proper elimination of hormones from the body. Many hormones are excreted via bowel movements. Therefore, if you’re constipated, the stool is sitting in the intestines for longer than it should be and hormones are being reabsorbed into the body. If you’re struggling with having a daily bowel movement, make sure to drink 2 liters (65 oz.) of water a day, focus on whole foods, limit processed food, and speak to a Holistic Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor if you need more guidance.
Stay Topped Up On Key Nutrients
Correcting nutrient deficiencies by supplementing with Top Up Tonic is an effective way to help you achieve clear and glowing skin.
Vitamin C & Vitamin E are antioxidants that combat free radical damage from UV light and are integral in the production of collagen (which are key for anti-aging effects). Supplementation can improve skin elasticity, wrinkles, and roughness.
Zinc is a critical nutrient for wound healing, reducing inflammation, and keeping cell walls stable. When taken orally it can reduce lesions on the skin, decrease the severity of acne, and reduce the signs of aging.
Probiotics help combat acne by optimizing the state of your gut and decreasing inflammation. A permeable intestinal wall (“leaky gut”) causes inflammation throughout the body (skin included). Particles that shouldn’t be able to enter the bloodstream breakthrough and cause an inflammatory response, contributing to acne. Supplementing with probiotics can help lower inflammation and assist in achieving clear skin.
In summary, eating whole foods and supplementing with skin-friendly vitamins and minerals will help decrease acne flare-ups during the transitional phase while coming off of hormonal birth control. It’s important to remember to be patient and allow at 2-3 months when trying any natural regime. It takes 6-8 weeks for nutrients to bioaccumulate and start working their magic. Well, not magic, it’s hormonal balance (but it feels like magic).
✓ Eating whole foods and supplementing with skin-friendly vitamins and minerals will help decrease acne flare-ups.
✓ Our Top Up Tonic is the perfect supplement for correcting nutrient deficiencies and achieving clear and glowing skin.