The Link Between PCOS And Acne - PCOS To Wellness

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by Brigitte Warne October 05, 2021 5 min read

The Link Between PCOS And Acne

Have you noticed skin flare-ups and acne are more common since you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS? Or perhaps your ongoing skin struggles are part of why you suspect you might have PCOS?

There is a strong link between PCOS and acne thanks to the influence of hormones. But you don’t have to settle for suffering through the physical, mental and emotional impact of acne. 

Let’s take a look at why PCOS and acne go hand in hand and what you can do today to take back control of your skin health.

How PCOS can cause acne

First up, let’s look at why PCOS can lead to acne in the first place, as there are a few factors that can play a role. 

The most obvious is high testosterone levels. When your testosterone is too high, it can cause overproduction of sebum – the oil on your skin. This excess sebum can plug your follicles and lead to an acne breakout.

Another big one is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is incredibly common in PCOS, but it can alsoplay a part in your PCOS acne. It feeds into both high testosterone levels and high sebum, increasing your risk of skin breakouts. 

Insulin resistance also increases a substance calledinsulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 makes your skin cells grow quickly and increases sebum production, leading to both oil AND dead skin cells plugging your follicles.

But I also just want to remind you – PCOS is a big cause of acne, but it’s not the only one. Even if you have PCOS, it could be a combination of factors, including:

And these aren’t even all of the potential issues! That’s why it’s important to identify which could be playing a part in your acne, and address those that you can through diet and lifestyle changes.

What can I do about acne caused by PCOS?

Acne was the symptom that I struggled with the most with my own PCOS, but I healed it naturally through nutrition, lifestyle, herbs and all-natural skincare and makeup products. If you are looking to heal your own PCOS acne, these tips are a fabulous starting point!

Clean up your skin routine

If you have acne, I bet you have a drawer full of skincare products and makeup to cover up the blemishes. But unfortunately, most of the popular products for acne-prone skin can flare your symptoms and contribute to the underlying causes of PCOS acne.

It’s time to clean up your skincare and makeup routine, and switch to all-natural chemical-free products.

I know I found this so hard in the beginning because it was a big commitment to switch everything over and it was expensive. But once I took a closer look at what I was using and why, I realised that I wouldn’t even need most of it once I changed it over!

Of course, you still want to have your basics – cleanser, toner, moisturiser, maybe a gentle exfoliant or hydrating mask depending on what your skin responds best to. 

And you can still have your favourite makeup products as well! There are amazing all-natural brands out there that don’t flare up acne but still offer full coverage. My go-to is <pop Ere Perez in here if that is still up to date, and you can list more than one if you like!>

Balance your blood sugar

Every time you eat, you are either balancing your blood sugar level or setting it off on a rollercoaster! 

When you eat sugary and highly refined foods, your body responds by increasing insulin to store the excess energy away. But over time, this contribute to both insulin resistance and high testosterone levels. 

Instead, we want to choose foods, macronutrients and micronutrients that balance the blood sugar. This means:

  • Protein-rich foods including grass-fed meat, free range poultry and eggs (if you eat animal products), nuts, pseudo-grains such as quinoa, beans and legumes 
  • Foods that are high in good fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil
  • High-fibre foods including low GI fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, beans and legumes

By focusing on these types of foods, you will help your blood sugar to stay steady throughout the day. This means more energy and less fatigue short-term, but it also reduces your risk of breakouts long-term!

Increase your plant intake

Plants are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre, water and antioxidants that all support happy skin and balanced hormones. 

The more plants you add in, the more tools you give your body to heal your skin and support your hormones. When I say plants, I mean:

  • Organic fruit and veg (conventional are often sprayed with endocrine-disrupting chemicals!)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Wholegrains and pseudograins (think quinoa and buckwheat)
  • Herbs and spices

The key here is to consume them in a state that is as close to nature as possible. Opting for unprocessed or lightly processed plants (e.g. almonds, almond flour and home-made almond milk) means it will retain more nutrition compared to processed forms (almond milk with multiple additives and sugar added)

When I was suffering from PCOS acne, I was vegetarian already. But when I fully committed to a plant-based diet, I finally saw the improvements in my skin I’d been dreaming of! 

And no, you don’t have to go fully plant-based like I did to reap the benefits – as long as you add more in on a consistent basis, your skin will thank you for it!

Hydrate and try hormone balancing herbal tea

THIS was one of the most effective things I did to heal my acne.

Staying well-hydrated is a must for healthy skin (and obviously a healthy body!) 

It helps on a surface level tomaintain a strong skin barrier which can protect against damage and infection. On a deeper level, being hydrated means your body is better able to process and excrete toxins such as hormone-disrupting chemicals and excess hormones.

Pure filtered water is a great foundation to hydration.

BUT if you want to super charge your your hydration to offer countless more benefits, you might want to consider medicinal herbal teas on a daily basis. 

When it comes to PCOS acne, we want to focus on those root causes such as insulin resistance and high testosterone.

Here a couple of my favourites:(must be organic to avoid all those nasty endocrine disrupting chemicals!) 

  • Spearmint tea – a must for blood sugar balance and reducing high testosterone levels
  • Celyon true cinnamon  – this is a great option for blood sugar balancing and insulin resistance
  • Alfalfa tea – it’s detoxifying and anti-inflammatory and can reduce painful breakouts
  • Lady’s mantle tea – studies show it can help torepair damage to the skin barrier

Wish you could take them all (and even more hormone balancing herbs) in one super-blend? TheCysterhood Herbal Tea is designed for the frustrating symptoms of PCOS and hormone imbalances, including stubborn acne- this is the exact blend of herbs in the CORRECT ratios (bended by a naturopath) that I used to personally heal my hormonal acne. 

Or if you are more of a chai fan, grabour CHAIHOOD Anti Inflammatory blend. This is everything you love in a chai, and it’s packed with ingredients that will support happy, balanced skin and hormones, whilst reducing inflammation and healing your skin! (or alternate between the two teas for the ultimate hormone balancing duo!)

Follow me on ig for more acne and hormone balancing tips!@pcos_to_wellness

pcos acne treatment


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