3 Things That Helped My Hormonal Chin Acne

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup Tips/How To, Skin Care

Wearing no makeup

Wearing absolutely zero makeup

Shortly after I turned 36, all hell broke loose on my chin. What had previously been the clearest part of my face was suddenly a pimple farm. And they were the painful pimples, too! A mix of tiny bumps that seemed to never go away and big ol’ painful zits that felt like they had 100-year-old roots.

I went to the dermatologist, tried antibiotics and different prescription topical meds, but nothing really helped. Not enough.



Eventually, though, I discovered a few things that did work. It took a while, some experimenting with my diet and lots of weeding through ineffective products, but over the past year, my chin’s improved a lot.

Here’s what helped turn the tides against my hormonal chin acne!

1. Creating a skincare cocktail by combining and layering different products

I had hoped to find one magic bullet, but it turned out that the best thing for my combination oily/dry skin was a cocktail of different over-the-counter products.

It took a lot of trial and error to find the right combination of products for me. My skin seems to respond best to benzoyl peroxide, antioxidants and exfoliating acids. That may not be the case for you, but in the hopes that it is, the products I’ve had the most success with are…

  • Kate Somerville’s Anti Bac Clearing Face Lotion ($39), a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion that absorbs quickly, layers well underneath makeup and doesn’t have that funky benzoyl peroxide scent. I’ve tried a bunch of BP lotions before, and this was the one that made the biggest difference for me.
  • Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($153), an antioxidant serum with Vitamins C, E and ferulic acid (an antioxidant). Designed to bolster skin against the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays and to stimulate collagen production, it really helped reduce the flakiness and post-acne discoloration I was seeing.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment ($105). This lightly hydrating serum contains unneutralized lactic acid and seems to improve the smoothness and texture of the skin around my chin.
  • Neutrogena All-in-1 Acne Control Daily Scrub ($8). I keep this cleanser, which contains beta hydroxy acid (or BHA), in my shower and use it every morning.

2. Diet — dairy and sugar

Another big, albeit difficult, thing that seems to have helped get my breakouts under control was laying off dairy and refined sugar. I’d heard from friends that this could make a huge difference, and despite my deep and abiding love for yogurt, milk and ice cream, I’d reached a point where I was desperate to try anything.

I started with baby steps — replacing the sugar and milk in my coffee with almond milk, eating less yogurt throughout the week…and not eating so much cheese and ice cream.

Dude, it was hard!

It took a while to see a difference, but I stuck to it, and with my other efforts, after six months my chin was already much better.

I’ve also noticed a few other things that absolutely have an impact on my skin, like the amount of water I’m drinking and fresh fruits and veggies I’m eating. If I’m not drinking enough water and getting enough fruit and veggies throughout the day, my skin pays the price.

3. Hands off!

Last, but not least, keeping my hands away from my zits.

It’s so hard for me to resist the temptation to pick at my pimples. I know, I know… But gah! It’s so hard. When I squeeze it always makes things worse.

Truth be told, to took a while to break this habit. I had to avoid looking closely at my chin in the mirror right before bed, which is when I was most likely to pick and pop, or when I was feeling stressed.

Sometimes, I used good ol’ fashioned bribery on myself, like if didn’t touch my face for ‘X’ number of days, I would reward myself with some makeup or a pair of shoes. :)

Whatever it takes!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

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  1. Trisha says:

    I’ve always had really clear skin. Even through high school hormones and not treating my skin nearly as well as I should, I still almost never got zits, and when I did, they went away in a day or two.

    Then, mysteriously, a few years ago (about age 28) I got a huge bout of acne in between my eyebrows. I tried all sorts of things, but that patch lasted maybe half a year. I never figured out why it went away, but I suspect it might have been healthier eating, now that you mention it…
    Trisha recently posted … Does Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy Frizz Control Actually Control Frizz?

  2. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for this post!!! Your skin always looks flawless in your photos, so that is the sign of a true art-eest :) I’m 35, and since the pregnancy and birth of my second bay-bay, my chin breakouts have been hell. I’ve been to the derm, and in the last six-eight months I’ve been trying out different Rx BP creams in combination with Retin-A micro. I have a love/hate relationship with Retin-A, but I think it helps. Things had been going just swimmingly until two months of stress and pms hormones mounted an offensive, and I was dealing with at least two really bad cystic pimples. I agree that it takes trial and error to find the right combo. I’m considering the very highly rated “Clarity Supplement” from CosMedix, but not sure if I’m willing to risk another round of skin purging.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amanda,

      I hope you find your combo soon. I’ve both tried Retin-A and Differin; neither of them worked for me unfortunately. I’ll have to look into the clarity supplement. It sounds really interesting!

  3. Lorraine says:

    That crazy hormone train is a beast and looked like a literal train wreck on my skin at that age, too. Wish I’d have read this recipe a few years ago. Thanks for covering a topic many women struggle with but don’t know how to ask for help with.

    • Lorraine says:

      PS maybe you could cover this in another post- best tips and tools for covering the chin blemishes? I know you must have great tricks up your sleeves because your readers can’t see any spots in all the pics you’ve posted over the years!

  4. Amanda says:

    I’m also cutting waaay back on sugar and dairy, and drinking as much water as possible. Easier said than done :/

  5. Danielle says:

    I have the *same* issue with hormonal acne around my chin. And apparently women develop more acne as they get older & men develop less. I totally agree with refine sugar & dairy. I have switched to a lot more non-dairy products and it has helped a lot.
    Danielle recently posted … Recipe: Cream of Cauliflower Soup

  6. I had to give up dairy for my KP!

  7. Eli says:

    I totally know what you’re talking about :D When I was in my teens I had acne, but the type that localised in the T-zone. Then, I spent 5 years on the pill and everything was great for the best part of the year, but I stopped it a few months ago (I’m 25 now)…

    Aaaand, chin woes appeared, just like in your case. I’m now trying tea tree oil and a natural cream at night, Normaderm during the day, almost no make-up, bla-bla. Works, but very slowly…

    Think I’m gonna cut dairy and try, at least, to reduce sugar – thanks for that! Hope it helps :)
    Eli recently posted … Nail Polished – Golden Rose

  8. Icequeen81 says:

    Your coctail is out my reach literally at all aspects .

    But I think I will start cutting the diary and sugar. But the diet help preventive righ? How do you do with what you have already there? mines seem so under the skin, but I see them but they don’t seem like something you can get rid off, I have them years.

    I clean my face regularly, drink enough water so It has nothing to do with my beauty habist

    • Karen says:

      Hi Icequeen,

      I think that there’s drugstore products out there with similar ingredients for less; it’s a matter of trial and error. I’ve found what works for me is a mix of benzoyl peroxide, BHA and lactic acid. Of course what your skin will like might be totally different, but if you look at the ingredient lists when you go to the drugstore, you can find items with these things. If I find more affordable items I will definitely let you know!

      • Icequeen81 says:

        Thank you very much, much appreciated,I will look at both ingridients

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Icequeen and Karen, I know products that can be found at drugstore value and some of these I use for my own skincare cocktail.

        My approach to skincare is very no-nonsense bc I have very sensitive skin prone to redness, acne, flakiness, oiliness, and eczema. I avoid irritating ingredients unless it’s an active ingredient in a treatment (for example, AHA, BHA, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol are all potentially irritating even though they can help treat acne). All my skincare is free of fragrance, essential oils, menthol, SD alcohol, any eczema-causing or potentially irritating ingredients, most oils, or comedogenic ingredients. I also look for soothing ingredients like allantoin, green tea, aloe vera, oatmeal, sea buckthorn, etc. So without further ado, some products that fit the bill:

        Dermatopix Benzaderm Gel 5 ($10): This is a 5% benzoyl peroxide gel. I’ve never tried it myself but I really trust this pharmaceutical. Topix is my go-to when nothing else is working. Available at Dermstore.com

        Dr. Bailey Skincare Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cream 5% ($8): I use this 5% benzoyl peroxide cream and there’s little to no scent that I can detect. Dr. Bailey herself is a dermatologist who also has a skincare blog online that I highly recommend checking out. Available at drbaileyskincare.com

        Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant ($20 for 3.3oz): At price per ounce, this is in line with drugstore value. Instead of Karen’s preferred lactic acid, this one uses glycolic acid which I think is a bit stronger–this can be a good or bad thing depending on your skin type. Paula’s Choice has several AHA products in different percentages so check those out. Paula’s Choice also has many acne-fighting products so check out her stuff if it feels like you’ve tried everything but nothing is working. Acne users might like this gel bc it is weightless, not sticky, oil-free, silicone-free, and fragrance-free. Available at paulaschoice.com

        Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant ($20 for 3.3 oz): This is not like Karen’s BHA product of choice (the Neutrogena cleanser) bc it takes the form of a gel that is applied topically after cleansing. Cleansers with acne treatment in them just don’t seem to work well on me so I just apply BHA topically. This particular product I love bc it also calms any redness and inflammation instantly–which is important for treating acne.

        Cerave PM ($11): This is a light moisturizer that is super gentle and chock-full of niacinamide–which can help fade acne scars and dark spots over time (many spot treatments use niacinamide as an active ingredient). There is also a Cerave AM lotion that has spf which also works well, but the texture of the Cerave AM is not nearly as light as the PM version. Available at drugstore.com and many other drugstores.

        Sunscreen of your choice in SPF 30: Be careful with your choice–I know the helioplex in Neutrogena can cause acne in some people. I have tried Cerave AM or Eucerin Daily Protection SPF30 which I like for a simple spf moisturizer. Recently though, I splurged on Elta MD UV Physical SPF 41 bc it’s formulated for extra sensitive skin and I don’t want a chance of acne scars darkening. It’s not too water-resistant but the weather here is always mild (comparable to SF’s weather actually).

        Clay Mask: Can help with the oiliness by soaking it all up. Paula’s Choice, DHC and Kiehl’s all make good and gentle one’s.

        Makeup Remover: Getting off ALL traces of makeup and sunscreen can be difficult and most cleansers don’t unless you cleanse twice. I haven’t found my HG routine for cleansing yet but I thought I’d comment on the importance of this–that however you cleanse, make sure you get everything off. Some people like to use their toner to see if they got everything off. Right now, I’m using a mix of Milani Eye Makeup Remover, DHC Cleansing Milk, Cerave Hydrating Cleanser and a Paula’s Choice cleanser.

        As far as lifestyle, I do try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables everyday along with a well-balanced diet. Dairy, except for that occasional craving of ice cream or yogurt, doesn’t play a large role in my diet. I do not cut refined sugar from diet–frankly, I quite like it in my cooking. BUT I don’t reach for sugary drinks like soda or punch. I drink mostly water, use honey in my daily tea or coffee and I sometimes reach for orange juice. I also don’t eat sweets everyday–but when I do, I reach for the BEST quality to satisfy the craving as soon as I get it–I don’t ever let cravings fester and get out of control. I’m actually quite lucky that I don’t really have a strong sweet tooth–I actually dislike my sweets to be too sweet. My major dietary vices are salty foods and starchy refined carbs. I also try to limit my intake of any prepackaged/manufactured foods.

  9. Deepa N says:

    All I read was the Bribery part. LOLOLOLOLOL . I am 25 and my clear pristine skin now resembles a volcanic eruption. I mean, I get my acne along my jawline. And since I am a deep tan tone, the scars and hyper-pigmentation quickly forms. Am at my wits end, so I will follow your tips to see if they work. But like you, Salicylic acid does not work for me In fact it gives me more acne!!! BP all the way I say.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deepa,

      Ha! To be honest I kinda enjoy the bribery part. :)

      If salicylic acid doesn’t work for you, you might want to look into ferulic or lactic acid. I use both and have had good results.

  10. AineBeauty says:

    I’ve developed chin skin issues. I’m gradually winning the war, but like you I’ve been wading through all sorts. I’ve cut diary mostly, the odd bit of melted cheese and switched to soya milk & soya yoghurt. I need to break the habit of touching my face or leaning on my chin while I’m at work. Getting there though, thanks for the info!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ainebeauty,

      Sure. I’m glad to hear that things with your skin are getting better for you. Have you ever tried almond milk yogurt? It’s pretty good!

  11. Aaah I am glad you added the part about not touching your face! I keep trying to get my boyfriend to understand the important of keeping dirty fingers of your face for the sake of keeping it clear, but he just think I am being OCD :-)
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Make-up look | an edgy Milla Jovovich look for Elegant Rebel Beauty

  12. Liyana Ismail says:

    It’s really hard for me to not squeeze out my zits! But we all know how bad it is. I’m taking more fruits and necessary vitamins every day, not to forget drinking a lot of water too. And now I can actually see differences on my skin. I break out less than before. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liyana,

      It is really hard, but if you take it day by day, and maybe reward yourself along the way for keeping your hands off, it gets easier. :)

  13. Thanks for sharing this Karen!

    I have troublesome skin too and every now and then I get a patch of stubborn zits. Products that have worked well for me are Vichy Normaderm range (esp. the night cream – works great for post acne marks also), The Body Shop Tea Tree range and more recently, Clarins Lotus Treatment Facial Oil. Benzoyl Peroxide makes my skin dry and flaky so after a couple of bad experiences, I steer clear of BP lotions.

    Diet makes a huge difference! I tend to neglect my protein and fibre intake sometimes and it shows on my skin immediately! And water of course!
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … Sneak Peek : Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner ~ Black Ink

  14. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for posting this Karen! The same thing happened to me when I turned 39… huge, painful chin acne, out of the blue. I also tried many products and topical treatments, but to no avail. I finally decided to tackle the problem from the inside and what worked for me is cutting out all wheat/gluten (even though I don’t have Celiac disease), taking Probiotics and a “greens” powder, either with water or in a smoothie, every single day. I have really cut down on my dairy/sugar intake as well. When I cheat or stray away from my regime, I get huge, painful boil-like eruptions all over my entire face now, not just on my chin :(

    From speaking with a nutritionist, the probiotics and greens really help to keep your intestines clean and assist in flushing out all of the accumulated toxins… resulting in clearer skin. I have struggled with acne my whole life (minus the chin area) and finally have clear skin at age 40 as long as I follow my routine very strictly!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for the info on the probiotics and the greens powder. What’s the name of the powder, btw? It sounds like something I would like.

  15. Ivy says:

    Thanks for sharing this!
    My skin used to be AMAZING back in high school (3 years ago), but months back, I suddenly got little bumps and a few huge zits on my forehead. I only get breakouts once a month, and my combination skin turned into oily skin. -sigh- However, when I started drinking lots of water, there was a major difference on my face!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ivy,

      Sure. I feel your pain. It’s kind of cruel how the pimples just sneak up on you, isn’t it? What products are you currently using now to help with your skin?

  16. Charisma says:

    My chin is the most problematic part of my face too. I’m allergic to Almonds Karen, what about Soy as a substitute? I can’t not have sugar on my coffee.
    Charisma recently posted … Sugarpill Mochi, Buttercup and Afterparty Reviews and Swatches

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charisma,

      As long as it isn’t dairy. That seems to be the trick, so soy will prolly be fine. I drink soy milk on occasion but prefer almond milk as soy has this aftertaste that I’m not too crazy about.

      What products are you using now?

  17. Alison M says:

    I had a similar problem with cystic acne…my son was born and BOOM. Constant cystic acne between my brows. So not cute and SOOO painful! Someone recommended I look into Retinoids, so I did. And they are Vitamin A, so I thought, okay…let’s eat some Vitamin A. Bingo. Acne gone! I was taking good care of my skin, cleaning my brushes regularly, drinking 3/4 gallon of water a day, but still getting it. Now I only have one cystic spot, one week a month (ahem, hormones). Unless of course I load up on carrots and sweet potatoes that week. Then I’m acne free :)
    Alison M recently posted … Stila Convertible Color in Sweet Pea Review and Swatch

    • Karen says:

      Hi Allison,

      That’s really interesting! I tried retinoids and didn’t have any luck, but I’ll try eating more retinoid-rich foods. I :)

      Are you using any skin care products right now that you love?

  18. RM says:

    i’ve been using a ferulic acid serum to fade hyperpigmentation. you might want to look into timeless skin care as a much lower cost alternative to skinceuticals.

  19. Kristen says:

    I have ALWAYS had the clearest skin. I had to have a hysterectomy in December due to uteran cancer. Ever since- My SKIN WONT STOP! I am sitting here with a quarter size doozie that is deeeeep and SO painful! Thanks so much- its encouraging that there are things can can help.

  20. Karen loved this post

    I’m also using skinceauticals and love, I am 15 and serum phoretin cf,

    use it every day and my skin is much better

    Now I want the Ce Ferulic, which you used, and Neutrogena.

    The diet is also important, you know Silicon? I am taking for manipulating skin, say it is good for preventing wrinkles.

    A great big kiss

  21. Kelly says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I too am struggling with bad acne on my chin, but it’s even worse on my forehead! I recently started layering lots of products but I’ll admit, I have trouble sticking to the routine. I suspect though, that a lot of it is my diet and I think that if you have stomach/digestion issues, acne is worse on your chin & forehead. Thank you for the tips-and a little motivation!(:
    Kelly recently posted … I tried nail stickers…and I liked it!

  22. Katherine M says:

    Great post! I used to battle with zits on my chin and forehead regularly, and they’d be bloody painful ones, too. I have found that keeping to a regular skin routine and a regular diet/exercise routine have majorly improved my skin. Any day I stray from at least the skin routine I get a zit. Yoga has also helped, because I am of the belief that continuous stress and being in “fight or flight” mode all the time can cause not just skin breakdown but other issues, as well. I am a big promoter of retinol because it has gotten rid of my most cystic zits and it really helps with cell turnover and collagen production, so it helps prevent zits, too.

    My skin essentials are these:
    ~RoC retinol (it is a gold pump bottle, on the small side, and the retinol is a gold cream. One pump, or pea-sized amount is enough for your whole face).
    ~Clean and Clear Morning Refresh Face Scrub (it is orange in color).
    ~Cetaphil for taking off foundation/makeup and just as a gentle cleanser.
    ~Benzoyl Peroxide 10% any brand – will dry out zits and work on them in a few days to a week, depending on size/type of zit.
    ~Nighttime serums/creams: Garnier Overnight Vitamin C Peel, Garnier Vitamin C serum Dark Spot corrector, Mary Kay Time-Released night serum, and Neutrogena Deep Wrinkle repair retinol cream.

  23. Olivia says:

    Great tips! I need to work on the diet portion. My skin always freaks out lately because I have a hormone problem, hence constant jawline breakouts. My chin is currently under attack. Just got a Mario Badescu face wash but I’m going to try to find PanOxyl face wash, which is 10% Benzoyl Peroxide, which is what I used to be prescribed with. Also using tea tree oil. My fave is Proactiv refining mask as a spot mask for overnight- it works wonders.
    Olivia recently posted … OCC Androgyne Stained Gloss Lip Tar Review & Swatches | Tangerine Tuesday

  24. sharon says:

    I get that very same hormonal acne on my chin!! I hate it! One just clears up and another one comes in to take it’s place! My dermatologist wrote me a prescription for spironolactone 50mg. I take 1 everyday and I don’t get them anymore. At all! None! I swear it’s a miracle pill…I don’t know how it works, but it works.

    Now I’m using Murad Rapid Pigment Lightening Serum and it’s working to fade those discolored spots on my chin from all the acne that had once made its home there…

  25. Angel says:

    La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (US version) is hands down, my all time lifesaver, truly HG. I could write a book and bore you to tears with my acne battle. I was two seconds away from starting Acutane when I read about this in Allure. Benzoyl Peroxide never worked for me, even prescription strength. It always dried my skin out really bad. But I gave this a shot figuring I had nothing left to lose. I’m not being dramatic when I say this was a life changing product for me. I’ve been using it for two years. I buy back-ups, I cannot be without it. I had NEVER left the house without foundation because I was so self conscious about my skin. Now, I regularly go out without a lick of foundation. Anyone struggling, please give it a try. It’s pricey at $36 but my tube can easily last me 6 months, used daily. We’re all different skin wise, but I hope this can help some of you.

  26. Jenna N. says:

    The best things I’ve found are acne.org’s 2.5% BP lotion and Nexcare acne cover. The Nexcare acne covers you can buy on Amazon and they are amazing!!!! I often get hormonal acne that’ll develop a whitehead. These covers (really like a band-aid for your pimple) make it disappear stat AND prevent it from coming back. In no time (the next day, or sooner even) the pimple is a TOTALLY FLAT surface with perhaps just a little bit a redness left. They’re also great if you have trouble keeping your hands from picking at your acne.

  27. Jen Mathews says:

    I have the same problem! I will try some of those products for sure. Jan Marini 10% Benzoyl Peroxide has been helping a lot. It must be buffered, because it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin at all.

  28. Chelsea says:

    Hey! New to your blog. Came across it while looking for reviews on LUSH. I have many of the same acne problems, and it was getting depressing. I love green smoothies and then researched that even those could cause breakouts! Obnoxious. Anyway, we got a LUSH store and I hadn’t been there since I was a teen. I treated myself to the Marina sushi roll cleanser, rosewater spray, and Ultrabland. I committed and faithfully used with my regular BareMinerals makeup routine. I was shocked at the improvement. I am sad that there are some less than wonderful ingredients, but I am putting those concerns on the back burner while I enjoy some clear skin for a bit. Sorry! Long post!

  29. Ayame says:

    How on earth do you stop trying to pop them? God my hands never listen to me

  30. Katrina says:

    Just wanted to say thank you! I’ve been using your regime for a couple of months and my acne is gone!! I think Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is the key. I stopped using it for a week and my acne came back! I tried antibiotics, proactiv, acne.org, and numerous others and nothing worked. Your regime is expensive but works so its worth it! Thank again for writing this!!! saved my life!

  31. Katrina says:

    Wanted to added that Skinceuticals bottle lasts about 1 1/2 to 2 months, so really not expensive. I get it for around $125 online. I tried their blemish/acne but it wasn’t as good as CE Ferulic

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