Hormonal acne can happen at any age. Here’s how to deal

Dealing with yet annoying pimples on my jaw, I’m realizing that hormonal acne is still a thing in my 30s. I thought I left these skin problems behind in my teens, but they persist, along with blackheads and excess oil.

Even with contraceptives, going off birth control triggers skin issues. It’s not a major health problem, but it does make me feel self-conscious, especially in the age of flawless social media images.

So, why does adult acne stick around, and what can we do about it? Let’s explore the reasons and discover actionable solutions in the full blog post.

What is hormonal acne?

Hormonal acne isn’t just for teens; it sticks around due to hormone changes, more common in women. Research from 2008 reveals that 50% of women aged 20–29 and 25% aged 40–49 face acne. Recognizable by breakouts around the cheeks and jawline, along with blackheads, whiteheads, or cysts, hormonal acne also brings oily skin, inflammation, and sensitivity. Understanding these features helps in tackling hormonal acne effectively and finding the right solutions for clearer, healthier skin.

What causes hormonal acne?

Hormonal acne happens when skin oil glands become more sensitive to hormones, particularly during puberty. Natalia Spierings, a consultant dermatologist, explains that androgens cause the enlargement of oil glands and an increase in oil production—this surge commonly occurs during puberty. Hormone sensitivity varies among individuals, and it can change with age.

Lifestyle choices, such as using many skincare products, can worsen the issue by irritating the skin and triggering acne. Understanding these factors helps manage hormonal acne effectively for clearer and healthier skin.

Can you have hormonal skin at any age?

Surprisingly, I’m still dealing with hormonal breakouts in my 30s, and the hope that menopause will bring an end to skin issues is uncertain, according to Spierings. There’s no fixed age when hormonal acne stops; it varies for each woman. Some may continue facing it even after menopause, especially those with oily, acne-prone skin in their 20s and 30s. While not the best news, Spierings assures that there are steps to effectively manage hormonal skin, offering hope for clearer and healthier skin in the long run.

Managing hormonal skin

Bring back your skin care routine

Simplify your skincare routine, especially if you’ve seen influencers promoting lengthy routines on Instagram or TikTok. According to Spierings, less is more. Using too many products can irritate and worsen acne. Even facials may not be beneficial. Stick to the basics: a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Simplifying your routine with these essentials can help manage acne and promote healthier skin.

Try one treatment at a time

The market offers a variety of acne treatments today, with some accessible over the counter. However, caution is advised against trying multiple solutions simultaneously. In addressing hormonal skin concerns, Spierings emphasizes avoiding an overload of treatments.

She recommends starting with a simple option like 2 percent salicylic acid lotion—readily available and non-irritating. Test it for a few weeks to gauge improvement. Other options to consider include Tretinoin Cream, benzoyl peroxide, adapalene (Differin Gel), azelaic acid, and beta-hydroxy acid. Taking it slow helps find the right solution for managing acne effectively.

See a dermatologist

When dealing with overwhelming skin issues, seeking professional help is crucial. According to Spierings, if your skin significantly impacts your quality of life, consulting a dermatologist for a definitive treatment plan is the way to go. If your skin issues are getting overwhelming, it’s time to seek professional help. According to Spierings, if your skin is significantly affecting your life, seeing a dermatologist for a definitive treatment plan is the right step.

There are effective acne treatments available, and you don’t have to navigate them alone. A dermatologist can guide you through the options, helping you find a solution tailored to your needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out for expert assistance in managing your skin concerns and achieving healthier, clearer skin.

Consider hormonal birth control

If other solutions aren’t delivering relief, hormonal birth control could be an option.

Consider the contraceptive pill as part of your acne treatment plan, as advised by your healthcare professional. While there’s no specific brand recommendation, be cautious about the progesterone-only minipill, which might worsen acne.

However, the pill isn’t suitable for everyone and comes with potential side effects. Balancing the desire for clear skin with overall well-being is crucial. Additionally, it may not be universally effective against acne. Seeking advice from a healthcare professional is essential to determining the right approach for you.

Learning to accept hormonal skin

Accepting hormonal skin has been a challenging realization for me, acknowledging that it might always be a part of my life. While I can try to minimize it, dealing with hormonal breakouts might be a constant part of my life.

Navigating and embracing hormonal skin may seem paradoxical, yet it can bring a sense of liberation. Anupa Roper, a body image educator, advises shedding the expectation of perfect skin. The flawless images on social media can evoke feelings of inadequacy, so Roper recommends seeking out accounts that showcase skin similar to yours, celebrating beauty in diversity.

Additionally, Roper suggests directing focus to an aspect of your appearance that brings positivity. Whether it’s your curly hair, freckles, or any feature you love, concentrating on the positive can boost self-acceptance and confidence.


Having hormonal skin issues in your 20s, 30s, and beyond is more common than you might think. The good news is that there are many ways to manage it. Whether you choose treatments or focus on self-acceptance, feeling good about your skin at any age is possible.

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