How To Clear Up Hormonal Acne + My Journey

Hey babes!  Today I’m finally sharing my acne story.  And it’s a long one — I apologize in advance.  I’m going to be as concise as possible but for those dealing with acne, I think a few details and timelines of things might be helpful to read.  And BTW, if you’re new here, I’m Abby!  Most people know me from my hair tutorials on YouTube and then my blog gets a little bit of every day life including recipes, family travels, outfit inspo and all my favorite things.   Alright alright, ya ready?

I have never in my life had amazing skin, but it’s always been fine.  A few zits here and there, nothing really to complain about.  Every time I’d get pregnant, though, my skin would go berserk.  It’d get better when I’d start nursing and then it’d go crazy again after I’d stop.  It always worked itself out on it’s own until I had my twins boys.  My acne with the twins was insufferable!  I’d never felt so insecure in my entire life.  I was over weight because, well, I’d just delivered twins.  My skin had never been worse and my hair was falling out in the usual round of postpartum hair loss.  I was a mess.  And can I just say — there is nothing that tanks your self esteem like acne.  I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want to blog or make videos, I didn’t want friends to come over.  I just wanted to feel sorry for myself and sleep it off.  Which obviously didn’t work.  It took me a long time to realize that I was more than my acne and I started talking about it and sharing my struggles with it on social media.  Nothing like owning your insecurities and becoming better than them right?!  Because you are.  Also the amazing amount of support I received from you guys helped a ton too!

Anyway, I went to the dermatologist determined to get on Accutane.  I was put on Accutane in college for a few months and got married before I finished the cycle.  I knew was I was getting myself into and I was totally prepared.  Instead, the dermatologist prescribed me Spironolactone and Minocycline.  He said that I had adult hormonal acne and that Accutaune wouldn’t work in the long run.  That it’d clear up for a year or so and then come right back.  I wasn’t sure I believed him because I’ve seen it work on plenty of adults but told him I’d do it his way as long as he could FIX MY FREAKING FACE!!!!  That next day I began my journey taking Spiranolactone and Minocycline.  Are you following so far?!  It’s about to get juicy. 

Spiranolactone is commonly used to treat high blood pressure.  It also helps with hormonal acne because it blocks androgen and delivers just the teensiest bit of progestin.  My doc started me out at 50mg (saw zero results) and we worked our way up to 100mg.  It made me gain five pound, I was spotting all the time and having two periods a month!!  At the same I was taking Minocycline which is a common antibiotic used for acne.  I can’t remember the dosage.  Exactly four months later my skin started clearing up and it looked amazing.  Other than the spiro side effects, I was really happy and started enjoying that clear skin again.

Eventually the spotting from the Spiro just became super annoying and I slowly weaned myself off of it.  My skin was doing great just on the Minocycline and I continued to take it every night for an entire year… (that should make you nervous) while doing skin care regimen.

Then one day, I got a yeast infection.  Now this is a safe space.  And we’re all women, we can talk about things like periods and yeast infections right?!  Hahaha!  I didn’t really think anything of it until a couple weeks later when I got another one… why?  I’d never had one before… what was causing them?  It finally dawned on me that it was the Minocycline!  And my body had finally had enough.  Like, ENOUGH.  I knew I had to go off the antibiotic but I was SCARED TO DEATH to have my acne come back.  One of my dearest friends, my neighbor and hippie health guru, Jenna (from @JennasKitchen) talked me into quitting the antibiotics cold turkey and just start healing my gut.  Whatever that meant.  She ordered me the Vitality Pack, the PB Assist and Terrazyme from Doterra.  You can order through this form if you’re interested, it’s pricey but you’ll know immediately you’ve struck gold with them.  Told me to take them like my life depended on it and to just trust her.  That was back in October and that’s when my acne came back with a VENGANCE!  The capitols are very important here haha!

My skin blew up.  I got these small bumps all over my skin, they’re actually really hard to see in pictures but the texture was awful.  I’d never experienced anything like it before.  On top of that I had cystic acne that was so inflamed and sore.  It was so hard to cover up and I was miserable!  This was last year when I was traveling a whole bunch, I shot a few commercials in New York and LA and had some pretty amazing shoots that I was so self conscious for.  I had to keep reminding myself that I was better than my acne!  But it was hard.  Acne is awful. 

This was my first big breakout and I started noticing all the bumps on my cheeks.  Keep scrolling and you’ll see them better.

With and without make up here just proving that I was able to cover up the red but that the texture was becoming a nightmare.  Which leads me to this…

It just kept getting worse and worse…

I have plenty of pictures like this but I think one will suffice.  If your face looks like that picture above hit me up because I’ve got THE BEST foundation for you to use! Luckily the acne was located mostly on my cheeks so in the right lighting and in the right angles it didn’t look so bad but I was self-conscious ALL.  THE.  TIME.

I finally got a consultation from Lisa @theskinboss to help me figure out what was going on and maybe get on a more tailored skincare regimen.  She is amazing and one of the main reasons I was able to get my acne under control.  She slowly swapped out my products, one at a time, and has me on an awesome regimen that is helping my skin so much!  While she lives near me, she offers consultations to people all over the world.  She’s a genius at ingredients and products and if you’re struggling with acne I’d reach out to her in a heart beat (skinboss02 {@} to see what she can do for you!  I also started meeting with her twice a month and she’d work on extractions and then do a light chemical peel to finish off the appointment.  It was always a different chemical peel depending on what my skin needed but they never made me peel or made my skin feel dry and flakey.  After a few months of that we started just meeting once a month.  

At the same time I got a consult from Lisa (in October) I also went to a new Dermatologist who recommended I started Spironolactone again.  Begrudgingly I decided to give in one more shot.  This time my doctor prescribed me birth control to help with any spotting and you guys — IT WORKED!!!  My experience with it the second time around was completely different.  Over an eighth month time frame I worked my way from 50mg a day to 100mg… to 150mg and finally to 200mg a day which is what I take now.  I have zero side effects.  Zero. 

Between taking all the DoTerra vitamins to heal my gut, the Spironolactone and birth control, and monthly facial from Lisa, my skin started healing.  It’s NEVER been this clear for this long, I’ve literally not had one zit in months.  That’s a BIG DEAL!  Even when my skin was average I’d break out before or after my period.  I don’t anymore!  I wake up in the morning expecting to see this sore face, but there’s nothing.  And every morning I’m so surprised and grateful that the pain and worry and self doubt that acne brings is totally gone.  It’s been an expensive road that’s for sure haha but I would have paid 10x what I’ve spent to have what I have now. 

If you start Spiro, be patient with it.  It takes 3-4 months to see ANY results.  I started it right away in October after going off the Mino and it took until Jan to work at all.  And then every time we’d bump up the dosage it would take a couple more months to work.  But be patient with it.  This whole thing is a process!  A hard one to go through for sure but there is light at the end of the tunnel!

None of these photos (except the obvious ones with me in a hat) have been retouched or edited at all.  Straight from my iphone.

Makeup vs No Makeup

To clean up the scarring and texture of my skin I’ve done a couple things.  I’ve done IPL and StarLux Laser treatments.  I HIGHLY recommend the StarLux Laser.  Because these treatments didn’t help with my acne, I’m going to gloss over them but let me know if you’d like another blog post on how I got rid of my acne scars!

I want to eventually hire a hormone specialist to figure out the root cause of everything but I was quoted $6,000 at the last one and just can’t afford that right now.  I’ve done a lot of research on the long term side effects of Spironolactone and I personally feel confident in using it for as long as I need but the overall goal is to ween myself down to the lowest dose I can get away with and then hopefully over time get off of it altogether. It blocks the effect of aldosterone and testosterone, it’s not like an antibiotic that is slowly eating away the lining of my stomach!  I’m not a doctor though and everyone feels differently about what they put inside their body.  I’m not here to talk you into doing any of these things, but just provide information on what’s been working for me so that you can do your own research and ask your own questions!

Over the past couple years my family has experienced some autoimmune disorders and my sister and husband just went on a very intense gluten cleanse.  I’m learning so much about gut health and starting to care a little more about what I’m putting in my body.  A few months ago I completed the Nancy Anderson 30 Day Slimdown and I just felt better off gluten.  Also why we tried Keto!  I’ve heard gluten and dairy play a role in acne but neither affect my skin.  I’ve been OBSESSED with the vitamins from DoTerra.  Not only are they helping my body, nails and skin, but my hair is growing in like CRAZY!  The timeline of all the new regrowth I have makes so much sense with when I started taking the vitamins.  I can without a doubt say that they’re the cause of all the new regrowth.  Another reason why putting good vitamins into your body makes all the difference!

And I think that’s the end of my story!  So in a nutshell — 200 mg of Spironolactone, birth control and supplements.  Extractions from an aesthetician, a revamp of my skin care regimen and a monthly chemical peel to get my skin turning over faster.  I know that sounds like a lot of things but when you have acne, you’ll do basically whatever it takes to get rid of it!

Next week I’ll share my skin care regimen and the products Lisa has me using.  Have you ever had acne?  I would love to hear your story or any advise you have.  Products that worked, things that helped soothe your sore face, ANYTHING!  Have you ever been put on meds for it?  What worked for you?  Hopefully between all of us we can get some relief to those of you who are in the thick of it.  Just know, you’re more than your acne.  You’re just as beautiful with it and don’t you dare for one second let it hold you back.

Abby Smith

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11 thoughts on “How To Clear Up Hormonal Acne + My Journey

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! For me, absolutely nothing OTC or topical worked at all. I finally tried Minocycline six months before my wedding to clear up consistent cystic acne, particularly around my chin and lower cheeks. It made me so nauseous that I couldn’t eat for weeks before I finally gave it up. Cue acne back again, with a vengeance.

    The next year, my dermatologist had me start Accutane. Best decision of my life. I’ve been off it for eight months and haven’t had one. single. zit since. It was an absolute lifesaver.

  2. I totally get this 100%!!! I struggled with cystic acne for most of my adult life. I worked in dermatology for 7 years, and I had access to ALL of the “best” products available. I tried prescription creams, antibiotics, steroid injections, lasers, chemical peels, skincare that cost $$$$ for a 30 day supply and even considered taking Accutane at one point too. I too was taking a prescription testosterone blocker (spironolactone) that helped, but I had to take 8 pills a day to see results and it still wasn’t consistently reliable. On top of not wanting to take so pills long term. I have found a regimen to use at home and has kept me cystic acne clear for almost 2 YEARS!! Of course, with hormonal acne, I will still get an occasional breakout, but it’s really minor and I can actually cover it up when I need to. I’m glad you’ve found what works for you, it is LIFE CHANGING to not deal with acne!!There is nothing better than feeling confident in my own skin again and not having to worry about whether or not I’m going to wake up to a massive cyst is priceless.

  3. Thx for sharing! I completely can relate and know how hard it is on self esteem. There r days I just want to hide.

  4. Hi I sell doTERRA and if you sign up as a wholesale customer (one time payment of $35) you can get the lifelong vitality pack for $79.50! As opposed to retail for $106 that’s a great deal! Find me on Facebook and message me about it!

  5. I can’t wait to see what products you use. As a teenager I had perfect skin and then ever since college I’ve had the worst skin. And it’s SUPER dry so products sometimes just make my skin even worse! I need all the tips!!

    1. I really don’t know if this is how to respond to you, but you mentioned you could use ALL the tips!! I was reading the blog post and shared my struggle with cystic acne too. If you’d like to talk more, I have lots of insight!

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