Finding ways to feel good when you have hormonal acne
Anyone who suffers from hormonal breakouts knows how the story goes.
Every month, without fail, about 1-2 weeks before you’re about to start your next period, you begin to feel a few large bumps brewing beneath the surface of your skin on your chin or along your jawline (sometimes both). With each passing day the bumps get bigger, more tender, and impossible not to touch, which only causes your skin to become aggressively red and inflamed.
Hormonal breakouts have been the bane of my existence for well over a year now.
As frustrating as the on-again off-again nature of hormonal breakouts is, there are parts of the process that you come to…enjoy. I know that may sound ridiculous, but hear me out.
Most of the time, I feel like anyone else who struggles with something that they don’t like about their appearance - embarrassed, frustrated, even a bit depressed. Then there are those moments in between, like when I’m bouncing around the internet on blogs and adult acne forums reading about everyone else’s experiences with hormonal breakouts and I’m immediately comforted.
For starters, I’m comforted because I’m distracted. I may be reading about the very thing that I don’t want to be thinking about, except now I get to focus on other people’s breakouts instead of my own. It’s a small shift, but in these moments, I can actually feel myself becoming a little less anxious about whatever breakout-related worries I have.
I’m also comforted by a reminder that I often need: that I’m not the only person in the world who has to deal with breakouts.
You know what else I enjoy about hormonal breakouts (a sentence I never thought I’d say)? That hopeful feeling I get when I’m researching treatments or products and I stumble on something that I haven’t yet tried. In that moment I can’t know whether or not it will work for me, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m just enjoying how optimistic I feel, which is a nice change of pace from feeling sad or helpless.
Another small perk that comes with having skin woes is the joy of skin care. Until I had hormonal breakouts, I could not have cared less about skincare products and washing my face was a pain in the ass and totally optional. Now, Sephora is my wonderland and skincare routine is a labor of love. Engaging in a little retail therapy is good for the soul; treating myself to face pads, a new serum or supplements always feels good, even during the worst of breakouts.
Caring for my skin has now become something that I enjoy. When I go to wash my face, I’ll turn the lights down low, take my time to gently apply and press a product into my skin, and give each product the time it needs to be absorbed by the skin before I move on to the next one. I try to do things that will soothe my skin and avoid anything that may irritate it. I use room temperature water instead of hot water; I cleanse with my hands instead of a clarisonic; I don’t use a face cloth to dry my skin after cleansing, I simply let the water slowly evaporate or let my skin absorb it. These may sound like small things or simple pleasures, but I can guarantee you this: it is far more enjoyable than aggressively hate scrubbing your face underneath bright fluorescent lights and using a magnifying mirror to pick a fight with every clogged pore you can find.
I’m not about to suggest that doing one or all of these things will cure acne, prevent breakouts from happening, or change your life. But if more and more studies indicate that stress and the severity of acne are highly correlated, then it may be worth while to take a shitty situation and find the things about it that can sometimes be calming or even enjoyable.