What is Hormonal Acne and 4 Ways to Combat Hormonal Acne in Singapore.

Published on Sep 20, 2019

Isn't clear skin one of the perks of adulthood? Why do we still suffer from acne outbreaks right before that sexy date or important interview for our new job? Welcome to the world of Hormonal Acne! :(

What is Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne isn't like your typical pimple. Most commonly seen in adult women aged 20-40, hormonal acne is closely linked to three hormones: estrogen, progesterone and cortisol. Imbalances in these cause overproduction of oil in the pores, making acne outbreaks much more likely

How Do You Know You Have Hormonal Acne?

1. Your pimples appear around your jawline and chin

During puberty, hormonal acne occur on the T-zone, which includes your nose, chin, and forehead. In adults, hormonal acne tends to occur around the jawline and chin. This is because many of the oil glands around the face are located around those areas. Pimples are therefore most likely to appear there when imbalances in the hormones result in overproduction of oil glands in the face.

2. You still have pimples in your 20s-40s

Women are most hormonally active in their 20-40 so the intense hormonal fluctuations during that time can trigger hormonal acne. It doesn't mean you won't have hormonal acne if you are younger or older though. This is just a gauge of the most likely time you'll face hormonal acne.

3. Your acne breakouts happen close to your period

As hormones tend to fluctuate closer to your period, you may experience hormonal acne more right before your period as well. In fact, the acne tends to clear up a few days after the menstrual cycle begins. 

4. The pimples tend not to have heads

Hormonal acne tends to appear in the form of cysts rather than whiteheads or blackheads. They also tend to pop up in the same place over and over again, becoming harder to treat over time. 

5. You are facing extreme stress

Other than the usual progesterone and estrogen, cortisol (due to stress) can also cause your hormones to be out of balance. 

4 Ways to Get Rid of Hormonal Acne

1. Take birth control pills

The major cause of hormonal acne is hormones. A viable option is therefore to take oral contraceptives that can help to rectify the hormonal imbalances. This includes contraceptives containing ethinylestradiol along with drospirenone, norethindrone or norgestimate. Do, however, note that there are side effects to taking contraceptives over the long term. If the underlying cause is not treated, you'll also find your face breaking out again once you stop the birth control pills.

2. Use retinoids

Retinoids are topical gels you can apply on the skin to accelerate the removal of dead skin. This prevents the dead skin cells from binding together and clogging pores. As ideal as it sounds, retinoid gel tends to dry out the skin and is not suitable for those with sensitive skin or rosacea as it may actually trigger even more breakouts. You'll also have to wear sunscreen daily as it makes your skin thinner and more prone to sunburn. Pregnant women should also avoid this product. 

3. Taking anti-androgen drugs

Natural levels of androgen are present in both women and men. Excessive androgen may cause acne by increasing the production of sebum. 

Anti-androgen drugs reduce the amount of male hormones that may cause hormonal acne. They work by blocking androgen receptors to decrease the effects of testosterone in the body. This has shown to reduce cystic acne and decrease overall oil production in the skin. 

4. Thorough extraction by a trained facial professional

Pimples develop because an existing clogged pore is subjected to excessive oil production from oil glands. If you go for regular facials that help remove whiteheads or blackheads, you are less likely to be subjected to a serious acne outbreak even with hormonal imbalances. 

That's how Agent HW cleared her pimple outbreak after going to Winnie from The Bund Beauty 6 years ago. 

And she's not the only one. 

Lawyer GW read about The Bund Beauty on Beauty Undercover and took the leap of faith to give Winnie a try. She too recovered from hormonal acne after just a few sessions at The Bund Beauty

Read on to find out about her experience. 

Lawyer GW Combats Hormonal Acne

Hi! I'm Agent GW, an inhouse corporate lawyer who enjoys golfing on weekends and the occasional jog on weekdays. I have never dealt with teenage acne but when I hit my 30s, things started to take a turn for the worse. I'm not sure if it was because of the frequent sun exposure or the intense sweating that came with the weekend golf trips and my daily cycle to work, but pimples started appearing! At its worst, I had over 30 large and angry pimples on my face. When I looked into the mirror and compared how my skin looked when I was in my 20s, I felt nothing but despair. Was age getting the better of me?

As an educated Singaporean woman, my first option was,of course, to go to the more "scientific" dermatologist. I can tell you that I've gone to dermatogist after dermatologist and all of them recommended the same thing: 1. Antibiotics 2. Retinoids (harsh drying creams) 

Yes, I've been down that road and it is certainly not one I would recommend many to go. The antibiotics wreaked havoc on my digestive system as it also destroyed the good bacteria in my gut. My face improved while on medication but once I stopped, all hell would break loose. Again.

After the umpteenth try, I decided that enough was enough. It was time to try something else. That's when I turned to Beauty Undercover. I had read the Best Facial Salons in Singapore and came across The Bund Beauty. They piqued my interest not just because they're located close to where I live, but also because they're one of the few facial salons that seem to be really effective in treating acne. 

I didn't know how it would turn out reading about them gave me hope. Could the famed Winnie really treat my face? 

There was only one way to find out. I gave The Bund Beauty a call and was very fortunate to get a last-minute appointment on a Saturday (someone cancelled). Nestled within Bishan Park, the salon is beautiful but that's not why I went there. Winnie and her team gave me a warm welcome upon arrival and embarked on the facial. There was no hardselling, no insulting remarks or accusations that I had not been taking care of my skin, just a very thorough but relatively painless extraction and advice about what my skin was like and what I could do to improve the skin. The staff and customers also spoke very softly and were very considerate towards those who had been lulled to sleep by the soothing therapy. I was one of them, I must confess. This was very unlike my previous experiences at big facial chains where beauticians and customers spoke so loudly that it was impossible even to get a quick rest.

Most importantly though, I could tell that Winnie and her team were really skillful. Right after the first facial which took about 3 hours or so, my face looked a lot clearer. And true enough, my face remained relatively clear! This got me booking my 2nd and my 3rd appointments with Winnie. 

Here's how my face progressed.

This top-down view doesn't do justice to Winnie's work as she got rid of a lot of acne near the chin area as well.

My side view showed even more improvements. 

I don't know about you but I'm just really happy that my hormonal acne is now under control. I didn't alter my lifestyle. But just 3 times after going to The Bund and religiously putting on the serums and creams that Winnie recommended, I am literally in the clear. Now, I no longer have to entertain friends or beauticians asking questions like "What happened to your face?" or "Why so many pimples?". Instead, friends are asking ME what my secret to more radiant skin is! Can you imagine the transformation?

That's why the first place I went after taking some summer school classes at the London School of Economics in the UK was ... yes you guessed it, The Bund.

Keen to see how my usual facial is like? Read on.

Lawyer GW's Experience at The Bund

Located within Aramsa Spa in Bishan Park, it is always a pleasure to go to The Bund. The place is surrounded by greenery and the rooms within are so cozy.

After arriving, I changed into their gown and one of the cute comfortable slippers they provided to prepare for the facial.

Step 1: Cleansing

The facial started with a good cleanse to get rid of the oil and dirt that was left on my skin. This step is usually undertaken by Winnie's assistants Shireena or Kim.

Instead of a regular cream or foaming cleanser, Shireena used a cool bubbling cleanser.

She gently massaged it into my face with delicate movements. I love the cleanser they use as it always makes my skin feel extra soft, not tight and dry like how the usual products often do.

A soft sponge was then used to remove the face wash.

I love that they used a sponge instead of a washcloth because it felt gentler and water didn't get onto my hair or body.

Step 2: Treatment

All clean, I was ready for the facial. 

Cotton pads were placed over my eyes to shield them from the light so I could relax.

Shireena then carefully measured the right amount of Active Repair Essence to be applied. The essence contains papaya enzyme and other active ingredients that soften the skin and have an exfoliation effect that smoothens and repairs skin texture.

Using a soft brush, she applied the Active Essence all over my face.

The Active Essence is slightly astringent so I could feel the treatment stinging my rather dry skin especially during my first visit. To reduce the sting, Shireena fanned my face to cool it down a little.

I was glad to notice, however, that the sting became less and less with each visit, a sign that my face was getting stronger accroding to Winnie.

After leaving the essence on for a few minutes, Shireena wiped it off with the cotton pads.

Next, she used soft sponges to wipe away the any residue from my skin.

Step 3: Shoulder massage

Shireena then embarked on one of the most enjoyable parts of the facial - the shoulder massage.

It was a little strange to have shoulder massage at this step since it was usually done last. However, Winnie explained that this actually helped to relax the body and the mind, making the extraction process more enjoyable and painless.

She started the massage from my collarbones, then moved to my neck and shoulders. Heavenly.

I love how the massage didn't just feel good, there was a rhythmic movement to it that echoed my heartbeat, a reason why I felt so sleepy.  

Step 4: Extraction

With my mind properly relxed, Winnie returned the highlight of the facial: extraction. 

She first applied some facial oil on the skin to moisturise it before beginning. Then she worked through my trouble spots, sometimes using just her fingers and a tissue, sometimes with other tools when the blockage was more severe.

While it wasn't completely painless, I can assure you that the extraction here is mild compared to those in other facial salons. That's coming from someone with low pain tolerance. If you ask me, on a scale of 1 to 10, the pain level was only a 2 or 3.

Winnie doesn't extract pimples that are not ready and the layer of oil that was applied in the first step helped the cotton swabs to glide over and not cause any skin breakage.

Step 5: Electroporation to disinfect the skin

The downsides of extraction is that it breaks the skin and exposes it to bacteria. Hence, the next step that Shireena did for me was disinfection.

She used an electroporation machine to go over the face to kill any remaining bacteria that might be on the skin. 

It felt alright in most places but stung a little when it went over sensitive areas.

Step 6: Serum

Next came my favourite step: Serum. It is favourite because it means the extraction is over!

And because Shireena gives me darn good facial massage at this step,

I couldn't help but fall asleep after a while!

I feel pampered whenever I come here because of the many massages they give.

Step 7: Mask

Next, it was time for the mask. She started by applying a clay mask for a deep cleanse.

Next, my eyes were covered with cotton pads as she spread a thick layer of rubber hardening mask to nourish my skin.

It might look scary or suffocating, but it was surprisingly cooling.

It also helped that I got treated to a nice head massage while waiting for the mask to harden.

After about 20 minutes, the mask was lifted from my face in one piece - super satisfying!

She then used the sponge to wipe off any residual product from my face.

To end off the facial, some serum was applied.

And that was it!

I left with feedback from Winnie about how my skin had progressed and what they might want to do the next time to continue the progress.

No hardselling or any pressure to sign up for packages - yet another reason why Winnie has made a fan out of me. 

Keen to give The Bund Beauty a try? 

Read more about The Bund Beauty here.

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