The Best Products For Hormonal Acne

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Treating hormonal acne involves targeting the effect of hormones on the skin through the control of androgens and oil production, dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman tells Elite Daily. According to Dr. Hartman, often, hormonal acne requires prescription topical or oral medications, but the best products for hormonal acne, which contain ingredients like retinol, salicylic acid, and sulfur, are a “great adjunct” and provide support to clear up existing breakouts, prevent future flare-ups, and reduce the amount of oil on your skin’s surface.

On top of using effective over-the-counter acne treatments, it’s helpful to pick skin care products that are gentle and balanced so that they won’t further irritate or dry out your skin, as well as products that are free of known pore-clogging ingredients. One way to keep your regimen noncomedogenic is by avoiding most oils, Dr. Hartman says. “Since androgens contribute to oil production and are responsible for hormonal acne, excess oil should be avoided,” he explains. In particular, he says it’s especially important to steer clear of coconut oil, shea butter, and flaxseed oil.

Below are the best over-the-counter treatments for hormonal acne, including cleansers, moisturizers, a best-selling drying lotion, and more. All of these products will work alongside your prescription treatments to keep your skin looking fresh and clear — and they’re all available on Amazon.

1. Best Foaming Face Wash For Hormonal Acne

This refreshing face wash from French pharmacy brand Vichy contains salicylic acid, which Dr. Hartman says is best for handling non-inflammatory acne. Salicylic acid, he explains, “naturally exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells that can lead to blackheads and whiteheads.” Vichy’s oil-free cleanser also contains mineral-rich volcanic water to protect and support your skin barrier, and it foams up into a satisfying lather despite being free of sulfates and soap. This is lightly fragranced, but if you prefer an unscented salicylic acid cleanser, there are plenty of other great options out there, too.

2. Best Creamy Face Wash For Hormonal Acne

PanOxyl’s 4% Acne Wash contains benzoyl peroxide, which the expert says is “one of the most effective OTC treatments for acne” and an ingredient found most commonly found in face washes. “Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic that kills bacteria and prevents bacteria from multiplying. It is mostly used topically to treat and prevent acne, as it is quite effective at killing the p. acnes bacteria found on the skin,” Dr. Hartman explains. “As it reduces acne bacteria found on the skin, there is less opportunity for that bacteria to turn into active acne. It also helps clear out pores and get rid of dead skin cells,” he adds.

This creamy cleanser, which is free of fragrance and oil, also contains hydrating humectants and emollients to help balance out the formula. Though you’ll find higher percentages of benzoyl peroxide cleansers out there, the ingredient is equally effective — and less irritating — at lower percentages, so stick with 5%-and-under BP cleansers for your face unless your dermatologist says otherwise.

3. Best Retinol For Hormonal Acne

Differin Gel contains Adapalene, a retinoid that was formerly only available by prescription, but now can be purchased over the counter. Apply a thin layer over your face once daily — not just on areas that are currently experiencing breakouts — for the best way to prevent future hormonal acne flareups.

“Retinols are vitamin A derivatives that are among the most studied and published ingredients in skin care,” Dr. Hartman explains, adding that they help with everything from preventing acne to evening out discoloration to unclogging pores. “[They] are a mainstay of treatment for all types of acne but do the most for non-inflammatory acne by increasing cell turnover. Topical retinoids are also an important part of combatting inflammatory papules and pustules,” he elaborates.

4. Best Serum For Hormonal Acne

In this lightweight, oil-free serum from Neutrogena, three acids — salicylic, mandelic, and glycolic — team up to exfoliate dead skin and clear up congestion, two things that can help clear up unwanted acne. This fragrance-free serum is particularly helpful if you’re experiencing blackheads, excess oil, or large pores along with hormonal acne (remember that Dr. Hartman says salicylic acid is best for non-inflammatory breakouts), and it’s extremely lightweight and sinks into skin quickly, so it wears well under makeup and sunscreen.

5. Best Moisturizer For Hormonal Acne

Moisturizing your skin, even if it’s oily or acne-prone, is still an essential step for supporting your skin barrier and preventing irritation — two very important things when it comes to treating hormonal breakouts — so look for lightweight moisturizers that still provide essential hydration, like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat. It contains salicylic acid and lipo-hydroxy acid, a salicylic acid derivative, to unclog pores; perlite and silica to absorb oil and reduce shine; soothing thermal spring water; and the skin-conditioning humectant glycerin. All in all, this is a great daily moisturizer for oily, acne-prone skin.

6. Best Spot Treatment For Hormonal Acne

If you feel a pimple coming on, apply a dab of Kate Somerville’s EradiKate Acne Treatment with a clean cotton swab to stop it in its tracks. This spot treatment is made with oil-controlling zinc oxide, salicylic acid, and 10% sulfur. Dr. Hartman says that sulfur has “natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.” He explains, “It clears bacteria from pores that would otherwise lead to acne and helps prevent new bacteria from manifesting on the skin’s surface; it reduces sebum production and helps to dry out [the] surface of the skin leading to less oiliness; and it helps to unclog pores by drying out dead skin cells.” Dip a Q-tip right into the bottle — don’t shake it!

7. Best Face Mask For Hormonal Acne

Made with two forms of clay — kaolin and bentonite — to soak up excess oil, as well as 3% sulfur and willow bark extract (of which salicylic acid is a derivative), this brightening face mask from Bolden is a useful weekly treatment for congested, oily skin that’s experiencing hormonal breakouts. The hard-working sulfur, in addition to clearing out bacteria in your pores, is also effective at softening and exfoliating thick, dead skin, Dr. Hartman says, so this mask can be helpful for smoothing and polishing your skin, as well as keeping breakouts in check.


Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified Dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL