best face wash for hormonal acne
Reading time 4 mins.

How to Tell if Acne is Hormonal or Bacterial

Searching for the best face wash for hormonal acne or trying to determine which hormonal acne supplements to buy isn’t really step one. Before treating acne, it’s important to know how to tell if acne is hormonal or bacterial—because a targeted approach is always the best approach! Here’s how to tell.
Written by Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Naturopathic Doctor

In this article /

    Bacterial acne and hormonal acne are two common forms of acne. Acne can be created by the production of excess sebum; an oily substance meant to hydrate and protect the skin. Different skin types, including oily skin or sensitive skin may also be prone to break outs. But if you’re experiencing a hormonal imbalance, it can also be very common to experience acne.

    How Do Hormones Affect Our Lives?

    As we celebrate Period Action Day, it is crucial to recognize the profound connection between acne and your menstrual cycle. This day, dedicated to raising awareness about menstruation and advocating for equal access to menstrual products, serves as a reminder of the impacts menstrual health and hormonal balance have on our lives. 

    The Menstrual Cycle and Acne Breakouts

    To understand the link between acne and your period, it's essential to grasp the hormonal changes that occur throughout your menstrual cycle. Your cycle can be divided into four key phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase—each of them having different effects on our skin.

    • Menstruation (Days 1-5): This phase marks the start of your period. Hormone levels, specifically estrogen and progesterone, are at their lowest during this time. Many people experience clearer skin during their period.

    • Follicular Phase (Days 6-14): Estrogen begins to rise, promoting skin health by reducing inflammation and supporting collagen production. This is often considered the "good skin" phase.

    • Ovulation (Around Day 14): Hormones, including luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), peak during ovulation. Increased estrogen can contribute to a radiant complexion.

    • Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): Progesterone and testosterone levels surge during this phase, while estrogen stays low. These higher hormones can lead to increased sebum production, which, in turn, may result in hormonal acne.

    Hormonal Acne and Its Triggers

    Hormonal acne is a common skin concern among people with periods and is primarily linked to fluctuations in hormone levels, especially the rise in progesterone and testosterone during the luteal phase. This increase in hormones stimulates sebum production, clogging pores and leading to breakouts.
    Hormonal acne commonly happens around the lower half of the face, chin, jawline, neck, and in front of the ears. For some it presents as just a pimple or two leading up to menstruation, but for others it can appear as painful, red, and inflamed lesions that can persist longer than a week.
    Furthermore, hormonal acne can also be exacerbated by factors such as poor sleep, poor dietary choices, and inadequate skincare routines. Stress is a major factor disrupting hormonal balance and commonly leading to the more severe of outbreaks.

    Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Hormonal Acne

    During the luteal phase, we want to work with our bodies to encourage the natural detoxification pathways, like the liver and digestive tract. This can help reduce the occurrence of premenstrual acne.
    Detox Pathways
    Try adding lemon to your water or sipping dandelion tea to help boost liver function. Eating foods with extra fiber, like leafy greens and ground flax can help bind excess hormones and help excrete them through stool.   
    Avoiding Dairy
    Studies show that dairy can trigger hormonal acne, as it may spike testosterone levels and lead to more sebum production in the pores. Many people also experience digestive disruptions and symptoms from dairy, hindering the proper detoxification of hormones through our digestive processes and leading to more pimples.  
    Sugary Foods and Blood Sugar Balance
    Foods high in sugar can also cause acne. When sugar spikes our insulin too much or too often, this can disrupt our hormones. Reducing sugar intake in general is best for hormone health, but especially the two weeks leading up to your period to prevent hormonal acne.  
    Stress Management
    Stress management is equally important, as stress can disrupt proper hormone production and function and lead to inflammation in the skin. Sleep is very important for managing stress, as well as doing things to calm down the nervous system like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.  

    The Importance of Period Action Day

    Period Action Day is an annual reminder of the importance of addressing menstrual health issues and ensuring that all people with periods have access to appropriate menstrual products. In many parts of the world, women still face significant challenges when it comes to managing their periods, including limited access to sanitary products and inadequate healthcare resources.
    Menstrual health should be a priority for everyone; proper menstrual hygiene and support can improve quality of life, ensuring that we can navigate all hormonal fluctuations with confidence and comfort.

    How Consonant Skin + Care and DIVA Can Help

    Consonant Skin + Care offers a range of unscented, natural skincare products that can aid in managing hormonal acne. These products are formulated with clean and effective ingredients to support your skin's health throughout your cycle. Regular skincare routines that include gentle cleansing, exfoliation, and hydration can help maintain clearer skin, even during hormonal fluctuations.

    DIVA provides an eco-friendly and sustainable solution for menstrual hygiene. All DIVA reusable products are made from 100% medical grade silicone and body safe dyes. By choosing reusable menstrual cups over disposable products, not only do we reduce waste but also save money. This ensures that people who menstruate have access to reliable menstrual products that are also more affordable.

    As we mark Period Action Day, let's remember that hormonal acne is just one aspect of the intricate relationship between our bodies and our menstrual cycles. By understanding these connections and supporting initiatives like Period Action Day, we can work towards a world where anyone who needs access to appropriate menstrual care gets it and can manage their menstrual health with confidence and dignity.
    Together, we can empower people to face the monthly hormonal roller-coaster with grace and self-assuredness—and radiant looking skin!

    *Originally published on
    Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Naturopathic Doctor

    About the contributor

    Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Naturopathic Doctor on behalf of Consonant Skin + Care.


    • “Consonant Skin+Care.” Consonant Skin+Care, Accessed 13 Oct. 2023.
    • Evangelista, Mara Therese Padilla, et al. “The Effect of Topical Virgin Coconut Oil on SCORAD Index, Transepidermal Water Loss, and Skin Capacitance in Mild to Moderate Pediatric Atopic Dermatitis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Clinical Trial.” International Journal of Dermatology, vol. 53, no. 1, 10 Dec. 2013, pp. 100–108,
    • Juhl, Christian, et al. “Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults.” Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 8, 9 Aug. 2018, p. 1049,,
    • Meixiong, James, et al. “Diet and Acne: A Systematic Review.” JAAD International, vol. 7, June 2022, pp. 95–112,
    • Shop Categories ImageShop Categories Image

      Include text explaining your featured category.

    • Shop Categories ImageShop Categories Image

      Include text explaining your featured category.

    • Shop Categories ImageShop Categories Image

      Include text explaining your featured category.

    Example product $19.99

    Example product $19.99

    $19.99 Regular price
    This area is used to describe your product’s details. Tell customers about the look, feel, and style of your product. Add details on color, materials used, sizing, and where it was made.