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When it comes to treating hormonal acne, it’s important to take a multi-pronged approach to your diet, lifestyle and skincare. Each plays a role in affecting your hormones, so any of them may require tweaking.  



Although skincare products alone can’t cure hormonal acne, using the right products goes a long way to soothing inflammation, ending breakouts and minimising scarring. 



We’re sharing the best Korean beauty products for hormonal acne, as well as our tried and tested tips. 




If you thought pimples were a teenage problem, suffering from acne later in life can take you by surprise.

Unfortunately, hormonal acne is actually most common in women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. It is caused by fluctuations in our hormones.

These changes can arise due to a number of factors, including stress, fatigue, poor diet, the menstrual cycle and menopause. Other more serious conditions can occasionally also be to blame, including polycystic ovarian syndrome.



If you are experiencing acne in your 20s and 30s, the cause is often hormonal. Many women of childbearing age are afflicted by hormones going haywire, as the body is preparing itself for pregnancy, childbirth and lactation (even if you aren’t!)

Similarly, if you find that your acne tends to be concentrated around the chin and jawline, you can almost guarantee the culprit is hormones, as these cysts are caused by spikes in androgens.

Many of us already know the tell-tale signs of period-induced breakouts, which are caused by cyclical hormonal imbalances. In this case, fluctuating progesterone and estrogen levels are to blame. You’ll usually find these blemishes pop up in the same place each month.

Stress is also the root of many evils, and hormonal acne is one of them. When the body is subjected to prolonged periods of stress or even short periods of acute stress, the cortisol levels in the body fluctuate, contributing to hormonal acne flares.


Treating hormonal acne requires lifestyle adjustments, and may require dietary changes. Cutting out dairy, refined sugars and alcohol can help, as can changing your pillowcases regularly, to avoid a build up of sweat, dirt and oil. Washing your face and drying it with a towel is also not recommended, as this can result in a spread of bacteria and is often sensitizing for irritated skin.

In addition, using the right topical skincare products will also assist. Topical and prescription retinoids can assist managing hormonal breakouts.

If these measures are not enough, medication may also be an option, including certain types of birth control pills, and anti-acne medicine.

Usually, the best approach is a combination of the above.






When it comes to the best skincare products to apply to the skin to treat hormonal acne, it is less about the specific products and more about the right method for applying them, in addition to choosing products with the best ingredients for your skin.



Tip 1: Double Cleansing is your new BFF

When dealing with any type of acne, it is best to start your routine with a two-step cleanse. This is a key part of the Korean Beauty routine as it ensures that you properly cleanse your face, remove any makeup and sunscreen and prepare the skin to be treated with the next layers in skincare.

The first cleanser – the oil based cleanser – will break down any dirt, makeup and sunscreen. The second cleanser – the foaming cleanser – will remove everything else.

When the skin’s barrier is weakened by acne, it is best to opt for pH balanced cleansers. For more on the benefits of pH balanced face washes, see our previous article.

Our top cleansing picks for sensitive, acne-prone skin are B-Lab I Am Sorry Just Cleansing Natural Cleansing Oil or Beauty of Joseon’s Radiance Balm as the first cleanser, followed by Tosowoong’s Enzyme Powder Wash as the second cleanser.

Tip 2: Chemical exfoliation is a must

Acne-prone and sensitive skin is best served avoiding manual exfoliants and scrubs, as they are overly sensitizing. They can even spread infections, leading to more pimples.

That doesn’t mean you should skip exfoliation altogether. Instead, choose chemical exfoliants, which gently exfoliates the skin without the need for any harsh scrubbing or rubbing.

Korean beauty brands are having a love affair with chemical exfoliants. Our favourites include COSRX’s BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, COSRX AHA Whitehead Power Liquid and Mizon’s AHA 8% Peeling Serum.

They assist to get rid of dead skin cells, which can contribute to clogged pores, blackheads and further breakouts.


Tip 3: A pH adjusting toner will help reset your skin

Similarly to your pH balanced cleanser, a good pH adjusting toner is also essential to help reset your skin.

If you’re using a Vitamin C serum or any other products whose efficacy depends on the proper pH balance of the skin, this step is not to be missed.

Try cult-favourite Mizon AHA BHA Toner. 


Tip 4: Don’t be afraid of oils

While oil may sound like the last thing acne-prone skin needs – oil + oil = more oil, right? In fact, this is wrong. Oils can actually help to correct the balance of oil and moisture in the skin, which is essential for tackling pore problems, sebum production and breakouts.

The key is choosing the right oil, and one that contains ingredients that will help reduce inflammation and breakouts.

Try Olivarrier Fluid Oil. 


Tip 5: Give your skin a Vitamin C boost 

Vitamin C marries perfectly with acne prone skin for a variety of reasons – not only does it increase hydration levels, it also improves active breakouts, has antioxidant and anti-ageing properties and increases collagen production.

The brightening properties of Vitamin C works to reduce and improve the appearance of pigmentation from post-acne scars.

Try best-selling Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum, It’s Skin VC Effector or APLB Vitamin C Serum Ampoule


Tip 6: Find the ingredients your skin loves

Anyone dealing with breakouts will tell you how important it is to find the ingredients that calm your skin and reduce the lifespan of breakouts. Whether it’s anti-inflammatory tea tree, soothing aloe vera or nourishing propolis try some new ingredients to find your skin’s jam. Click here to find some you might like. 



Tip 7: Don’t touch your face

Touching your face and picking at pimples are two big no-nos when dealing with acne – not only are you introducing potential new triggers and dirt, you also risk spreading the infection.

Apply a pimple patch to cover the blemish. Not only will this help in resisting the urge to pick, it also cures the spot as quickly as possible. Pimple patches have the additional added benefit of minimising scarring.

Try STYLE STORY’s best-selling Subi Perfect Pimple Patch



What are the best Korean beauty products for hormonal acne that you’ve found? Let us know in the comments. 



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