System Akvile Guide to Post-Pill Acne
If your acne has flared up after quitting the contraceptive pill, here’s everything you need to know.
Choosing to quit the contraceptive pill is a big decision. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our pill. Some of us quit because we want to feel better mentally, some of us want to see how your body feels without artificial hormones and some of us want to get pregnant.
But, there’s one thing that many people don’t expect as a consequence of quitting the pill and that’s acne! If you’ve recently quit the pill and your skin looks and feels worse than ever you’re far from alone.
Join us as we take a look at post-pill acne, why we get it and what you can do about it.
Did you know that acne after stopping the pill is one of the most common reasons why women choose to go back on the birth control pill?! Post-pill acne is a real issue for many women and developing problem skin after years of suppressing your hormones can be really hard. Acne is still so much associated with teenagers and puberty meaning that those who develop acne after quitting the pill often find that their friends and families just don’t know how to help or how to talk about it. With that in mind… we’re here to help.
The biggest myths about post-pill acne
One of the biggest myths about post-pill acne is that it is caused by quitting the pill. This isn’t the case! The first thing you need to know about the pill is that although it is often prescribed whilst we’re teenagers to help us manage our acne, it suppresses our hormones and so doesn’t actually address the root cause of the problem.
This means that when you quit the pill years later, you can then develop acne because your hormones are no longer suppressed and start to wreak havoc on our skin. It’s your hormones that cause acne, not quitting the pill.
But, it’s important to note that you might also develop acne even if you didn’t have acne in your teenage years. And this brings us to the second myth about post-pill acne - you don’t have to have had acne before to get acne after quitting the pill. Many women who’ve never had skin problems before also struggle with post-pill acne due to the fact that women can develop acne later in life. In fact, late‐onset acne prone skin occurs in approximately 20% of women with adult acne prone skin and this first appears long after puberty, most often between the ages of 21 and 25.
Check out our guide to acne prone skin to find out more.
So, let’s have a quick look at the pill and its link to post-pill acne.
There are actually two types of oral contraceptive pill: the progestogen-only pill, which contains the hormone progestogen but doesn't contain oestrogen, and the combined pill, which contains both.
Both pills prevent ovulation. The progestogen-only pill does this by supplying the body with post-ovulation levels of synthetic progestogen and the combined pill supplies the body with post-ovulation levels of synthetic estrogen and progesterone.
The link between the pill and acne
If you had acne when you were younger then it’s likely that you were prescribed the combined oral contraceptive pill as this can be effective for managing acne especially around the time of your period. The progestogen-only pill or contraceptive implant, on the other hand, can sometimes make skin worse, so for you quitting the pill could actually make your skin better.
The reason that the combined pill is prescribed to manage acne is because taking both estrogen and progesterone lowers the amount of androgens in your body. Androgens are a group of hormones which contains testosterone and these hormones stimulate the skin to produce sebum. A woman's ovaries and adrenal glands normally produce a low level of androgens but if you naturally have higher levels of androgens, then the pill suppresses them.
When you have lower levels of androgens in your body that means that you produce less sebum, which means that you get less breakouts.
What is post-pill acne?
So, as we’ve already established, quitting the pill doesn’t cause acne, it just removes the treatment that was controlling the problem. When you stop taking the pill your ovaries try to return hormone levels back to normal, which can lead to an androgen rebound. This means that the oil glands in your skin start producing more oil or sebum which triggers acne. This sebum is often heavier than that which was produced when you were on the pill. This sebum then gets stuck in the pores and blocks them causing blackheads behind which bacteria grows, leading to more severe forms of pimples such as cysts and pustules.
There are other reasons why your skin flares up after quitting the pill. Firstly, it’s well documented that the pill depletes many of the nutrients that your skin needs to stay healthy. When you quit the pill your zinc levels will be depleted which also contributes to acne and breakouts. This is because Zinc helps to regulate testosterone, it kills the bacteria on the skin that causes acne, and it reduces keratin production that blocks pores. So, less zinc = more breakouts. But there is some good news, our SOS Target contains Zinc PCA to help you combat spots and give your skin the zinc it needs.
Secondly, you might experience breakouts because taking the pill consistently also messes up your gut flora which can cause inflammation in your skin. So, you’ll need to take care of yourself inside and out to manage your post-pill acne.
How long does post-pill acne last?
Well, just like other cases of acne, it really varies from person to person. But, post pill acne typically peaks around 3-6 months after ditching the birth control pill and it can take months to treat. It won’t go away on its own, so treating your post-pill acne will require sticking to a consistent skincare routine for a number of months.
What can I do to manage my post-pill acne?
Well the first thing you can do is to accept that it’s not your fault and whilst it might make you feel like hiding away, you are more than your skin. This too shall pass.
In the meantime, you will need a consistent skincare routine to manage your post-pill acne and that’s where we come in.
With our system of 4 science-backed products, System Akvile gives you everything you need to effectively manage your acne prone skin, all you have to do is use them in a consistent daily routine for a minimum of 42 days.
The first step is to cleanse. Look for a gentle cleanser with Salicylic Acid and apply this on damp skin in the morning and the evening.
The next step is to exfoliate. We recommend using a mild acid exfoliant to gently remove dead skin cells and bacteria, leaving your skin feeling rejuvenated and fresh. We use a gentle leave-on exfoliant with azelaic acid in our Starter Set. All you need to do is apply it in a thin layer after cleansing, let it sit for 60 seconds to absorb, and then continue with your routine. No need to wash off!
Some days you will need a spot treatment to target breakouts and pimples that just popped up overnight! On these days, our handy SOS treatment will be your best friend. Look for an oil based treatment and apply as often as you need to, throughout the day.
Finally, it’s time to moisturize! It might feel counterintuitive if your skin is feeling greasy thanks to the fact that your skin is overproducing sebum, but your skin needs moisture. Look for a moisturizer with skin restoring, lipid balancing and protective ingredients and apply every morning and evening. Moisturizing regularly will give your acne prone skin long lasting hydration and protect it against spot causing dirt and bacteria.
Aside from a consistent skincare routine, you should also consider taking zinc supplements to boost your zinc levels and make sure to eat cruciferous veggies like broccoli as these contain DIM (diindolylmethane) which can help to enhance estrogen and testosterone metabolism to promote overall hormonal balance.
Although post-pill acne can be difficult to manage and can really knock your confidence sometimes, there are lots of things you can do to manage it. Whatever you do, make sure that you choose the right path for you, whether that’s with hormonal contraceptives or any of the physical contraceptives instead. It’s your body and you should decide what’s best for you. And, if you’re struggling with post-pill acne, we’re here for you, you’re not alone!
System Akvile Skincare System
There's more to life than skincare, but tell that to anyone dealing with difficult acne prone skin!
We believe that everything has an impact on your skin's health.
Four perfectly balanced products
Treats all signs of adult prone skin
Has soothing agents
Has anti-inflammatory agents
We believe in demystifying skincare
There is no topical skin treatment that acts against all four of the major problems of acne prone skin: attached skin cells (hyperkeratinization), sebum over-production, bacteria and inflammation.
We’re all about keeping it simple with 4 products and 1 routine to help you to choose and to use skincare that actually works with your skin.
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