Hormonal Acne Caused by Androgen & Testosterone Imbalances

One of the more common triggers of hormonal acne (in teens and adult females) is an imbalance of the Androgen hormone, which is the form of Testosterone. Yes, that is correct, women and men both have the male hormone testosterone. More and more women these days have androgen levels that are too high, and this triggers acne, oily skin and even dark facial hair on women.

Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of increased Androgen and some solutions:

low-dose birth control pills

Click here to see a full list of Birth Control Pills to avoid.

birth control pills

These tablets and devices are low in Estrogen and, therefore, tend to increase the bodies Androgen levels as the Estrogen drop. Think of a teeter-totter…as one goes down the other goes up.

As a general rule of thumb, those with the potential for higher androgenic symptoms should be avoided for people prone to acne because they promote breakouts. As an acne sufferer, it is critical to speak with your doctor about selecting a form of birth control that is higher in estrogen and lower in androgen potency.

SOLUTION: Take out the IUD or come off the low-dose birth control pill and switch to a safe tablet if you are on birth control for a said reason. Here at Natural Acne Clinic, we are not proponents of using birth control pills or devices to “balance” hormone levels or to clear acne. With that said, it is ok to be on certain types of birth control to prevent pregnancy and keep your skin clear.

Should you want to remain on birth control while on our 16-week Online Acne Program, there are specific types of pills that are acceptable and will not make acne worse.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Some women are genetically predisposed to having higher than average Androgen levels and have PCOS. Remember that acne is a genetic skin condition, not a hormone condition, so not all women with elevated Androgens will get acne.

PCOS is a condition in which women have an imbalance of female sex hormones. It is linked to low levels of estrogen and progesterone and high androgen levels. It is not entirely understood why or how the changes in hormone levels occur. This hormonal imbalance causes the woman’s ovaries do not release eggs. Instead, they form tiny cysts.

Symptoms of PCOS include:

    • Lack of a period or an irregular period

    • Acne

    • Body hair growing on the chest, naval, face or around the nipples

    • Thinning of the hair on the head

    • Dark skin markings around the neck, armpits, groin or breasts

    • Decreased breast size

The increase in the male androgen hormone is responsible for causing these male-characteristic symptoms.

A few natural treatments for PCOS include diet modifications to lower androgen levels, Saw Palmetto herbs and Omega-3 Fish Oil supplements. While the birth control pill and Spironolactone might be the most popular way to control PCOS, it is by no means the only option.

If you suspect you may have PCOS, please visit your physician.


Have you heard a little thing called fight or flight? When you are over-worked and stressed without taking time to relax, the body will go into a constant state of fight or flight which is controlled by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands store androgens (aka testosterone).

Therefore, too much stress and go-go-go, and not enough relaxation of the mind and body will cause androgen levels to increase and trigger acne. This is especially so for women as females process stress through the adrenal glands but men process stress through the testes.

While it may be hard to just “stop stressing,” it is easy to support your body with herbs so that these androgen surges do not spike your testosterone levels and trigger a breakout. We have formulated an Adrenal Support Formula that does not contain any acne triggering ingredients (like other supplements for stress do) and helps reduce stress and acne related breakouts.

hormone free cowDiet

Any food that is not found in nature, i.e soy-based products, meat not raised hormone-free or without antibiotics, cow’s milk, high fructose corn syrup, GMO foods, packaged food, fast food, soda, gluten have an adverse effect on our body because they do not provide the nutrients our body needs to be in balance. Soy, meat, whey protein powder and dairy products can even alter our hormones because they contain hormones.

Overall, the link between androgens and other triggers is quite strong. But there is nothing our Clear Skin Coaches couldn’t solve!

Are you ready to finally clear your acne once and for all? We are here to help.

If you have tried it all and still have acne, our comprehensive Online Acne program is the answer. Start with an Online Acne Consult with one of our Clear Skin Coaches to get your customized Acne Clearing Treatment Plan!

Take a look at our guide for more information about hormonal acne treatment.

Discover How You Can Get Clear Of Your Acne. Schedule A Free 15 Minute Clear Skin Discovery Session

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About the Founder: Jessica Gremley

Jessica has been a Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist and Healing Diets Coach since 2003. After struggling with acne for more than a decade, she became determined to find a way to clear acne without pharmaceuticals for herself and eventually, future clients. Today, she offers a complete acne regimen that combines proven non-comedogenic skincare products, natural supplements, lifestyle coaching, and support from trained acne specialists to achieve lifelong clear skin. She and her staff serve locally at Natural Acne Clinic in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and nationally via NAC’s Online Acne Program.

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