How To Treat Hormonal Acne Naturally – Top 3 Ingenious Ways

Hi! I’m Jessica Gremley, Founder and CEO of Natural Acne Clinic. This blog post is a personal one for me as it took 15 years of education and research to figure out how to clear my own hormonal acne.

I launched NAC out of my passion to share the truth about acne and how hormonal acne can be treated naturally. With each client we serve, my hope is to debunk misleading myths and incorrect information about how hormonal acne can be cleared once and for all because I was able to do it for myself.

When we consume the wrong information, we often think the “natural” approach will not be as effective as a more harsh treatment like Accutane. Not true!

Harsh topicals, birth control pills, and pharmaceuticals can destroy the body from the inside out and are not the only option. Honestly, these are pretty old-school approaches that don’t consider the whole body as we do at NAC.

The American Academy of Dermatology has found the onset of adult acne is becoming increasingly common in women in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s. Studies show that up to 50% of women in their 20s and 25% of women in their 40s struggle with acne triggered by hormonal changes in the body.

Pregnancy, diet, stress, and menopause can cause hormonal imbalances triggering acne on the jawline, chin, or lower cheek. It can often appear red and inflamed causing some amount of pain.

The Link Between Our Hormones and Acne

Before we get to the three best natural treatments for hormonal acne, let’s first discuss how hormones trigger breakouts. Bear with me for a moment while we have a mini biology lesson!

Hormones have a major role in the development of acne. Although the exact mechanism behind their powerful influence is unknown, we do know that androgen hormones gum up the follicle by triggering oil production.

Androgens are the so-called “male hormones” and are present in males and females. The testes, ovaries, and the adrenal glands all produce androgens. The most well-known androgens are testosterone and its breakdown product is dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

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This is all important because research has shown there are androgen receptors in the base of the oil gland and also in the cells that line the pores! If there are high levels of testosterone floating in the body, they are highly capable of binding to these receptors.

To put it simply, when these hormones attach to the oil glands (aka receptors) in the skin, they trigger the gland to produce more oil as well as feed the bacteria. Then, an inflamed acne lesion is well on its way to the surface of your skin.

what is acne

Acne Lesion

The key takeaway is that by lowering androgen and testosterone levels in the body, the skin will not produce as much acne or not produce ANY at all.

So how does Estrogen play into all this?

Estrogen and testosterone frequently act like a teeter totter. As one goes up the other goes down.

Hormonal acne is an elevated androgen/testosterone and low estrogen issue. It is not an elevated estrogen problem. Therefore, taking herbal supplements that “block” estrogen, such as DIM, will make your acne worse and increase testosterone causing cystic breakouts. I do not recommend DIM for hormonal acne for these reasons.

So it makes sense that if you lower androgen levels, the skin will not produce as much oil—and your acne will improve!

hormonal acne chin

Hormonal Acne Causes

Your Diet May Be The Culprit

Food is one of the primary contributors to fluctuating or increased hormone levels in our bodies.

The typical American diet is acidic and high in saturated fats, processed grains, meat fats, and refined sugar. It is also low in fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, fiber, and antioxidants. Research has shown that this can cause an imbalance in testosterone and androgen levels, respectively. Therefore, a healthy diet is one form of natural treatment for hormonal acne. Another way to balance hormone levels is by taking certain herbs and vitamins. Both these items are discussed in more detail below.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

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 (male hormones typically found in small amounts in women).

It is not completely understood why or how the changes in hormone levels occur. This hormonal imbalance causes the woman’s ovaries to not release eggs. Instead, they form very small cysts.

Symptoms of PCOS include lack of a period, irregular period, body hair growing on the chest, naval, face, or around the nipples, hair thinning on the head, acne, dark skin markings around the neck, armpits, groin or breasts as well as decreased breast size.

The increase in androgen levels is responsible for causing these male-characteristic symptoms. It makes the skin oilier than usual and causes breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back.

If you think you may have acne triggered by PCOS, please contact your physician for testing and diagnosis.

Low Dose 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.

How to Get Hormonal Acne Treated and Get Clear Skin Naturally

1. Take Your Vitamins and Herbs

While hormonal acne is stubborn, there are some easy strategies you can take to balance hormones for acne relief naturally and it starts with vitamins and herbs.

Vitex for Acne
In women, hormonal acne typically manifests along the jawline and chin. If this sounds familiar, taking Vitex for acne may be a successful treatment.

Vitex agnus castus, also known as Chasteberry, is a “woman’s herb” that’s been traditionally used for hormonal imbalances. It’s been used for menstrual symptoms of low progesterone in the luteal phase (the part of the cycle that starts at ovulation and ends the day before your next period). These symptoms include depression, crying, mood swings, acne, nervousness and anxiety.

Vitex has also been used as a natural remedy for treating such symptoms of high estrogen levels as pain, tender breasts, bloating and heavy periods.

Current research shows that Vitex can support healthy hormone levels and relieve pre-menstrual symptoms. It can also be an effective natural hormonal acne treatment.

How does Vitex for Acne Work?
The Vitex herbs act upon the pituitary and hypothalamus glands by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) production and mildly inhibiting the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This results in a shift in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, with a rise in progesterone. The ability of the Vitex to increase progesterone levels is an indirect effect.

Vitex itself is not a hormone, but rather an herb that helps the body balance natural estrogen and progesterone. By balancing the estrogen, the androgens then come into balance as well.

The best way to take Vitex for acne is by taking it first thing in the morning between 7-8am. That is when your pituitary and hypothalamus glands are active to regulate female sex hormones. You can expect to feel the full benefits of taking vitex for acne within 3-5 months.

We offer an organic, vegan and therapeutic-grade Vitex that is designed for hormonal acne treatment.

Chaste Berry Vitex

Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is a small palm with fan-shaped leaves and sharply toothed stalks, native to the southeastern US. Supplements made from the berries are used to decrease inflammation and are found to decrease the uptake of testosterone in the body. These effects are likely attributed to natural anti-androgenic effects, which block the actions of testosterone in the body, which in turn can help reduce acne breakouts for women and men.

While Saw Palmetto is primarily marketed towards men, it can be used by females as well! For women, this herb is recommended if periods are more than 36 days apart or for females with signs of excess testosterone like dark, coarse hair growth on upper lip, chin, naval or areola, PCOS diagnosis, skin darkening on the underarms, or overweight with small breasts.

Saw Palmetto can also be used as a natural replacement for Spironolactone when prescribed for acne because it is a natural androgen reducer.

Saw Palmetto

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have also been shown to be an effective hormonal acne treatment. Not only do these essential fatty acids soothe your body’s inflammatory response to excess sebum and bacteria, but they also help balance acne-causing hormones such as testosterone and androgen.

Taking Clove Hill SkinOmega-3 in addition to eating foods high in Omega 3’s can be an effective hormonal acne treatment.

*Click here for the complete Female and Male Hormone Balancing Bundles.


2. Hormonal Acne Diet

In 1984, the first study was conducted in Finland that showed a diet-hormone connection.

Decrease your intake of saturated fat:

In 1984, the first study was conducted in Finland that showed a diet-hormone connection. In one six-week study, Dr. Esa Hamalainen and her team showed that by switching from a diet high in saturated fat to one with 38% less fat and more polyunsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, fish, algae, leafy greens) caused a significant reduction in androstenedione (precursor to testosterone) and testosterone in the

deposit photo

Increase fiber consumption:

Yes, eating fiber can help clear your skin! One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diets high in refined carbohydrates resulted in higher incidence of acne. Research shows that a high fiber diet can decrease blood testosterone, DHT and DHEA—androgens that trigger hormonal acne.

In America, the average daily consumption of fiber is 13 grams. The recommended daily dosage is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. So switching from white slices of bread, rice and pasta to high fiber, whole wheat foods can help lessen the severity of acne.

Stay away from cow’s dairy (especially cow’s milk):

Research shows that dairy can cause acne due to high levels of iodine. While milk itself does not naturally contain iodine, farmers give their cows iodine-fortified feed to prevent infection. They also use iodine solutions to sanitize cow udders and milking equipment. As a result, the iodine gets into the milk itself.

According to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology consuming dairy – specifically, low fat/skim milk — is much higher in teenagers who have acne. Safer options are goat and sheep milk.

Increase alkaline foods and decrease acidic foods:

Meat-based proteins coffee, alcohol, sugar, and processed grains – all foods that are a big part of the typical American diet—are acid-forming in the system. This leads to a condition called acidosis. Acidosis is the technical term for over-acidification. The main symptom of acidosis is fatigue.

Increase alkaline foods and decrease acidic foods

Other symptoms include loss of enthusiasm for life, loss of sex drive, poor sleep quality, depression, and tiring quickly both mentally and physically. Advanced stage symptoms of acidosis include sensitivity to cold, low blood pressure, hypo or hyperthyroid, and low blood sugar.

These symptoms are caused because the main minerals that are required to nourish the nervous system, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, are the very same minerals that the body uses to neutralize acids!

Studies show that alkaline foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help neutralize these acids Just by eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in replace of meat, sugar, and other processed foods you will not believe how amazing you feel in just a few days!

3. Stress Reduction- yes, it does affect our hormones!

These days, starting from kindergarten, the pressure is on. We all experience it and try our best to reduce it.

And if you’ve noticed extra pimples during times of stress, you’re not alone. Research shows there’s a definite link between stress and acne breakouts.

Simply put, stress activates the adrenal glands to produce extra androgen hormones which eventually results in inflamed acne breakouts in acne-prone skin. These extra hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin and trigger a breakout.

The stress-hormone connection is more of a problem for women than it is for men because they produce most of their male hormones (androgens) in their adrenal glands. Men, on the other hand, produce most of their male hormones in the testes and only a very small amount in the adrenal glands.

Adrenal Gland

Men’s primary hormone is testosterone so when they get stressed and the body produces extra testosterone, it does not have as big of an impact as it does for women. Since women produce about one-tenth of the amount of testosterone as men, a sudden surge of additional testosterone can have a significant impact on the body—and the skin.

What’s more, stress also causes high levels of acidity. Eating more alkaline foods neutralizes these acids while also reducing cortisol levels.

To protect our adrenal glands from this surge of androgens (testosterone), we have to protect them! The Adrenal Stress Formula is one of the easiest ways to prevent that spike of androgens from affecting our skin and triggering a stress breakout.

Don’t Underestimate Nature’s Healing Power

As you can see, I am very passionate about the topic of hormonal acne because it is often not discussed by mainstream skincare professionals when treating blemished skin.

Although there are wonderful topical products on the market (and on our shelves at Natural Acne Clinic), addressing hormones is a huge component for achieving lifelong clear skin. Not only have I successfully done this for myself, thousands of NAC clients have as well, and so can you. Let us show you how!

Ready to clear your acne for good? We can help.
Book your online consultation.

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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.


  1. Hi Jessica. I am fully in menopause. 52yrs. I have struggled with sluggish adrenals, over production of cortisol, low Thyroid, T3…the gamut. I have been in a major shift in my life to reduce stress for over a year and working with a naturopath for 5yrs.There has been some improvement in symptoms. But testosterone levels remain in the high side…resulting chronic insomnia, mid section weight holding and acne. A doctor prescribed an RX to reduce testosterone, but I am reluctant to take it as it has side effects like causing the body to retain potassium, headaches (which I get already), etc. I take numerous herbs and supplements. Help!

  2. Hi, I had a acne free face all my life until i took a plan B and a month later I had the worst cystic painful acne on my jaw line and chin that iv ever had and i also got embarrassing facial hair growth. I had the worst time trying to figure out what it was from, went to 2 drs and a dermatologist and they didnt know why it was happening for some reason but put me on Spronolactone due to higher androgenic levels or testosterone. After a month the acne cleared up but i still have some light scarring. I had forgot i had taken the Plan B so for a year i still didnt know why i had high testosterone levels. Until recently i had to take another plan B and after i did i looked it up online and BOOM! There was my answer for all that i had been going through for the past year! I am pretty upset because i am afraid the acne will come back. Not sure if the Spronolactone will help prevent it or not. I am going to the dr to get on birth control ASAP. Is there any advice you may have for me to prevent that awful depression causing acne that i got last yr from the plan B?? I took my last plan B 2 weeks ago and no acne breakout but i didnt see any acne with the last dose until a month or so. PLEASE if you can help me to prevent a future breakout? I am NEVER taking a plan B ever again! I am very upset the 3 drs including a gynochologist didnt have a clue why i had acne and hair growth. She didnt even ask me if i took a plan B. I just dont understand why but am so glad i know WHY this all happened in the first place. Thank you so much for any advice!
    Sincerely Tyra O’Bryant

  3. Please help to cure acne on my scalp since i have tried most dermatitis related drugs&creams for the last five years only to get temporary healing.

  4. Hi Ms. Jessica,

    I am a 17 year old girl and I am suffering hormonal acne or cystic acne. I am not quite sure in what are they but all I know is they hurt and theyre red and they always appear on my chin or around my mouth. The rest of my face is clear. I am having them for about a year now and I wonder if I really have high levels of androgen because I am really eating clean. I have eggs for breakfast and salmon for lunch and dinner. I avoid sweets, dairy and carbs as much as possible because 1. Im watching my weight and 2. Im also watching my face. Please help. I feel so depressed about how I look like and I live in the Philippines so school’s about to start and I dont really want to go to college looking how I look like right now.

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