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Does Estrogen Cause Acne? (Your Questions Answered)

When it comes to skin health, the phrase "beauty is more than skin deep" holds a deeper truth. Beyond external influences and skincare routines, factors under the surface—like hormones—can have a significant impact on our skin's condition. 

One of the critical questions often asked is, "Does estrogen cause acne?" While the connection between hormones and acne is established, the answer is not as straightforward. This article aims to delve deeper into the complexities of hormonal acne and the role of estrogen in this skin condition.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Hormonal fluctuations, especially involving estrogen, progesterone, and androgens, can trigger acne breakouts by affecting sebum production and inflammation.
  • Persistent acne can often result from hormonal imbalances, which may be influenced by various factors such as stress, diet, and menstrual cycle.
  • Hormonal acne, even if persistent, can be managed effectively through a combination of lifestyle changes, understanding individual hormonal interactions, and appropriate treatment options.
  • Products like Exposed Skin Care can help manage persistent acne by combating the root causes, reducing irritation, and preventing future breakouts.

Young teen girl looking at brith control pills

Estrogen, Hormones, and Acne - The Intricate Web

Understanding Acne

Acne vulgaris, known as acne, is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition resulting in acne lesions like whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts. The development of acne involves sebum production, dead skin cells, and inflammation. When the pores on our skin clog with dead skin cells and excess oil (sebum), it can lead to an acne breakout.

The Role of Hormones

Hormones play an integral part in the process of acne formation. One of the leading causes of hormonal acne is hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, ovulation, and menopause. Certain hormones, such as androgen and progesterone, can influence the skin's sebum production. Increased sebum production in the skin, coupled with dead skin cells, can clog pores, forming acne lesions.

Unraveling Estrogen

Estrogen is a hormone primarily associated with women's menstrual cycle and reproductive health. However, its role extends to many other areas, including the skin. Estrogen affects several aspects of skin health, including its thickness, moisture content, and wound healing.

Does Estrogen Cause Acne?

When addressing the question, "Does estrogen cause acne?" the connection between estrogen and acne is much more complex. Hormonal acne isn't directly caused by estrogen; it can result from an imbalance between estrogen and other hormones like androgens and progesterone.

Acne on woman's chin

Delving Deeper: The Cause and Effect Relationship

Estrogen and Hormonal Imbalance

Estrogen levels fluctuate throughout a woman's monthly cycle. Around ovulation, estrogen levels peak, then drop dramatically if pregnancy does not occur. Similarly, during menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels drop significantly. These fluctuations in estrogen levels can result in hormonal imbalances, which may lead to hormonal acne breakouts.

An imbalance where estrogen levels are low compared to progesterone and testosterone, often referred to as estrogen dominance, can cause acne. Moreover, polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition where women have higher levels of androgens, can also result in persistent acne due to hormonal imbalance.

Sebum Production and Clogging of Pores

High levels of androgens can cause an increase in sebum production. A drop in estrogen levels and a rise in progesterone levels may lead to increased sebum production in the skin. This excess sebum and dead skin cells can clog the pores, leading to acne breakouts.

The role of estrogen in sebum production is somewhat protective. Estrogen helps reduce sebum production, which can help reduce the chances of a pore becoming clogged. Therefore, when estrogen levels are low, hormonal acne may increase due to the absence of this protective effect.

Close up image of clogged nose pores


Increased androgen hormones can also cause inflammation, a key factor in acne development. Inflammation can make the skin more prone to acne by making the pore environment more conducive to acne-causing bacteria.

Age and Acne: Acne Beyond Teenage Years

While acne is widely associated with puberty and the teenage years, adult acne is not uncommon. Acne during the 20s, 30s, and even 40s can be particularly challenging.

Hormonal Acne in Adults

The causes of hormonal acne in adults are similar to those in teenagers: hormonal changes, excess sebum production, and inflammation. However, women in their 40s may experience more hormonal acne due to menopausal acne caused by low levels of estrogen and increased testosterone levels.

Menopausal Acne

During menopause, both estrogen and progesterone levels drop significantly. This can cause a relative increase in androgens, increasing sebum production and inflammation, triggering acne breakouts.

As per the American Academy of Dermatology, menopausal acne is indeed a common phenomenon, adding another layer of complexity to our main question: "Does estrogen cause acne?"

Old woman lookng at her face skin

Treatment Options for Hormonal Acne

While mild to moderate acne can be managed with topical treatments like retinoids and natural treatment, severe acne might require more extensive treatment. Hormone therapy, including the use of oral contraceptives or other hormone-regulating medications, can be effective in treating acne caused by hormonal imbalances.

Isotretinoin, a potent medication, can be used for severe forms of acne. However, all these treatments should be under medical advice, and the decision should be based on an individual's specific circumstances and overall health.

The Role of Lifestyle and Diet

Certain foods and lifestyle factors can lead to hormonal acne. Diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugars can increase insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which can result in increased sebum production and the proliferation of skin cells. Additionally, stress can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can also cause an increase in sebum production.

Understanding the Role of Glands and Hormone Levels in Acne

Various glands in the body produce hormones, which play a vital role in the development and persistence of acne.

Paper cutout of female reproductive organ

The Influence of Hormone-Producing Glands

Several glands in our body contribute to hormonal balance and, consequently, to our skin's health. Key glands include:

  • The adrenal glands: These glands produce stress hormones and androgens, both of which can contribute to acne.
  • The ovaries: In females, ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone, and a small amount of androgens. An imbalance in these hormones often leads to acne flares.

The Impact of Hormone Levels

The fluctuating hormone levels, especially during certain phases of life (puberty, menstrual cycle, and menopause), can trigger acne breakouts. Notably:

  • Androgen surge during puberty often leads to an increase in sebum production, thereby causing acne.
  • Hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, especially when ovulation occurs, can also lead to acne flares.
  • A drop in estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause can lead to acne, even at an age typically associated with decreased acne.

Woman touching her face

Acne and Hormone Imbalance

Persistent acne is often caused by too many certain hormones, leading to a hormonal imbalance. This imbalance can particularly be caused by:

  • Higher levels of circulating androgens compared to estrogen and progesterone
  • A dysfunction in estrogen metabolism
  • An increase in the stress hormone cortisol

In these cases, hormone replacement therapy or certain medications to regulate hormonal imbalances can help manage acne flare-ups.

Role of Reproductive Hormones in Acne

Reproductive hormones significantly influence acne, particularly in women between the ages of 20 and 40. Here's how:

  • An excess of androgens can increase sebum production, causing acne.
  • Low estrogen levels relative to androgens and progesterone, a state often referred to as "estrogen dominance," can cause acne.
  • Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can lead to periodic acne flare-ups.

A complex interplay of various factors causes hormonal acne. Understanding these can help manage and possibly prevent acne.

Managing Acne with Exposed Skin Care

Exposed Skin Care is a renowned skincare brand that offers a comprehensive range of products to manage persistent acne. Its unique combination of science and nature targets the common causes of acne, including irritation, clogged pores, and bacteria.

Exposed Skin Care Expanded KIt

Here are the benefits of Exposed Skin Care products:

  • Reduces Irritation: The brand understands that high irritation levels can exacerbate acne. Therefore, Exposed Skin Care products are designed to soothe the skin, reducing irritation and inflammation, which can often cause an acne flare-up.

  • Combats Persistent Acne: The brand offers a solution for those who experience persistent acne. The combination of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and other powerful ingredients in their products helps combat stubborn acne, reducing acne severity and frequency.

  • Prevents Future Breakouts: Besides tackling existing acne, the products also work towards preventing future breakouts. They help unclog pores and reduce excess oil production, two critical factors leading to acne.

By tackling acne from all angles, Exposed Skin Care offers a comprehensive solution for those with persistent acne. Regular and consistent use of these products may help achieve clear, healthy skin over time.


In essence, the relationship between hormones and acne is complex and multi-faceted. While it is not solely estrogen that causes acne, fluctuations in hormonal levels, particularly around stages such as puberty, ovulation, and menopause, can lead to imbalances that trigger acne breakouts. Moreover, increased androgen levels cause excessive sebum production and irritation, which are key factors to acne development.

Persistent acne can be frustrating, and for those who experience acne persistently, it is crucial to understand that multiple factors, including glands, hormones, and even diet and stress, contribute to this condition. Hence, managing acne effectively requires a comprehensive approach considering all these elements.

Products like Exposed Skin Care can be a great ally in this battle, offering solutions that tackle acne's root causes. However, the key to managing acne lies in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress levels, and caring for skin health. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of hormonal interactions, it is clear that our journey to understanding and managing acne is ongoing. With diligent care, persistence, and the right tools, the battle against acne is one we can hope to win.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Does estrogen cause acne?

A: The relationship between estrogen and acne is complex. While estrogen alone doesn't cause acne, hormonal imbalances involving estrogen can contribute to acne.

Q: How does hormonal imbalance contribute to acne?

A: Imbalances between estrogen, progesterone, and androgens can influence sebum production and inflammation, contributing to the development of acne.

Q: What is the connection between menopause and acne?

A: During menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, which can increase androgens, leading to increased sebum production and inflammation that can trigger acne.

Q: Can changes in diet and lifestyle help manage hormonal acne?

A: A diet low in refined carbohydrates and managing stress can help reduce hormonal fluctuations, potentially reducing hormonal acne breakouts.

Q: Is it possible to treat acne caused by hormonal imbalance?

A: Yes, hormonal acne can be treated. The treatment of acne caused by hormonal imbalances can involve hormonal treatments, oral contraceptives, or other treatments based on individual circumstances and overall health.