Acne is a complex puzzle. Let’s call it the epidermis’ very own infuriating Rubik's Cube.
Without question, the uppermost level of infuriation (and despair! and ugly crying!) is caused by pimples of the cystic kind (of course blackheads and whiteheads have their own special place on the hate list, but they appear further down)—namely, the type that stubbornly reappears each month in the exact same spot.
Board-certified dermatologist Doctor Dray says recurrent zits arising in the same spot each month are most often cysts, which she defines as being ‘large nodules’ imbued ‘deep in the skin’. Their pattern of distribution? The chin and lower third of face.
Sound familiar? Same. Y tho? Well, in the week or so leading up to your period, progesterone levels rise, resulting in water retention (read: the bloating and a general ‘puffiness’ that appears) and your pores actually become narrower too. Concurrently, the production of sebum (skin oils) accelerates. When more sebum tries to move through a slimmer opening, the perfect little breeding ground for acne appears.
Now that you have the bad news, time to kick back and let the whole nightmare play out. Kidding! Here are some evidence-based things you can do to prevent hormonal acne and halt the trend, rather than treating it when it shows up.
Use salicylic acid
Salicylic or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) is a highly active ingredient that many dermatologists delight in for its ability to quickly dissolve debris and whatever foreign objects that like to clog pores/ruin mornings. Choose a cleanser containing salicylic, and use it twice daily a week leading up to your period, focusing particularly on the lower third of the face or wherever you experience your zitular grief.
Keep those fingers clean
If you’re guilty of touching your face a lot, perhaps when you’re stressed, perhaps when you’re scrolling on your phone (which, according to Time, has TEN TIMES more bacteria than a toilet seat), you simply must stop that. It’s not a myth, you guys! Dirt and bacteria breed acne. Wandering fingers must be stopped.
How often are you washing your sheets?
You already have a mother! We’re not here to rival her. Plus, washing and making a bed is boring AF. However, if you answered fewer times than once a fortnight (especially if you’re an infrequent hair washer) and have recurrent, cyclical acne, try upping to once and week and observe how your skin responds.