By Eva Berezovsky
The oil, blackheads, and breakouts that pop up on our skin may be more than skin-deep. While we’re geared to dwell on the cosmetic implications of our imperfections, oily skin is actually worth examining because of what it might communicate to us about hormonal imbalance. It’s time to think about oily skin differently –– not in terms of shame or how it affects our perceived beauty, but rather as a possible resource to learn about what’s going on inside our bodies.
What breakouts mean
Our skin is one of the first places to show imbalance, and when it’s off, there’s often a dietary, emotional or lifestyle circumstance calling for a more holistic approach or beckoning our attention. However, an imbalance in androgen, or male sex hormones, might be the root of your breakout.
An androgen imbalance can happen through PCOS, postpartum, gut dysbiosis, and (peri)menopause (when oestrogen drops and sometimes causes a surge in androgen).
This 2022 study in the Journal of the Endocrine Society really dives into adult female acne and its relationship with androgen excess –– the AE-PCOS Society assigned experts to develop evidence-based recommendations to combat female acne (Carmina, 2022). We recommend reading through the findings.
If you’re dealing with chronic androgen issues, like in the case of suspected PCOS, we highly recommend Why We Get Sick by Dr. Benjamin Bikman, PhD (which we store in our SABI Resources Library). In the text, Bikman explores the relationship between women’s hormonal health and insulin, especially in the context of PCOS symptoms and management, like acne and breakouts.
Some of our personal tips
Our favorite dos and don’ts to ensure happy skin include the following practices:
- Don’t over wash. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s best to avoid harsh cleansers or toners with alcohol, which strip the skin and cause it to produce excess oil.
- Moisturise! Oily skin needs moisture too. Use a light moisturiser with a natural hyaluronic acid, nutrients, and prebiotics to rebalance the skin barrier. Our SABI Active Nutrient Serum is a great choice that’s full of antioxidants, skin-firming seaweeds and botanical extracts to balance the skin's barrier, enhance radiance, and improve elasticity.
- Calm & soothe skin. Breakouts bring inflammation. Products with anti-inflammatory adaptogens like Gotu Kola and Water Hyssop (which are found in the SABI Reviving Face Mist) can help reduce inflammation-based breakouts, like what occurs during postpartum, and they can calm the skin as a whole.
- Get those Omega-3s! Essential fatty acids are one of our greatest assets for beautiful skin and reducing inflammation, found in fatty fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts or supplements.
- Vitamin D. Studies show a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and skin health wherein supplementation improved sebum production in study participants.
- Probiotic supplements and naturally fermented foods. We love each of these for a boost of good bacteria to support gut health and rebalancing during times of hormonal imbalance, like postpartum, perimenopause, PCOS or suspected PCOS, infertility, or period troubles. Our favorite pro and prebiotic foods include kimchi, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.
- Make sleep sacred. Poor sleep can cause stress hormones like cortisol to spike, hindering your complexion as a result. Ensuring deep and restful sleep as much as possible is essential for strong skin (and for looking and feeling your best in general). We love the help of herbal remedies for deep sleep, like our Calming Herbata with lavender and oat straw. The scent alone makes for a freshly-brewed cup of soothing aromatherapy.
It can be overwhelming to browse endless rows of skincare products, whether digitally or in-person, especially when each product is marketed to promise function and perfection. In reality, the best treatment (or starting point) for your skin’s prosperity might be a look inward into your hormonal balance.
We hope this guide helps to inspire your process of going beyond the surface.
Enrico Carmina and others, Female Adult Acne and Androgen Excess: A Report From the Multidisciplinary Androgen Excess and PCOS Committee, Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, March 2022, bvac003, https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvac003
Eva Berezovsky is a writer and multi-disciplinary creative with a background in art organizations and editorial spaces. Holding a degree in Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, she's fueled by vessels of storytelling, cultural portraiture, and the intersection of text, image, and identity.
HORMONAL & PROUD
Created as a brand to help women navigate the toughest moments in pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum — and practically every stage of life –– The SABI aims to change the narrative around our hormones from one of taboo, embarrassment, and loneliness to awareness and pride. As more than a wellness brand, The SABI offers a carefully-crafted line of products to carry you through your hormonal journey, including rituals, supportive tools, and ancient herbal remedies that have been tested time and time again by women and now backed by medicine. The SABI is a blend of science and nature conceived by women who have experienced the joys and deep struggles of bringing a child into the world, the pains of a heavy, difficult period, miscarriage, and difficulty conceiving.
We offer you an invitation to get to know your body and its cycles better –– an invitation to really understand what is going on inside. Learn to use your hormonal cycle to your advantage no matter your stage of life, and know that you can support and balance your hormone levels. Look for the right sources of information. Know that there is help, and know that you’re supported.
The SABI blog and articles are not meant to instruct or advise on medical or health conditions, but to inform. The information and opinions presented here do not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals for your unique situation.