PCOS + skincare after stopping hormonal birth control?
November 30, 2017 3:18 PM   Subscribe

I am 37, and I have PCOS. I've used hormonal birth control (Yasmin) for the past ten years. Before I started the pill I used to have mild but constant acne on my cheeks, but while on Yasmin it cleared up and I've had very clear skin since then. I've been so lucky! But now, for medical reasons, I have to discontinue Yasmin. What should I do to take care of my skin?

Current skincare routine: I wash my face in the morning with CeraVe cleanser, moisturize with Oil of Olay and rosehip seed oil, and use sunscreen. Then I put on makeup (bb cream, eye makeup). At night, I use the oil cleansing method and follow with a little Neutrogena retinol cream and sometimes, if my face feels tight, a night moisturizer.

What should I do if I do start to break out? Are there any great products these days that can help? Are thare any lifestyle/nutrition/etc changes I should consider? I feel vain asking this, but the prospect of having constant acne again is making me unhappy.
posted by zoetrope to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Some women with PCOS find a ketogenic diet relieves their symptoms, including skin issues. Also look into spearmint tea (links are about androgen and free testosterone levels and hirsutism, but the same hormone imbalances spike acne).
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:31 PM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

It may be worth letting your skin normalize around an HBC-less life and see what it’s like. Age changes your hormones and you may find your skin is clearer now than it was 10 years ago anyway. Alternatively, if you find you do still get breakouts, it may be because your skin is dryer/more oily/whatever used to contribute to breakouts than it used to be and your care regime will have to adapt. I’d say keep on as you are and change as you discover what your skin is like now.
posted by olinerd at 4:00 PM on November 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I very much sympathize with your anxiety here, but I think you should stick to your normal routine -- which you know is not irritating or allergenic to you -- and wait it out and see. I had bad hormonal acne that mostly cleared up while I was on hormonal birth control for ten years, so when I stopped taking it I was extremely upset about what would happen to my skin. Lo and behold it actually cleared up completely for the first time ever. Go figure. PCOS or not, your physiologic hormonal milieu is going to be very different at 37 than at 27.
posted by telegraph at 4:01 PM on November 30, 2017

When I cut out sugar and carbs and exercised regularly, my skin and hair were amazing, as well as my mood and sleep, etc. I stopped regular exercise years ago after a back injury, and all my worst PCOS symptoms came back. I've since been experimenting with a combination of myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol to improve my insulin resistance for about 6 months. When taken at a 40:1 ratio (typically 2000 mg of myo-inositol for every 50 mg of D-chiro-inositol) on an empty stomach every morning, my moods and my energy levels are amazing, and my period has slowly become more and more regular. The only side effects are wooziness from blood sugar adjustments at first, but that seems to taper of after a week or so of use. I've read for some women this also improves skin and hair, but since I was atypical (only really had bad acne before my period), it doesn't seem to matter in my case, yet. I've read it works wonders for some in that regard!
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:22 PM on November 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also at first I thought all of that was a bunch of flim flam and woo to push an expensive vitamin on a sensitive population desperate for relief but there is an astounding amount of peer-reviewed medical literature regarding the positive effects of myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol, which is what made me give it a shot.
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:26 PM on November 30, 2017

Fellow cyster. I was on Yaz in my early 20's, but developed leg cramps so I was taken off of it. I gained 20lbs almost immediately, this is can happen, but I'm sure not to everyone. My PCP said she sees it often. I had terrible acne at 17, 18 years old that slowly dissipated as I got older (and perhaps the BC helped). I quit my BC cold turkey and had no side-effects involving acne. I get the occasional blemish now before my period begins, or several, it depends on the month, but it's nothing like my 17, 18 year old acne. I use benzoyl peroxide if I feel itchy and know that a breakout is coming on. Now if only the hirsutism would dissipate! For that I get laser treatments :|
posted by Avosunspin at 7:57 PM on November 30, 2017

I have PCOS. My baseline is regular heavy exercise, good sleep & keto/paleo diet. I supplement with vitamins D & B complex, fish oil, curcumin, fresh ginger teas, lots of veg and garlic in everything. I used herbal tinctures to stabilize my cycles, as well as 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon daily, plus myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol to control my blood sugar levels. Took about three months. Skincare = cold showers only, pat dry and tap on light moisturizer, ACV toner 1-2x/day, oil cleansing a couple times a week with argan or hemp seed oil. I get breakouts with bad sleep, comedogenic oils or when I indulge too much in sugar, caffeine & white carbs.
posted by fritillary at 9:27 PM on November 30, 2017

You guys are great, thanks for giving me some straight talk. I've been unreasonably worried about the acne, more than the other changes (thinning hair, mood swings, growing hair everywhere else like a werewolf), but it HAS been a few years, so maybe my skin will be better now. I'll wait and see how things are for me now. And if I do break out, I have things to try--the ketogenetic diet, for one, more exercise, and possibly the -inositols, if my doc thinks it's a good idea.
posted by zoetrope at 8:10 AM on December 4, 2017

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