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Ask The Makeup Diva
Welcome to Ask The Makeup Diva™! Our resident expert, The Makeup Diva, answers makeup and skin care questions sent in by readers just like you.

Q: How can I prevent breakouts from my hormones?

A: I can really identify with your problem. It's amazing what a few little hormones can do to a perfectly clear face!

The good news is you are one step ahead by identifying what is causing the breakouts and wanting to do something proactively to prevent them. The easiest pimples to get rid of are the ones that never make it to the surface.

There are a few different things you can do to prevent these monthly breakouts, so you may have to experiment a few times to see what works best for you. Your treatment options are benzoyl peroxide, AHAs (like glycolic or lactic acid), BHAs (salicylic acid), and plant botanicals like tea tree oil or lavender.

Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial that basically kills the bacteria that causes a pimple. It can be very effective but can also be rather drying to the skin. If you have never used it before, start with a low strength like 2.5% and work your way up to 5% or 10% if you feel your skin can handle it. Benzoyl peroxide products are typically in a gel or cream form and can be found in drugstore brands like Clearasil and Oxy, or specialty brands like Sage or Peter Thomas Roth (sold on,, and Beauty Habit).

AHAs and BHAs work to exfoliate dead skin cells so they don't clog your pores and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Used together with benzoyl peroxide, they can dramatically decrease breakouts quickly. Personally I like BHAs better because they penetrate pores, getting inside to clean out dead cells from within; AHAs exfoliate the top layer of skin instead, so it's more helpful in preventing surface build-up.

Botanicals like tea tree oil are a nice alternative if you want something non-chemical, but be aware that the antibacterial properties can be a bit strong for sensitive skin, even if a "natural" product seems gentler. Start slowly with something like this to see how your skin reacts.

The best way to try to prevent those monthly breakouts is to use one of these treatments every day for about a week before you would normally breakout. Apply a thin layer to the area that usually gets affected, and spot treat with a little extra product on any blemishes that start to appear. Do this every month and you should be able to reduce or maybe even eliminate your monthly hormonal acne. Good luck!

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