Hiya guys, I hope you’re doing well. Today I’m sharing my experience of acne on the contraceptive pill. This post has been a long time in the making. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen on my stories some of what I went through over the past year. Today, I’m going to go into a lot more detail and share some photos which I’m very scared to post. It’s not the worst my skin got, but it was my breaking point. It was the final flare up that had me begging my Doctor to put me back on the combined pill.
But first, a mini catch up! Things are finally settling down for our family after we spent the last month going back and forth between our old and new house trying to get the old ready to rent out. We had a meeting with a letting agent last weekend and it’s ready to go on the market! I can’t wait to stay in one place for more than one week!
I’m actually coming to you from the middle of nowhere up north currently though! We’re up here as my husband just started his new job. He’s come to meet everyone in the office and pick up his equipment. His new boss owns some holiday cottages, so I came up with him to stay in a lovely little cottage for a few nights. We go back home tomorrow and after that I don’t want to go anywhere overnight for a LONG time! I’m not someone who can just live out of bags and suitcases, I love being at home!
Plus, we made the new house functional, but other than that there are boxes everywhere still! The garage is a disaster, we don’t have much furniture (we just ordered our dining table, so that should be here in a few weeks!).
SO, let’s get into my experience with acne on the contraceptive pill. It’s going to be long, but I really feel like it needs to be said. A lot of people don’t talk about this stuff, but it was horrific for me. Physically and emotionally. So grab a coffee and some snacks and let’s dig in!
THE BACK STORY
I started getting acne when I was around 13/14. It didn’t seem to follow a pattern, it was all over my face, not just in one area. It was always a mixture of cystic acne and those ones that just spring up and are scabs. I started a proper skincare regime and tried all kinds of over the counter products to clear it up.
Nothing worked, so I went to my doctor and she put me on the combined contraceptive pill. My first ever pill was the Yasmin pill. After a few months my skin cleared up a lot and I only had the odd blemish. For a few years it was fine. I met my now husband, then for some reason I changed to Dianette which I got on fabulously well with. However, after 2 years I was told I couldn’t be on it anymore as there was a greater risk of blood clots and cardiovascular problems.
After trying quite a few other combined pills, I settled on Femodene. It worked for me for years. I’ve never had perfect skin, but I can tolerate the odd spot here and there. I didn’t have any other side effects from Femodene and was quite happily taking it.
Then after we went on holiday last year to the French Alps, I got a really bad sinus infection which lasted for 3 months. I had one migraine with aura… At my next pill review I told the nurse. She immediately took me off the combined pill and put me on a POP called Cerazette. (progesterone only pill or mini pill). Here’s where things take a turn for the worse and my acne on the contraceptive pill really started.
CHANGING FROM THE COMBINED TO THE PROGESTERONE ONLY PILL
I understood her reasoning that if you have a migraine with aura you’re at increased risk of a stroke. However, it wasn’t (and still isn’t) a regular thing for me. I haven’t had one since and I only had one when I was really ill and had an infection.
The nurse told me to push through the first 6 months and after 3/4 months everything will settle down.
For the first 3 months I had no side effects, no break through bleeding, no acne. I was like great, let’s continue. I went and picked up my prescription for the next 6 months. Month 4 is when things snowballed and went downhill fast. It’s when my acne on the contraceptive pill became so bad I refused to leave the house. I love doing foundation reviews and I planned on filming videos this year doing the reviews. However, my skin was so awful I stopped doing videos and would only take photos with a filter on.
During this time I spent hundreds on new skincare and supplements. I was desperate. Crying because my skin hurt so much and it looked so terrible. Buying the cleanest, most simple skincare you could buy. No fragrance, no essential oils, nothing that could be comedogenic. I took multi vitamins, biotin, one that was supposed to help hormones. Nothing was having any effect at all. My acne would start to heal and get less painful. Then it would start again with a load more painful cysts and blisters.
Here’s a month by month break down of my acne on the contraceptive pill (mini pill)…
- Month 4 – I started to get tiny bumps all over my face. Especially on my forehead and on my jaw going up to my cheeks. I got a load of huge cystic spots all over my chin which never came to a head and blister type spots aroumd my nose/cheeks. No skincare or spot gels were having any effect. My skin was sore, dry, flaky and so red. More would spring up daily.
- Month 5 – I go to my Doctor and ask for something to help with the acne. She prescribes my adapalene. I start off using it only a couple of times a week and the smallest amount. I’d used adapalene gel in the past and it wrecked my skin as it dried it out so much. So, this time I had the cream and I was hoping it would be better. Not the case unfortunately, even with once or twice a week the cream made my skin 10 times worse. It was agony. I couldn’t move my mouth because my chin was so sore. I struggled to eat anything more than soups and sauces as I couldn’t stretch my mouth.
- Month 5/6 – My hair started to fall out in chunks and snap at the slightest tug. When I’d brush or shower I’d lose a handful of hair. I’ve always had fine hair, so I didn’t have much to lose, but there it was, going down the drain. I cried about it, I looked up supplements I could take. Started using biotin and collagen shampoo. I tried taking a small amount of biotin because I’d had issues with it causing acne in the past. Nothing was helping.
- Month 6 – I went back to my doctor and reported the hair loss. I had a blood test which came back normal, there seemed to be no other reason other than the mini pill that my hair was falling out. I also started taking lymecycline at month 6 to try and help with my acne. My doctor told me it would take 8-12 weeks to start working. By this time we were staying home because of the virus, so I was luckily not having to go out. But I was even refusing to do our one essential trip to the supermarket because I felt so awful about myself. I started wearing hats to try and cover the fact you could see my scalp. It made me stop sharing my makeup of the day photos on IG as when you have acne as bad as mine, concealer and foundation just doesn’t cover it fully. I felt everyone would be staring at my skin and judging me.
- Month 8 – I started taking a natural supplement which is supposed to help balance your hormones. It’s called diindolylmethane or DIM. I looked into it and saw there could be some nasty side effects, but that so many people swore by it. (Please consult your doctor and research before starting supplements). My order arrived and I started slowly, taking it every other day, just a small dose. I worked my way up to taking 100mg every day for 2 months. I noticed no difference whatsoever. Luckily I had none of the side effects mentioned, but it just didn’t do anything.
- Month 8/9 – This is when I started spotting. It was completely random, but I knew it could happen. I went between spotting to full on heavy period continually for the next 8 weeks. I was exhausted all the time, completely at a loss as to what to do. This was on top of all the other symptoms of hair loss, texture all over my face and the acne/blisters on my face.
- Month 9 – This is when I tried changing my diet to see if it would have any effect. Milk had made me feel ill for years, always felt sick after it, but I didn’t think of it being anything more serious. I decided to switch to oat milk and see if it would help my skin. It helped me a lot in terms of not feeling sick and it did help with some inflammation. However, it had no effect on the texture and blister type spots. I have since gone dairy free because the less milk I was having the worse I felt when I had any type of dairy. Now if I have dairy I get stabbing pains in my stomach and hives on my face. It’s not even the lactose I don’t think because I tried lacto-free milk and I had the same reaction. Anyway, I miss cheese, but I’ve found some great alternatives to dairy. It’s been a journey trying all these different oat and soy based products to find what I like, but I’m in a pretty good place with it all now.
- Month 10/11 – At any one time I would have a bout 40 spots on my face along with all the hundreds of tiny bumps. I bought a Dermapore device to try and help with the texture. It is great for normal blackheads, but did nothing on the hard white bumps I had. My chin was continually so sore I struggled to open my mouth. I felt like I had tried everything. I was still bleeding, I was still taking lymecycline to no avail. Then I had another flare up and it was my breaking point. I was sat at my dressing table about to do my makeup and I just broke down looking at my skin. The thing with acne on the face is the face is the first and sometimes only part of someone you see. If it was anywhere else on my body I could have covered it, but no amount of concealer covered the redness. Plus if you put too much on it just clings to the dry patches. I was utterly done with the whole situation. I had pushed through the first 6 months and was rapidly heading towards a year on this pill and I was still suffering horribly. It had such a negative effect on my mental health as well.
- Month 11 – I made an appointment with my Doctor and almost begged her to put me back on Femodene. I explained all of my symptoms, what I’d tried, how it happened with the nurse and the migraine when I was ill. Said I hadn’t had anything since. She agreed to put me back on it and I cried with relief.
These are the only photos I have of my skin when it was in a flare up. My skin got worse than this, but this was the flare up that broke me. After 10 months of these flare ups and worse ones, I could not take it anymore.
CHANGING BACK TO THE COMBINED PILL
I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet. It would take some time for my hormones to settle and for the combined pill to have a positive effect on my acne. However, I was filled with hope for the first time in months.
I’ve now been back on the combined pill for 3.5 months. I didn’t notice any improvement until the end of month 1. However, once my skin started to improve, it started happening quickly. My texture was clearing up, there were some stubborn bumps on my jawline, but nothing new was cropping up. I stopped getting the blisters and hard lumps that didn’t ever come to a head.
I currently have one hard lump on my chin, it’s healing and not painful. It was self inflicted though, because I had a cheese toastie. The same day my husband bought me a Starbucks and asked for oat milk, but they put dairy milk in. I didn’t want to waste the £3+ so drank it. I’ve had no hormonal flare ups or blisters, just the odd spot here and there which is probably either mask related or me touching my face.
My hair has stopped falling out in clumps. I obviously still lose hair, everyone does, but it’s one or two in the shower and a few when I brush my hair. It’s not coming out in clumps of 20+ strands. I’ve been using the Nioxin shampoo, conditioner and scalp treatment for 2 months now and have quite a lot of regrowth already. I put a few drops of Argan oil on the ends after washing and my hair condition is 100 times better.
My confidence and mental health have improved, I’ve started getting excited about makeup again and doing reviews. Once my studio at the new house is set up, I’d like to film some videos again. I now feel like I can actually review skincare as well as I can see if it’s having an effect on my skin.
Talking of skincare, of course my acne on the contraceptive pill was hormonal and there was no miracle cream that would heal it. But I now have some disclouration to deal with and I needed a little help getting rid of the last few stubborn bumps. I’m going to share what I’ve been using and what has really helped continue the process in clearing my skin.
SKINCARE THAT HELPED MY ACNE ON THE CONTRACEPTIVE PILL
*Look Fantastic and Yes Style links are affiliate, all products purchased by me.
- Etude House Soon Jung Whip Cleanser – £13 from YesStyle
- Good Molecules Pineapple Exfoliating Powder – $16/£12 from Beautylish – this is probably the product where I noticed the most difference in the texture on my cheeks. There’s a lot of hype around this product and now I know why, it’s amazing!
- Pixi Clarity Tonic – £10 from LookFantastic
- Good Molecules Niacinamide Toner – $14/£10 from Beautylish
- Good Molecules Daily Brightening Serum – $9/£6.90 from Beautylish
- The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% – £5.50 from Next (only place where it’s in stock currently! Usually you can get it from Cult Beauty, Beauty Bay, Boots and LookFantastic!
- Hada Labo Goku Jyun Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Milk – £14 from YesStyle
- Kri Skincare Endless Moisture Face Cream – £22 from Kri – this has become my favourite night time moisturiser. It’s fantastic at calming my skin down and giving it just enough moisture. I highly rate this brand as a whole actually. Everything I’ve tried has been fab!
These products have really helped calm my acne on the contraceptive pill. I try and use the Niacinamide toner a few times a week, as with the Pixi one. Then I do the Azelaic acid suspension once a week and the Pineapple exfoliator once or twice a week. When this says exfoliator, it’s not a rough physical one. It uses enzymes to exfoliate. You just add a little water to some of the powder and it forms a paste. As you rub it onto your face it becomes a slightly frothy milk. You get tonnes of product for your money and I’ve been using this for 6 weeks now and have barely made a dent!
I only do one treatment at a time, my skincare regime never has more than 4 steps. I’ve really found this works for me. Layering up loads of products doesn’t work for my skin.
I finish everything up with my Kri moisturiser which is a thickish cream that absorbs well and helps lock everything in.
This is my skin today. As you can see, it’s a lot less angry. I have one or two spots left over, but I haven’t had a new one in a couple of weeks now! There’s some light scarring, which I’m hoping the Niacinamide will help brighten. I know none of the photos can show the texture I had, but believe you me, my jaw, cheeks and forehead are now smooth!
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
I wish that the mini pill had worked for me. I know many people take it with no adverse side effects. But we are all different and it just did not work with my body. My acne on the contraceptive pill has been such a roller coaster from when I was a teenager. I know that I need to be on contraception for it because without my skin flares up too. However, I will never go on the mini pill again.
Until this I knew that confidence could be related to your skin. However, I didn’t realise just how much of an impact severe acne can have on everything. It wreaked havoc on my life. It affected my mental health severely, I became reclusive, I didn’t enjoy makeup anymore, I avoided looking in mirrors or taking photos without a load of skin smoothing filters. I’m not the type of person to cover things up, I’m always honest and open about things. But while I now feel able to share this whole thing, at the time I didn’t as I felt so awful.
I do not share this for sympathy, merely to share my experience of acne on the contraceptive pill. I’ve always been told the pill WILL work on your skin. But this might mean you have to spend quite a while trying different pills. And maybe no pill will work for you and you’ll be better with a different form of contraception.
I just think we should be more aware that the pill is not a miracle cure for acne and certain ones with your body chemistry can make it worse. Plus, I never knew that hair loss was a symptom I may get. It’s all about finding the right contraceptive for you. And you might have to go through something like I did to work it out. But don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor if you’re not happy. And if your doctor doesn’t listen, speak to another doctor. It’s your body at the end of the day and you are the one who has to deal with the side effects!