PCOS is not your friend.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome isn’t the worst but it most certainly sucks and it really does a number on your skin.
I’ve spent 30 years figuring out my skin and my PCOS. PCOS Skincare: 6 Hacks to a Radiant, Youthful, Acne Free and Hair Free Face are hacks that have helped me achieve a radiant, youthful, acne free and hair free face; the kind of skin that is the holy grail in the PCOS world of skincare.
You can read all about PCOS here but its basics gifts are:
- Acne (for your whole life)
- Hirsutism (excessive facial/body hair)
- Inability to lose weight easily
- Ability to gain weight easily
- Fertility issues
- Heavy Periods
Without going into all the various details and possible symptoms, let’s just agree that life is equally different and equally terrible for every woman with PCOS. We have found many different ways to treat ourselves; some things works, others do not.
I’ve found things that work for me and I think they can work for you too.
1. Control your Hormones
Did you know there are specific birth control pills for PCOS? I am currently using Syeda to manage my symptoms. Although I am not happy about taking hormones but I am happy that my PCOS is under control.
I had refused to take the pill for decades because I didn’t want to put potentially dangerous hormones in my body.
I had great success for many years using a supplement regime of d-Pinitol and Saw Palmetto. That cost me around $100/month; not an easy nut when you’re self employed.
When I wasn’t able to afford the $100 anymore and after feeling and looking so much better, I knew I couldn’t go backwards. So I bit the bullet and got a prescription for Yazmin (Ocella and Syeda are the generics.) Monthly cost, $0.
My periods are light and cramp free. My acne is under control and my hirsutism hasn’t gotten any worse. I also have one less monthly bill to worry about.
Your acne and excessive hair growth will not go away if you don’t directly address your hormones. If you don’t take care of the underlying hormonal issues first, nothing you do to your skin will be of any lasting benefit. Diet is also a HUGE factor (see hack #6, Paleo Diet.)
2. Shave Your Face
Getting your hormones under control doesn’t mean all the side effects of PCOS will magically go away… *think excessive facial hair and whiskers.
Getting your hormones under control won’t make that hair disappear. It will stop it from growing so fast but once it’s there, it’s yours to keep. Meaning, you now need to know how to deal with it.
Facial hair can be very embarrassing.
You start avoiding direct sunlight for fear of the sun highlighting your facial hair. I would avoid standing too close to people for fear of them noticing my excessively fuzzy face. You pretend that cream bleach really does camouflage your mustache.
I lived with hirsutism for so long I should have a Phd in dealing with unwanted facial hair.
My article Hair, chronicles my hair story. *Spoiler alert… I’m living a glorious hair free life.
Shaving your face is the game changer. All women, not just PCOS women, should shave their faces. Hair and dead skin will be removed, your skin will look bright and radiant, it will feel incredibly smooth and you’ll stimulate collagen.
It’s the secret to youthful skin and why men tend to age slower than women. They exfoliate their skin all the time!
My post Shave Your Face will teach you how to take that big leap into shaving. I wish someone had told me about this when I was 9. I honestly think I would have had a much different life.
FYI… Whiskers are a different story. Shaving will not be enough. You’ll need to invest in laser hair removal.
3. Castor and Grapeseed Oil Face Wash
This sounds very scary. Washing your face with oil? It took me forever to give this a try but once I figured out how EXACTLY to do it, it was life changing.
First, the most important thing to understand is that not all oils are good for your face.
Acne prone skin needs products that are non-comedogenic; meaning they won’t clog your pores.
The idea behind using oil face wash is that oil attracts oil and it will help pull out the impurities in your skin while keeping your skin moisturized.
Although it is very popular, coconut oil is the worst. It clogs your pores in no time. Do not put it on your face!
Castor Oil and grapeseed oil are not only non-comedogenic and amazing for your acne prone face but they are also insanely affordable. Goodbye $60 face wash!
Use my recipe for PCOS Skincare: Castor and Grapeseed Oil Face Wash to learn how make your own and how to incorporate it into your daily skincare regime.
Second, you may not be able to exclusively use oil wash.
I tried it for 3 months and my face turned into a nightmare. I figured out the hard way that I had to use it in conjunction with OTHER products.
Additionally, it’s the best makeup remover you can use. I always use it at night to take off the day.
Third, exfoliation is key in helping acne prone skin.
Castor oil is amazing in promoting cellular turnover. Which means, your skin will now need to be exfoliated once to twice a week. What’s the best way to exfoliate your skin… you guessed it!
Shave your face! Remember, you need to dry shave your face… read Shave Your Face if you still don’t know what I’m talking about.
Fourth, castor oil is VERY powerful.
You can’t use it by itself. That’s where the grapeseed oil comes in. It’s an amazing carrier agent for the castor oil. It’s heavy in vitamin E, penetrates quickly and is excellent at reducing inflammation and healing acne. Grab the bottle from your kitchen cabinet and put it in the bathroom!
4. Benzoyl PEROXIDE
I have acne scarring and melasma. I’ve spent over two decades trying all the fancy creams and facial peels to help clear my skin and fade the dark patches. NOTHING helped. Sure my skin was soft but the acne came back, the dark spots came back, the melasma came back.
Even after I addressed my underlying hormonal issues I still had melasma and acne scarring.
I had resigned myself to always wearing makeup so my skin would look even. It was yet another unwelcome side effect of PCOS.
And then my daughter got acne and everything changed.
I wouldn’t let her take prescription acne medicines so her dermatologist prescribed an over the counter face wash that she said would be extremely helpful. She recommended Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Facial Cleanser. OMG. Life changing product.
It’s inexpensive, around $5 a bottle, and it really really works. Not only did it clear up my daughters skin almost immediately but when I used it I discovered something magical; it faded my melasma and my acne scars.
And it did what none of the other expensive creams and facial peels could do; it brightened my skin and faded my dark spots.
My face became radiant and my skin tone evened out. It has 10% benzoyl peroxide and apparently that is the magic ingredient. I haven’t tried any other brands because I didn’t need to. This stuff works!
However, much like the castor and grapeseed oil face wash, I couldn’t use it exclusively. It was too drying to use twice a day. Plus you don’t want to use it to remove makeup, especially anywhere near your eyes!
Once I figured out to use the Clean and Clear in the AM and the oil wash in the PM, everything came together and my PCOS skincare regime was set.
If you don’t moisturize properly, your skin will age prematurely.
This is not rocket science and I’m not saying anything new. Dry skin develops wrinkles and fine lines faster. You’ll look years older just because your face is dry. I live in Colorado where it’s very dry so I’m used to always putting on moisturizer (with SPF for the daytime!)
The trick with PCOS skin is to find a moisturizer that penetrates and is non-comedogenic.
A lot of PCOS skin is a combination of clogged and dry skin. I have a congested base with a dry top. I need moisture, exfoliation and penetration.
Here’s where the castor and grapeseed oil comes back into play.
I use a small amount of it in the AM, under my moisturizer and makeup. It keeps my skin exfoliating and hydrated during the day while my moisturizer (and SPF) keeps the moisture locked in. It’s a fabulous combination.
My face looks dewey and my makeup never looks dry or settles into my fine lines.
I also use the castor and grapeseed oil at night under my moisturizer to make sure my skin keeps exfoliating and the moisture keeps penetrating.
Don’t forget to read my PCOS Skincare: Castor and Grapeseed Oil Face Wash and learn how make your own and how to incorporate it into your daily skincare regime.
If you’re looking for suggestions for moisturizers, I love DHC Astaxanthin Collagen All-in-One Gel and MyChelle Deep Repair Cream and MyChelle Sun Shield Liquid Tint SPF 50 in Nude.
6. Paleo Diet
When you’re diagnosed with PCOS you begin to learn about what is going on inside your body. One of the first things you’ll learn is that your body is testosterone heavy. Your ovaries are making WAY TO MUCH of it.
One of the biggest things you don’t want to do is help them make more. Eating a diet high in sugar (I mean any type of sugar; be it fruit, natural or processed) will create more testosterone, making you a candidate for insulin resistance.
Your PCOS will make eating any food that converts itself into sugar (grains, starchy carbs) into a opportunity for more testosterone production.
One diet protocol for PCOS is the diabetic diet. Eating like a diabetic, restricting sugars and eating protein and veggies, is helpful. I did that for a good 10 years.
Then I discovered the Paleo diet. It is the perfect diet for PCOS.
You can take it a step further and go to the Keto diet but for the most part, Paleo is the key. It prevents inflammation, keeps your hormone levels stable which results in less acne, less hirsutism and better periods and if that isn’t enough, it helps you to lose weight easily.
The Paleo diet will clear up your skin and make you feel and look better. If you follow it, it will work. When you make poor food choices, your PCOS will flare up and you’ll see it in your skin, body and mood.
If you’re wondering how in the world to start a Paleo diet, I’d suggest doing The Whole30. It is very easy to follow and understand. Plus, you’ll see and feel real results within 30 days.
Make sure you check out my Paleo recipes. Whether you’re new to the Paleo journey or a season professional, my recipes will help keep you excited about eating Paleo and will keep your PCOS manageable. Your skin and your body will thank you.