Help ! I have acne after stopping the pill

Help ! I have acne after stopping the pill

Hello everyone! Welcome to my progressive article and review on having acne after stopping the pill. On February 18, 2018 I stopped my birth control pill. Not for the first time, but for the second time, 5 years later, because the first time was actually really bad. But hey, after about 15 years of taking synthetic hormones it was more than time to stop, and let my body work by itself. So I decided to tell you about it openly, to share with you my impressions, my advice so that those of you who like me, decided to stop and have acne OR are afraid to get acne, can find some support. Acne after stopping the pill : my experience.

Having acne after stopping the pill : my personal experience

Why I was afraid to quit

Because I was afraid of the famous duo “acne after stopping the pill”. And then … because 5 years ago I had already tried to stop it, and it did not go well. Especially in terms of acne. Stopping the pill and acne, yes, unfortunately it often goes together, and I did not escape this. The last time, it appeared after only a few weeks and after 3 months, I ended up taking my pill again. This time, taking it back is no longer an option for me. And this time, it happened a little differently: in fact, the first 6 months went “OK”. I had more oily skin, more pimples, a much rougher skin texture than before, etc. But nothing too bad before 6/7 months where unfortunately, it got worse. At 9 1/2 months. my skin is at worst. I was so sad! But finally, thanks to a good routine, and probably thanks to time, I got rid of it!

Complementary post : my routine against hormonal acne

My evolution month after month

  • Between 1 and 4 months after stopping the pill : a more irregular skin texture, a pimple from time to time but nothing catastrophic. A lot of anxiety however, permanent “afraid that it gets worse” feeling.
  • After 5 months: the situation has not changed much except that I have the impression of having more oily skin filled with blackheads, microcysts. I’m going to make a confession: I’m more anxious than sad. The state of my current skin is OK. But I’m afraid that EVERY dark spot, EVERY little shit under the skin becomes a big acne spot. It’s stupid huh? We will see the evolution. But if it stays like that, I accept! Fingers crossed. Do it for me too HIHI!
  • After 7 months: I spent the summer better than I thought. I had a OK skin , far from perfect but no disaster say. Big bad pimples at the time of ovulation especially, before the rules also sometimes, but nothing catastrophic all along the cycle. Always a grainy skin, but hey, that, I made a reason for it. My smooth skin before: it’s over. At least for now. On the other hand there in cycle post summer I am in FULL BIG PUSH on the right cheek. My worst since the beginning, big red pimples that are inflamed and leave traces without makeup my right cheek is really not great. I am a little depressed I admit. So, a post sun effect, just a bad cycle or the beginning of the disaster? (Indeed I read everywhere testimonials of girls for whom it “begins” after 7 or even 8 months …) I do not know, to see. But I pray that this is not the 3rd option … appointment later to talk about it again!
  • After 9 1/2 months: it gets worse … but really. I really have acne now. I suspect the stress of being there for something. I have every 2/3 days an inflamed red button that hurts and leaves a red trace. I have a lot of black spots and irregularities. I have little red pimples everywhere (cheeks, forehead, nose, between the eyes). Cleansed my skin is really blah … I’m starting to get really bad because of that. And the worst part is that I get into a bad vicious circle, which is acne that makes me stress, stress that gives me even more acne, and so on. etc. I just booked an appointment at an Acupuncturist failing to see a dermato for months (because here in Sweden the waiting lists are super long). I hope it can help me manage my stress and acne as well. I’ll let you know.
  • After 12/15 months: MIRACLE! I had heard that it took about one month per year of pill for acne to start calming down/to disappear. And I would like to tell you : do not give up ! My acne ended up going away by itself, I’m not kidding. From month to month I had less and less pimples, after my 9 months peak (the 9th month was the worst!). 18 pimples for cycle 9, then 15 for cycle 10, then 13 for cycle 11, 12 for cycle 12, 8 for cycle 13, 6 for cycle 14, 4 for cycle 15. Currently, I’m already halfway my cycle and I had only ONE PIMPLE! So great. Well, I still have red marks, some small hollow scars, but they do fade slowly… And I’m going to write an article on how to reduce mild acne marks and scars very soon on the blog. IN ANY CASE, EVEN IF IT HAS REALLY SUC*** FOR A YEAR, IT’S OVER. And one day it will be for you too so I am the living proof of it: do not give up and try to not be too sad about your acne, it’s temporary !

How to avoid an acne breakout when going off the pill ?

Well, I applied a lot of advice that I found during my research online, and here is the result. I can only advise you to do the same! It didn’t help me to clear my skin completely, but it’s worth trying for you! Plus, it might have helped me a bit!

All my tips to avoid a post-pill acne breakout : 

  • Start taking Zinc supplements ASAP when stopping the pill and during the first 3 months (at least). Zinc is an essential component needed in thousands of chemical reactions of our skin. It can only help you fight imperfections. I started Zinc (12mg a day) 1 week before going off the pill and I still take some everyday. I do not know when I’m going to stop it but I think I’ll continue to take one every two days, then one day out of three, and so on. Until weaning. Thereafter, I will do zinc treatments once or twice a year because it is really a trace element which is essential for our body, and for our skin.
  • DO NOT EAT LOW-FAT! Here is a big big mistake I made 5 years ago. The skin is made up of cells (yes, logic) and the cells are made of cholesterol, which is super important for our body to work well. And cholesterol, we produce of course but also, we eat. Where do we find it? In the fat. And so, eating low fat is not at all a good idea for your acne. So of course I do not tell you to eat cheese and ice cream like a crazy person everyday ! But do not deprive yourself of a little bit fat everyday. Your skin will thank you! On the other hand, I prefer sources of fat that do not come from dairy products based on cow’s milk, known to worsen inflammation of acne. Goat’s milk, yes. And vegetable fat (oils, avocado, etc.) as well as from fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc.).
  • Eat well. Do you know the 30/70 rule? On your plate, you need 30% protein, and 70% starch and vegetables. Eat vegetables / fresh fruit with each meal, they are excellent for your transit, and for your skin. Grated carrots, tomatoes, salad, green vegetables, soups, smoothies, go for it! And this with each meal.
  • Don’t go too crazy with foods that stimulate insulin and containing gluten. White bread, white flour, pasta, rice, sugar, etc. This can make the inflammation worse.
  • Use adapted products. When you stop the pill, at least that was the case for me, your skin can become a little fatter (even a lot!). So, you have to change your beauty routine. In the morning, use a mild cleansing solution, then a non-comedogenic moisturizer. In the evening, cleanse your skin gently again and use a night cream. Don’t hesitate to apply a targeted product against imperfections in small quantities on your pimples. But don’t overdose it ! It will dry out your skin and make it produce more sebum, so more pimples! I share with you my complete beauty routine against hormonal acne in this post if you are interested.
  • And SLEEP WELL! Sleeping well is also essential for a beautiful skin.
  • Calm down! Stress stimulates the production of sebum and therefore favors pimples. So relax. And above all, try not to focus too much on your skin.

And what about the rest ?

Yes, because after all, it’s not all about the pimples. Stopping the pill can cause many other discomforts such as pain (cramps, headaches), spottings, mood changes, nausea, weight loss or gain, etc.

Here is what I realized in my case :

  • it takes a little time for cycles to become regular again. I did not escape the rule. But it’s normal, it takes up to 1 year so do not panic. To follow the regularity of my cycles I use the free application Clue, which is just great and that I really recommend!

  • I have a lot of nausea, cramps, and headaches … phew, not funny. But it’s like that. Especially around ovulation, I do not really feel great. Almost sick. So I hope this comes from the need of hormones to be balanced again and that it will pass.
  • I didn’t see any big changes in my mood. I’m not more upset than before, nor sadder or anything. That’s a good point ! Just maybe a little tired when I have everything I mentioned on the above point, even exhausted. But not sad for all that! #keepsmiling

* Good luck for stopping your pill, if it is planned on your side too! Feel free to share your experiences / ask me your questions. I would like this article to become a place of exchange that I will update regularly with new products / tips *

Take care xx

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22 Comments

  1. Pooja
    August 17, 2019 / 8:39 AM

    Hi! I’m wondering, when you said the last time you started experiencing acne and went back on the pill after 3 months, how
    Long did it take for your skin to clear up again on the birth control? I’ve been off birth control for 4 months (was on it
    For 2.5 years) and my skin is breaking out like never before. I’m thinking of going back on the pill because im having bad anxiety and self esteem from the break out and I’m not Sure if it’s all worth it. When I go back on the pill, how long till the pimples subside ?

    • August 21, 2019 / 7:05 PM

      Hi girl ! I know… I’ve been there. My advice would be to not go on the pill, because you’ll have to face this anyways, another time, when you ll quit again. It’s normal…
      For me it lasted about 8 -9 months. Now it’s been 1 and 1/2 years and my skin is back to normal.
      I have a few minor scars but I try to not think too much about it.
      One advice : do not touch your pimples !
      Hold on <3 it will go away ! Try salicylic acid , for me it has really helped ! As well and benzoyle peroxyde.
      A.

    • August 21, 2019 / 7:06 PM

      Oh I and realize i didn’t answer your question. When I went back on the pill 6,5 years ago after my 1st try, my skin went back to normal after like 1 month!

  2. Olivia
    October 1, 2019 / 4:26 PM

    hey! i have been on a low dose hormonal contraceptive pill for 3 years now and still get pimples frequently. I am wanting to get off the pill as i do not want to have these hormones in my body for an extended period of time. I am so so afraid of getting off the pill. I cannot tell you how many articles i have read and videos i have watched of how everyone else responded to coming off of the pill, but deep down i know it is different for everyone. I am so scared to come off of it but was inspired by reading your updates to finally do it. Did you develop full blown acne or just severe pimples? cause i don’t think i have ever had acne just a lot of pimples which sometimes cause discomfort and of course embarrassment.
    Its amazing what natural healing can do and I hope my skin doesn’t turn on me for too long!

    • October 3, 2019 / 12:37 PM

      Hey Olivia! Thanks for your comment! Oh, I feel you… I also googled so much, read SO many articles, etc. And didn’t necessarily always found the answers to my questions, so that’s why I thought I would create my own evolutive content so it can hopefully help others. I found many many experiences online, but mostly DURING the problem, not many of the AFTER. It’s good to know that it CAN go away. And I confirm, it does pass, eventually.
      I didn’t have full-blown acne, at least I don’t think so. It was more, as you mentioned, severe pimples. But my biggest problem was that, even if I didn’t get so many (maybe 10 a month… still SO MUCH for me, not used to have ANY), the “worst” ones left me indented marks. And that’s the part that made me the most afraid. Especially for a while, I got more and more of those every month, so I wondered if I would end up really scarred. Ush… that thought still gives me anxiety. BUT. I thought that if this was my nature, well, I had to go through this anyway. Because I couldn’t stay on the pill forever. To be honest, it’s been really hard, and it even gave me a little depression, but it WENT AWAY… after like 15 months post-pill, and maybe 6 months of accelerating acne… after one dermatologist wanting to put me on antibiotics (which I didn’t take…) it WENT AWAY!
      Now my skin is (almost) back to normal. I don’t have exactly as good skin as I had before I stopped the pill, but it’s totally OK. I have maybe less than 5 indented scars remaining (most of them got back), and they’re not as indented as they were. You can barely see them. Maybe only in some light, and if you look at me 5 cm away from my face. I learned to accept these little flaws and to be happy for what I have.
      Now I still have some pimples when I have my ovulation period, and periods. But it’s nothing compared to before. It’s mostly very small (not with inflammation) pimples. And regarding the ones with inflammation, I get maybe 1 or 2 a month.
      SO… don’t worry too much. I’d say that if you’d be an acne-prone person, you’d have had full-blown acne already, before taking the pill. Can I ask how old you were when you started the pill, 3 years ago? Did you have more or fewer pimples before? I’d say that, in the end, you’ll just get back to what you had before, probably…

  3. Savanna
    February 13, 2020 / 12:42 PM

    Hey! I just wanted to thank you so much for this post. I went off the pill in August 2019, in October I started noticing small bumps on my forehead (never had that before) and and some odd sore pimples on my face. By December it got really bad (all over my forehead, few big ones on my cheeks , chin, neck , back and hair line. End of December i started taking zinc tablets called acneville from a dermatologist its suppose to improve the skin up to 85% after 8 weeks and its been 7 weeks and i dont really see a differnce yet. My actual question is, because ive been on the pill for 6 years do you think that from the time i started noticing pimples around November do you think my skin should start clearing in May 2020? as that’s around 6 months.Thanks so much in advance!

    -Savanna

    • February 14, 2020 / 2:33 PM

      Hey Savanna! Thank YOU for your comment, and I’m glad if my post could be useful!
      I cannot promise you that it is going to get better. But, according to my experience AND the ones from people who shared them with me, IF you didn’t have an acne problem BEFORE you went on the pill, it probably means that this is just your skin and hormones going a bit crazy because of stopping the pill. Then, yes, it’s a shit period to go through, but it should get better with time.
      Hold on! And try (I know how HARD this is) to not focus too much on it. Stress causes more acne, acne causes stress, etc. You must break the circle.
      I also really recommend the salicylic acid I speak about in my post, because it was the one that helped me clear my skin! It’s just a few dollars (from The Ordinary). Hope your skin gets better soon <3

  4. Mia
    March 9, 2020 / 12:35 AM

    Hi there; I stumbled on this as I’m about to go to naturopath to see what can be done for general skin and hormone health. I ended up stopping all contraceptives about 3 years ago after having been on it for over 13/14 years with. It took a year for my Period to come back normally and the after I started dating someone new I went back on depoprovera(the injection) once which made really screwed up my body chemistry. I have been off it now for almost a full 2 years and there are ups and downs with skin and just feeling the hormone changes as you go through the different changes of a cycle. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% sure my hormones are balanced now I would say it takes some time and also each month is different. It’s interesting as my skin and my hormones flair up ( feeling tired or hot) when I eat unhealthy and I think diet and stress control are majors for looking after your body. I think also stressing and piling your face with products doesn’t help either. My advice to readers is keep your routine simple 3 Products max a day and pay attention to your diet and stress relieving activity. I use Paul’s Choice BHA for exfoliation, bioderma mycellar water or cetaphil for cleansing and a water based light moisturiser. Thanks for your blog – helps to know others go through this!

    • Milena
      May 18, 2020 / 4:02 AM

      Hiya!
      Im 18 and I got the contraceptive implant around 5 months ago. It didn’t change my skin much at all and went back to normal quickly, however I’ve always had acne prone skin. The implant made me have a continuing period for 4 months so they suggested I should start taking the pill. I took it for around a month and realised my skin started breaking out so I stopped immediately. It helped my menstrual cycle but now, 3 weeks after stopping the pill I’m noticing spots on my cheeks, whereas I’ve never had any there before. Do you think because I only took the pill for one month it should go back to normal soon or are there more chances of it getting worse? I honestly hate it and hope it’s temporary

      • May 19, 2020 / 2:55 PM

        Hi Milena,
        Thanks for your message. I know that acne is very annoying. Unfortunately, if you are 18, chances are you are getting the classic teenagehood acne which comes from hormonal change. It will pass…
        But you might also need contraception anyways, and it is true that the pill can help for acne so maybe talk about it with your GP?
        Good luck !

  5. madeline
    April 3, 2020 / 6:36 PM

    Hi there, I’m thinking about going off birth control and am really nervous about it. I’m wondering what your skin was like before you took the pill? Thank you!

    • April 13, 2020 / 10:04 AM

      It was good. But I took it VERY young (due to menstrual cramps)… about 12 yo… so it was before I could get acne (maybe?). I will never know I guess ! However I’ve been off the pill sometimes between 12 yo and 28 and I never had acne. So I don’t think it’s my skin’s “nature”, more a hormonal unbalance due to stopping the pill.
      Good luck !

      • Natalie
        April 21, 2020 / 2:03 PM

        This is such a helpful post! I wanted to clarify in your comment above.. when you were off the pill between 12/28, how many months were you off it? and did you not experience acne in those gaps? But you only experienced it when you came off at 28?
        I am 25 and went on the pill at about 17 – I’m terrified to come off. I had mild acne before the pill randomly at 16, but looking back I’m wondering if it was because I started going to the gym at 16 wearing loads of makeup and not washing my face properly – so really I have no idea what my skin is like!

        • May 2, 2020 / 9:17 AM

          Hi 🙂 So happy my post helped!
          I guess i was off it maybe 2 / 3 times in total and for a few months. Didn’t get any acne at all! But usually, the acne comes after a few months off the pill so maybe it wasn’t “enough” of a break. I stopped for like 2-3 / 4 months max maybe. And this time my acne came after that. It’s really hormonal unbalance though… ´once your hormones find their balance again, it becomes better.
          And yeah, regarding your case… it’s been so many years in between, I think it’s impossible to predict how it could be. Hopefully it won’t come back. But if it does try to take care of it gently and it will pass.. <3

    • May 2, 2020 / 9:26 AM

      Hi Madeline, I’m really sorry I didn’t answer earlier.
      Well, I never had acne before. I really think this acne came from a hormonal unbalance due to going off the pill. Good luck and don’t hesitate to write again (I’ll try and answer quicker, next time :))

  6. Madison
    May 7, 2020 / 6:17 AM

    Hello! I’m 17 and I’ve been on the pill for about 3 years and I’ve gone through 3 different types of birth control through that time. The one I’m currently on is not helping my face at all and I’m thinking it’s probably best to get off of it all together, but I’m terrified. Before getting on the pill, I didn’t have great skin and I still got pimples from time to time with birth control that worked pretty well for my face. I want to get off the pill because it just doesn’t seem to be helping my face anymore and I’m sick of being on it at this point. I’ve read many articles and watched videos about getting off of birth control and all I see are how people had terrible experiences. Because I had acne prone skin before, I just know that I’ll probably end up with terrible acne. I’m very insecure and getting one pimple freaks me out. I know I couldn’t handle getting full blown acne. I’m even on an antibiotic and have prescribed spot treatment. Do you think I would have a different experience because I’m younger and because I haven’t been on the pill for too long? Everyone that I know who was on birth control didn’t have any side effects at all but I know that everyone is different. Thanks.

    • May 7, 2020 / 9:04 AM

      Hi Madison, thanks for your message. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to know or to predict anything. I believe each person is different and the only way to know is to try. But one thing is for sure: the BC pill isn’t a cosmetic product. So if you don’t need it / don’t want to take it anymore for birth control, you shouldn’t. The skin problems can be treated by other methods, BC pill isn’t an adequate one for them.
      Good luck! And I hope you won’t get acne. I mean, it could be that you don’t… if you do, I’m sure a dermatologist can help you! Or a naturopath.
      Don’t hesitate to write an update…
      Take care <3

  7. Mid
    May 22, 2020 / 11:58 PM

    Hi,
    I tried the birth control patch in December for a month, and stopped as it was making me nauseous and giving me headaches. I had a normal period after stopping the patch and then another normal period in January. However, since February I have been getting tiny little bumps on my forehead which eventually made their way down to my cheeks. I also lost a bit of hair from February till the beginning of May .. it’s only just calmed down.
    Do you think all of my skin and hair issues are related to the birth control? I was only on it for a month, however I have never been on birth control before this. I am 26 now and never had acne before.

    • May 27, 2020 / 1:27 PM

      Hi Mid, yes it could be, maybe it has triggered some hormonal change. But just for one month, it isn’t so much. Is there anything new in your diet, otherwise? Or have you been under a lot of stress lately?
      Other things can influence hormones (stress, food, …)
      If you cannot pinpoint where it comes from… Maybe talk to a doctor or a naturopath for example to find the source if it doesn’t get better?

  8. Catherine
    May 27, 2020 / 6:48 AM

    HI! thank you for this post… I have struggled with acne since I was really young. I got my first pimples when I started middle school and it got really bad when I was about 17. (I am 25 now). I actually went on Accutane when I turned 18 and my skin was completely clear for about 5 years (without a little hormonal breakout here and there). It took about 6-8 weeks for my period to start again after going off the pill and I got very bad breakouts right before my first cycle post-bc. It is now about a week and a half after I’ve gotten my first period and my skin is about the worst it’s ever been since high school. I’m freaking out. I’ve read a lot of blogs and have seen that skin goes back to normal, but I am very anxious. I’m not looking for support or advice I just wanted to comment to see if anyone else had this problem! I didn’t even realize post birth control acne was a thing…. it sucks.

    • May 27, 2020 / 1:31 PM

      Hi Catherine,
      Stopping the pill is true hormonal disruption. I really hope the situation will get better for you, you have to be patient and see if it calms down by itself (at 25, there is less chance that your acne is teenage acne, most probably from the hormonal change).
      But if it doesn’t pass, I would recommend talking to a dermatologist.
      Also, I can recommend salicilic acid (used daily) for chemical soft exfoliation. Google about it. One or two drops on the whole face every night before bed… it really helps to clear the pores and minimizing the acne. At least for me it made a big difference!
      Hold on <3

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