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You could say I’m slightly obsessed. Especially after the TSC HIM & HER podcast with Charlotte Cho. Many of you asked & wanted to know more information about hormonal acne after listening SO I decided it was time to invite Charlotte on to share all the dirty details.

Here we go:

Hi! My name is Charlotte and I’m the cofounder of Soko Glam, a curated Korean beauty site, and our skincare content site, The Klog. After getting my esthetician license, I wrote the book The Little Book of Skin Care, which Lauryn has read and helped her get into Korean beauty!

I was inspired to start a curated store of my favorite Korean beauty products after living and working in Seoul for five years. I was fascinated by K-beauty and what it had to offer. As a Korean-American, I wanted to bridge the gap between the US and Korea and share what I had learned. My skin had improved so much after taking up a multi-step Korean skincare routine, I didn’t want to keep my secrets so secret anymore!

If you’re new to Korean beauty and are wondering why Korean beauty is taking off, I have 3 simple answers for you.

+ Korean beauty products are so innovative, whether it be their formulation or their packaging! After popularizing new categories such as BB creams, cushion compacts, sheet masks to snail mucin moisturizers and more, Korea is known to be at the forefront of beauty.

+ Korean beauty products are accessible and affordable. Before I got into K-beauty, I believed it was hard to find high quality products without the expensive price tag. Now with K-beauty, I find tons of products within the price range of $15-40 that give me results without breaking the bank.

+ Korean beauty is not simply about a brand or a product, it’s all about the skin-first philosophy. Taking care of your skin has never been so fun and educational. I’m obsessed with taking care of my skin first, before covering it up with makeup.

When I met Lauryn for the podcast last month, we got to talking about hormonal and cystic acne because that’s one of the skin issues I personally struggle with. I know that I’m not alone, because we get hundreds of DMs and emails weekly at Soko Glam about this being their biggest concern. Lauryn also mentioned she gets this question a lot from her community!

I wanted to write a guest post about this topic because I know how frustrating acne can be. Contrary to popular belief, hormonal acne is more common in adults than teens, even if you’ve had relatively clear skin growing up.

Here are some other “fun” facts about adult acne ( from the American Academy of Dermatology ):

+ Some adults continue to get acne well into their 30s to 50s.
+ An imbalance of hormone levels can lead to breakouts ( periods, pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills )
+ Stress
+ Family history ( genetics )
+ Hair & skincare products that are not suitable for your skin

Isn’t it so unfair that we have to care about anti-aging AND acne all at the same time? For me, I didn’t have much acne to deal with growing up, but when I turned 30, it was like a switch. My once clear skin became riddled with painful, inflamed breakouts along my chin.

While it was a bit depressing to adjust to this new reality, I learned more about it and found a routine that helped me prevent breakouts from occurring, and in the chance that it did, I knew exactly what to do to get rid of the inflamed breakouts faster! Now I have a solid routine that keeps my cystic acne at bay.

So let’s talk more about this specific acne I experience- cystic acne.

What is cystic acne?

In order to find a solution, you should learn as much as you can about it. Cystic acne (also commonly called hormonal acne) is characterized by painful inflammation that is underneath the surface of your skin and it is usually found around your chin, jaw and cheek area. Cystic acne is typically reoccurring and can resurface around the time of your period or periods of high stress or when you eat certain foods.

How do you get rid of cystic acne?

The problem with hormonal acne is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person is different and what is triggering it for each person varies. There is a bit of trial and error involved in figuring out how to treat and prevent it.

For me, it involved a cocktail of ingredients and products, from double cleansing to chemical exfoliants and magic pimple patches!

I’ll walk you through my personal skin care routine for dealing with these painful breakouts:

Double Cleanse

I start off with cleansing my skin thoroughly using the Double Cleanse method. It starts with an oil-based cleanser, such as the Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead, followed by a water-based cleanser, such as the Dr. Oracle A-thera Cleansing Foam.

For those of you who are daunted by the idea of cleansing twice, it really only takes a minute to do the double cleanse. Most people see a huge difference in their skin because double cleansing helps to ensure all impurities that cause breakouts will be removed cleanly from the skin. Oil cleansers will thoroughly and gently remove excess sebum, makeup, and pollution. Water cleansers will remove the remaining impurities. You’ll be surprised at how many impurities are on your face at the end of the day that require you to cleanse twice to start off with a clean slate. It’ll make your skincare products work better for you, and you’ll eliminate acne triggers such as bacteria, excess sebum and dead skin cells.

Chemical Exfoliation

Next up is chemical exfoliation. I recommend the Dr. Oracle A-thera Peeling Stick because it is packed with 6% AHA and BHA and tea tree to soothe inflamed skin. I use this on my skin about once or twice a week. It’ll tingle a bit when you apply it, but that’s completely normal.

Chemical exfoliants will penetrate into your pores to remove dead skin cells, which is one of the main causes of breakouts. My favorite AHAs include glycolic and lactic acid, because they not only clear your dead skin cells, but they are hydrating acids that help plump up any fine lines. My favorite BHA is salicylic acid or betaine salicylate, which is commonly found in many acne products because they are oil-loving acids that are also anti-inflammatory. They are super effective at clearing blackheads and preventing breakouts from occurring!

Pimple Patches

Then comes the Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch which is known for being a great spot treatment for getting rid of cystic breakouts, specifically.

These patches are not lined with any extracts or special acne-fighting ingredients. They are actually made out of celluloid. They latch onto your breakout and draw out the gunk in your pimple. It really speeds up the process of healing cystic acne and keeps your dirty hands and fingers from touching it and making it even more inflamed. I swear by these, and hundreds of reviews don’t lie.

Hydrate & Protect

It’s so incredibly important to hydrate and protect your skin with a lightweight moisturizer, that won’t clog your pores or make you have a greasy heavy feeling. Hydrated skin equals healthy skin and it’s important to moisturize properly with the right moisturizer.

I recommend the Dr. Oracle A-thera Emulsion for the evening, and in the day time, I recommend the Missha Essence Sun Milk which has SPF 50.

Sunscreen is a very crucial step in any routine, but particularly if you have acne! Acne is really inflamed wounds and so they need to be protected from the sun’s harsh UV rays, which cause post inflammatory pigmentation.


Hormonal acne can be triggered by things you consume, like dairy or caffeine. It’s not the same for everyone, but try removing potential dietary triggers to find out the root cause of the issue. I know many who have cut out coffee from their diet, which has helped them completely resolve hormonal breakouts!

How to fade acne scars

So your breakout has finally gone away, but it left a sad brown or red spot behind as a reminder that it existed. Many people ask me what is the best treatment to make these acne scars go away faster.

My answer to that is vitamin C! Vitamin C is the most powerful antioxidant and it works quickly to brighten your skin. But you can’t just use any vitamin C. Use ascorbic acid, or pure vitamin C in high concentrations for the best result.

I co-created the Cosrx Triple C Lightning Serum because I needed a vitamin C treatment that was powerful enough to help fade acne scars quickly. This has 20.5% vitamin C, and it’s also formulated with blackberry extract, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Visiting the dermatologist

I know many people want to go straight to a dermatologist when they run into acne issues, but keep in mind their solutions should be a last resort. Dermatologists will often prescribe oral and topical products that, with continued use, can have side effects such as rough, dry textured skin. I recommend using gentle ingredients and products first, before resorting to a dermatologist.

Trust me, I know the desperate feeling of wanting to clear your skin quickly! But with a bit of education, trial and error, I now experience breakouts less and my skin is relatively clear with the occasional breakout.

I hope this tutorial helped you figure out the essentials of hormonal acne and what affordable treatments are available. With a bit of knowledge and product recommendations, you should be well on your way to controlling your breakouts so that you can have only good ( skin ) days ahead.

Have more skincare questions? Leave them below!

Stay glowing,

x, lauryn


  1. Omgggg, yes, so needed this right now. For 26 years straight, I never had acne issues, EVER… until last week, I broke out, out of nowhere! Was desperately searching for products to help with it!

  2. I sweat by my Korean skin care routine! Honestly ladies, it may sound exhausting and extensive, but the beautiful skin you’ll get from it is more than worth the effort! Plus, looking after your skin is self care!
    xx Bry Jaimea

  3. These are such great tips! For me, cutting out dairy has made the biggest difference in reducing my acne, although I still get hormonal breakouts every now and then.

  4. I love reading your skincare advice. I don’t suffer from acne but it’s so interesting learning what’s new to the market. Especially in terms of K-beauty, the explosion of which, I find fascinating. Thanks for posting!

  5. Thank you Korea! They are really one of the leading countries when it comes to skin care. Acne breakouts are usual for teens, but for me, I had acne breakouts now that i’m an adult. I totally need this.

  6. Love this article! Recently gotten off birth control and trying to control my acne naturally. Adding all these products to my cart as we speak?

  7. Hi That’a a great sharing HOW TO PREVENT HORMONAL ACNE. My niece is facing such a stubborn acne problem and need help. I’m learning and searching some external medicine to cure her acne problem and suggest her having a good nutritional food.Here is i suggested to my niece What do you think about that? By the way, I’m also interested in your korea products.I’m thinking about them.

  8. OMG acne is the WORST!!! I all the sudden got crazy acne on my forehead, like cant cover that shit with makeup kind. I went to my derm and she prescribed me an antibiotic, a prescription cream called Veltin and Cicalfate to heal the ones I picked at, oops. It is finally clearing up and she thinks its because I went off my birth control to try for baby #2. If you pick at all def look into this Cicalfate cream (this isn’t sponsored) and use it then sleep with a band aid on it to sleep in and its like 99% healed. These products aren’t sponsored so Im just telling you real advice.

  9. I highly recommend dermalmd blemish serum for those one-off singular hormonal breakouts that are huge and could last on your face for a week+. Using dermalmd serum reduces it to 2 days without harsh effects of rubbing alcohol. Very happy to have found this. So much for your $$—this serum bottle will easily last 1-2 years.

  10. I suffer from occasional breakouts for years and blemish serum of dermalmd has been an amazing product to keep my blemish under control! The breakouts definitely limited massively and also can see clarifying the areas of scars. I love the smell and the texture and I can definitely say this keeps my acne under control. Extra bonus this is all organic and natural ingredients. It also lasts long.

  11. These are such excellent tips! For me, slicing out dairy has made the largest difference in decreasing my acne, despite the fact that I nonetheless get hormonal breakouts each now and then.

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