Using Birth Control To Control Acne: What Brands to Choose

If you are a pre-menopausal woman with acne, you may want to consider taking birth control to help control your acne, as a hormone imbalance is often the cause of acne in women. If your acne is not responsive to topical treatments and tends to come in cycles (one week before and two weeks after menstruation) then there is a good chance your acne is hormonal.

Hormones and Acne, What’s Going On In Your Body

Acne is an androgenic disorder, which means that it is set off by the effects of the family of hormones called androgens. These include testosterone, DHEA-S and others. Testosterone is the most important of these. While androgens are often thought of as male hormones, this is misleading because adult women have active levels in their blood (but women’s levels are only about a tenth of those found in men).

Many women with hormonal acne have excess testosterone, which stimulates the sebaceous (oil making) glands. The pores plug up and trap the oil inside and then bacteria grows in the trapped oil, causing the production of irritating chemicals. Finally the body’s immune system comes into play, causing the redness, swelling, pus-like fluid and later scarring which make acne so unsightly.

Certain birth control pills can help clear your acne by balancing out your hormones. Typically birth control pills are divided up as estrogen or progestin dominant and have varying degrees of androgenic (testosterone like) effects. As a general rule of thumb, pills with the potential for higher androgenic symptoms should be avoided for people prone to acne because they promote breakouts. As an acne sufferer it is important to speak with your doctor about a selecting a pill that is higher in estrogen and lower in androgen potency.

Here is a list of the brands of birth control pills that are estrogen dominant:

  • Yazmin
  • Yaz
  • OrthoTriCyclen
  • Estrostep
  • Diane 35(Dianette)
  • Demulan(Zovia)
  • Nevicon modicon
  • Ortho evra
  • Mircette
  • Desogen(Apri)

It is best to avoid the following pills that are high in androgen activity and low in estrogen:

  • Loestrin
  • Estrotrep Fe
  • Levlen
  • Alesse
  • Ovral
  • Norestrin
  • Nuvo ring
  • Depoprovera shot

When you go to your doctor, have the list of estrogen dominant birth control pills handy and select the best one for you. Some doctors don’t know off-hand which pills are estrogen dominant and which are progestin dominant.

I  want to end by saying this – it is entirely possible to treat acne without going on the pill at all. If you have no underlying health issues that require you to be on birth control and are considering taking birth control pills only to control your acne, please feel free to visit our website or talk with one of our estheticians to get some additional perspective on how Vasseur Skincare’s freshly made, professional strength and highly potent formulations can help you.

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77 thoughts on “Using Birth Control To Control Acne: What Brands to Choose

  1. Thank You for the post I was on the fence on which birth control to use and now that i know what wont make me break out like im 16 all over again. It takes a load off my mind.

    • We’re glad this helped! I’ve had many of my clients ask me this question and I could not find a list of the estrogen dominant brands in one place online, so I decided to put one together.

  2. When I was on Yasmin or Yaz, they helped clear up my acne very well. Unfort, when I went off my BCP’s, my skin broke out terribly until my hormones balanced out and i got on track with my skin routine.

      • I have had excellent results from Yasmin. I decided to go off of it since I had been on it for quite a few years (and was only taking it to treat my acne) and my skin was doing great! Within a few months acne has exploded along my jawline.
        So back on the Yasmin I went (they gave me a generic for it called ocella, maybe that’s the prob?) Four months later and I am getting zero improvement…… Help! I’m very frustrated….!

      • What if you’ve only been on it for one month and it made your skin worse so you stop ? Will it still take a while for skin to return to normal state before bc ? And if so will it get worse for stopping to ? Please help me !

  3. After 3 years on, I recently quit taking Yaz because of side effects it had on me, none that had to do with my skin. I can actually workout without a panic attack now, but as soon as I quit my skin went crazy, still trying to get it under control it’s been almost a month now! I plan to see a naturopathic doctor to see about hormone therapy.

    • Hi Bre, sorry to hear about your bad experience with Yaz. All women react to different types of birth control differently depending on your body chemistry so you really don’t know what works for you until you try it. There are other methods of balancing out hormone imbalances that may be good options for you – your doctor will know more. Thanks for reading the blog!

  4. Pingback: Why do acne products dry out the skin? « Fresh & Ageless Skin

  5. Thank you SO MUCH for this information. I literally could not find a list of estrogen dominant BC pills anywhere else…& I looked for hours! My gyno actually put me on Loestrin telling me that it would help my acne. After about 3 months I looked like a freak covered in red pimples, my skin had never been so bad in my life. I then looked it up and saw that it was progestin dominant and was making my skin so much worse!! I switched to Yaz and also bought some Vasseur products for maintenance & now my skin is completely clear for literally the first time in my life. It’s so amazing to not have to constantly be worrying about my skin

  6. Hi, I have extremely oily skin , I’ve done two courses of accutane, I’ve been on pill ginette for 5yrs n still nothing helps. Pls help

  7. i too had been on BC for a few years and recently went off it, my skin has been awful and i look 16 again! Does anyone know if it would be safe to take the pill once in awhile just to try and balance out the hormones. say 1-2 pills a week ?

    • Hi Terah — no, unfortunately that system will not work. If you are diligent and follow a clear skin diet and get on some good products you can also clear your skin that way. You can call our acne clinic and we can give you some recommendations over the phone 619-236-9095

  8. Do you know if norgestimate ethinyl estradiol is a good BCP to treat acne? My doctor said it would help, but it has been about 5 months and my skin is still not doing better! I wonder if it is not estrogen dominant…

    • Hi Sarah — I do not know off the top of my head, but I will tell you that i’ve found that almost all doctors will tell you that any type of BC will clear your skin which is just not true.

  9. Pingback: Why are You Breaking Out? The 10 Most Common Causes of Acne « Fresh & Ageless Skin

  10. I’m more than happy to discover this great site. I wanted to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and i also have you saved to fav to see new stuff on your website.

    • Wow, this made me think deeply about race pauilcrtarly sucks to be Asian. People keep stereotyping them as short and weak. A lot of them I met at the gym suffer from BDD. I feel really bad for them. They were tall, average height, and short. It’s a range of heights. None of them were thin either.My Asian friend talks to me about it sometimes.

  11. I have very bad acne on my chin…have been using lots of lots of acne treatments, didn’t help… the doctor put me in BC with Loestrin recently…but i still haven’t started to take it…as seeing ao many bad feedbacks of BCP for acne treatment online…I don’yt want my skin to be worse while stop taking the pills…Does vasseur product really help to clear the acnes even were caused by the hormone?

    • We have found that stubborn acne on the chin is often caused by consuming too much dairy. Try cutting dairy from your diet. Also – i’d recommend benzoclear 10 (our strongest acne treatment) or Mandelic Acid Serum if you have dry skin.

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  13. THANK YOU for this information! I have been through a lot and using Vasseur Skincare products (Mandelic Serum, Olive Oil Cleanser, and Day Glow) and Yazmin (brand name NOT the generic!!!) has finally cleared my skin after years and years of agony. I tried 4 different birth control pills before I found Yazmin. My insurance didn’t cover the full price so I switched to the generic and within two weeks I was breaking out again. So — everyone is different but Yazmin is the only thing that has worked for me. Also – I now get regular facials too.

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  15. I was glad to see this site…it addresses many of the questions I have. 2 months ago I stopped Orth-tri-cyclin as it caused my melasma to kick into high gear and went back on Yaz (the pill I had been on for many years with ZERO issues…however got so expensive with my insurance I switched). After my melasma flare up I switched back to Yaz and am on my 3rd week. I have never had bad skin…but will go through period where things are worse of course…primarily just my chin. However, the past few months I have broken out more in areas like my cheeks and jaw line that I almost NEVER do. Is this due to all the changes going on with changes in BC pills as I have changed 3 times in 3 months…(yaz to ortho to nothing for a few weeks then back to yaz?) Also, I do watch my diet for the most part but have to admit the past week I have noticed a huge craving for sugars and breads and havent dont so well as saying no to those cravings. I suppose it all has to do with my flare up…and again what is bad to me is 2-3 pimples…but when you are use to getting almost zero its still a big deal. How long does it typically take to get my hormones back in line from all these changes? And lastly…when you do splurge on sugar and bread…how soon can you see the results on your skin? Like if I eat 10 sugar cookies today…can I expect a nice shinny pimple within a day or two? Thank you for your help…these are questions I have had for a while.

  16. Pingback: Natural Treatments for Hormonal Acne | Fresh & Ageless Skin

  17. I had really great results with ortho tri cyclen for years. Then I switched to seasonique and had good luck with that also. This past December I switched to Mirena. I love the results I am having with every but my acne has come back worse then ever! Any advice?

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  37. So does this mean that if i am taking a pill that is high in androgen activity and low in estrogen, that could be the reason why i have been breaking out? In order to stop breaking out, would you advise i change my pill?

  38. Yes, your birth control pill could be the reason for your breakouts. If you are acne prone an estrogen dominant pill is the way to go. A few other things to note: you should try cutting dairy, sugar and gluten from your diet for two weeks and see if your skin clears up — these common dietary triggers can aggravate acne. You also want to be using a paraben and sulfate free pH balanced cleanser, you can read more about this here: (http://freshandagelessblog.com/2013/03/07/the-oil-cleansing-method/)

  39. It’s important to note that birth control is not a panacea to acne — for some people it has no effect, and others need to keep trying brands until something works for them. If you are still having trouble with your skin you may want to also cut dairy, sugar and gluten from your diet for two weeks and see if your skin clears up – those are the three most common dietary triggers. Also, you can call our acne clinic for a free consult 619-236-9095 and we can give you personalized advice. Thanks for reading!

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