Ever since I became afflicted (er, cursed) with hormonal acne, I’ve gone down many a rabbit hole on the Internet with the desperate hope of finding a solution for the skin woe. I’ve seen everything, from giving up dairy (which I have done) to using certain topicals to quash the pimples, but among the most bizarre—which I stumbled across in a Reddit Skincare Addiction thread—is the idea of ingesting spearmint.
According to the various skin-care devotees on the thread, drinking the herb in tea form or taking it as a supplement impacts your hormones, which consequently has an effect on your acne. “I have been drinking one cup of spearmint tea every evening for several months and the results are incredible,” one user writes. “I have not had a single zit which confirms that my acne is hormonal.”
It seems too good to be true—something as simple as tea or a capsule works as a magical, hormonal acne-banishing elixir? Before guzzling the minty beverage or loading up on the supplement, I sought an expert’s opinion.
“It’s theoretically possible that spearmint tea and/or supplements could be helpful for hormonal acne,” says Robert Anolik, MD, a New York-based dermatologist. “Studies performed in women have shown testosterone levels were significantly reduced over the 30-day period after drinking spearmint tea twice a day. These male-associated hormones are a driving force in some women’s acne, especially adult acne which appears along the jawline in women and which flares during periods.”
The thing is, hormones are a tricky breed—so it’s different for everyone in how they’re affected. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for acne,” says Robert Segal, MD, FACC, RPVI, and co-founder of LabFinder.com. “While there’s no hard scientific evidence to prove that spearmint can cure acne, anecdotally it has possible anti-androgenic effects. So drinking spearmint tea could be a natural remedy for many women struggling with hormonal acne.”
If you’re game to try it, his recommendation is to follow your skin cells’ renewal cycle. “I’d recommend consuming one to two glasses of spearmint tea for at least 30 days to see how it affects you,” says Dr. Segal. “60 to 90 days would be best to get your body used to it.”
Of course, even if you don’t notice much of an effect on your acne (some Redditors claimed it didn’t really work for them), drinking a lot of spearmint tea will at the very least help your complexion via hydration. “Perhaps it will be the spearmint improving your skin, or perhaps it will be the fact you’re less likely to reach for a sugary drink now that you’re drinking so much tea,” he says. “In any case, I like the idea of drinking spearmint tea to improve acne because it will also help people personally connect with the notion that everything you consume has a direct effect on your overall health.” Fair enough.
If you’re game to try, however, just check with a doctor first—namely because things like birth control and Spironolactone already have an impact on your hormones. “If you’re already on acne medication or any medication in general, you should consult your primary care doctor to make sure there are no interactions or contraindications before taking spearmint,” says Dr. Segal.
Spearmint may not be the end-all, be-all of the hormonal acne problem, but, hey—at least it gets you drinking antioxidants.
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