My period loves to drop hints that it's coming days before it arrives. The cramps begin, tears flow with greater ease, and my chin becomes home to a few new pimples. Maintaining a consistent skin-care routine can help work wonders in combatting hormonal acne, but if you want to add a little extra oomph to your arsenal, Derek Davenport, a licensed esthetician and Reiki Master in Wichita, Kansas, says to give licorice root tea a try.
"Internal health is the biggest 'helper' when it comes to hormonal acne," says Davenport. "I love licorice root because its benefits date back to ancient healing. It has a host of antioxidant support and reduces inflammation," and inflammation is what gives pimples their red, angry appearance. Plus, a small 2004 study found licorice root to have antiandrogenic properties, meaning that it could theoretically help to reduce the bad estrogens and testosterone that cause acne.
With his clients, Davenport has seen success when they drink it daily a few days before their cycle and then during it. He recommends making it in big batches and drinking it cold during the summer months or warming it up in the winter. "With our skin being the largest organ, it is simply a mirror into what is going on inside, and the first place we physically see this will be on the skin," he says. "By treating internally to externally, we can hit hormonal acne from two angles."
It's worth noting that though Davenport swears by licorice tea for treating hormonal acne and the research around it seems promising, Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Pasadena, California, isn't totally convinced. "The evidence for licorice having any significant effect on hormones is weak at best," she says. "Licorice's impact on the hormonal axis deserves further exploration."
With that in mind, if you want to add licorice tea into your routine—which certainly can't hurt—your best bet is to use it to supplement the rest of your regimen. The most proven ways to manage hormonal acne include regularly using retinoids to prevent clogged pores and reduce inflammation and using medications like antiandrogenic spironolactone or hormonal contraceptives to regulate hormones that contribute to acne. Additionally, Dr. Lee recommends "following a heart-healthy diet and drinking lots of water for optimal skin health."
Ready to give it a try? Davenport has three licorice root teas that he loves. Learn about and shop them below.
“Lastly, Apothecary Tinctura out of Colorado has a beautiful Be Well tea that I found two years ago and love,” says Davenport. It’s a blend of echinacea purpurea root, elderberry, elderflower, marshmallow, fennel, ginger, orange peel, licorice, and cinnamon.
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