Here's a little not-so-secret insider tip: For some, the most valuable skin care product isn't a skin care product at all. It's a pill. THE pill, to be exact. The same birth control pill that eases cramps and keeps your cycle on schedule is also linked to clear skin.
But according to Dr. David Lortscher, MD, dermatologist and founder of Curology, an online prescription service for dermatologist-level skin care, not all birth control is created equal. A recent study authored by Lortscher found that while some methods do significantly quell acne, others actually make it worse. We got the nitty-gritty on the link between acne and the pill (and its medical device counterpart, the IUD) from Lortscher and Dr. Shehla Admani, MD, a dermatologist at University of California, San Diego. Here's everything you need to know about going on the pill for acne -- and what happens when you go off.
Is the Pill Magical Fairy Dust for Acne?
If you're new to the acne battlefield, one of the first questions a dermatologist will ask is if you're on birth control. That's because for a lot of women, that little packet of once-daily pills is a godsend. In fact, a 2014 study found that the birth control may be better than oral antibiotics at clearing skin long term.
Though not everyone experiences this kind of about-face. Your results largely depend on which birth control you choose and the ultimate wild card in the war against acne: your genetics.
How Does This Hormone Sorcery Work?
Many birth control pills contain forms of estrogen and progesterone, which can block or lower the androgens, keeping your oil production from going into overdrive.
Can Birth Control Help MY Type of Acne?
The Best Birth Control for Acne
A study that Lortscher and Admani authored analyzed over 2,000 women on birth control, and found that a combination of estrogen and progesterone were most effective forms of birth control for acne. That includes brands like Yaz, Ocella and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. NuvaRing also reportedly improved acne, though not as much as the combination oral pills.
Curology has a handy interactive guide where you can type in your brand of birth control to see where it falls on the acne improvement scale.