Hormonal acne can affect you throughout your adolescence and adult life, long after you thought that you would have to worry about breakouts. Despite what we’re often told when we’re younger, acne isn’t just a teenage problem: According to some estimates, about 50% of women aged 20 to 29 still experience acne. Hormonal imbalances can trigger inflammation in your body and can cause increased oil production, leading to acne.

Re-balancing hormones can require patience, but it’s the best way to confront the root cause of hormonal acne. Some traditional approaches, like birth control pills, may mask the symptoms of this problem rather than treating it in the long-term. By getting to the root of the problem, you can not only treat your hormonal acne, but promote an overall balance of hormones that will improve your physical and emotional health. Keep reading to discover natural remedies for hormone imbalance, plus the best ways to treat existing breakouts.

Natural ways to balance hormones

1. Get enough exercise: Getting the right amount of exercise on a regular basis can help to balance your hormones. (Exercise also can increase dopamine and serotonin production, making you feel happier and sleep better!)

2. Eat a balanced diet: Eating an anti-inflammatory, balanced diet can also help to balance your hormones. Your body requires certain nutrients in order to maintain healthy hormone levels, so it’s important to provide it with the materials that it needs. Try to eat the right amount of fiber and healthy fat (like the fat in seafood or avocados), to include probiotic foods in your diet, and to limit the amount of sugar and caffeine that you consume. Also, remember to stay hydrated!

3. Manage your stress: When you experience chronic stress, your body can overproduce stress hormones such as cortisol. Different stress-management techniques will work for different individuals, so it may take a little fine-tuning to discover the technique that works best for you. Consider taking an art class, learning to meditate, or just making a few minutes of time to journal each day.

4. Consider taking a supplement: (We recommend consulting your doctor before taking any supplement.) Evening primrose oil capsules and tulsi (or holy basil) capsules are thought to help balance hormones and improve the overall appearance of the skin. Turmeric and green tea capsules may also improve the skin, as these substances have anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Avoid antibiotics when possible: Antibiotics can disrupt your metabolic hormones and intestinal bacteria, leading to hormone imbalance and inflammation. They can increase your risk of menstrual disorders and even breast cancer. It’s best to avoid antibiotics whenever possible, seeking alternative treatments if you’re an otherwise healthy person experiencing a minor ailment. You should also make sure to seek out meat and dairy products that come from animals that have not been treated with antibiotics.

Natural remedies for acne breakouts

1. Apple cider vinegar compress: Pour ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a mug of boiled water, and wait for the water to cool down until it is still warm, but not uncomfortable to touch. Soak one end of a warm washcloth in the mixture, and then press it gently against any affected areas of your skin. You may notice those cystlike red bumps forming whiteheads after just a minute or so of this treatment, but resist the urge to pop them! The vinegar will help to kill acne-causing bacteria, bringing down your acne spots without damaging your skin. Follow up with a non-comedogenic moisturizer.

2. Green tea toner: Brew a mug of green tea, allow it to cool completely, and then store it in a jar in your refrigerator. Up to three times per day, soak a cotton ball or cotton pad in the tea and swipe it gently over your face. The anti-inflammatory and astringent properties of the green tea will help to soothe your skin and treat breakouts.

3. Honey face mask: Measure out about a tablespoon of raw, non-heat-treated honey (it should have a thick texture), and spread it gently over your face. Allow it to sit for about an hour, and then rinse it away. Honey has antibacterial properties to eliminate acne-causing bacteria; it will also help to heal your skin from previous breakouts.