How to take care of your skin whilst on birth control

The invention of hormonal birth control has revolutionised women’s lives. Whether you have decided to use birth control in the form of tablets or an IUD or injection it has given women more control over their future. Most women I know have been on the pill or had an IUD at some point in their life. Now whether its for birth control alone; skin conditions; period problems or hormonal problems the result is the same.

We are taking large amounts of hormones on a daily basis. However, how many of us where given the appropriate information about how hormonal contraceptives effect our skin? And how to best take care of our skin once starting treatment?…. I was not give any information and all that I’m going to be sharing with you in this post comes from my knowledge as a pharmacist.


I decided to write this post last night whilst I was at a training seminar for skin care by SVR and we were asked how often we see prescriptions of the pill being accompanied by a prescription for a sunblock; and if i have to be honest in my 9 years as a pharmacist I have never ever seen such a prescription. So it got me thinking theres actually a lot more to it than just sunblock. When taking hormones the skin will change in fact I am sure everyone has heard of the pill being prescribed for acne – so if it affects acne it will affect other aspects of your skin and its important for us women to be aware to avoid problems including pigmentation; Melasma; dry skin; flaking etc.

Oil Production

The sebaceous glands in the skin produce a substance called sebum, a natural oil that keeps skin moist and healthy. One of the causes of acne is an excess production of sebum, which clogs pores and can lead to breakouts. Birth control pills can prevent the production of sebum, which in some women can actually treat acne and cause the skin to look better. However in other women, especially those with naturally dry skin, it can cause the skin to dry out even more by eliminating oil. So you need to be using the correct cleanser. Go for something gentle and hydrating so as to make sure your skin feels happy. Dry skin can be a problem as much as oily skin – so we need to be using the right products.

Pick The Right Toner

Choose a toner that contains LHA or glycol acid to help restore the skin’s pH and gently exfoliate the surface of the skin, unclog pores, and remove excess dirt from the day Toner is important for keeping skin, especially acne-prone skin, clean, so make sure to add it to your daily routine.


Chose the right moisturiser

Everyones skin is different so there is no one size fits all and it also depends on the time of the year – in summer many women tend to become more oily than in winter- chose a light weight moisturiser – something hydrating ideally. If you have acne prone skin avoid moisturisers with oils in them but if your skin is naturally dry and becomes even more dry with birth control you might need a richer moisturiser. So When choosing what products to buy do tell the person who is helping you that you are taking birth control and if you have noticed any changes in your skin since you started using it.

Wear. Sunscreen.

In the words of Baz Luhrmann, “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.” Birth control pills can exacerbate melasma, a solar-induced skin discoloration which you may know as “sun spots.” Although birth control pills might help acne, they actually make pigmentation really terrible. Young women don’t realize that, and then they’re stuck with patches of pigmentation on their face for years to come! Put sunscreen on every day (yup, even in the winter) to make sure you’re totally protected. There are specific sunblocks available nowadays that reduce the risk of pigmentation. Some of my favourites are depicted bellow. All of them can be bought from pharmacies so just speak to your pharmacist who can recommend the best one for you

Now if you have stopped your birth control and are thinking of getting pregnant – sunscreen is still of vital importance. Once you are pregnant you will have a completely new cocktail of hormones in your system and are prone to getting pigmentation – so in other words – whenever we are dealing with our hormones we need to protect our skin!! So keep using that sunblock all year round ladies its extremely important!!!