A few months back, actress Keke Palmer came out about her self diagnosis of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). While doing this, she talked about her journey in the business but more so how the condition affected her beauty. Of course, I had noticed her breakouts/ post acne marks and wondered why she didn't care to fix them. Little did I or anyone else know that she was suffering from the inside out and honestly her skin health was beyond her control.
That made me think, how many other women are out here who suffer silently or unknowingly with PCOS? Well, I delved more into it to educate myself and wanted to share the knowledge of the condition and how it pertains to skin health and wellness.
WHAT IS IT?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones, that are usually present in women but in very small amounts. The name polycystic ovary syndrome describes the numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that form in the ovaries. However, some women with this disorder may or may not develop have cysts. To break it down, ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from an ovary so it can be fertilized by a male sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, it is sent out of the body during your period.
With this condition, some women don't make enough of the hormones needed to ovulate. When ovulation doesn’t happen, the ovaries can develop many small cysts -- which make the androgen hormone. Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgens and this can cause more problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle and many of the symptoms of PCOS. Although there is
treatment to reduce symptoms for PCOS with medication, nothing can cure it.
In order to diagnose PCOS, your health care provider will ask about your medical history and your symptoms. You will also have a physical exam which will most likely include a pelvic exam. This exam checks the health of your reproductive organs, both inside and outside your body.
Some of the symptoms of PCOS are like those caused by other health problems. Because of this, you may also have tests such as:
Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. This test is used to look at the size of the ovaries and see if they have cysts. The test can also look at the thickness of the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
Blood tests. These look for high levels of androgens and other hormones. Your health care provider may also check your blood glucose levels. And you may have your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked.
Like most things in life, PCOS is not one size fits all and there are four different types-- Insulin resistant, Pill Induced, Inflammatory and Hidden.
Insulin resistant is the most common type and usually brought on by sugar, smoking, pollution and trans fat. With this type, the influx of insulin makes it impossible to ovulate and trigger the ovaries to create testosterone.
Pill Induced is the second most common and comes about by having the birth control pill suppress ovulation. Luckily for most women, symptoms stop months after they've stop taking the pill, however, there are some that require years or may never return back to normal.
Inflammatory PCOS is when hormones are unbalanced and produce androgens. Research says that it is most triggered by stress, toxins by the environment and gluten. It presents itself in the body as headaches, skin allergies, increased levels in your thyroid and a deficiency in vitamin D.
Hidden is the most simplest form and can often reverse itself within 4 months. Usually hidden causes are thyroid disease, deficiency of iodine (ovaries need iodine), vegetarian diet ( it makes you zinc deficient and the ovaries need zinc) and artificial sweeteners.
Of course these are not the only symptoms, but they are the most prevalent in women who are diagnoses with this medicine condition.
Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods
Ovaries that are large or have many cysts
Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)
Weight gain, especially around the belly (abdomen)
Acne or oily skin
Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)
Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts
BEAUTY AND WELLNESS
I am no doctor, but as a licensed esthetician, I know what can get the job done to obtain realistic results that will appease my clients. I am super passionate about corrective skincare so I wanted to make sure I gave manageable tips, product recommendations and general wellness advice.
Go Simple, Go Clean. When it comes to skincare, we can often get caught up doing a 10 step process, but with PCOS, you want to establish a regime that is made of natural ingredients that assist in skin healing. If you over cleanse, you will begin to strip your skin's moisture barrier and enhance the appearance of PCOS symptoms.
Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! Often PCOS shows up as acne and with acne comes oily skin and clogged pores. For some reason, there's a narrative that oily skin doesn't need extra moisture since it's 'greasy' when actually it is the complete opposite. It is very possible for your skin to be so dry that it over produces oil to compensate. So, to combat the shine, use a light weight, oil free moisturizer to rebalance skin.
Exfoliate. Exfoliation is the key to life. It is important that you are constantly turning over the skin cells in your face to reveal the brighter, more clear skin underneath. I would not recommend a mechanical scrub because it will further irritate acne, but more so of a chemical exfoliant or an exfoliating face wash.
Take probiotics. Our skin is a direct reflection of what's goin on inside of your body. Probiotics are live beneficial cultures that aid in healthy gut health and reduce inflammation. This in turn will show benefits in your skin health and overall physical well being.
foods with magnesium -- legumes, bananas, avocados (anti inflammatory )
RECOMMENDED BEAUTY TREATMENTS
High frequency- kills stubborn acne and bacteria lingering under the skin. Get this treatment monthly with facials. Some of my facials that would be beneficial for women with PCOS are the Lotus Resurfacing and Problem Solver facial.
Full face hair removal- depending on the amount of facial har, full face waxing may be the best option. Shaving is by far the WORST thing you can do to remove facial hair. It will create a dark shadow, stubble bumps and increase the regrowth rate. Even though it is the most convenient and cheapest, I urge these women to budget this into their self care regime. Another method of hair removal is layering. HOWEVER, people of color can scar terribly if done incorrectly. So, if laser hair removal is your method of choice, please do your research thoroughly.
All of these products can be purchased via my website under "SHOP SKIN SCRIPT" tab and will be delivered directly to your door!
Cleanser: Green Tea Cleanser or Raspberry Refining Cleanser
Exfoliant: Clarifying Toning Pads (2x weekly)
Toner: Cucumber Hydration Toner
Serum: Vitamin C and Green Tea Serum
Moisturizer:Light Aloe Moisturizer
SPF: Sheer Protection SPF 30
Ill leave this post on this note, ladies, if you are suffering with PCOS and are self conscious about your appearance --- don't be! You are beyond beautiful and there are professionals like myself willing to go on the beauty journey with you. Until next time!
The Curly Esthetician