a woman in a red sweater inspecting her skin in a bathroom mirror

Ortho Tri-Cyclen
and Acne

By Audrey Cabanel
December 26, 2023

Let’s talk about adult acne. It’s the worst, right? Most of the time it’s linked to hormones, and anything to do with hormones is one hell of a rollercoaster. There are many myths about acne and birth control, and we're here to set the record straight.

What is hormonal acne?

Hormonal acne is linked to fluctuations in hormones, especially during your period. That’s where birth control can come in and save the day. Birth control can have many benefits, including cycle regulation, decreasing PMS symptoms, and, yes, helping with acne.

Let’s break down hormonal acne first. Throughout your menstrual cycle (which lasts approximately a month), your estrogen and progesterone levels change dramatically. These changes allow our good old friend's testosterone to come in and cause severe acne and flare-ups. When estrogen drops, testosterone rises causing your body to create an excess amount of sebum, which can clog your pores and lead to acne. Birth control pills can stabilize these hormonal ups and downs by keeping your estrogen levels steady, which in turn can prevent the formation of those monthly breakouts.

So now that you know all the science behind hormonal acne, you’re probably wondering which birth control pill is the best for acne.

Which contraceptive pill is best for acne?

Real talk, the best birth control pills for acne are called combination pills. These pills contain both progestin and estrogen to prevent pregnancy and one pleasant side effect is that they can decrease the amount of sebum your body produces. It’s important to have a combination pill with progestin that has low androgenic possibility (“androgenic” relates to testosterone), so side effects like oily skin and acne are diminished. There are 4 birth control pills (combination) that have been approved by the FDA to treat acne:

If your current birth control seems to cause hormonal breakouts, or you’re dealing with monthly pimples without the aid of birth control, these pills have been found to reduce hormonal acne in many patients and may be worth a try for clearing your skin.

Does Ortho Tri-Cyclen help with acne?

The FDA thinks so! Ortho Tri-cyclen, uses a combination of norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol, to treat and decrease acne. It has a stabilizing effect on your hormones which can decrease sebum production and inflammation, resulting in fewer acne flare-ups and overall improved skin. As mentioned above, it is one of the most effective and FDA-approved birth control pills that helps regulate your hormones, thus treating acne. When on Ortho Tri-Cyclen, your hormones will experience fewer fluctuations, minimizing your chance of acne flare-ups.

Does Ortho Tri-Cyclen cause acne?

While acne is a common side effect of birth control pills, the combination of hormones in Ortho Tri-Cyclen minimizes this effect. However, other types of pills, especially mini-pills that are progesterone-only, can actually promote acne. Where some pills have acne as one of their side effects, rest assured Tri-Cyclen does not.

While Tri-Cyclen is effective for acne, it's essential to go into this having the right expectations. Because your hormones are involved, it’s a process that does take time. It takes about 2-3 months for your body to adjust to a new type of birth control and to start seeing benefits to your skin. You may experience an increase in acne before your skin begins to clear, as excess inflammation and sebum are pushed to the surface. This is very normal as your body adjusts. Everyone is different, but initial flare-ups typically clear quickly. So, to put it simply, taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen does not cause acne, but you can get a flare-up at the beginning of starting this pill.

How long does it take for Ortho Tri-Cyclen to work for acne?

For most birth controls, including Ortho Tri-Cyclen, it should take about 2-3 months to start seeing a significant improvement in your skin. It can depend on the person, some people see a decrease in acne in a few weeks, but the most common is a few months. It is better to set your expectations low and be pleasantly surprised. As a leading pill used to treat acne, Ortho Tri-Cyclen is reliable, but you need to trust the process.

You can also get prescribed topical treatment that you can take in conjunction with birth control, to get the process going. We offer an acne treatment cream that you can get prescribed online and delivered right to your home. Taken with birth control, allows for a rigorous and effective acne-clearing process. 

We offer Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, which is very similar to Ortho Tri-Cyclen and contains a lower dose of oral contraceptive therapy estrogen for fewer side effects, while still maintaining its acne-fighting powers. The progesterone in Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo helps decrease the amount of androgen hormones in the body, decreasing acne. Now that you have all the information you need, and know that you are so not alone, check out our website and start treating your acne now. 

Get Birth Control Online


Packet of Ortho Tri-Cyclen-Lo birth control pills on a pink background

Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo ® Birth Control (generic)

Similar to: Tri-Lo-Estarylla, Tri-Lo-Estarylla, Tri-Lo-Marzia, Tri-Lo-Mili, Tri-Lo-Sprintec, Tri-VyLibra Lo and TriNessa Lo

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Junel FE 1/20® Birth Control (generic)

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