I use Radiance brand hexane-free, cold-pressed Evening Primrose Oil.
I started taking 1 softgel (1000mg) daily about two and a half months ago to help my moderate - severe acne after I got off birth control. When I got off the patch 4 months ago (NOT recommended, made me gain 20 lbs and I still haven't lost it all... Huge confidence wrecker), I started breaking out like mad. I've had moderate to severe acne for the past 5 years, and when I got off the BC patch, it was getting as bad as when it all first started.
So, I did some research on alternatives to BC and came across positive reviews for EPO. I started with 1000mg a day for a month, but then increased to 2000mg a day after lack of progress. My skin kept getting worse.
As my skin kept worsening, I began to wonder if the EPO was only aiding my break outs. So, about a week and a half ago, I stopped taking EPO. Since then, my skin has gotten WORSE. It is now the worst it has been in my life (I couldn't even leave the house yesterday), and in addition, it is so sinfully dry that I can't even try to tackle it with makeup. Since stopping EPO is the only alteration to my life, I suppose it truly was helping and I made a huge error doubting it.
As of today, I'm back taking 2000mg, but am going to increase that to 3000mg within a few days with hopes that my skin will be a bit more forgiving.
I can't give my input on its possible benefits for menstrual pain, because my hormones are so out of whack since getting off BC that I haven't had my period in 4 months. (100% not pregnant though.)
The only real effects from EPO I've seen is its dramatic aid to hair. My hair has grown more in the past few months than it did in the past year before taking EPO.
I used to darken my eyebrows with sticky eye pencils (big no-no) which left me with thinned, almost hard to notice brows. Now, thanks to EPO, I was shocked to see my eyebrows growing in thicker and DARKER. Really stoked on this. (I think it may be causing my upper-lip fuzzies to darken too though... Yuck)
-no vast skin improvements, but getting off it was worse
-smells nutty/a bit fishy
-not cheap (~ $10/bottle)
-rapidly sped up hair growth
-increased hair thickness
-may have been keeping most severe acne + dry skin at bay
I will be updating to see if taking the EPO again and upping the mg makes a difference.
I was skeptical to try EPO at first, but after deciding to no longer use the pill I felt this would be my best bet to help my skin during the transition. I've been having some hormonal issues with the pill (hence quitting) and when I discovered that EPO helps with inflammation, hormone regulation and skin issues, I thought it would be a great solution for my problem.
I started using this only a few days ago, taking two 1300 mg gel caps per day to help treat my pre-existing acne. In particular, I had this painful little cyst on my eyebrow that I was hoping this would help. Lo and behold, the stubborn spot has flattened out and is not painful anymore after starting EPO. Normally I would have to deal with the pain from a spot like this for a week, so I'm excited that this supplement is especially effective for the inflammation issues I have. The true test will come in a few weeks when I'll be battling PMS and hopefully fewer breakouts.
I'm using the Fresh Market brand for my supplements, as they are hexane-free and a larger size. The price was right around $9 and they don't smell bad to me, as some other users have described, but I also store any oil supplement in the fridge to prevent spoilage and it seems to cut down the scent as well.
2014/1/17 update: After a few months of use I can say that this isn't the end all solution for my acne, but it seems to be slowly helping my skin. The most noticeable benefit I've had is a very predictable period and minimal cramping. I used to suffer from severe cramps and now I only have to take some ibuprofen on my first day. I still get a few spots when my period rolls around, but overall my skin breaks out less and heals quicker. I am using Retin-A which takes a while for your skin to adjust to and purging, so there may be interactions here due to that. Most importantly, I don't think its hurting me and the benefits are still good enough for me to want to continue to use it.
LOVE EPO! I've always had flawless skin- until about 5 years ago. I started getting hormonal acne around my chin on a regular basis - as in as soon as one would subside another would appear. Talk about nightmare. Worse, this constant cystic type breakout was producing tiny pits and acne marks that would not fade. Then came EPO. I started downing three to four caps at night and applying a tiny bit over moisturizer at night. This has literally changed my life. I still get an occasional visitor, but now it doesn't last as long and never needs popping. I just let it live there for a few days and it shrinks and disappears. I also see a big difference when I wake up in the AM. My skin is plump and moisturize from the inside out. I too noticed a big difference in my PMS symptoms like other ladies. I assume this is because EPO is a hormone regulator. If you apply any oil topically, always be sure to do so OVER moisturizer as it won't penetrate the oil. EPO is awesome over Retin-a to help with sensitivity and drying. Warning- for some, EPO can cause a little constipation so don't over do the number of caps you pop until you see how it affects you! Good luck!!
Hip hip hurray!!! I have clear skin thanks to evening primrose oil and it lessens cramps. I have been taking this for about two months and it has really balanced my skin out. I had relatively clear skin but with a semi dry surface and clog prone pores, since taking epo my skin is smoother and prettier with much fewer clogged pores and no inflamed or hormonal pimples. Spring Valley brand is what I use, it is available at Wal-Mart for $6, the capsules are 1,000mg each and I usually take two per day. For some reason I think this has also helped improve my mood.
I am 22 with sensitive, combination skin and have recently been getting awful adult acne (since going off the pill.. arghh). I'll need to update this review in several weeks as I've been using EPO for only 3 days but SO MUCH WOW I had to write a review.
I got a bottle of EPO on Sunday at the grocers for $15, I took two capsules and my Fish Oil capsule, as well as a tablet of Vitex (which I've been using for almost 2 months and hasn't done anything.. waste) and went to sleep. Monday morning I woke up totally shocked, the acne all around my chin, jaw and cheeks had gone down SO much I couldn't believe it. I still can't really believe it. I've tried sooo many supplements, facial treatments, chemical treatments (AHEM proactive thanks for the chemical burns), creams, cleansers, oils, moisturizers, raw organic everything and nothing has worked. But this stuff is amazing, within like 12 hours my acne noticeably improved. I've continued taking 2-3 capsules a day and every morning I've woken up with vastly improved skin. I have also read that taking it with Fish, Krill or Cod Liver oil is really important to somehow activate all the good stuff? Idk if that's true but I take fish oil once a day regardless so I'll continue doing so.
My face care routine: Wash face in the shower with plain old Dove Beauty Bar soap (stings the eyes a bit but reeeally clears skin without irritating or drying), spritz on rosewater as a toner, then follow with organic jojoba oil as a moisturizer. Every other day I use La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (another HG product, it works woooonders for me and is worth every penny (UK version), and twice a week I use Yes to Tomatoes facial mask (again WONDERFUL product).
As for makeup I just use basic drugstore products: Garnier BB cream, Physicians Formula powders, and whatever shadow, liner and mascara I have handy. Nothing special but I try to be gentle.
I've been using this routine for about 3 weeks and it's helped to improve my painful, itchy, swollen cystic acne (sexy I know), but the EPO has made the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time. I'm worried that it's almost too good to be true and might have some terrible side effects in the next few weeks just because I'm so smug about it, but I really hope it continues to work. I'd really recommend it to anyone whose skin has gone to shit since going off the BCP (aka hormonal acne), apparently EPO helps balance your hormones in a similar way to the BCP - so if you did well on the pill but are no longer taking it, but still want to skin clearing benefits of the estrogen (?) then I'd 100% recommend Evening Primrose Oil.
I also just bought the cheapest, on-sale bottle of EPO. I've read reviews that claim cold-pressed, organic, whatever EPO is the only way to go but I'm seeing incredible results from just the basic, no-name stuff so I'd save your money and try this first and if it helps then maybe go and buy the fancy expensive version.
I honestly can't recommend this stuff enough. I was terrified that I'd be stuck with this painful, irritating, itchy acne for my wedding in a couple of months but now I really think I'll be mostly (if not totally!) clear!! Fingers crossed.
UPDATE: It's been just over a month of using EPO and my skin is just getting better and better, I mean the progress is slow but steady, unfortunately my red marks and discoloration from the acne hasn't disappeared, but I'm a picker. Ew.
Also would like to add that it has lightened my cycle noticeably. The first couple of days before, and of my period I'll take 3 or even 4 EPO capsules, because I know that the cramping will be so severe (not to mention the huge breakouts). EPO helped calm my bod down a lot.
Would recommend 100% as first choice of treatment for anyone suffering hormonal acne, try this before trying anything else, it's cheap, effective almost immediately and will not result in horrible skin reactions like many other products.
This review is for the 500mg capsule GNC brand. I am using this for my menstrual cycle. It was irregular for over 2 years. Non stop! A few months at a time it may go off for about three days to a week and stay on for the rest of the month. But the rest of the time it stayed on. I learned of this pill by a one of my sister clients when she came to get her hair done by my sister. As I washed her hair I told her my situation and lo and behold she experienced something similar. And she have been using this capsule for some time now. It also helped with my acne on my forehead as well . And it gives a glow to my skin. I'm blessed to have found out about this pill. I truly recommend this for irregular as per GNC brand.
EPO has helped me with menstrual cramps. I've never had cramps for more than 10 years (and counting) ! :)
I am older and use evening primrose oil for Change of Life issues. The brand I use is Barleans, 1300 mg softgels, I take one softgel twice a day.
I didn't think much of EPO when I used a store brand a few years ago. Then I got serious about my health and started using Barleans, a good US brand, and within a month noticed a difference. My hair is thick and lush; maybe not such a big deal BUT I'm in menopause AND taking medications which can thin the hair AND I color my hair. My skin has become much more moist and supple; it's being moisturized from the inside. A patch of scaly dry skin on my ankle, which I've had all my life, is now just about gone; it's resisted every moisturizer and cortisone cream I've used before this.
In combination with fish oil (I use Coromega, twice a day) this is helping me lose weight and recover my old youthful brain power. This isn't a magic weight loss "I can sit on my butt and the weight will just melt off" pill but I find it does help my metabolism in combo with the fish oil so that when I do exercise and eat a healthy high-protein low-carb diet, the weight comes off much more easily. And I am noticing a difference for the better in my smarts and concentration.
The Barleans brand I use costs more than the store brand but I think it is much better quality - at least the benefits kicked in when I started using this brand regularly. The dark capsules and dark-tinted bottle keep the oil from oxidizing and going rancid. I also keep the open bottle in the refrigerator to keep the oil fresh. I take one capsule twice a day with a meal. The capsules ARE big and hard to swallow; that is why I like to take them with food.
Absolutely a HG product. All the BB creams and serums in the world won't make a difference if your skin isn't up to snuff. Taking evening primrose oil and fish oil helps keep my skin healthy, supple and moisturized from the inside out so my products can work even better.
My experience with EPO so far: a couple of years ago I experienced another one of the joys of being female..the havoc that bcp can cause! I started getting acne, and it was horrible. I switched to a bcp specifically designed to help clear the skin, and I had heard about evening primrose oil so started taking this around the same time. I took 3000mg a day.
My skin never cleared on this pill despite it being specifically for that purpose - 9 months in, I suspected the EPO was regulating my hormones in a way that the pill couldn't do what it was supposed to. I stopped the EPO, and my skin cleared! Bingo!
In January 2013 I had to stop taking the pill. I started taking 1000mg of EPO per day to balance my hormones coming off the pill, so it wouldn't be such a shock to my system.
June 2013 (now): My skin is generally still clear from acne, but I am getting a few spots especially around that time of the month. But I also have a few on my jawline (only small) where I've never had them before - and these are also supposed to be hormonal.
Around a fortnight ago I thought the EPO wasn't doing much, so I quit taking it. Now I have a lot more spots around my mouth and chin area. They're not bad thanks to my diet and skin care, but obviously I still want them gone. They've only come up since I stopped the EPO, so I'm going to bear this in mind and start taking 3000mg per day every day from now and see what happens. If it improves, I know there's a direct link.
I think it makes sense that EPO will help me - it regulates and balances hormones, but in such a way that it mimics estrogen (which is why it appears to mimic the symptoms of bcp). When I was on the pill, it was a pill very high in estrogen - taking the EPO then would regulate this so the pill wouldn't make a difference - hence the improvements when taking bcp but not EPO.
Now my hormones are at their natural level (or thereabouts) 6 months after stopping bcp, it makes sense that without the pill interfering, EPO can regulate hormones in such a way that it encourages clear skin.
I can't deny that my skin has worsened since stopping EPO..and I can't think of any other reason why this would have happened because I haven't changed anything else. Even though I'm unsure at this point, I thought this review might still be helpful to document the effects of the EPO over a long period of time.
I'll keep this updated.
So two weeks since I wrote this, I started taking 3000mg of EPO - 1000 in the morning, and then 2 more tablets of 1000mg in the evening. My skin has improved dramatically - no wonder I thought I wasn't seeing results before when only taking 1000mg. I know it's expensive - but honestly I started using a cheaper Boots version (before I was buying cold-pressed Holland and Barrett) and it's working a treat. So whilst expensive, I'm willing to pay because it really is working.
The outbreak of spots around my mouth/chin? Gone.
The jaw, chest, and back spots developed much to my horror after coming off the pill? All gone except a couple on my back which are rapidly clearing up.
This will only treat hormonal spots - if you suffer from clogged pores or use 'wrong' products, this won't really help. But the fact that this is all-natural and you can use it forever unlike the pill means it's a great hormone-balancing alternative medication.
Will continue repurchasing and have much appreciation for evening primrose oil now.
So I've been taking primrose oil for a week now, pill form by Spring Valley, after reading about it in a Forum for Acne straight off the pill. It has its own thing to deal with hormones, apparently though I'm not too convinced that its up there with the pill, but it is also supposed to help with facial redness due to inflammatory aids. Basically I just went off the pill and my jawline/chin has broken out severely. Its all hormonal so instead of loading up on topicals I thought I'd look at internal aids.
Besides just consuming the pill I pricked it the other night to use on my face as I enjoy Argan Oil too. I used less than half a capsule to coat my face. The next morning my skin was glowy but nothing too big. Fast forward a couple days and the biggest surprise: When I took my foundation off my skin was soooo even that it still looked like I was wearing foundation. The redness in my acne decreased hugely.
At night besides the primrose oil I tend to use Dove for Sensitive skin as a face wash, my cousin who once had horrible cystic acne now has beautiful radiant skin after using this stuff. Its just the 1.00 bar from the store in the green package. I then tend to use a q-tip dipped in Listerine to spot treat my acne. It dries them out and kills the bacteria but that is it. That is the only reason I use it, not to make them disappear. Killing bacteria and diminishing acne are two different things. Usually I use Oil of Olay as my moisturizer and final step, but in the summer my skin gets really dry and so I've been using Garnier Moisture Rescue gel.