Oral contraceptives, including a combination of norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Previfem, others), can prevent breakouts in women, especially if they occur around menstruation. The Pill's hormonal component shrinks glands that create sebum, the oily substance that causes acne. Women who have a distinct distribution of acne around their mouths are more likely to have acne that is hormonally driven, and birth control pills can help with that.
While oral contraceptives may cause other side effects—such as headaches, breast tenderness, nausea and depression—estrogen levels in many birth control pills are so low, Dr. Buka says his patients don't often report these symptoms anymore. You can also use oral contraceptives in conjunction with topical creams.