Its that time of the month. As if it wasn’t unpleasant enough, my confidence takes a nosedive when my skin starts to break out. I can’t tell you how often I hear this statement and it gets me thinking; but what if you could track the changes in your hormones and tweak your skincare routine to suit it? Wouldn’t that be great? So, let’s get reading on how your skin changes during your periods.
Hormonal changes associated with your menstrual cycle or pregnancy can cause breakouts. Yes, you’re not the only one feeling that way. Turns out the hormones that make you get your period can also impact your skin during your monthly cycle.
To simplify: there are three main hormones that fluctuate during your menstrual cycle; estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Their shifting ratio is what causes changes in the look and feel of your skin.
So, what causes the skin changes during your periods?
The menstrual cycle may be divided into two phases: (1) follicular and (2) the luteal or the secretory phase. Research indicates that between one and two thirds of female acne sufferers will have a flare around the time of their period. Of those who reported perimenstrual acne, 56% reported worsening of symptoms in the week preceding their menses. This is typically in the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which falls between days 22 and 28 for those with regular 28 day cycles. Let’s take a closer look the fluctuations of hormones during the two phases to learn more about the skin changes during your periods.
Menstrual Phase (Day 1 — 5)
This is when your period starts. Your hormones are at an all-time low, meaning your skin will be dry and may appear dull. It’s also the time when we’re most vulnerable to breakouts, so steer away from testing any new skincare products and focus on using your routine hydrating serums and moisturizers.
Skincare tips during periods: During this time, I only use a gentle cleanser and my vitamin C serum at night. Again, by now, my skin is used to the vitamin C, but if you’re new to it, I recommend using your routine hydrating moisturizer or a non-comedogenic face oil.
Follicular Phase ( Day 7 — 15)
Estrogen levels rise and fall twice during the menstrual cycle. First during the follicular phase and then a secondary rise in estrogen levels occur during the mid-luteal phase with an exponential decrease at the end of the menstrual cycle.
What are the effects of estrogen on the skin?
- It increases the skin’s collagen and elastin content.
- It also stimulates hyaluronic acid production in the skin and helps keep your skin stay plump and wrinkle-free.
Skin changes to expect during follicular phase?
In the follicular phase, your skin is at its peak radiance and your face “glows”. You will also notice that your skin has become relatively dry and flaky, in comparison to the week before. So, its probably the best time to get those hydrating masks and creams out of the cabinet and onto good use. And in case you’re wondering, this is the best time to try new skin care products, as your skin will be less sensitive to any changes.
Ovulation Phase (Day 14)
During this phase, your skin moisture levels are high and you look amazing! Pores will appear smaller, your face will have a youthful, healthy glow.
Skincare tips for the ovulation phase: Follow what constitutes your typical routine. Cleanse, tone and moisturize. And take all those lovely selfies!
Luteal Phase (Day 15 — 28)
This begins right after ovulation. Estrogen levels plummet and progesterone starts to rise. The sudden spike in progesterone is what causes acne, that many of us experience right before our periods. This is due progesterone’s action on the pores and the activation of oil glands to secrete sebum (a thick, oily substance) to build up beneath the skin’s surface. You’ll also notice your skin becomes slightly more greasier at around this time of the month.
Skincare tips during luteal phase: Again, during this phase, avoid starting any new skincare products.
- However, I recommend using Salicylic acid to clear the pores and combat any inflammation associated with the menstrual acne-flare.
- Benzoyl peroxide containing products can also be used to treat any active breakouts.
- Vitamin A derivatives, such as retinols can also be used to decrease sebum production and for unclogging the pores.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. You can check out more skincare posts here. Also, I’d love to hear back from you. What changes do you typically see in your skin during your cycle?