The Tldr of 10 Tips for Glowing Skin Menstrual Cycle

Hormones affect everyone differently. We’ve compiled three of our most popular posts about cycles and breakouts, including a stellar guide on how to deal with acne in all of its hormonal glory.

Jane Bunrerngsanoh

March 16, 2023

We've all been there. You start to get your period and an annoying pimple pops up right in the middle of your face where everyone can see it. The worst! That's because typically just before your period, estrogen levels come down and your testosterone levels rise causing excess oil and more breakouts than normal. Fortunately, there's some simple things you can do to combat the hormonal acne and keep it from popping up during this time.

What causes hormonal acne?

Acne is more common in women than men. The condition can be triggered by hormonal changes, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.

image from @SYD

Menstruation

The monthly menstrual cycle can cause an increase in sebum production, which can lead to an imbalance of hormones in the body. This can cause acne breakouts on the face, back and chest.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

    Around 10% of women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is characterised by small cysts on the ovaries, irregular periods and high levels of androgens (male hormones). Women with PCOS often have acne on their face, chest and back as well as excess hair growth on the face and body.

  • Menopause

    As women approach menopause (the end of menstruation), there are changes in hormone levels that may lead to a worsening of existing acne or development of new acne breakouts.

  • Birth control use

  • Stress

Here's How to Sync Your Skincare Routine to Your Period

When you're cycling with your skincare, it's important to know that there are certain phases of your cycle that can have a direct impact on how your skin looks and feels.

Menstrual Phase (Day 1-5):

TL;DR 

  • All time low in moisture levels.
  • Your face look duller, drier, and less plump
  • Use an anti-inflammatory raw honey mask
  • Avoid Exfoliating and Waxing

When you start your period, one of the biggest changes you'll notice in your skin is a reduction in moisture levels. This happens because during the first few days of your period (the follicular phase), estrogen and progesterone levels are at an all-time low. This can cause your face to look duller, drier, and less plump.

image from thebeautybio

This is why you may notice that you feel more sensitive than normal and might experience slight irritation when putting on makeup, shaving, and other skincare regimens. The easiest solution to providing relief from that sensitivity is using a good moisturizer.

Use an anti-inflammatory raw honey mask

Use an anti-inflammatory raw honey mask to hydrate and calm any existing breakouts. Here's how:
1.   Leave the mask on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water (or a washcloth)
2.   If you have sensitive skin, you can use brown sugar or coconut oil instead of raw honey — but the latter is better for acne-prone skin because it doesn't clog pores as much

image by @plutonianpapi

If you have an oily complexion or live in a humid climate, you may want to add a few drops of essential oil such as lavender or tea tree oil to the honey mask before applying it to your face. image by @plutonianpapi

Avoid Exfoliating and Waxing

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, which makes wrinkles less visible. However, during menstruation it's not recommended because it can irritate sensitive areas and increase inflammation in those areas. If you have any active breakouts on your face or body, avoid exfoliating until they clear

image by @xNOORRx

 

Follicular Phase: (Day 6-11)

TL;DR 

  • Best time to exfoliate
  • Use a Vitamin C serum
  • Exfoliate with fruit enzymes
  • Best time to try new products
  • Use a serum containing glycolic acid or AHA

A lot of people ask me when they should exfoliate? The follicular phase is the time period from the start of menstruation to ovulation. In other words, from day 6 -11ish of your cycle. Many skin care experts believe that exfoliating during this time can get the best results because a woman's body is just beginning to produce estrogen at this point. Estrogen promotes healthy cell turnover and exfoliation is the primary means we have for getting rid of older skin cells (both the good and bad) to reveal the newer ones below.

Use a vitamin C serum

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals, which cause premature aging. This means it can keep your skin looking younger for longer, especially if you use it daily or multiple times a week

image by @alexhoyos

 

 

 

 

Try new products

You may have been using the same skincare routine for years, but now you might want to switch things up and try something new! New products can rejuvenate your skin and even help treat any acne breakouts or blemishes you have had recently or in the past. image by rowse.com

However, if you have sensitive skin or have had reactions from certain ingredients before, be sure to patch test any new products before applying them all over your face every day!

Exfoliate with fruit enzymes

Use a gentle cleanser on a daily basis, and avoid over-exfoliating as this can cause irritation and stimulate sebum production. image by @clairenang

 

 

 

Use a serum containing glycolic acid or AHA

Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that works by exfoliating dead skin cells, which helps remove blackheads and whiteheads. Glycolic acid also promotes collagen production, which helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
image by sephora.com

During this phase it can be beneficial to use a retinoid (vitamin A derivative) such as tretinoin, retinol or adapalene to help control oil production, reduce acne breakouts and promote healthy collagen production to keep your skin looking youthful and vibrant.

 

Ovulatory Phase (Day 12-14)

TL;DR 

  • Your skin gets most oily during this phase
  • Avoid sun or using harsh chemicals
  • Use a deep-cleansing facial treatment

You may notice some oily skin. This is caused by an increase in androgen levels, which are responsible for stimulating sebaceous glands in your skin. Now, if you're an acne-prone-type person (like me) you might be thinking that you should forgo skincare products altogether during this time. But I promise, your skin doesn't suffer from absence of products! In fact, it's the opposite — with fewer products, there's less chance of clogging your pores (which can lead to breakouts) and it'll be easier to tell which products actually help your skin vs. improving only because they're more frequently used

Use a deep-cleansing facial treatment

To prevent clogged pores, book an appointment with your esthetician for a deep-cleansing facial treatment. This will help remove excess oil and dirt that can clog pores and lead to breakouts.
And while you're at it, ask your esthetician to recommend a gentle cleanser that won't strip your skin of its natural oils
image by whowhatwear

 

Luteal Phase (Day 15-28)

TL;DR 

  • Your skin gets most oily during this phase
  • During this phase we want to calm inflammation, control oil production, and balance hormones for a clear complexion
  • Cleanse with a gentle cleanse
  • Use a B3 serum

Time to get your skin detoxifying and purifying. The Luteal Phase is basically what hormone levels do during this time of the month. Unfortunately, estrogen levels drop and progesterone production skyrocket. Progesterone levels can cause breakouts, so a deep-cleansing mask will help. Testosterone might be to blame during the premenstrual phase and immediately after your period, so using a salicylic acid cleanser may help clear those pesky pimples.

Cleanse with a gentle cleanse

Cleansers with gentle surfactants will remove dirt and excess sebum without stripping moisture from your skin. We recommend using a foaming cleanser at least once a day to cleanse skin thoroughly. Use an oil-based cleanser two times per week if needed image from aloyoga

Black cumin seed oil

Black cumin seed oil contains potent antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and control breakouts. Apply it directly onto blemishes twice daily until they heal completely (about 2 weeks)

Use a B3 serum

Use B3 serum to balance oil production and reduce inflammation - Niacinamide helps maintain healthy sebum levels by boosting collagen synthesis and reducing inflammation within pores image by thesleepcode.com

Final Thoughts

As we've seen, by taking the time to understand your skin's cycle, you can easily create an effective skincare routine tailored to your individual needs and avoid breakouts. With any luck, using these skincare tips to cycle sync during your menstrual and ovulation phases will help you achieve clearer-looking skin and alleviate your acne.
It’s important to keep in mind that the above guidelines are based on the different cycles that apply to a woman most often. That said, the last 2 phases are often interchangeable and they should be practiced depending on how your skin is normally reacting to your hormones

 

 

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