The effects of your cycle on your skin
One of the most dreaded symptoms of our menstrual cycle is the effects it can have on our skin. Dry and flaky one day, then oily or spotted the next, it’s hard to keep up.
The good news is, many women’s menstrual cycles become increasingly regular as they age, allowing them to track their symptoms and phases with more accuracy. In other words, many women can learn to predict the state of their skin, to the day. For example, hormonal pimples often come 7-10 days before the first day of a woman’s period alongside other PMS symptoms.
Skincare for every phase
There are natural ups and downs for your skin every month, but with the right set of skincare techniques you can fight breakouts and promote more radiant skin throughout your entire cycle.
When determining what day you are in your cycle, keep in mind that day 1 is the first day of your period. Use these tips to put your best face forward during every phase!
Your skin may feel dry and sensitive the first few days of your cycle due to a lack of hormone production. To soothe and moisturize your skin, increase the use of hydrating products in your skincare routine. For example, try a ‘hyaluronic acid’ based face serum to get a better glow.
During the days after your period, estrogen production begins again and stimulates cell turnover. This means that it is best to focus on gently exfoliating your skin during this phase to prevent clogged pores. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to choose a gentle exfoliator or alternatively, use a warm wet cloth to remove your regular face wash.
This is when estrogen levels peak, so you’ll likely experience your most radiant skin during this time. Although, be sure to continue practising your regular skincare routine, ie. washing your face in the morning, before bed and after workouts to prevent breakout-causing bacteria from sitting too long on the surface of your skin.
The hormone progesterone is at its peak during these days, meaning your oil glands will be producing a lot more sebum than normal. This a good time to do a clay-based mask to draw out impurities. Double the benefits of your mask by taking a warm bath and then doing a mask afterwards to help open your pores and get a deep clean.
Hormonal acne tends to strike due to testosterone production during this time. The best way to treat this period of bad skin is washing your face with a face wash containing salicylic acid every morning and night to clean your pores and kill any bacteria.
General skincare tips
Aside from treating the effects of your hormones every month, there are some good skincare habits to get used that will promote the health of your skin in the long term.
- Avoid harsh exfoliants as they increase inflammation which is a source of breakouts
- Wash your face twice a day (morning and before bed)
- Avoid touching your face! Your hands can transfer bacteria to your face leading to breakouts
- Practice good cosmetic hygiene ie. clean your makeup brushes often
- Sleep with your hair tied back and change pillow cases often
- Wear SPF 15 or higher, everyday, all year round!
- Get 6-8 hours of sleep a night (a time for your skin to heal)
Fighting acne with a good diet
Don’t forget that your skin is your body’s biggest organ so you can impact the quality of your skin by practising good nutrition. Some of the best ways to improve your skin are:
- Drink lots of water! (about 2 litres/day)
- Eat plenty of leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli and kale
- Get your dose of Omega 3s ie. nuts, seeds and cold water fish
- Include healthy fats in your diet such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil and egg yolk
- Foods rich in ‘zinc’ fight breakouts! ie. sunflower seeds, shellfish and chicken
Know when to ask for help
Keep in mind that genetics also determine what kind of skin you have, so never be afraid to ask for help from a professional if you feel like you’ve tried everything and still experience frustrating symptoms. In cases of extreme acne, there are treatments available such as taking birth control pills to treat acne resulting from hormone imbalance.