4 Ways Your Period Messes With Your Skin
The connection between your periods and your skin is very real. Here’s what you need to know…
Breakouts, dryness, dull skin and sensitivities are just some of the skin woes that can hit you hard during your menstrual cycle. Heck, you might even experience them all at some point during the month. Sigh.
So, what’s the deal with all these skin irregularities and what can you do to get ahead of the game? We take a look at exactly what happens to your skin before, during and after your period. And, if you’re interested, we’re also handing out advice for what to do to beat those ‘big three’ hormones – estrogen, progesterone and testosterone – at their own game. After all, the one thing we can say about your menstrual cycle is that it’s predictable (most of the time, anyway)…
Phase 1: Menstruation
What’s Going On: During your period, your reproductive hormones are at an all-time low as your cycle resets itself for another round. A lack of estrogen, in particular, has a powerful effect on what happens to your skin during this time, reducing collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid production and leading to dry and dull-looking skin. Sebum production also decreases which does nothing but exacerbate dryness. Furthermore, tired, period skin has a tendency to highlight things like fine lines and wrinkles because it lacks hydration, volume and support from those important proteins and moisture-binding components.
Your Action Plan: Thanks to your skin’s reduction of natural hyaluronic acid, moisturization and hydration are particularly important during this time of the month. If your skin is really feeling it, try stepping it up to a richer moisturizer than norm – one that’s high in ceramides and occlusive ingredients like botanical oils and/or shea butter. Vitamin C Deep Hydration Night Cream is a particular favorite of ours and thanks to its added boost of vitamin C it'll help inject a little glow back into your skin – not literally of course, no needles are required here!
It's also worth applying a hydrating serum underneath your moisturizer to build up your skin’s supply of moisture. We love Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum which blends nature’s super-hydrator, hyaluronic acid, with healing aloe, soothing vitamin E and brightening vitamin C. Literally everything your skin needs right now.
Phase 2: The Week After Your Period
What’s Going On: Enjoy this time, friends, because these are the glory days when estrogen levels start to increase at the end of your period and before you ovulate. The positive effects of estrogen on the skin have been widely studied and research shows that it bears a huge relevance to the thickness, strength and suppleness of your skin. In a good way, that is! Basically, estrogen kicks collagen production back into gear and rejuvenates the skin’s barrier function meaning better moisture retention (read glowy skin), accelerated healing (bye bye stubborn pimples) and healthier, clearer pores (ditto!).
Your Action Plan: Your skin is likely to be behaving itself pretty well right now so let it shine by going makeup free. It’s also strong and at its most hardy which means it’s going to be less prone to sensitivities and irritation. This makes it a great time to introduce a new product into your regimen or to try amping up your retinol usage.
Another way to maximize your gorgeous glow? Up your exfoliation to two or three times a week to further stimulate collagen production and cellular turnover. Try Ocean Minerals Super Toner after cleansing and before applying serum. This active toning spray contains glycolic acid to gently break down the bonds between dead skin cells so they shed naturally. No scrubbing required.
Phase 3: The In-Between Stage
What’s Going On: After a few more 'awesome skin days' during ovulation you go into the second half of your cycle when estrogen starts to dwindle and progesterone rises. Progesterone causes your metabolism to drop which can make you feel super sluggish and prone to eat more crappy food! Also, a decrease in estrogen tips the balance in favor of testosterone – which stays pretty constant throughout your cycle. This imbalance nudges your sebaceous glands to produce more sebum so watch out for oilier-than-normal skin during this time.
Your Action Plan: This mid-point in your cycle is a great time to prepare your skin for what’s coming next (in other words, more oil!) by deep cleaning your pores, balancing sebum and detoxifying your skin. Try a weekly face mask to draw out impurities and make sure you cleanse thoroughly, twice daily and always after exercising. Try Charcoal Clarifying Cleanser which makes for the perfect skin detox without drying out your skin.
Phase 4: The Days Before Your Next Period
What’s Going On: This is when things start to get serious as you enter major PMS territory. Estrogen and progesterone levels significantly dip during the last few days of your cycle throwing your hormones totally out of whack and allowing testosterone to completely take over. This hormonal imbalance not only triggers a whole load of unwanted sebum on the surface of your skin but it also increases inflammation, makes your moods go all over the place and increases stress. Too much oil can get blocked in your pores which, when coupled with inflammation, makes this time of the month a prime time for hormonal acne.
Your Action Plan: First up, try not to allow this short – although it feels like forever – period get to you. Acne is the most common skin condition in the US with an estimated 50 million people being affected at any given time. So don’t get stressed, get even by taking care to prevent breakouts before they strike. Avoid rich, oily skincare and makeup formulations, and stick to balancing, non-comedogenic products that help keep your pores clear. But this doesn’t mean throwing everything you can at your skin. Harsh ingredients or a barrage of products will just irritate and flare-up your skin even more. Remember, gentle is always best.
It’s also wise to make sure your routine includes plenty of soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe, tea tree oil, green tea, MSM and witch hazel. Our tea tree range is ideal for this time of the month.