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how your cycle affects your skin throughout the month

Updated: Apr 9, 2018

Your menstrual cycles determine how your skin behaves and looks like week by week, thanks to hormone changes that occur naturally in your body.

Our skin is sensitive to hormonal activity. Just think back to your puberty days and recall how hormonal activity changed you hair and body. Hormonal activity happens daily in less intensity than your teenage years, affecting how your skin looks and feels like.

Shifting hormones can change the amount of sebum your skin naturally produces, which in excess leads to blemishes and breakouts. You may be tempted to attack them with aggressive products, but, over-drying breakouts can actually lead to sebaceous glands producing more sebum to compensate.

The main hormones in action are estrogen and progesterone, which rise and fall throughout the month. During the first half of your cycle, estrogen is helping the body prepare for pregnancy, followed by progesterone during the second half to maintain the lining of the uterus if an embryo is developed. It's really all about making babies.

We recommend recording and following the way your skin reacts to hormonal changes, just like you are recording your monthly cycle and symptoms. This will help you plan your skincare routine in advance and stay ahead of breakouts by preparing your skin to what you body is about to produce.

Week 1

Your period marks the first day of your menstrual cycle and you may notice that your breakouts are fading away. Decrease in progesterone makes your skin less inflamed and oily. As the progesterone subsides, estrogen begins to kick in, which could cause your skin to get a little drier than normal. Your skin may appear dull.

What to do: Use a little more moisturizer (the heavy kind), but don't overdo it —your skin is still recovering from the progesterone-related breakouts from earlier in the week. Drink lots of water to increase intake of moisture into your body and avoid hot showers, as they further dehydrate the skin. Later in the week use a gently facial scrub to brighten your skin and complexion.

Week 2

your period is over and your body starts preparing for baby making again. This is when you skin will look clearest. Your estrogen levels continue to rise, which counteracts progesterone and testosterone. Your pimples will die down, but your pores might look a little larger this week. your skin now keeps high retention of moisture.

What to do: Use a regular or lightweight moisturizer during these days and embrace a bare-faced look. Your skin’s natural glow will be all you need to look your best. Avoid heavy makeup and using oils to treat your skin.

Week 3

Day 14 is Ovulation day and your skin should still have a healthy glow. Your pores will look minimized this week. After ovulation, estrogen and testosterone start to decrease and progesterone begins to increase making your skin swell and your pores compressed shut. A build-up of sebum, oil produced by the hair follicles in your face, gets trapped under your pores and gets mixed with dead skin cells and bacteria. This is the perfect breeding ground for breakouts.

What to do: Potential breakouts alert! Closed pores are the perfect environment for breakouts breeding. Make sure clean your face 3-4 times a day but don't overdo it. Remove your make up before going to sleep. Your skin now produces excess oil. Clean it with an oil based cleanser and use a lighter moisturizer.

Week 4

It's PMS time. All the dead skin and bacteria that were feeding off your sebum last week are now bursting to break out producing inflammation and breakouts on the chin, jawline, and even some body acne. Your hormone levels fall and your skin will start reacting to all this stress.

What to do: Salicylic acid is your best friend this week, as well as products that keep your pores open and reduce inflammation. Vitamin A derivatives like retinol and retinoids will help reduce sebum production. Benzoyl peroxide containing products will help kill bacteria. Avoid touching your face this week (although you will feel like touching it a lot). Keep your skincare environment clean. Make sure makeup brushes are clean. Clean your face 3-4 times a day but don't over do it. Since estrogen and progesterone levels are low, it's a good time to do a hydrating mask at home and enjoy some self care time until your cycle start again tomorrow...

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