Understanding How The Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Skin
Fluctuations in your hormones before, during and after your period – inflict ups and downs not just on your mood, but can trigger skin changes as well. Understanding your skin’s relationship with your menstrual cycle can be a game-changer in your skincare routine. Throughout your cycle, your skin undergoes a symphony of changes — oscillating between dryness and oiliness — across each menstrual cycle phase. Understanding your skin’s reactions during these phases and implementing care tailored to each stage is pivotal for comprehensive skincare throughout the month.
PHASE 1: MENSTRUAL PHASE
The menstrual phase, characterised by the shedding of the uterine lining, is accompanied by decreased estrogen and progesterone levels. This decline in hormones might contribute to various skin-related issues, such as:
Increased Dryness and Sensitivity: Reduced estrogen levels can possibly cause the skin to appear more dry, dull and lackluster, thereby accentuating fine lines and wrinkles. Applying a hydrating moisturiser infused with active ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, is crucial to maintaining hydration levels and supporting the skin’s structural integrity.
Increased Sebum Secretion: Fluctuating hormone levels, particularly the rise in testosterone before menstruation, may stimulate the production of sebum, which could result in the clogging of pores. Hence, cleansing is an important step in your skincare routine during your menstrual period.
PHASE 2: FOLLICULAR PHASE
Following menstruation, the follicular phase begins (approximately the first 10-16 days), marked by the rise in estrogen levels. This phase might bring about some positive changes for the skin:
Enhanced Skin Hydration and Radiance: Research has shown that rising estrogen levels helps to promote the production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid in the skin, which aid in preserving skin elasticity, improving the skin’s barrier function, and promoting a radiant, glowing complexion. Embrace this phase by focusing on a skincare routine that emphasises hydration and nourishment.
Decreased Breakouts: Fluctuating hormone levels, particularly the rise in testosterone before menstruation, may stimulate the production of sebum, which could result in the clogging of pores. Hence, cleansing is an important step in your skincare routine during your menstrual period.
Increased Resilience: Your skin is also most resilient during the follicular phase, which means it is a good time to do a thorough exfoliation or incorporate intensive brightening products or treatments into your skincare routine, to boost your skin’s renewal process. Taking advantage of this phase can help to effectively address various skin concerns. Retinoid and vitamin C products can help boost your complexion and get rid of hyperpigmentation. Consider scheduling your facial or in-clinic appointments during this phase of your cycle, as your skin is in its strongest state, and is much less likely to suffer from an irritation.
PHASE 3: OVULATION PHASE
This phase occurs midway through the menstrual cycle, around Day 14, often marking a period of clear and bright skin due to balanced hormonal levels. However, this phase is transient as estrogen and testosterone will begin to decrease in the next few days, paving the way for subsequent changes.
Glowing Skin: Some individuals report a “glow” during ovulation due to increased blood flow, which can enhance skin appearance. It’s essential to cleanse your skin regularly and steer clear of heavy products that might block or clog your pores.
PHASE 4: LUTEAL PHASE
TThe luteal phase, occurring post-ovulation and leading up to menstruation, is when the level of progesterones increases, which helps prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy.
Increased Oiliness: Progesterone can stimulate your sebum glands to produce more oil than normal, causing you to experience oily skin, acne breakouts and increased sensitivity before your period begins.
Acne Flare-Ups: For some individuals, hormonal imbalances during this phase may exacerbate acne or skin inflammation as well. Make sure to cleanse your face regularly and use cleansers containing gentle exfoliating or oil-balancing ingredients, including salicylic acid and natural fruit enzymes. These actives can help to encourage the removal of dead skin cells and promote cell turnover rate, revealing a brighter complexion.