We may not want to admit it, but hormones most definitely affect our mood over the course of a month. But it’s not only our minds that are on that roller coaster—our skin also has to deal with the side effects of our cyclical hormones. Which pretty much explains why one week your skin is glowing and you can go makeup free, and the next, it looks the worse for wear and you find yourself having to conceal and brighten like a crazy person. The key to great skin all month long? Get to know your cycle and follow our plan—you’ll know what your skin needs before it does, so you can have a calm complexion all month long.
Keep reading to see how it’s done!
Your skin now: It is likely that your complexion is already slightly spot-prone. Your body is producing the hormone prostaglandin, causing those painful cramps. “The increase in prostaglandin means your skin will be more tender, and any spots will feel more painful,” says skin specialist Terry Loong, MD. Which is also why this is no time to book in for that wax.
The plan: Look to products that include sterolins (plant steroids), since these have been found to reduce inflammation and soften skin. Naturally occurring in avocados, keep a bottle of Pai Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream (£32) in your bathroom cabinet alongside your tampons, and use it throughout your period to soothe skin.
Your skin now: A dip in your oestrogen levels during your period will make skin feel drier than usual. When there is a drop in the hormone oestrogen, it affects your body’s ability to retain moisture.
The plan: Don’t be tempted to go at your dry, dead skin with a harsh face scrub. “Tread gently, since your skin will be sensitive right now. This is the time to add a hyaluronic acid serum into your regimen,” Loong says. Make sure your bathroom cabinet is stocked with hydrating sheet masks, too.
Your skin now: Oestrogen is being pumped back into your system, which means your skin will feel more naturally hydrated, and collagen production (which drops when oestrogen levels do) is back in business. But right after your period, you can be lacking in iron, which can lead to dark circles.
The plan: Make sure you keep a lightweight concealer on hand, especially one that’s formulated for the delicate eye area to brighten. Also, your tolerance for pain is much better now. “This is the time to book in for your waxing appointments.
If you must wax in the week leading up to or during your period, take two painkillers prior to your appointment,” suggests Nita Ladwi, a beauty therapist at Daniel Hersheson Harvey Nichols. Since skin is less sensitive right now, you should schedule any other beauty treatments you want, such as microdermabrasion or peels.
Your skin now: You should be ovulating around now, and this is when you and your skin should be looking and feeling your best. If you notice your skin is a bit more flushed than usual, don’t worry: that’s genetics. A rosy cheek is a signal of health.
It’s not all perfect skin, though: Oestrogen production can increase sebum (read: shine), and melanin levels leading to spots and dark spots. “When oestrogen levels are raised additional melanin is produced,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Rachael Eckel, MD. “This excess settles as dark deposits,” she adds.
The plan: You want your skin to look dewy, not shiny, right? Keep a face powder in your clutch at this time of the month. Avoid any laser treatments now, as your chances of developing dark spots are high. And, if your moisturiser doesn’t have SPF protection, make sure you layer up before applying your foundation; aim for factor 30+.
Your skin now: Your body is gearing up for your period, and the hormones progesterone and testosterone are on the rise. Testosterone causes more sebum to be produced, “Before and during menstruation, testosterone is higher than the female hormones,” explains gynaecologist Elizabeth Gutrecht Lyster, MD. Progesterone causes the skin to swell, which reduces pore size—for some women this means skin looks flawless and dewy, for others it makes it a breeding ground for the bacteria responsible for spots.
The plan: Start using an antibacterial cleanser morning and night—look for one that is gentle on the skin, you don’t want to strip it of its natural oils, as this will trigger the production of more oil in response. Be prepared to tackle any spots before they can break out—keep a spot lotion on your bedside cabinet and apply to any blemishes before you go to sleep.
Your skin now: Low oestrogen levels at this time of the month equal low serotonin (the “happy” hormone). Progesterone is falling too, and this drop in hormones means your energy levels are reading empty on the barometer. Your body may start to retain water, so your skin could look puffy—try drinking green tea (keep a caddy on your desk); it’s a diuretic and should get that excess fluid moving.
The plan: Use beauty to beat the blues. Keep your bathroom cabinet stocked up with scented bath oils, and try to book in for an indulgent beauty treatment whether it’s a pedicure, a de-stressing massage or a soothing, calming facial.
How do you target skin issues during your period? What kind of month-long regimen do you prefer? Tell us in the comments below!