Here it is again. Your monthly acne breakout. Or oily patches. Or dry and dull patches. Or irritated redness.
It’s all possible during your period, and it can be so irritating! You take good care of your skin, but it seems no matter what you do, your hormones wreck it all once a month.
Find out why your menstrual period affects your skin, and what you can do to keep that radiant glow no matter what week it is.
How Your Period Affects Your Skin
You know your body changes throughout your cycle depending on hormone levels, and your skin is no different. Let’s look at a quick outline of how it goes:
- Beginning: When your period starts, levels of your reproductive hormones (progesterone, estrogen) are at their lowest. The skin may be dry and dull, and may also break out.
- After: When your period ends, the body starts producing estrogen again. The skin looks plumper and healthier.
- During ovulation: This is the height of the fertile window, when you may feel and look your best. In some women, though, the skin may be a bit oilier at this point.
- After ovulation: The body produces more progesterone, which can cause an overproduction of sebum (oil) in the skin, spurring breakouts and oily skin.
It can get a bit complicated to try to keep track of what week is what, so in general, know that in most cases, you’ll notice the biggest changes in the week or two before your period starts. Hormones surge, oil glands go into overdrive, and you may be more vulnerable to acne, redness, and irritation.
5 Tips to Better Manage Your Skin Care During Your Period
To help your skin maintain its best look no matter what your hormones are doing, try these tips.
1. Use a Cleanser with Salicylic Acid the Week Before
Whereas your skin may need a creamy, moisturizing cleanser the rest of the month, the week before your period, when hormones surge and the oil increases, switch to a salicylic acid cleanser that helps keep that oil in check. This may help you avoid a breakout, or at least keep it mild.
2. Prevent Breakouts, and Treat Those that Show Up
Take steps to prevent breakouts throughout your cycle. Good habits include:
- Washing your face twice a day, and never going to bed with makeup on!
- Cleanse with a cleansing brush—they are more likely to get into all the nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide.
- Change your pillowcase frequently.
- Keep your hands and your phone away from your face—they are sources of bacteria.
- Eat a healthy diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t overdo it on the sugar and carbs—too much of these can increase your risk of acne.
If you do get a breakout, you want to treat it right if you want it to go away quickly. That means no squeezing or puncturing, which only leads to worse wounds and scarring. Instead, take these steps:
- Use glycolic acid pads a couple of times a day to remove oil and help slough off dead skin cells.
- Spot treat pimples with a tea tree oil or another type of treatment that will kill the bacteria.
3. Use Masks
Whenever you notice overly oily skin, use an oil-absorbing mask to counteract it. Choose a mud or clay mask, or something with enzymes in it, and avoid overly drying masks that leave you feeling tight. These can stimulate the skin to produce more oil, which you don’t want. Your skin should feel refreshed and healthy after you rinse the mask off. Follow with a light moisturizer.
4. Choose Products Safe to Sensitive Skin
Many women find that their skin is extra sensitive during their period. It may hurt more if you tweeze your eyebrows, for example, or become more red and irritated. Avoid using products with chemicals and petrolatum that can make the situation worse. Choose products with natural and safe ingredients that will help nourish the skin. We recommend our CV Skinlabs products of course, as they’re 100 percent free of toxins and known allergens.
5. Exfoliate After to Help Your Skin Recover
After your period is over, before the hormones surge again, consider performing a serious chemical exfoliation. This is when you can repair any damage that occurred during your period, and help your skin start fresh again.
The two main types of chemical exfoliators are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs work on the surface of the skin, loosening dead cells so they’re sloughed away during cleansing. BHAs penetrate more deeply and help clean out pores. Both can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays, so always use sunscreen and clothing protection when using these ingredients.
- AHAs: These are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits, and help renew the surface of the skin. They include glycolic, lactic, malic, mandelic, tartaric, and citric acids, which are all considered safe for sensitive skin. Always try any new product on a small area of skin first to be sure you can tolerate it.
- BHAs: These are oil-soluble acids that can get deeper into the pores and help fade acne and sun damage. You’ll find them mostly in salicylic acid (from willow bark), though some citric acids also qualify.
How do you manage your skin during your period?