How to Plan Skin Care around Menstrual Cycle

Hormonal cycles influence a woman’s body over time. The skin, the largest organ of the body, changes greatly as a woman passes through the major phases of the lifecycle – puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Yet the skin also changes in response to daily fluctuations within the menstrual cycle.

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The Monthly Rhythm of Female Hormones and Skin Care

There are two types of female hormone: estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen:

  • Slows the rate of hair growth.
  • Keeps the skin metabolically active.
  • Increases the action of the enzyme hyaluronidase, which produces hyaluronic acid.
  • Increases the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer of the epidermis.
  • Keeps sebaceous secretion thin and less fatty.
  • Reduces the size and activity of the sebaceous glands.

Progesterone:

  • Encourages the production and secretion of sebum.
  • Encourages the production of melanin, the pigment in dark spots and suntan.
  • Thickens the corneal layer of the epidermis and lowers skin resistance to acne.

A month (about 28 days) can be divided into three menstrual cycles according to the levels of these hormones secreted day by day: the menstrual phase, follicular phase, and luteal phase.

A woman’s skin care should ideally change according to the hormonal changes phase by phase.

Days 1-6: Menstrual Phase and Skin Care

All sex hormones are at a low level during your period. Skin will be sensitive and at its driest. It may also look dull, and dark circles may look more intense.

Products to use:

  • Facial oils – massage of the oils into the skin is especially important to promote circulation.
  • Regenerative resurfacing and gentle exfoliation treatments – especially those containing fruit enzymes.
  • Intense moisturizers – especially those with additional natural humectants like tamarind seed extract. These should also be massaged into the skin.
  • Products containing lightening and brightening ingredients like liquorice root extract, pumpkin seed oil, turmeric.

Skin care advice:

  • The skin becomes very sensitive during menstruation. Avoid changing cosmetics or trying out new types of skin care. Use cosmetics you are accustomed and stay away from anything that can irritate the skin. Be sure to moisturize thoroughly.
  • Use a steam towel to enhance circulation and skin metabolism.
  • Focus on moisturizing care. Fully replenish the skin with moisture and oil.

Days 7-15: Follicular Phase and Skin Care

As estrogen levels begin to rise, the hormones attaches to cell receptors in the skin and promotes the production of glycosaminoglycans like hyaluronic acid in the skin, which allows the skin to keep hydrated by attracting water molecules and upholds the skin structure. Estrogen also ensures the sebum remains thin, lightly lubricating your skin.

Estrogen has also been linked to higher Vitamin A concentrations in the bloodstream, but lower than usual vitamins B6, B12 and C, although more scientific research needs to be completed in this area. Skin will usually look its best at this time of the month.

Products to use:

  • Nourishing moisturizers and fluids.
  • Facial oils with high Vitamin C content like rosehip oil or pumpkin seed oil.
  • Foaming cleansers twice daily.

Skin care advice:

  • If you have sensitive skin, use facial cleanser and soap to wash away impurities (double facial cleansing), moisturize the skin with ample lotion and emulsion (double moisturizing), and protect the skin from UV.
  • This is a good time for active skin care. Liven up your skin care routine at home with skin masks and self-massages.
  • This is the best time to try out new cosmetics or switch from the cosmetics you usually use.

Days 16-28: Luteal Phase and Skin Care

Estrogen levels fall after ovulation and progesterone levels start to rise and peak. Progesterone leads to a number of factors contributing to acne-prone skin: these include the skin having a higher than normal bacterial cell count, the skin’s pores are compressed, there is more sebum produced but it is not thinned and so can block the pores and also feeds the bacteria.

The skin is irritable so it needs to be protected but not overwhelmed with products. Progesterone also interferes with estrogen cell receptors so stops the low levels of estrogen from having an effect on the skin. There are good levels of B vitamins and Vitamin C around this time.

Products to use:

  • Fruit enzyme regenerative peels – to help unclog pores and resurface any toxins within the skin.
  • Products containing Vitamin A or its various forms.
  • Light moisturizers or fluids, and use plenty of SPF fluids since your skin is at its weakest.
  • Acne sprays – these lower the bacterial count and stop the pores from becoming congested and inflamed. You can make your own in a 30ml spray bottle: 25ml distilled water, add 15 drops tea tree oil, keep refrigerated and use twice daily after cleansing. Sprays containing salicylic acid and glycolic acid are OK, but they are drying so be careful not to over dry the skin as it will start producing even more sebum in response.

Skin care advice:

  • The skin becomes very sensitive in the luteal phase. Avoid changing cosmetics and or trying out new types of skin care. Use cosmetics you are accustomed to and products with gentle formulas.
  • Wash and cleanse the face thoroughly, and replenish moisture and oil.
  • Protect your skin from UV even more vigilantly than normal.
  • If you are prone to acne, use care strategies to prevent pimples from the very beginning of the luteal phase.

Conclusion

Your hormones are constantly affecting your skin, and how they do it is directly related to your age. Understanding the relationship between your menstrual cycle and your skin can help you deal with both the changes over the course of the month and the changes throughout your life.


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