How Skin Changes Throughout a Woman's Menstrual Cycle

Most of us have good skin days and some not-so-good skin days. You've probably already guessed that many of these natural highs and lows have a lot to do with hormones and how our monthly cycle affects our skin (even when we're not on our period).

A woman's menstrual cycle reflects three primary hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Throughout the cycle, these hormones fluctuate, and the relationship between them varies as well. This flux of hormones can make us feel and look different, and it can cause our skin to go from dry to oily to acne-prone.

Navigating your cycle isn't always easy, but knowing what's going on inside your body can help you make the most of every phase (and help your skin along the way). To better understand how these hormones affect your cycle and your skin, you're going to want to keep reading.


Days 1–7: Menstruation, the "Reset" of the Cycle

Your first day of bleeding is considered the start of your menstrual cycle. On this day, the hormone progesterone plunges, causing the uterine lining to shed and your period to begin. This is considered the "reset" phase of the cycle since all three major female hormones are at a low.

What this means for your skin:

While you may still be recovering from some pre-period or PMS breakouts, your skin should be clear due to the low levels of progesterone and testosterone. However, estrogen's low point on days 1 through 3 of the cycle causes less stimulation of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid—aka all of those yummy, dewy compounds that give us our glow.

How should you adjust your skincare regimen?

The decline in these plumping, moisturizing ingredients means that adding in rich, plant-based phytoestrogens found in different plant extracts can mimic estrogen's effect on the skin when applied topically. These soothing phytonutrients can work on the skin to improve elasticity and luminosity—especially when combined with regular cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing during this phase. Adding in a simple hyaluronic acid serum can also help put some healthy bounce back into the skin.


Days 8–14: The Follicular and Ovulatory Phases

Immediately following menstruation begins the Follicular phase. The Follicular phase occurs when your pituitary gland releases a hormone called FSH or Follicle Stimulating Hormone that stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to mature. Estrogen and testosterone rise together, preparing for ovulation. This powerhouse duo will give you a boost of energy, improve your mood, and make you feel like a goddess.

What this means for your skin:

The good skin days are here! Embrace them. Wear less makeup and let your natural beauty shine bright.

How should you adjust your skincare regimen?

When you're having a good skin week, the best thing you can do is keep a good skincare regimen going along with it. Make sure to keep skin properly cleansed, hydrated, moisturized, and protected with an SPF to prolong your clear, glowing skin. You can also consider adding a plant-based facial oil to your routine this week to give your skin that extra bit of glow.


Days 15–28: The Luteal Phase, Progesterone Dominance

After ovulation, estrogen and testosterone levels fall back to let progesterone take the lead. Progesterone's dominance encourages you to rest and recover. Your energy tends to go down in this phase, and your appetite goes up, making it a perfect time to go inward, focus on self-care, and prioritize individual goals.

What this means for your skin:

You may notice you feel a little more sluggish and bloated, and your skin isn't looking nearly as great as it did during ovulation. And you're right. Progesterone dominance makes it prime time for skin disruption, so you're more likely to experience breakouts and dullness during this phase. 

How should you adjust your skincare regimen?

To keep acne at bay during this time in your cycle, adjust your skincare regimen to include acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid that will gently exfoliate, target excess oil, and prevent breakouts from coming. Including calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients and products can also help balance skin, mitigate stress, and improve clarity.

Always Pure, Always Natural


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