How do you sync your skin routine to your monthly cycle?
Be aware of what is going on inside you
When I learned how hormones affect the skin, I learned how to adjust my skin care routine based on these changes. I wrote about it in detail in my book entitled, “The Hormonal Acne Solution” where I discussed how to sync our monthly period with our skin care routine. I will be giving you a simplified version of it below.
Before I begin, there are 3 key points I would like to highlight:
- Women are cyclical beings and not meant to stick to a strict regimen.
- We change throughout the month based on our hormone cycle and the moon cycle.
- We change based on the seasons of Mother Nature and the seasons of our life.
Knowing these 3 key points will help you to be aware that we go through different changes and stages of life and that includes our monthly period and our ever changing hormones. Because of this, women are more impacted by our hormonal changes than men.
In my book, I created a guide on “Syncing Your Skin Care Routine With Your Monthly Cycle”. In this guide, you will see that there are phases our skin goes through each month and it syncs with the “seasons” of our monthly cycle:
Week 1 – Dry Phase which syncs with the cycle’s Winter Season (Period)
Week 2 – Improving Phase which syncs with the cycle’s Spring Season (Follicular Phase)
Week 3 – Glowing Phase which syncs with the cycle’s Summer Season (Ovulation)
Week 4 – Oily Phase which syncs with the cycle’s Autumn Season (Luteal Phase)
Knowing these patterns or cycles can help you to manage your skin’s subtle changes during these times.
Skin changes during your period and how best to manage it
It all starts during the DRY PHASE
Your monthly cycle starts when you have your period. During this week, your skin tends to be dry, dull and sensitive as the female hormone, Oestrogen, is at its lowest.
During our period, hormone levels drop which causes the shedding of the uterine wall. As it takes A LOT of energy for this process, we tend to feel tired, sensitive and cold.
CYCLE SYNCING – Winter Season
I refer to this as the “Winter Season” of your monthly cycle. Since your skin tends to be dry, pale and sensitive due to low oestrogen, low progesterone and higher prostaglandins, these should be taken into consideration:
- Be gentle with yourself and your skin during this time
- Rest, reflect & recharge
- Focus on calming & hydrating skin products, routines and treatments
- Focus on warm and blood nourishing foods
Focus on products that nourish, and also have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Avoid exfoliation. Choose treatments that are calming, relaxing and hydrating. Try to avoid any laser, injectables or waxing during this week as your pain threshold may be a little lower.
When is the best time to use brightening products on your skin?
The best time is during the SKIN IMPROVING PHASE!
During your monthly menstrual cycle, oestrogen rises and falls. It’s the lowest during your period and as oestrogen slowly rises afterwards the skin improves in colour as it prepares for the next phase when you’re most fertile.
There’s a flurry of activity throughout the body in preparation for ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary) and you’ll have more motivation to start anew or upgrade your skin routine.
CYCLE SYNCING – Spring Season
I refer to this stage as the “Spring Season” because you are starting to bloom.
If your skin is still dull and dry, use skin products that are hydrating and brightening. This week, you can use stronger ingredients. Choose more intense treatments such as skin renewal with chemical peels, light therapy, lasers. You can also opt for mesotherapy or skin booster treatments.
Here are some tips to support your skin care routine:
- Good time to add exfoliation, acids and retinol to your routine
- Best time for brightening & resurfacing treatments during this time (eg skin peels, lasers, microneedling)
- Focus on light, energising foods with plenty of healthy fats to support hormone production
It’s easy to feel like a superwoman during this time as you’re better at multitasking, magically executing your to-do-list and feeling productive. However make sure you schedule your rest & recharge time too, so you support the next phase which is ovulation (or the Glow Phase).
How to maximise your skin’s Glowing Phase
The GLOWING PHASE is when you ovulate
This is when you look your best. The surge of oestrogen causes you to ovulate. During this phase, your skin is more hydrated, less oily, your pores are smaller and you just glow from ear to ear. Even collagen production increases during this time of the month (great for anti-ageing treatments). It’s when you’re the most fertile and your skin will show it.
Mother Nature works her magic to get you looking, smelling, sounding and feeling your best (that’s the plan anyway) to attract a mate to fertilise the egg.
You may also feel that you need to wear less foundation because you feel beautiful without it.
Enjoy it! No need to tamper with what’s working.
Caution with high oestrogen. It causes high colour so your melanocyte (pigment producing cells) is the most active during this phase. I would recommend avoiding any skin peels or lasers during this time to avoid the risk of PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). Remember to wear sunscreen every day!
CYCLE SYNCING – Summer Season
TIME TO GLOW!!
This is my favourite skin phase during the menstrual cycle.
I refer to this phase as the “Summer Season” where we are feeling ready.. to.. PARTY!.
Here are some tips to maximise this phase:
- Focus on collagen boosting skin products / routines / treatments
- Use lighter moisturisers
- Best time to have a conversation with your skin therapist / doctor to create a long term skin plan (or breaking up with one)
- Be careful with resurfacing treatments (e.g. skin peels and lasers) during this time due to higher risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Higher level of oestrogen increases melanin production
- Focus on high protein and high fat as building blocks to collagen and hormones
Why do we often break out before our periods and what can we do about it?
The last stage in the process is the OILY PHASE which is also commonly known as PMS
THE DREADED BREAKOUTS BEFORE YOUR PERIOD!! Why does it happen?
Oestrogen starts to fall while Testosterone remains relatively high, resulting in increased oil production, larger pores and fluid retention (resulting in a puffy face).
During the Luteal Phase, the corpus luteum (the remaining “sac” after releasing the egg) starts to produce progesterone which stabilises the uterine wall in the hopes of getting the egg fertilised and for implantation to occur. If fertilisation does not happen, corpus luteum shrinks and progesterone level drops, resulting in a bleed.
Progesterone is a skin and mood calming hormone. Some women are more sensitive to low progesterone. As progesterone level drops, you might feel more emotional, irritable, tired, increased sugar cravings and breakouts. This could come directly and indirectly from a less than healthy coping mechanism such as bingeing on sugar, pushing when you should be resting, using more drying skin ingredients to remove the oil but increasing dryness and inflammation.
Seeing that this phase requires more care and attention, this may be a good time to see your beauty therapist or cosmetic doctor to do a clarifying, anti-acne facial or treatment for you. It’s a good time to do extractions and make sure your pores are clean.
CYCLE SYNCING – Autumn Season
If hormones are balanced, you won’t experience heavy breakouts. I refer to this phase as the “Autumn Season”, when we should be nesting, resting, reflecting and getting ready for Winter.
Focus on removing excess oil on your skin, removing the bacteria and balancing your sugar levels to reduce inflammation. Avoid picking at your skin and ensure you clean off your makeup well to avoid further clogging of pores.
How can you support the Oily Phase so you can have less breakouts and feel better in yourself?
- Eat more complex carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables with plenty of healthy fats to help you feel fuller for a long period of time
- Swap refine sugar for natural sweets like fruits, dark chocolate, and dates
- Increase your intake of brassica vegetables to help with detoxification
- Take time to nest: focus on solo work, cut down on meetings, have more breaks
- Drink spearmint tea and celery juice which helps reduce effects of androgens on the skin
- Use gentle exfoliation to calm and hydrate your skin. I personally use a lot of niacinamide & hydrating mask during this time
Try it out for yourself. Make notes each day or week, documenting what your skin looks and feels like.
If you have irregular cycles, ask yourself if you have a hormonal imbalance that may be causing the irregularity. When your hormones are balanced, your cycle will be more regular and you will be able to predict better on how your skin behaves on a weekly basis.
How does your skin behave before your period?
The key is to be in tune with your skin so you can adjust and enjoy your self-care rituals even more.