Our beloved skin is sadly a victim when it comes to hormonal changes. Whether it's a case of the pesky chin pimple, excess oil or dryness, it seems as if we face it all (pun intended). As much as you may want to hide away with a tub of ice cream during the most tedious time of the month, life must go on. Your usual skincare routine won't cut it during your cycle, so here's what to do to accommodate these complexion concerns.
'Cycle syncing' doesn't just refer to what happens when you women spend too much time together. It's a term used to describe the art of adapting your skincare routine to your cycle, and switching up which products you're using to boost that healthy glow.
Your period has four main phases, each with its own unique qualities and effects on your body.
Day 1-5: Menstrual Phase
During our menstrual cycle, all of our hormones start off being at low levels and our basal body temperature is therefore low too. This means we have a decrease in our temperature, sebum production, and skin may appear relatively dull and lacklustre.
During this time I recommend hydrating from the inside out. Natural means of doing this include drinking plenty of warm teas, which enhance circulation and increase skin hydration. Lean towards hydrating products such as nourishing oils and hyaluronic acid to help support the skin's outer layers.
As syncing your skincare embraces the natural state of your skin, I recommend following it up with the use of organic skincare during all stages of the menstrual cycle. Xenoestrogens, found in conventional cosmetic preservatives and fragrances, can wreak havoc on hormonal balance, resulting in an imbalance of androgens that are often the root cause of breakouts and congested skin.
Day 6-10: Follicular phase
As we enter our follicular phase, oestrogen starts to rise and peaks just prior to ovulation. During this time, our skin is glowing! Progesterone levels are low which means the skin is not producing extra sebum and oestrogen is supporting collagen production, keeping skin feeling hydrated and plump.
To keep the good skin days going, I recommend supporting the skin's organic production of collagen with natural retinol alternatives and being consistent with your cleansing and exfoliating routine.
Skin is also less sensitive during this time, so it is the ideal time to road-test any new products on your skin.
Day 11-18: Ovulation Phase
For those who haven't heard of period skin's sister, ovulation skin, it is definitely a "thing". During ovulation, the ovaries secrete hormones that are known as androgens – predominantly testosterone.
Increased androgen and oestrogen that occurs between our menstrual cycle and ovulation can cause sebum (oil) to accumulate in follicles, which can lead to blackheads. This can also lead to a build-up of bacteria which may lead to pimples and breakouts, similar to typical premenstrual acne.
Keep up your cleansing with organic products, a wonderful way to prevent pores from being clogged with mineral oils or other silicones.
During the more acne-prone points of your cycle, it's especially important to avoid synthetic fragrances and preservatives, which are notorious for causing the skin to become sensitive and inflamed.
Day 19-28: Luteal Phase
After ovulation, our progesterone levels start to rise with the release of Luteinising Hormone (LH) from the pituitary. Along with an increase in progesterone, skin can become greasier. Our basal body temperature increases and pores can become clogged.
An increase in LH levels can make your skin prone to bacterial overgrowth. Now is the time that I endorse being religious with your cleansing, and considering exfoliating more frequently, but do not use any sensitising treatments, as skin may be sensitive during this phase.
I recommend the use of a toner mist containing anti-microbial botanicals like calendula and chamomile, a water-based serum, and throwing in a purifying sleep mask to keep pores clear and refined. If you don't have sensitive skin, consider salicylic acid to help to refine pores.
Anna Mitsios, Nutritionist, Naturopath and Founder of Edible Beauty Australia