You probably know about the link between hormones and acne, but were you aware that your menstrual cycle has a lot to do with “good skin days” too? Here’s how to deal with the way your period affects your skin every day of the month.

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.

The monthly rhythm of female hormones and skincare

There are two types of female hormone, estrogen and progesterone. 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 skincare should ideally change according to the hormonal changes phase by phase.

Monthly rhythm: Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and accompanying changes in body temperature

The main actions of estrogen and progesterone

Estrogen Progesterone
  1. Reduces sebum secretions from the sebaceous gland
  2. Refines the texture and makes pores less visible
  3. Prevents acne, dark spots, sagging, wrinkles, etc.
  4. Facilitates blood flow and normalizes skin metabolism
  5. Improves the blood circulation to hair papillae and stimulates hair growth
  6. Promotes the development of the breasts and distinctive contours of a woman’s bust and body.
  7. Helps preserve bone mass
  1. Encourages the production and secretion of sebum
  2. Thickens the corneal layer of the epidermis and lowers skin resistance to acne.
  3. Encourages the production of melanin, the pigment in dark spots and suntan

Menstrual phase

Estrogen and progesterone levels both fall during the menstrual phase, though secretions of the former start to gradually rise halfway through the phase. The body temperature falls during menstruation, which slows the blood circulation and the metabolism leaving the skin with a dullish appearance.

Sebum secretions decrease and the moisture-retention functions of the skin deteriorate. These changes dry the skin, promote chapping, and make it more difficult to apply makeup. Overall, the skin becomes very sensitive.

Skincare advice:

  • Use a steam towel to enhance circulation and skin metabolism.

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

Wellness advice:

  • Be sure to eat foods containing Vitamin E for improved blood circulation and balanced control of hormones. Typical sources of Vitamin E include almonds, pumpkins, trout, and red peppers.
  • Be sure to get enough iron and protein in your diet, as both tend to escape from the body during the menstrual cycle. Try also to consume Vitamin C, which encourages the absorption of iron. Foods rich in protein include meat, cheese, eggs, and soybeans. Good sources of iron include liver, beefsteak fillet, shellfish such as clams, soy milk, and lentils. Vitamin C is abundant in peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, and other fruits.
  • Most women have a craving for sweet foods during menstruation. Instead of going for cakes and cookies, choose dried fruit and other foods that are both filling and rich in antioxidants.

Follicular phase

Secretions of estrogen increase during follicular phase, the phase after menstruation. Estrogen encourages the generation of collagen. The general condition of the mind, body, and skin improves. The complexion and skin circulation also improve, and a good balance of moisture and oils in the skin is maintained. Now is the time to actively improve the condition of your skin through skincare.

Skincare advice:

  • This is a good time for active skincare. Liven up your skincare routine at home with skin masks and self-massages.
    * 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 the best time to try out new cosmetics or switch from the cosmetics you usually use.

Wellness advice:

  • Women tend to feel physically and mentally at their best during the follicular phase. This is the optimal time for the body to detox. Diets are also more effective during the follicular phase.

Luteal phase

The body secretes high levels of the progesterone in the luteal phase. The risk of skin problems is highest about now. Secretions of sebum rise together with the body temperature, which creates a skin environment favorable for acne and other minor problems. The skin also tends to dull, and pigments in the skin darken.

Stress and irregular lifestyle may aggravate physiological symptoms during the luteal phase. Premenstrual symptoms such as irritability and quick temper tend to appear, and the physical and mental condition may deteriorate for a week or longer.

Skincare advice:

  • Wash and cleanse the face thoroughly, and replenish moisture and oil.

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

Wellness advice:

  • Choose foods likely to reduce premenstrual symptoms (e.g. irritation and short temper).
    * Vitamin B6 and calcium suppress irritation and short temper, magnesium prevents swelling and puffiness, and Vitamin C works well against stress.
    * Gamma-linolenic acid: Insufficient intake of this fatty acid may aggravate premenstrual syndrome. Try to consume foods that contain it.
  • Avoid too many sweets. When you feel like eating something sweet, go for a small amount of dried fruit.


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