Skincare During Your Menstrual Cycle

Ever noticed how dry your skin is when you have your period? Or how you always get inflammation and spots the week before it? I’ve been creating skincare products for years. Part of my specialism as a skincare biochemist is understanding the link between our body’s emitted chemicals and our skin cells. Understanding what products to use depending on your hormone levels is the single best way to get the most out of your lotions and potions.
The female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and their relation to testosterone levels, are responsible for our menstrual cycle. But their production of their levels in our bodies also influence the delicate balance of vitamins and minerals in our bloodstream. They cause our skin to change every few days of the cycle. I am constantly asked for the ideal skincare routine by clients. I always start by explaining that it depends on lifestyle (diet, environment, emotions and exercise). It also depends on genetics and paying attention to your body over the menstrual month.

Days 1-6: Menstruation

All sex hormones are at a low level during your period. (This is why skin mimics menopausal skin during these days because there is no oestrogen to control the levels of sebum production on the skin). 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, e.g. Elequra Complete Replenishing Oil.
  • Facial balms – for the driest of skin types.
  • Intense moisturisers – especially those with additional ceramides and added high levels of vitamin C to help compensate the dry skin and provide antioxidants, e.g. Elequra Deep Nourishing Cream
  • Products containing lightening and brightening ingredients to help alleviate dark circles AND an extra amazing eye cream, e.g. Elequra Eye Architecture Cream

Days 7-15: The Rise and Peak of Oestrogen leading to Ovulation

As oestrogen 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. Oestrogen also ensures the sebum remains thin, lightly lubricating your skin. Oestrogen 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:

Days 16-28: The Rise and Peak of Progesterone leading to Menstruation

Oestrogen 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 oestrogen cell receptors so stops the low levels of oestrogen from having an effect on the skin. There are good levels of B vitamins and Vitamin C around this time.
Products to use:
  • Acne anti-bacterial sprays – these lower the bacterial count and stop the pores from becoming congested and inflamed, eg. Elequra Boosting pH Mist.
  • Fruit enzyme peels, BHAs and AHAs – to help unclog pores and resurface any toxins within the skin, eg. Elequra Intense Restore Mask.
  • Very light moisturisers or fluids, and use plenty of SPF fluids since your skin is at its weakest.
  • Products containing retinoids, Vitamin A or its various forms.
Let me know how you get on with this!
Skincare Biochemist and Founder