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In Sync: Skincare For Each Stage Of The Menstrual Cycle

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Bothered by acne and skin concerns brought on by your periods? We’re exploring how to devise the ideal skincare routine for each phase of your menstrual cycle. Keep reading!
In Sync: Skincare For Each Stage Of The Menstrual Cycle

We’ve all been there – a pimple pops up and we know that we’re headed right into shark week (Yes, that’s what I called periods in the 9th grade and it’s a force of habit now). But did you know it’s not just before the bleeding begins? Your skin goes through a tonne of changes throughout the month as your menstrual cycle is underway. Due to hormonal fluctuations your body goes through several changes like a rise or fall in oestrogen levels, reduced or increased sebum production, skin sensitivity, swelling, and the most visible – hormonal acne around the chin and jawline.

While menstruation is something you absolutely cannot avoid, there are several steps you can take to manage its effect on your skin. Don’t be mistaken, I’m not writing this just for aesthetics – acne is also painful (as if we need more pain during periods?) and can cause scarring if not treated the right way. So, let’s dive right in to understand your menstrual cycle, how it affects your skin, and what you can do to feel and look better during the crimson wave (yet another teenage term I refuse to stop using).

How The Menstrual Cycle Affects The Skin

While you may already know what your body is going through during your periods, let’s use this cute pastel diagram to learn what exactly your skin is going through during your menstrual cycle.

  • Follicular Phase: In the first half of your 28-day cycle, there is a gradual rise in the levels of estrogen (a hormone essential for your reproductive health). As oestrogen promotes collagen production, hydration, and elasticity, your skin will be radiant and clear of acne at this time. The sebaceous (oil) glands – affected by lower androgen levels – produce less sebum leading to fewer breakouts.
  • Ovulation: Oestrogen levels are at a peak around ovulation and your skin will be giving ‘main character’ vibes. This also means there are fewer chances of enlarged pores that lead to the skin feeling smooth. Sebum production begins to increase at this stage and you may feel your skin feels oily.
  • Luteal Phase: The level of progesterone (a hormone made by your ovaries) increases after ovulation, leading to increased sebum production – this is where the breakouts really begin as your pores are clogged. It is an especially annoying time for those with already oily or acne-prone skin.
  • Pre-menstrual: We’re all too familiar with PMS which occurs during the days leading up to your menstruation phase. It does not just affect your mood but also brings along acne flare-ups and skin sensitivity due to increased sebum production, as per a study.
  • Menstruation: Both oestrogen and progesterone levels witness a sharp drop at the start of your menstruation. This leads to skin dryness and dullness.

Skincare Routine For Each Phase Of The Menstrual Cycle

Menstrual Phase (Days 1 to 5)

You’re going through a lot during this phase and the best thing you can do is to focus on gentle hydration and use soothing products. We recommend the Lakme soap-free facial foam that helps gently wash away dirt, impurities, and oil. Follow this up with a soothing natural gel for a calming effect like the Plum Aloe Just Gel, which also hydrates the skin.

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Post-Menstruation (Days 6 to 14)

As you’re still in the follicular phase, this is your time to take advantage of the increased oestrogen levels and hydrate your skin for a rejuvenated feel. Exfoliation is key during this time as it will help your skin look bright and feel smoother than ever before. Try Dr. Sheth's Oil-Free Moisturizer which has the dual benefits of hydrating the skin with deep nourishment and chemical exfoliation with ingredients like Glycolic Acid. As per a study, antioxidant-rich Vitamin C can be safely used with glycolic acid for radiant skin and the Garnier Bright Complete Night Serum will work wonders to help you achieve brighter skin.

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Ovulation (Around Day 14)

Your oestrogen levels are at a peak and your skin will have a natural glow during the ovulation period. However, increased oil production may lead to greasy skin. While you can continue to use the above-mentioned gentle cleanser, oil-free moisturiser, and Vitamin C serum, it is time to bring in a clay mask and a mattifying compact powder to control the oiliness. The Innisfree clay mask is your best bet to reduce excess sebum as it is fortified with volcanic clay to clear clogged pores. The Kay Beauty Matte Compact will take care of any excess oil and you can use it over a foundation or on bare skin for a minimal look. If makeup is just not your thing, you can also opt for a matte gel sunscreen before stepping out.

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Luteal Phase (Days 15 to 28)

As peace returns to your body, don’t slack off! Fighting oil production and preventing breakouts will only help you prepare for the next day. Consider incorporating non-comedogenic sunscreen for daily use on the face to avoid breakouts. We recommend the CeraVe AM lotion that has SPF 30 and has the dermatologist's stamp of approval. For any flare-ups during this phase, consider using the Nykaa Salicylic Acid Spot Patch which will treat and heal your pimples while providing nourishment.

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FAQs

  1. Can we do skincare during periods?
  2. Yes, skincare is a great way to get some much-needed calming experience during periods. Make sure you use products with natural ingredients like turmeric and aloe vera to keep breakouts at bay. However, it is best to avoid makeup that can clog your pores and stick to a non-comedogenic primer and foundation.

  3. When does your skin look best during the menstrual cycle?
  4. In days 12 to 16 or the ovulation phase, your skin is likely to look hydrated, plump, and smooth due to the increased oestrogen and progesterone levels.

  5. Can I use retinol during periods?
  6. It is recommended that you include a retinol serum in your PM routine during the menstrual cycle to minimise dark spots caused by acne.

P.S. If you are on any medication related to your reproductive health, it is best to consult with your doctor on how they might affect your skin. Also, in addition to a skincare routine that’s in sync with your cycle, it’s worth educating yourself on what lifestyle and diet changes you can introduce for a healthy-from-within skin.

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