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The Ways Your Skin Changes Throughout Your Cycle

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? And it’s also one of the most important, providing a protective physical barrier against the outside world, helping to regulate your body temperature and getting rid of fluids like sweat and oil.

Why does my skin look and feel different throughout my cycle?

Skin is always changing. It grows, dies off, and adapts to changing hormone levels across your life and your menstrual cycle. Whilst it might seem like your skin has a mind of its own and is just doing its own thing, skin changes are influenced by a whole lot of factors, including the weather, sun exposure, diet and imbalances in certain hormones (particularly progesterone, estrogen and testosterone), which can affect the dryness or oiliness of your skin. 

This is especially true for folks who bleed, as our bodies go through enormous hormonal change across a month. 

Let’s take a look at what happens to your skin throughout your menstrual cycle. 

Week one: menstruation

On the first day of your period, hormone levels are low. Without the support of estrogen, your skin may struggle to retain moisture and can look dry or dull. Bloating and water retention can make your skin feel sensitive and reactive. 

Looking after your skin:

Leave the waxing for another week (it’ll likely hurt a lot more now). Make sure you’re keeping your skin hydrated with your moisturiser (and maybe a serum) of choice. 

Week two: follicular phase (before the release of an egg)

Your period is finished and estrogen levels are starting to rise. Along with estrogen, your body will be making more collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid - the superheroes of plump and hydrated skin! Estrogen levels are at their peak just before ovulation and you may feel the glow of those high moisture levels and smaller pores.

Looking after your skin:

This is a great time to exfoliate, removing any dead skin to make way for the new, healthy cells underneath.

Week 3: ovulation (egg releases)

Hello glow and...pimples?! Those high estrogen levels stick around until after ovulation and you may be basking in that plump, hydrated skin a little longer. At the same time, your body has been making lots of luteinizing hormone (LH) to cue ovulation and this can increase the oiliness of your skin leading to a few pimples.

 Looking after your skin:

Focus on a good cleansing routine right now to help balance out any extra oiliness and clear any blocked pores. It can help to use lighter makeup and let your skin breathe (or opt for a non-comedogenic product - i.e one that won’t block your pores).

Week 4: luteal phase (after the release of an egg)

After ovulation, during your luteal phase, estrogen levels are dropping and progesterone levels are rising.  

Progesterone activates your sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance which your body makes to moisturise and protect your skin.

As you head towards a new cycle and another period, these changes can mean some skin swelling which compresses your pores, trapping in oil that’s trying to get out and leading to pimples and breakouts. 

Looking after your skin:

Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse! Using a gentle but effective cleanser helps your skin to keep removing any excess oils and unblock pores which, depending on your skin type, can mean  less pimples. 

Did you find this article helpful? 

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