It’s safe to say that we all want beautiful, glowing skin year-round. However, sometimes (read: every single month) your menstrual cycle has other plans. The four different stages of your cycle and all the hormonal changes that come along with it directly impact the way your skin looks and feels. That explains why one day your skin can look clear and smooth and the next you have breakouts galore.
The good news is that by learning how your cycle changes your skin, you’ll know exactly what to do to take care of it at every stage. To help us sync our skincare routine with our menstrual cycle, Dr. Saya Obayan, MD, MPH, FAAD, board-certified clinical dermatologist, breaks it all down below.
The four stages of the menstrual cycle
The first stage of the menstrual cycle is—you guessed it—menstruation. It begins the first day of your period and usually lasts four to seven days, Dr. Obayan says.
Once your period is done, you then start the follicular phase, which happens around day six to day 11. This is when your body prepares to release an egg, Dr. Obayan explains.
Next up is the ovulation stage, which happens in the middle of your cycle around day 14.
And last but not least is the luteal phase which begins around day 17 and lasts through about day 28 of your cycle. Dr. Obayan says this phase serves as a resting time for your body as it preps for your next period. “If you do not have a fertilized egg during this stage, your uterine lining begins to decay before your next menstruation,” she adds.
How each stage impacts your skin and what to do about it
During your period, hormonal breakouts are the biggest skincare concern. “You have a good amount of testosterone in your body,” Dr. Obayan explains. “This can cause an increase in oil production leading to clogged pores which then causes acne.”
If your skin breaks out during this stage, grab an Acne Healing Patch which uses high-grade hydrocolloid and bevel technology to minimize an active breakout, reduce inflammation, and prevent scarring.
Your skin can tend to be a bit sensitive and dry during this phase as well. If that’s the case for you, reach for a Hydration Sheet Mask. Thanks to a mix of hyaluronic acid and grapefruit and orange extract, the mask will leave your skin looking dewy and glowy in just 15-20 minutes.
Thankfully, the follicular stage brings with it clearer skin. “Testosterone levels drop which helps reduce your hormonal breakouts,” Dr. Obayan says. “Progesterone levels are also pretty low during this stage so there is less acne during this time period overall.”
Now that the breakouts and dryness have settled down (phew!), it’s a great time to treat your skin to a Collagen Sheet Mask. Collagen is great for anti-aging. You’ll skin will look noticeably plumper and more youthful after you use it.
“Hormones get a little crazy during this stage,” Dr. Obayan says. “Progesterone levels shoot through the roof, your mood changes, you may feel swollen and notice water retention. We see hormonal acne happen during ovulation cycle as well.”
Again, this is a good time to reach for an Acne Healing Patch to tame the breakouts. The ovulation phase also tends to make your skin look dull so combating that with a Vitamin C Sheet Mask is a good idea. It’s infused with pomegranate, fig, and mulberry extracts that will help even out your skin tone, brighten up your complexion, and give you that enviable radiant look.
“Although they will drop during this phase, progesterone levels are still high so this is a likely time to see hormonal breakouts,” Dr. Obayan says. “You will have high testosterone levels as well which will tend to drop more slowly than your progesterone levels.”
As for your skincare regime during this stage, a Tea Tree Oil Sheet Mask will be your BFF. It’ll help keep the oiliness under control and prevent clogged pores which lead to breakouts.
If your hormonal breakouts are really bad, Dr. Obayan also suggests getting on birth control to help balance your hormone levels. Alternatively, if you want to go a more natural route, she recommends DIMpro which is made from broccoli and helps reduce estrogen levels.