We hear from the skin experts at cult skincare brand Faace to answer 10 top questions about how hormones and periods affect your skin.
Hormones can affect your body throughout the month and not just through your period or the week before it. Your cycle will influence overall mood, energy levels, as well as the condition of your hair and skin.
So, what actually happens to your skin during your monthly cycle? We know many people experience a seesaw of temperamental skin as hormones flux - from unnecessarily shiny to super dry in a matter of days – but can we do anything to control the fluctuations?
1. Is it a myth, or is it true that your skin changes throughout your period?
This is definitely not a myth – hormonal fluctuations can cause changes in your skin when you’re on your period.
2. If not a myth, at what point do changes happen? Is it as your period begins or weeks before?
Your skin can become the most problematic during your period and a couple of days prior to it. Breakouts usually peak the week before your period starts - this is also often referred to as the PMS phase.
3. What type of changes can you expect to see and why does this happen?
The week before your period you can see inflammation and spots develop around the jawline area and your skin may look oilier/shinier. You may experience your worst skin changes due to a rapid change in hormones levels. Fluctuations in cortisol, progesterone and testosterone levels during this phase leads to increased sebum production which can clog pores making it more likely to for you to experience breakouts.
As soon as your period starts, the progesterone levels start to decline. Your period marks the first day of your menstrual cycle – levels of progesterone and oestrogen are at their lowest on this day. Your skin should start clearing up and become less oily, but your complexion can be quite dull, and your skin will feel a bit dry during this time. Your skin can also become quite sensitive.
As your period ends, oestrogen levels rise, and your skin looks clearer and this rise in oestrogen causes general improvement in your skin, which will likely appear plumper, fresher and more youthful.
A few days before ovulation, your oestrogen levels peak – your skin will look its best during this time!
After ovulation, oestrogen decreases, and progesterone begins to increase - your skin ramps up sebum (oil) production and you start to approach the PMS phase again.
4. Is it important to change your routine for your skin when on your period? If so, please could you explain how?
The week before your period - consider using products with salicylic acid to get rid of excess oil, as well as well as anti-inflammatory ingredients like benzoyl peroxide. Try Period Faace Mask the week before your flow begins. Green tea soothes inflammation, while antiseptic lavender and clary sage help balance hormonal skin. Zinc stops the overproduction of sebum and helps prevent spots from forming, while white willow provides a potent dose of salicin that dissolves dead skin cells, and excess keratin, to reduce pigmentation, unblock pores and promote skin healing.
During your period, I would advise using gentle skin cleansers and moisturisers to help the skin recover from previous week's inflammation. Look for ingredients that help with your skin barrier (ceramides) and help to maintain skin hydration (hyaluronic acid).
You could start tag teaming the Period Faace Mask with the Tired Faace Mask in week one when your period descends. This is when your skin will benefit from the hydrating aloe vera and vegetable glycerin, collagen and elastin boosting vitamin C and A and soothing rosehip oil found in the Tired Faace Mask formulation.
5. What ingredients should you avoid/if skin becomes more sensitised?
Around your period, your skin becomes more sensitive and more easily irritated. I would advise using fragrance free products as fragrance can irritate your skin and use daily sunscreen. If your skin is really irritated – try and cut back on physical and chemical exfoliants and sometimes retinoids (depends on how dry/flaky your skin is feeling!)
Also try and hold off on your bikini wax until your period is done – as your skin can be quite sensitive down there too!
6. Why do hormones make the skin so oily?
Sebaceous (oil) glands are very sensitive to androgens like testosterone - fluctuations in cortisol, progesterone and testosterone levels leads to increased sebum (oil) production and this is why many women experience breakouts.
Hormones can also increase skin inflammation and the production of acne-causing bacteria.
7. How can you combat this?
It’s really important to have a consistent skincare routine.
You should be cleansing your face twice a day and using products that are labelled non-comedogenic (less likely to clog pores).
Look for products containing AHA’s (glycolic acid), BHA’s (salicylic acid) and benzoyl peroxide.
Using an oil free moisturiser/gel based– AM and PM
Use retinoids regularly to help (if your skin can tolerate) – they gently exfoliate and help with oil control/unclogging pores (they have lots of anti-aging benefits too)
Try and limit foods that have a high glycaemic index (GI) - GI is a measure of the rate at which a food spikes blood sugar levels. These are: processed foods, sugary drinks, white bread. High GI foods can affect hormones which can affect your skin. You don’t need to completely avoid them but reducing them might help with your skin.
Try and get enough sleep and try to control your stress levels – as this can also increase oil production (by affecting a hormone called cortisol).
8. Do birth control pills help control the issue? If so why? If no why?
Birth control pills that contain both oestrogen and progesterone (specific combined pills) can affect your hormone levels – they help reduce the levels of testosterone which results in less sebum (oil) production.
Antiandrogen medications such as Spironolactone can also help control hormonal acne by blocking androgen receptors and decreasing the effects of testosterone, which include oil production in the skin.
9. Aside from your period, is there anything else that could cause hormonal breakouts?
Hormonal acne can be driven by hormonal changes from: menstruation, menopause, conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and other endocrine medical conditions which cause your androgen levels to rise.
10. Let's discuss skin sensitivity - this is a big issue for many on periods, why so?
Low oestrogen levels during your period can lead to sensitive and easily irritated skin. Your pain threshold can also be lower - this can also cause your skin to feel more tender and reactive.
What else should everyone know about the changes undergone with periods?
It is important to know that hormones can affect your body THROUGHOUT THE MONTH and not just through your period or the week before it – your skin will change the week before your period, on your period, the week after, also around ovulation and after ovulation.
Your cycle will influence your overall mood, energy levels, and the condition of your hair and skin. Hair follicles are sensitive to hormonal changes too – you might notice greasiness, dandruff or flakiness of your scalp.
Try a sample of Period Faace Face Mask in the SheSpot Sensual Retreat box.
A little about the Faace brand...
Faace is made in the UK, vegan, cruelty free, 100% plant powered using ethically sourced ingredients. Formulated without toxic synthetic chemicals, alcohol, SLS, petrochemicals, palm oil, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrances, DEA/TEA/phthalates, parabens, colourants. All products are housed in recyclable packaging and for 2021, the brand will be made from 60% post-consumer recycled plastic too.
Giving back: Unlike a face mask, sanitary products are not one of life’s little luxuries. Faace is operating a buy one mask give one sanitary product initiative with the charity Hey Girls to help support the 1 in 10 females in the UK suffering with period poverty.