Sheba Feminine

How the menstrual cycle impacts your skin

Nov 17, 2021 | Education, Periods, Reproductive Health | 0 comments

Estrogen and progesterone are the two main hormones responsible for the menstrual cycle, and also impact the changes to the skin during the different phases of the cycle. Estrogen assists with the normal functioning of the skin and its different aspects like the blood vessels, melanin, hair follicles and oil glands. It also helps with healing wounds, skin thickness, skin hydration and collagen production which are all important for healthy skin.

Estrogen is dominant in the first half of the cycle to assist with moisture retention. When estrogen peaks, your skin will be plump and hydrated. Progesterone rises in the second half of the cycle to stimulate the production of sebum (the body’s natural oil that keeps skin hydrated) and can cause the skin to swell and pores to compress. Below we break down how each phase of the menstrual cycle can affect your skin, and what you can do to align your skincare routine with your cycle.

Menstrual Phase:

The menstrual phase lasts on average anywhere between four to seven days. This is where the uterine lining (endometrium) is shed and expelled through the vagina.

During this phase progesterone and estrogen are at their lowest. The low levels of estrogen mean skin hydration is low too and the low levels of progesterone mean there’s less sebum being produced. All of these factors combined can mean increased dry and dehydrated skin. This also means that if you have a skin condition like psoriasis or atopic dermatitis it could worsen just before you begin menstruating. During this phase, moisturising your skin is very important to counteract the dryness.

Follicular and Ovulation Phase:

The follicular phase also begins on the first day of menstruation but lasts longer than the menstrual phase. On average, the follicular phase lasts 10 to 15 days, during which the egg begins to mature and the endometrium starts developing. Once the follicular phase ends the ovulation phase begins. This lasts just one day, where the ovary releases the matured egg cell into a fallopian tube.

Estrogen begins to rise in the follicular phase and reaches its peak in the ovulation phase. This allows the skin to improve its barrier function and hydration while collagen increases too. Progesterone is still very low at this time, which means the amount of sebum produced is low too. During ovulation is when the skin looks its absolute best! This is a great time to exfoliate and get rid of dead skin cells. To moisturise, choose light, water-based products like facial mists that won’t clog the pores but will be able to hydrate the skin.

Luteal Phase:

This is the final phase of the menstrual cycle before it all begins again. The luteal phase takes place from day 15 till day 28. If the egg cell isn’t fertilised while in the fallopian tube it will disintegrate. This is also the phase where PMS symptoms occur.

Progesterone begins to steadily increase which means the skin begins to get oilier. Experiencing acne breakouts is common during the luteal phase, as well as an oilier than usual scalp. As the luteal phase ends, estrogen and progesterone decrease and the cycle gets ready to begin again. The skin’s barrier is also a lot more vulnerable at the end of the luteal phase which means there’s a higher chance of being susceptible to allergens and irritants, making possible eczema flare-ups common too. Using products with salicylic acid can help counteract any breakouts because it kills bacteria and clears blockages in the pores.


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