skin changesLevels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in your blood rise and fall with your menstrual cycle. Being the body’s biggest organ, it’s not surprising that the skin will respond and manifest physical changes in accordance with the fluctuating hormones. Understanding the way your body reacts to monthly hormonal cycle is the first step to anticipating changes in your skin, so that you can formulate the best skincare strategies to beat those troubled complexion days.

PRE-MENSTRUAL SYNDROME {SKIN CHANGE -> SENSITIVE & OILY}

During this period, falling levels of the ‘female hormone’ estrogen and relatively higher levels of ‘male hormones’ causes more sebum secretion and makes you more prone to spots and breakouts. The higher skin bacterial count further increases the likelihood of an unwelcomed zit attack.

To cap all that, the skin barrier is also at its weakest and become more susceptible to irritation as you progress nearer to your period. The skin tends to be most vulnerable to UV damage at this time as well.

What to do
Battle oiliness, pores and spots with a salicyclic acid-containing products that calm inflamed zits, clear blackheads and exfoliates gently to regulate a healthy skin cellular turnover; and further add hydrating hyaluronic acid to repair the skin barrier and rejuvenate age-worn dermis. LED blue light therapy reduces acne-causing bacterial load effectively without any pain or side-effects.

MENSTRUAL PERIODS {SKIN CHANGE -> DRY & COARSE}

Menstruation is when your skin is at its driest as more water escapes through the compromised barrier. Ultrasound studies have shown that the fat layer in your skin is at its thinnest just after ovulation and is thickest right before and during menstruation: the abdominal fat layer grows an average of 7 percent thicker, and thigh fat 4 percent thicker. Fortunately, some of this may be attributed to water retention, since ultrasound can’t distinguish between fat cells and water.

What to do
Step up your skin hydration with a good moisturizer to boost the barrier function of the skin. Cut excessive salt intake to reduce water retention and help you deflate. Light exercise is a good way to remedy a host of PMS symptoms such as mood swings and bloating. Try a coffee scrub to energize skin, stimulate circulation and smooth cellulite.

It may also be a good idea to try new products or treatments after your period rather than just before to prevent agitating the sensitive cranky skin unnecessarily. Fend your skin against damaging rays and environmental aggressors with Vitamin C-containing skincare, religious sunscreen use, and an antioxidant-enriched diet with loads of brightly-coloured fruits, veggies and berries.