That time of the month! Skincare regimen for different menstrual cycle phases

Treatment for endometriosis varies depending on the severity of the condition and the woman's symptoms. Picture by Sydney Sims/Unsplash

Treatment for endometriosis varies depending on the severity of the condition and the woman's symptoms. Picture by Sydney Sims/Unsplash

Published Jul 27, 2023


As women, our bodies go through a lot every month. From ovulation to PMS and menstruating, it might sometimes feel like you’re on a roller-coaster ride. Our monthly cycle affects just about every part of our body – physically, mentally, emotionally and of course, our appearance.

That time of the month has a lot to do with the appearance of your skin. During most women’s menstrual cycles, the skin experiences different times of dryness and oiliness.

That’s because our hormones play a major role in skin health, and when hormones surge or fluctuate, it shows on your face.

While every woman’s cycle is unique to her, it’s worth examining a typical monthly cycle to understand how and why your skin might operate in the way it does – and what you can do about it.

It’s normal to experience ups and downs throughout the month, but with a targeted, good-quality skincare regime and healthy lifestyle, it’s possible to enjoy healthy, great-looking skin throughout all stages of your cycle.

Renowned biomedical scientist and product development specialist, Dr Judey Pretorius, sheds light on the relationship between hormones and skin health.

In particular, she highlights how hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can lead to skin issues such as dryness, oiliness, and breakouts.

it’s possible to enjoy healthy, great-looking skin throughout all stages of your cycle. Picture supplied

During the menstrual cycle, the skin tends to become most problematic just before and during the period. Dr Pretorius explains that the production of oestrogen influences the texture and thickness of the skin, while progesterone plays a significant role in natural oil production.

Fluctuations in these hormones directly impact the condition of the skin.

Your cycle days 1- 6

In the first few days of the menstrual cycle, when hormone production is low, many women may experience dryness and sensitivity in their skin. This can make lines and wrinkles more noticeable.

Pretorius recommends using hydrating products that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, known for its ability to increase collagen production and provide long-lasting hydration.

By replenishing the skin's barrier integrity, these products help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, leaving the skin rejuvenated.

Understanding the influence of hormones on skin health can empower you to make informed choices about skincare routines and product selection.

By addressing the specific needs of the skin during different phases of the menstrual cycle, you can optimise your skin's health and appearance.

Your cycle days 7-11 (follicular phase)

The follicular phase, which lasts from days 7 to 11, is when oestrogen production spikes, promoting cell renewal and giving many women better-looking and softer skin. Pretorius advises taking advantage of this phase to incorporate gentle exfoliation into skincare routines.

This helps prevent clogged pores and promotes a healthy, glowing complexion. Additionally, including a vitamin C product in the skincare regimen can enhance radiance and provide a youthful glow.

Opting for a nourishing moisturiser enriched with vitamin C is particularly beneficial, even for those with sensitive skin.

Your cycle days 12 -16 (ovulation)

As the menstrual cycle progresses, days 12 -16 signify the ovulation phase, characterised by a peak in oestrogen production. While this can result in glowing skin, some women may notice increased oiliness during this time.

According to Pretorius, this is due to a gradual decrease in oestrogen and testosterone production, coupled with a rise in progesterone levels. If not managed properly, this hormonal shift can lead to breakouts.

To combat this, she recommends following a skincare regimen that promotes sebum control and opting for oil-free formulas. By taking proactive measures, individuals can minimise the risk of breakouts and maintain a healthy, balanced complexion.

Your cycle days 17 - 28 (luteal phase)

During the luteal phase, progesterone reaches its peak, resulting in the skin producing a lot more oil than usual. You may experience hormonal breakouts during this time.

This is a good time to use detoxifying products that draw out impurities and products containing salicylic acid to decrease redness and help existing breakouts heal faster.

Lifestyle tips

“Regardless of your individual needs throughout your cycle, everyone’s skin will benefit from following a fresh, healthy diet, cutting back on sugar and caffeine and cutting out smoking.

Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, exercise regularly and follow good skin hygiene (that means washing your make-up off every night and stop touching your face!).”

Your monthly cycle may affect your mood, energy levels and the appearance of your skin. Understanding your cycle is essential, as it allows you to better treat your skin at its various stages and address concerns with the right products and ingredients.

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