Jan 13, 2022

Period skin and skincare during menstrual cycle

We’ve all heard or experienced the dreaded ‘period skin’ – the throbbing blind pimples on your chin, the hormonal acne around your nose. But did you know that during your menstrual cycle your skin is changing all the time and you might need to improve your skincare regime? That’s right – the products you use one week might not have the same effect a few days later!

That doesn’t mean you need to go buy a whole new beauty shelf (although we’d love an excuse to!). It’s about what products you use, and when. And it starts with understanding our hormones.

Hold onto your sheet masks! We’re going on a beauty journey that’s beyond skin-deep.


Menstrual phase – Days 1 to 5 

We count Day 1 of our cycle when bleeding begins. This is known as the ‘menstrual phase’.

Oestrogen and progesterone levels drop just before your period starts which results in the top layers of the uterus breaking down and shedding – queue, blood.

Oestrogen and progesterone are responsible for producing sebum (the oily stuff in your skin and scalp). When they reach their lowest levels during the menstrual phase, your skin can become drier, more sensitive, irritable, and prone to more blemishes.

Skincare tips during the menstrual phase:

For skincare during your period, lay off products with really active ingredients and stick to mild, non-irritant stuff like thermal water, aloe vera, argan oil or a hydrating face mask – things with a good slurp of moisture.


Follicular phase – Days 1 to 14

The follicular phase overlaps the menstrual phase. Hormones are still low after your period but slowly begin to increase – particularly oestrogen.

Not only might you notice more energy from the oestrogen, but our skin reaps the benefits of all those juicy female hormones. Oestrogen promotes moisture retention and collagen production (the stuff that makes your skin look and feel plump and bouncy).

Sebum production increases and skin can feel more moisturised and glowy during this time. The spike in oil might also lead to a build-up of dead skin cells, so give your skin some TLC with a light exfoliant.

Skincare tips during the follicular cycle:

For skincare products during and after your period, focus on everyday essentials like SPF and make the most of less-sensitive skin by using active ingredients like vitamin C, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or retinoids. These also act as light exfoliants to help remove dead skin.


girl doing skincare

Ovulation – Days 15 to 17

Known as the ‘fertility window’, soaring oestrogen during ovulation prompts the ovary to release an egg that makes its way down the fallopian tube towards the uterus (where it may or may not become fertilised).

Oestrogen and testosterone levels are at their highest and you might find yourself feeling a lot more social. That’s your body encouraging you to go out and procreate! (Tricksy stuff, hey).

This is your best skin yet. The increased oestrogen boosts collagen and skin can look bouncy, glowy and clear. Thank you – ovulation!

Skincare tips during ovulation:

During ovulation, you won’t need much of a skincare regime – you’re naturally radiant! A lightweight toner and moisturiser, a detoxifying mask to keep skin clear with all that juicy oil or a chemical exfoliant like beta hydroxy acid (BHA) to enhance your glow.


Luteal phase – Days 19 to 28

The luteal phase is the longest stage of our cycle and is marked by a big drop in oestrogen and a rise in progesterone – the hormone that helps thicken the lining of your uterus to get it ready for pregnancy. If no egg is fertilised, progesterone levels eventually drop, and the uterus lining sheds – this is when we bleed.

Progesterone causes skin to swell and pores to tighten before your period, while testosterone increases oil production. The combo can lead to clogged pores, breakouts and hormonal spots around our chin and jaw – a good indicator that your period is on its way!

Skincare tips during the luteal phase:

Reach for products that remove excess oil without inflaming your skin. Start with a gentle foaming or oil cleanser and careful not to strip your face! (This will only send your sebaceous glands into overdrive trying to replenish the oils.) Calming treatments like niacinamide (B3) and cooling clay masks are the best skincare before your period. Avoid harsh chemicals or super active ingredients.

Remember, no two cycles are the same – so the length of each cycle phase can differ for each person or even change in us each month! Plus, we all have different skin types and might need different skincare regimes during the menstrual cycle, so we’re starting off on different baselines. But the general changes still apply. Look out for these shifts in your body and unlock your best skin yet by learning to work with your cycle, not against it.


Love, Libra x


Essity makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.


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