Many women notice that their skin looks great and glows during their period. The combination of hormonal changes, increased oil production, and reduced breakouts results in smooth, clear skin for some women when they get their period. In the opening paragraphs, we’ll quickly answer some key questions about why skin improves for some women during menstruation:
Does hormone fluctuation cause better skin during your period?
Yes, hormones definitely play a role in the skin changes many women experience leading up to and during their periods. The fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone can increase oil production, leading to more hydrated and plumper skin.
Why does my acne clear up on my period?
Hormone changes before and during your period inhibit oil production from the sebaceous glands. This leads to less oily skin and fewer breakouts. The drop in progesterone can have an anti-inflammatory effect as well.
Does increased blood flow also contribute to good skin?
Increased blood circulation during menstruation helps nourish skin cells and carry away waste products. This can contribute to skin that looks smoother and more radiant.
Now that we’ve covered some quick background on why skin often improves, let’s dive deeper into the changes that lead to glowing skin during that time of the month.
Hormonal changes are the main driver behind the differences in skin during the menstrual cycle. Estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall at different times during the month, which affects oil production, inflammation, and other factors related to skin health and appearance.
In the first half of the cycle leading up to ovulation, estrogen levels start to rise. Estrogen causes the skin to retain moisture, leading to a plumper, more hydrated appearance. Estrogen also promotes collagen production, which keeps skin smooth and supple.
Many women notice that their skin looks glowy and healthy around the time they ovulate, when estrogen peaks. Estrogen dominance in the follicular phase leads to reduced inflammation and less fluid retention as well. All these factors can contribute to clear, vibrant skin.
After ovulation, progesterone levels increase steadily. Progesterone ramps up oil (sebum) production in the skin. More sebum means fluid is trapped in the skin, leading to a dewy, lubricated look.
However, too much progesterone can cause increased pore congestion and clogged follicles. This leads to premenstrual acne flares in some women. Progesterone also promotes fluid retention, which can manifest as puffiness or swollen skin.
Testosterone, which all women produce in small amounts, may also impact the menstrual cycle’s influence on skin. Higher testosterone levels are linked to increased oil production and breakouts. Since testosterone dips before and during menstruation, this may play a role in clearer skin during your period.
The Drop in Hormones Triggers Changes
In the days leading up to your period, both estrogen and progesterone rapidly decline. This drop in hormones triggers changes that can improve skin for some women:
– Oil production decreases, reducing greasiness and acne.
– Inflammation is lowered.
– Fluid retention subsides, reducing bloating and puffiness.
– Collagen production ramps up to repair skin.
The combination of reduced oil, less inflammation, and collagen renewal leads to clear, healthy-looking skin for many women during their period.
Changes in Oil Production
As we learned, hormones strongly influence oil production in the skin. Let’s take a closer look at how these fluctuations in oil impact skin over the course of the menstrual cycle:
More Sebum After Ovulation
In the luteal phase after ovulation, progesterone tells the sebaceous glands to ramp up production of an oily substance called sebum. This sebum is made up of lipids, cholesterol, and cellular debris.
Excess sebum can lead to clogged pores and breakouts in the week or two before your period when progesterone peaks.
Reduced Sebum During Menstruation
Right before and during menstruation, progesterone and testosterone levels drop. This slows down sebum production. With less oil on the surface of the skin, pores become less congested.
When the sebaceous glands aren’t producing as much sebum, the skin isn’t as greasy. This can greatly minimize acne breakouts.
Sebum Keeps Skin Soft
While too much sebum causes problems like acne, some sebum production is desirable for healthy, glowing skin. Sebum creates a protective barrier on the surface of skin that locks in moisture. It also gives skin a dewy, soft sheen when produced in moderation.
The temporary slowdown in sebum during your period may reduce oil and acne, but it’s important for the skin’s oil production to pick back up again after your period ends.
Getting Rid of Dead Cells
In addition to changes in sebum production, the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone affects the shedding of dead skin cells:
– Estrogen promotes faster cell turnover and shedding of dead skin. This helps reveal fresh, glowing skin.
– Progesterone slows down cell turnover later in the cycle, increasing the buildup of dead cells on the surface of the skin.
– When progesterone drops around your period, the rate of cell turnover speeds back up. This shedding of dead skin cells unveils the clear, vibrant skin underneath.
Hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can trigger inflammation, which can lead to signs like redness, swelling, and heat. Here’s a look at how monthly hormone changes impact inflammation:
While estrogen is dominant in the first half of the cycle, it serves as an anti-inflammatory. The rise in estrogen reduces redness, puffiness, and other inflammatory symptoms. Estrogen also promotes collagen production and healthy blood flow during this time.
After ovulation, progesterone levels spike. Progesterone often triggers inflammation in the skin and body. This can exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis in the week or two before your period.
Progesterone also promotes fluid retention, leading to swelling and puffiness. For some women, these inflammatory symptoms subside shortly after menstruation begins as progesterone rapidly declines.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds that control inflammatory responses in the body. Levels of prostaglandins rise around menstruation, increasing inflammation, pain, and cramping.
When prostaglandins drop later in the cycle, inflammation in the skin and body goes down. This contributes to clearer, calmer skin in the follicular phase leading up to ovulation.
Acne and Inflammation
For women prone to breakouts, the hormonal shifts around their period can exacerbate acne and inflammation:
– Rising progesterone before menstruation drives oil production and clogged pores. This leads to premenstrual acne flares.
– Prostaglandins and other inflammatory compounds trigger swelling and red, painful breakouts.
– When hormone levels fall during the period, oil production normalizes, inflammation is reduced, and breakouts heal faster. The result is clear, glowing skin.
Increased Blood Circulation
During your period, processes in the body boost blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus. This increased blood flow benefits the skin on your face as well:
– More blood flow helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to skin cells. Nourished cells are healthier and function better.
– Blood flow removes waste products like inflammatory chemicals from skin tissue. This reduces puffiness.
– Increased circulation makes skin appear more flushed and rosy. Better blood flow gives skin a radiant glow.
– Collagen production peaks around menstruation. Collagen renews skin cells and keeps skin firm and supple.
This short-term boost in blood circulation contributes to smooth, vibrant skin during your period for many women. Estrogen helps drive this beneficial blood flow.
One way blood circulation increases leading up to and during menses is through vasodilation. Here’s how it works:
– Blood vessels relax and widen (dilate), allowing more blood to flow through them.
– Estrogen facilitates vasodilation. More oxygenated blood reaches skin tissues.
– Blood brings nutrients that nourish skin cells and stimulate collagen growth.
– Vasodilation creates a flushed appearance as more blood reaches the surface of the skin.
This vasodilation and increased blood flow results in plump, rosy, healthy-looking skin around the time of your period.
Changes in Collagen Production
The ebb and flow of reproductive hormones over the menstrual cycle affects the skin’s structural proteins like collagen:
Higher estrogen = more collagen
Estrogen boosts production of collagen and elastin in the skin. These proteins keep skin firm, supple, and resilient. Collagen production peaks around ovulation when estrogen levels are high.
Progesterone slows collagen synthesis
After ovulation, progesterone puts the brakes on collagen growth in the skin. As progesterone drops around menstruation, collagen production can pick back up.
Less collagen = sagging skin
In the low estrogen/progesterone phase during your period, collagen declines temporarily. This can contribute to sagging or wrinkling. Only youthful skin can rebound quickly when collagen production ramps back up.
Inflammation harms collagen
Inflammation triggered by hormonal shifts degrades collagen in the skin. Controlling inflammation is key to promoting collagen growth and preventing premature aging.
Menopause and Collagen Loss
Collagen production steadily declines with age as estrogen levels fall. After menopause, collagen loss accelerates:
– Menopausal women can lose up to 30% of their skin’s collagen supply within 5 years of their final period.
– Loss of collagen and elastin causes wrinkles, sagging, and crepey skin.
– Estrogen therapy can help postmenopausal women maintain collagen.
– Skin creams with retinoids and peptides boost collagen synthesis.
While younger women see a collagen rebound after their period, this decrease in collagen becomes permanent after menopause without proper skincare and hormone therapy.
Tips for Clear, Glowing Skin
Here are some tips to help you achieve soft, radiant skin during your period:
1. Adjust your skincare routine
Use oil-free, non-comedogenic products if you’re prone to breakouts before your period. Exfoliate to slough off dead cells and reveal glowing skin.
Dry skin can look dull. Hydrate with a rich moisturizer to nourish skin.
3. Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated plumps up skin cells and boosts circulation. Aim for 8 glasses a day.
4. Take anti-inflammatories
Ibuprofen, fish oil, turmeric, and green tea can help reduce inflammatory breakouts.
5. Avoid irritants
Steer clear of harsh ingredients in skin care products, as well as irritants like cigarette smoke.
6. Eat nutrient-rich foods
A diet full of antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals benefits skin health.
7. Get enough sleep
Aim for 7-9 hours per night. Sleep is when your body repairs damage and renews skin cells.
8. Manage stress
Find healthy ways to reduce anxiety and stress levels, which can trigger inflammation.
9. Exercise moderately
Working up a light sweat boosts circulation. But intense exercise can increase inflammation.
10. Take a probiotic
Probiotic supplements support gut health and reduce inflammation systemically.
When to See a Dermatologist
Make an appointment with a dermatologist if you experience:
– Severe acne before or during your period
– Discoloration or scarring from breakouts
– Red, inflamed skin that doesn’t clear up after your period
A dermatologist can help identify any underlying issues and provide personalized treatment options. This can get your hormonal skin changes under control so you can achieve clear skin all month long.
Many women enjoy a natural glow and clear complexion during their period thanks to changes in hormone levels, oil production, and inflammation. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all fluctuate over the course of your menstrual cycle and impact skin in various ways.
While too much sebum can cause breakouts, some oil protects and moisturizes skin. Vasodilation also boosts blood flow to nourish skin and enhance radiance. Plus, modulating factors like cell turnover, collagen growth, and inflammation contribute to skin’s improved appearance during this phase of the cycle.
Understand how your own body responds to these hormonal shifts. Take steps like adapting your skincare routine, reducing inflammation, and getting enough rest. Work with a dermatologist if needed to control severe symptoms. With the right lifestyle habits and treatments, you can reveal glowing, healthy-looking skin all month long.