Cycle Syncing Skin Care: How to Support Your Skin During Your Cycle
Ever look in the mirror and wonder why your glowing skin from last week is now lackluster and dull this week? In just a few days, your skin seems to have done a 180 turn on you. You scrunch your face in confusion and frustration. Because nothing in your diet or lifestyle has changed THAT drastically in the last week.
Are you going crazy? Is it all in your head?
You’re not crazy – there’s science behind why our skin (as women) seems to shift so suddenly. Your hormonal cycle, along with other factors that accompany different phases in your body, might be to blame.
But there is good news!
With a little bit of education and the patience to test what method works best for you, there’s a way to fix your skin’s troubles. It’s all about cycle syncing skin care to match hormonal fluctuations.
(It’s important to note here: We aren’t referring to the common trend of cycling products based on exfoliation treatments. And we’re also not talking about the cycle syncing method ® coined by Alisa Vitti.)
Tip: This is part of a two-part series, so if you’re not familiar with hormonal cycles and infradian rhythms, check out this post first for more background context.
Regardless of if you’re familiar with it or not, let’s refresh on hormonal cycles before we dive into the concept of syncing your skincare routine with your cycle.
A Brief Intro to Hormonal Cycles
It's important to break down the different hormonal cycles we go through each month as women. This 28-day cycle is essential to understand how hormones affect your skin.
Day 1-6: Menstrual Cycle
If you’re a woman – you know the drill with this time of the month. It’s when your uterine lining sheds, causing a few days (up to a week) of bleeding.
Day 7-14: Follicular Phase + Ovulation
This phase is when an egg matures in your ovaries, preparing for fertilization (aka pregnancy). The follicular phase ends when your body ovulates (aka releases an egg into your fallopian tubes). The egg then travels toward your uterus.
Day 14-28: Luteal Phase
During this phase, your uterine lining thickens, preparing for a possible baby (fertilized egg) implanting. If there is no implantation, the levels drop, your uterine wall begins shedding, and the cycle starts over with menstruation.
If your interest is peaked and you want to dive deeper into hormonal cycles and infradian rhythms, check out this post first.
Your “aunt flow” doesn’t always get the greatest rep, but it’s an intelligently-designed aspect of every female body that helps flush out toxins and reset each month.
Due to your body’s natural responses, the hormones that have ramped up for pregnancy are no longer necessary. Your hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are extremely low during this time.2
Why does this matter? Because estrogen is known to cause:2
- Thicker skin
- High dermal water content
- Improved barrier function
- Efficient wound healing
Progesterone is thought to cause increased 4 circulation and sebum (oil) production.
So without normal levels of estrogen and progesterone, your skin barrier function is weaker. It doesn’t retain water as well, resulting in drier skin.2
Cycle Syncing Skin Care During Your Menstrual Cycle
Because of the probability of dry and lackluster skin, it’s easy to guess the focus in this phase of your cycle: moisture! Use rich moisturizers + deeply hydrating practices to restore hydration to the skin on a cellular level.
- Try slugging for a boost of moisture overnight. Use our baby balm instead of vaseline, which contains petroleum and drying properties that are known to cause irritation.
- A facial dry brush provides light exfoliation + lymphatic support to help slough away dry/dead skin cells and bring fresh circulation to the skin.
- Use a ridged roller after your serum application to increase product absorption.
- Layer a skin-specific mist before and after products for moisture retention.
- Be mindful of internal hydration. Drink lots of water and gel water foods, and limit dehydrating options like caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.
Once menstruation is over, you’ll move into the follicular phase. Let’s talk about the hormonal cycles and patterns you can expect to see.
Follicular + Ovulation Phase
This is a time when your body is preparing for the potential of pregnancy. With this in mind, there are a few things to consider with cycle syncing skin care in this phase.
Starting somewhere between days 7-14, your estrogen production increases in preparation for ovulation. Luckily for you, you’ll also see the benefits of extra estrogen, including:
- Natural cell turnover
- Increased collagen
- Improved hyaluronic acid production
At the same time, progesterone is still low, so oil production is also low. This means you can expect fewer breakouts and oily patches, resulting in plump, glowing skin. ;) The follicular phase is your time to glow.
Cycle Syncing Skin Care During Your Follicular + Ovulation Phase
Light exfoliation will help promote natural cell turnover. You should also focus on ingredients known to support skin rejuvenation and plumpness. Why not enhance already-thriving skin?!
Here’s how you should proceed with your cycle syncing skin care:
Pick up your facial dry brush daily. Enhance the natural process of cell turnover with gentle exfoliation.
Indulge in a plumping face mask with bakuchiol a few times throughout the week. This is the perfect time to incorporate bakuchiol which is like a natural retinol alternative.
Layer your skincare products. (Mist → serum → cream → mist.) You’ll want a balance of water + oil since oil production is still low. Doing so will help maintain the important moisture barrier.
If you want, try out dermaplaning. This is another gentle, results-focused exfoliation technique. It’ll have the most impactful results during this time period in your cycle.
After the follicular phase and ovulation, your body will move on to the luteal phase, where it ramps up the hormones that are needed to sustain a pregnancy. Hormonal cycles are intuitive with our bodies – they’re perfectly programmed.
The luteal phase is the point at which your body is waiting in anticipation for a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilized egg, the normal hormonal cycle continues. This is one of the most delicate times during your cycle syncing skin care. Cycle syncing skin care can be especially supportive + helpful during the luteal phase.
At the luteal phase in your hormonal cycle, progesterone peaks. It’s always highest in the week after ovulation.3 As progesterone peaks, so does your oil production (including the oil glands on your scalp).4
It’s still not fully understood why, but many skin irritations and issues become more bothersome/inflamed during this time as well.
So, unfortunately, you may experience worsened:3
As you get to the very end of your luteal phase, your testosterone also reaches its peak, which can cause inflammation and breakouts. Estrogen and progesterone will also continue to decline, which can add to irritation since the skin barrier is more susceptible.
Needless to say, the luteal phase is a time to be extra mindful + gentle with your skin.
Cycle Syncing Skin Care During Your Luteal Phase
During the luteal phase, you’ll want to keep your oil production at bay in order to avoid breakouts and flare-ups. So cycle syncing skin care during this phase will be especially important to take it easy on your skin.
Here’s how you can best practice a supportive skincare routine during the luteal phase:
Be extra mindful of leaving sweat (and other bacteria-causing components) in contact with your skin for too long. This will help prevent further breakouts and irritation.
Incorporate a clarifying mask to further help balance excess oil.
Keep a non-toxic dry shampoo on hand for excess oil on the scalp. ;)
Be extra diligent about practices that encourage pore cleansing – especially at the end of your cycle. Masks, facial dry brushing, and gua sha for circulation and lymph flow are excellent to help with this.
And you guessed it… the cycle repeats! If you find yourself pregnant at this point, check out our founder’s post on the best pregnancy skincare products. ;)
Learning to Meet Your Skin Where It’s At
Once you have a better understanding of how hormones affect your skin’s state, skin cycling skin care just clicks into place. But of course, our recommendations are just general guidelines. As much as we would love for this to be a “one size fits all” plan, that’s not how our bodies work. Be mindful of your unique cycle and how your skin looks + feels – listen to your body.
You might want to consider keeping a journal to understand your unique skin patterns + cycles.
Cycle syncing skin care regimens are personal, so yours could look different than what we’ve provided here. Either way, it can provide much-needed support throughout your cycle and stop the vicious cycle of ups and downs with your skin.
With this knowledge, the sky is the limit (and your glow can be limitless). We believe that when you understand your body on a deeper level, you also understand your skin on a deeper level.
Here’s to cycles of life + connecting with our bodies more every day.
- babyMed.com | How Long Does an Egg Live?
- Science Becomes Her | Skin Changes During Menstrual Cycle & What To Do About It.
- Wiley Online Library | the Menstrual Cycle and the Skin
- Science Direct | Young Women: Perimenstrual Eruptions
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