Remember when you used to dream about getting your period? About how grown up you'd be, how much like a woman you'd suddenly feel? And then, you finally got it and realized super quickly that you shouldn't have bought in to the hype — that this period stuff was highly over-rated?
The bloat. The moodiness. The fatigue. THE BREAKOUTS. Yep, having your period is a whole lot of fun. Only, not really.
By now you know to expect these lovely side effects of your monthly cycle, but do you know why they happen ? and what you can do to help mitigate them?
In this scenario, as with many others throughout life, hormones are responsible. More specifically, the ebb and flow of them, because each day of your 28-day cycle is hormonally different than the next.
During the first two weeks of the cycle, your levels of female-oriented hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are high, and then, between 10 and 14 days levels peak and drop when you ovulate, and the resulting higher levels of male-oriented hormones (testosterone) in your system send your sebaceous (oil) glands into overdrive. It's during this time that inflammation and breakouts typically occur, hence the name premenstrual breakouts.
Also, these fluctuations in your hormone levels can boost your sebum production, which, coupled with the increase in oil, creates the perfect conditions for acne-causing bacteria to grow. Usually breakouts clear when your period starts because the production of progesterone goes down, and then the cycle begins again with estrogen going back up. It’s basically a skin-havocking rollercoaster without much downtime!
So, what can you do to help make every day a good ? or at least better ? skin day? These 4 Don'ts and Dos are a solid start.
1. Don't over-clean your face. While it may seem intuitive to try to wash away the oil and bacteria with a strong alkaline soap or gel cleanser, all the excessive washing does is rob skin of essential moisture between cells. This causes dehydration and sensitivity and the skin responds with the only way it knows how – increased oil production.
2. Don't scrub your skin! In addition to aggressively removing the keratin cells (scabs) off healing pimples and spreading bacteria, using harsh particle scrubs or a loofah-type tool can create mini cuts on the skin making it red, irritated, and more exposed to bacterial infection.
3. Don't use astringents or pads with SD alcohol. Despite the "fresh" or "cool" feeling they impart, these strip the skin of protective lipids and contain ingredients that disturb the hydro-lipid film. Your skin should never feel tight or dry – that’s a sign you’ve over-stripped.
4. Don't use just any old cover up to camouflage your breakouts. You need to seek out non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic products (ones without artificial fragrance, oils, waxes, or colors) with pimple-fighting ingredients that will conceal and treat your blemishes, not aggravate them.
1. Do double-cleanse twice daily, ideally first with a water-soluble, plant-based oil cleanser to gently melt away makeup and oil. Follow up with a non-alkaline, medicated, and foaming cleanser with soothing acne-fighting botanicals.
2. Do moisturize daily and treat the affected area 24/7 with appropriate pimple-fighting topicals (like salicylic acid, sulfur, tea tree, zinc sulfate, and benzoyl peroxide).
3. Do change your pillowcases a few times a week and avoid fabric softener sheets that coat the pillowcase and transfer chemicals to your skin.
4. Do clean your cell phone often. It’s basically alive with all types of bacteria.