Wednesday 16 June 2021

Skin + The Menstrual Cycle

Approximately every four weeks, skin regenerates itself, with new growth in the epidermis pushing up older cells primed for exfoliation. Working alongside that time frame is the menstrual cycle, a process that sees oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels fluctuate, causing a variety of different effects on skin. The four phases of a menstrual cycle are the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase, and each bring their own skin changes.

Week 1 | Menstruation

The first phase of the menstrual cycle is the menstruation phase, which begins on the first day of your period. During this time of the month oestrogen and progesterone levels decrease, causing skin to become dull, sensitive, irritable, and dry.

To keep skin calm and hydrated, Lisa Kordecki, Head Therapist at Skincity, recommends reaching for hydrating products that are mild and designed for sensitive skin. “Look for ingredients such as aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, centella asiatica, argan oil, and calendula. These will not only sooth irritated skin but will provide antioxidant benefits and much-needed hydration.”

Sapienic's Lipid Phase 1 (£59 is a great product to use during menstruation. It is an ultra-lightweight facial oil designed to benefit all skin types but especially those that are sensitive. Lipid Phase 1's impressive formula combines jojoba, ximenia, and squalane oil to balance, nourish, and protect the skin whilst also calming redness and skin flare ups.

Another great product to use during this time in your cycle is the Adaptology Dry Spell Moisturiser (£44 It is an ultra-rich moisturiser that protects and nourishes dry skin. Its key ingredients include hyaluronic acid and Adaptogen Protection Complex, which work together to provide deep hydration and all-day protection from irritants such as blue light radiation and pollution. Like Sapienic's Lipid Phase 1, Dry Spell Moisturiser is suitable for all skin types, however it provides the most benefit to those with dry and dehydrated skin.

Week 2 | Follicular Phase

Your skin is at its peak just after your period ends. Oestrogen levels begin to rise and, with that, collagen production increases, skin thickens, barrier function improves, and skin is more hydrated. Your natural glow officially returns!

“I recommend using a vitamin C serum during this time of the month as it will help to prolong your skin's glow” explains Lisa. “Skin also becomes more stable during this time of the month, creating the perfect opportunity to introduce new skincare products into your routine”. 

I recommend the iS Clinical Super Serum Advance + (£74 during the follicular phase. It is a targeted treatment designed to correct dull skin and pigmentation. Clinically proven to transform uneven tone and texture, this lightweight serum contains a generous 15% concentration of vitamin C.

A more affordable vitamin C serum is the SkinLabo Vitamin C Pure Shot (£11 Formulated using a high percentage of stabilised vitamin C, this Italian-made serum improves the quality and elasticity of the skin whilst protecting it from free radical damage. It also brightens the complexion and helps treat pigmentation.

Week 3 | Ovulation

At this stage in your cycle, you are at your most fertile. As oestrogen remains elevated, your skin is at its most stable and resilient. “This is the perfect time to work proactively on your skin” says Lisa. “Vitamin A is a great ingredient to use during this time in your cycle, as it is a superpower at preventing acne, reducing fine lines, and treating hyperpigmentation”.

If you're looking for a great retinol product to use during ovulation, pick up the Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum (£89 John Bell & Croyden). This weightless night serum is formulated with a vitamin A derivative, proven to encourage cellular regeneration and collagen production, alongside ferulic acid, to boost the benefits of retinol and protect skin from free radical damage. After four weeks of continual use, expect to see an improvement in your skin's texture, tone, and firmness.

For those with sensitive skin, I recommend switching retinol for bakuchiol. Bakuchiol is a plant-based alternative to retinol that mimics all the benefits of the beloved ingredient, without the irritation. You'll find the ingredient in the Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream (£30 - a rich ceramide cream that hydrates, plumps, and nourishes the skin. The antioxidant-rich moisturiser also helps improve the tone and texture of the skin, all while purifying and centering the spirit.

Week 4 | Luteal Phase

The final stage of your cycle sees oestrogen levels decrease and testosterone increase. According to Lisa, this is when the premenstrual symptoms (PMS) begin to appear, so your skin will be prone to spots, oiliness, uneven one, and dryness. “Now is the perfect time to use a BHA or AHA. These exfoliating ingredients tackle blocked pores by loosening up the build-up of sebum and dead skin cells to prevent blockages.” She explains that this is also a good time to keep makeup and moisturiser light and opt for a gentle and non-comedogenic cleanser.

To tackle breakouts head on, I recommend the Wǒ Power TonIQ™ Anti-Blemish Essence (£15 Working best overnight, this skin treatment tackles pimples quickly by delivering immediate, targeted relief with its special skin SOS formulation. Featuring a blend of AHA and BHA skin resurfacing actives and clinically tested Swiss Alpine Complex, the Anti-Blemish Essence is able to unblock pores and minimise blemishes, whilst also helping to calm the area around breakouts.

A great exfoliator to use during the luteal phase is the new Murad Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial (£67, It combines three exfoliants with gold-stabilised vitamin C to instantly smooth, brighten, and boost skin radiance. Clinically proven to smooth texture, Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial not only exfoliates skin for better penetration of targeted ingredients, but it also treats skin with gold-stabilised vitamin C for powerful antioxidant protection and levelled up brightening benefits. If that's not enough, the Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial has a fancy colour-changing feature that helps you achieve a perfectly even application!

If you're looking for a good lightweight moisturiser to use during the luteal phase, I recommend the Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF50 (£30 It deeply moisturises the skin while providing it with an effective defence against environmental aggressors, including UVA/UVB rays and skin-damaging pollutants. It's one of my favourite SPFs as it is fast absorbing, feels weightless on the skin, and doesn't leave a chalky finish.

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