How the menstrual cycle affects your skin & tweaks to modify your routine so period acne is a thing of the past 

Period skin is real. Any woman will tell you that when aunty Flo is coming around her skin is like a billboard announcing its presence.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage. Thankfully modern science has been able to tell us what is going on during that time and we can tailor our skincare routine to pre-empt anything it is going throw in our direction.

Let’s talk about

  • The different phases in your menstrual cycle
  • The hormonal changes and how they affect your skin
  • How to tweak your skincare routine to address those changes

And ultimately have glorious skin irrespective of the phase in your cycle

What hormones are at play?

Three hormones affect how your skin looks during your menstrual cycle.

Estrogen: This stimulates the production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid and improves your skin’s ability to retain moisture and hydration.

Progesterone: this stimulates sebum/oil production that leads to breakouts.

Testosterone:  while this remains constant throughout your cycle it takes the lead when the other two activate the sebaceous glands, triggering them to produce more oil.

Which are the phases of your menstrual cycle?

A regular menstrual cycle lasts approximately 28 days, but it could be slightly longer. The funny part is that the start of the menstrual cycle is counted from day one of the first bleeds so keep track of that date it is the most important one.

The first day of your menstrual cycle is the day of the first bleed

That is how you will be able to identify the different phases of your cycle.

Why does this matter?

Each phase of your menstrual cycle is controlled and affected by the 3 main hormones in your blood. The 3 culprits are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Their levels fluctuate during each phase, and it affects how your skin looks particularly how oily your skin becomes and if you have breakouts

Phase 1:  day 1-6 Your period

This is during your actual period. Here all your hormonal levels are low. Your skin looks dull and feels dry to the touch meaning hydration and moisture are key during this period. This is a result of low oil production which prevents your skin from retaining moisture.

Your skin

  • Skin feels extra sensitive so stay away from painful procedures like waxing or skin care procedures
  • Skin feels drier than normal and needs more hydration

Skincare Routine

  • Hydrate, hydrate focus on your hydrating toners and serums
  • Use a gentle hydrating cleanser
  • Use a hyaluronic acid toner or serum
  • Use a rich moisturizer that focuses on hydration and moisture
  • Stay away from any drying products

Product suggestions

Phase 2: day 7- 14-Ovulation

This is in the lead-up to ovulation. The estrogen and testosterone levels are high, and your skin looks radiant and glowing.

Here your skin is at its most attractive It looks moist, and pores appear smaller. This radiance may lead to pregnancy if you aren’t careful because you are also at your most fertile here as well.

Your skin

  • Your skin has a glow that looks brighter feels plump, fresh, and youthful
  • You don’t need to do much to help nature, stick with the basics and enjoy the glow.

Your routine

  • Use a cleanser with actives to remove the dead cells and keep the glow
  • Add a gentle exfoliant to remove dead cells from your skin’s surface.
  • use your regular moisturizer and sunscreen to keep that glow

Phase 3: Day 15 -28

The ovulation glow is gone. Your progesterone and testosterone levels are on the rise. You can expect your skin to feel greasy and oily. This is where you can say hello to spots and breakouts.

In addition, because your body is anticipating a pregnancy (post-ovulation) all you feel like doing is eating and resting. So, you crave sugary high-fat foods and eat them in large quantities much to your dismay.

Your skin

It is a dull, oily, and greasy mess that doesn’t look good and has the odd spot or 2 if you are lucky. But if you are prone to breakouts the giddy-up and bring in the big guns.

Your routine

  • Use a cleanser with pore unclogging benefits like salicylic acid
  • Add an exfoliating toner and serum as well
  • Include niacinamide to help with the oil control
  • Use a lighter moisturizer to keep the greasiness to a minimum
  • Use a clay mask during this period to absorb the oil

For women with relatively normal skin, the difference in the 3 phases is a few bumps before their period. However, for women with acne-prone skin, the difference in how their skin looks during the oily phase can be challenging and this is why I good skincare routine is important.

If you want to learn more on how to keep your skin in great shape so your period doesn’t turn you into a pockmarked disaster get my book Look Younger Longer it shows you step by step how to maintain your skin at peak condition and get it is the best place to start.

ebook skincare for beginners
Follow me on social media


  1. 2022-06-10 / 4:09 pm

    Lovely post! Skin care is so important especially when toxins in a lot of products can disrupt our endocrine system! Thank you for sharing

    • 2022-06-15 / 12:31 pm

      You are so welcome! i am glad you enjoyed it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


You have reached Beauty Harbour how can I help you?

PS: Check out my book Banish Breakouts for anyone struggling with Acne:


× How can I help you?