Skin & The Cycle – Make Your Hormonal Connection

Hormones have a huge influence on your skin, as it contains receptors for several types of hormones. Levels of estrogen, progesterone and androgen hormones rise and fall in your blood with your menstrual cycle. Mother Nature has designed women to look better when they are more fertile, therefore higher estrogen levels generally equate to better-looking skin. Understanding the way your body reacts to monthly hormonal cycle is a vital step in anticipating changes in your skin, so you can formulate methodical skincare strategies to beat troubled complexion and break out days.


Periodic Cycle –Hormonal Effect On The Skin

Nothing impacts the look of your skin more than the changes in hormones every month, and over your lifespan. Today we’d take a thorough look at the main hormones influencing your skin especially during the different days of your cycle.

  1. Estrogenic Hormones (Female-like effect)
  2. Androgenic Hormones (Male-like effect)
  3. Progesterone (A precursor hormone to both androgens and estrogens)


Estrogen: The influence of estrogen is easily seen in female skin.

  • Increases the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer of the epidermis.
  • Reduces the size and activity of the sebaceous glands. Its regulatory effect on the size and action of the sebaceous gland means that compared with men, women generally have finer pored and drier skins.
  • Keeps sebaceous secretion thin and less fatty.
  • Slows the rate of hair growth.
  • Increases the action of the enzyme hyaluronidase, which breaks down hyaluronic acid.
  • Keeps the skin metabolically active.
  • It also appears to stimulate fibroblast activity and promotes hyaluronic acid production. Hyaluronic acid is one of the chief components of the base substance in the dermis and it enables the dermis to hold moisture. It provides the skin with its ability to resist stretching and keeps the skin firm and moist, giving it the smooth, soft feel we so often associate with the skin of a woman.



The skin contains receptors for progesterone but its action on the skin is still unknown. However, it has been shown that progesterone can interfere with the action of estrogen receptors in the skin.



  • Increase the rate of cell turnover in the basal layer of the epidermis.
  • Increase the size and activity of the sebaceous glands. Because of the effect of the androgens the sebaceous glands in men are larger and therefore the pores appear larger in males.
  • Increase collagen production through the stimulation of fibroblast cells to produce the proteins needed for collagen synthesis resulting in the stronger, coarser skin of a man. That is one of the reasons why oily skin does not develop fine line and wrinkles.
  • Increase hair growth.


Mathematical Rhythm Of Menstrual Cycle

MENSES = Dry & Puffy Skin:

Skin and cycle2

Cycle day one corresponds to the first day of your period at which point your estrogen hormones are very low. You feel a little washed out, and you may assume it’s from blood loss, but there are also chemicals called prostaglandins that cause this run-down feeling by increasing inflammation. These prostaglandins are lipids that are released by our cells and they contribute to puffy, blotchy skin during the first few days of your cycle.


Prostaglandins are also responsible for making your skin appear dull. They give the skin a paler look, and low estrogen levels don’t help either. Wiser to these skin changes, now you can take charge and fake a glow by using a serum moisturizer, or foundation that contains light reflecting particles along with some blusher.


OVULATION = Best Behaved Skin:

Skin and cycle6


Do you sometimes marvel at how amazing your skin looks? Rest assured that it’s not just good lighting or the serum you put on the night before. A cycling woman has her best skin days when her estrogen is at its highest. This occurs right before ovulation ¾ when a girl is at her most fertile. Pores are at their smallest, and your skin is more hydrated making it glow. Even collagen production increases during this time of the month, some people refer to it as the ‘Venus Week’.


It’s flattering to become aware of this particular time of the month for every girl so that you can fully enjoy it. This is the week to go without makeup. There’s no better aphrodisiac than feeling good about your appearance.


After ovulation, your estrogen begins to decline, taking your glowing skin with it. This is the time to tweak your skin care routine to keep the “good skin” days going and minimize the bad ones. Switch to a mild, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic cleanser that won’t irritate your skin.


PMS = Sensitive Breaking-Out Oily Skin:

Skin and cycle3

Your skin most likely looks its worst during the days leading up to your period. Doctors refer to this phase of your cycle, as well as the days of menstruation, as the “reset phase” because your body realizes that it’s not pregnant and prepares for another month of ovulation. It’s also when estrogen levels dip and androgens (like testosterone) trigger your skin to produce more oil. If your skin tends to be problematic during these days, use a product with salicylic or glycolic acid to help control oil production. It’s also the perfect time to add a treatment mask to your regular routine. Try something with sulfur which will absorb oil and deep clean your pores, reducing the chance to break outs.


Effect Of Diet & Exercise On Your Skin & Hormones:

Skin and cycle4

Most people don’t realize just how much diet and exercise affect the skin. Healthy eating, supplements, and exercise can help enhance your Venus week. For example, omega-3s will help stabilize your glow. They may even help prolong it past just one week of the month. Eating foods like dark chocolate that contain phytoestrogens is really good for your skin. Peanuts, flaxseeds, and chickpeas are all great sources, as well.


Exercise is also extremely important. It helps regulate your hormones and increases circulation to the skin. By neutralizing hormonal highs and lows, working out can also minimize extreme good and bad skin days.

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Shazia Ali
A certified dermatologist, Skincare guru to the who's who of the Middle East, Dr. Shazia knows the secrets of anti-aging, the insider tips and tricks on how to achieve healthy, beautiful radiant skin and everything in between. Currently the brand Ambasador for University of Westminster, and the head Dermatologist at Tababa Clinics.

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