The secret to clear skin isn’t just in what you eat and what products you use, it’s also when you do it. That’s right, clear skin all month long is all in the timing.
Yes, other factors matter. Significantly so. Clear skin all month long depends on nutrition, skin care practices, skin care products, lifestyle choices, hydration, sleep and other factors that influence hormone balance.
But one of the key pieces is cyclical skin care, and it is a piece of the clear-skin equation that very few people, including other hormone experts, factor into their advice. As someone who struggled with serious cystic acne all over my face, chest, and back for almost a decade—and who cleared my skin by using nutrition, lifestyle, biohacking, and cyclical self-care to balance my hormones—I love sharing with women how you can balance your hormones to help your skin perform better.
The first step is understanding the skin’s changing needs during the course of your 28-day cycle. Let’s dive in!
Meet your 28-Day Cycle
During your 28-day menstrual cycle, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels naturally rise and fall. When your system is healthy and you’re cycling normally, these fluctuations occur in familiar patterns: during the follicular phase (which is the first days of your cycle up until ovulation) estrogen levels are naturally higher, during the ovulation phase (mid-cycle) estrogen and testosterone rise until they peak, during the luteal phase (which occurs right after ovulation and up until you start bleeding) estrogen and testosterone start to fall and progesterone rises), and just before menstruation and during menstruation phase, progesterone falls again.
How Fluctuating Hormones Affect Skin
Estrogen and progesterone levels affect the thickness of the skin differently each phase of your cycle. During the follicular phase and especially during ovulation, high levels of estrogen boost collagen, make the skin thicker, and improve elasticity. You can thank the estrogen during this phase for that famed ‘ovulation glow’.
Testosterone levels also rise during the luteal phase and that helps keep skin thick. But testosterone is a double-edged sword when it comes to skin. Studies show a link between spikes in this hormone and acne.
So this is the crucial point in your cycle when you either become vulnerable to breakouts or go through the second half of your cycle with clear skin. What causes some women to break out and others to barely notice a blemish? The difference is in the body’s ability to efficiently process and eliminate the excess estrogen and testosterone in the system as levels rise.
If your body isn’t processing hormones properly during your luteal phase and eliminating the excess, excess estrogen and excess testosterone accumulate and fuel acne.
This happens in two ways: the excess estrogen causes estrogen dominance and skin inflammation, and the extra testosterone triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil.
For women with optimally functioning endocrine systems, these hormonal peaks don’t cause a lot of problems. But for women who can’t process hormones correctly, acne is often the unwanted result.
Premenstrually and during your period, estrogen drops and your skin gets thinner, retains less moisture, and produces less collagen.
Progesterone rising and falling in the luteal phase can worsen skin conditions if present.
This is why The Cycle Syncing Method® is so effective in addressing these fluctuations, as you'll be eating in ways that improve estrogen and progesterone imbalances.
Signs that Acne is Hormonal
One sign, of course, is when you breakout during the luteal (premenstrual) phase. Hormonal acne can also be diagnosed by where it appears. Breakouts along the chin and jaw lines are a sign of hormonal acne.
Pimples on the temple are another common sign of a hormonal imbalance that stems from liver congestion due to excess estrogen. If you’ve got pimples on your forehead, it’s usually a sign of a gut imbalance.
Your Skin Care Schedule During Your 28-Day Cycle
Here’s how to time your skin care routine to match your hormonal needs throughout the month:
Day 7-12 (follicular phase).If you get a facial with extractions, schedule it during your follicular phase. This is also the time to do any hair removal.
Day 13-24 (ovulation/first half of luteal). Facials are still okay during this time, but it’s best to go for masks, not extractions. Dry brushing is a great way to help the lymph offload the estrogen. You don’t need much in the way of products during this phase.
Day 25-Day 28 (the second half of luteal). This a perfect time for home care with your favorite products and using oil-based serum to reduce sebum production. Clay masks are also great during this time, and you can use products with lactic acid to shrink pores.
Day 1 - Day 6 (Bleeding). During menstruation, focus on restorative, soothing skin care. Think hydrating and calming masks, and collagen masks.
NOTE: Don’t have any extractions or hair removal during the second half of the month when skin is thinner and increased blood flow to your capillaries means more post-extraction swelling. Save facial appointments until right after your bleed is over.
Everyday of your cycle. I take Balance Supplements every day of my cycle to make sure my hormones and skin can be at their best throughout the month. Whatever you do to optimize your micronutrients, don’t skip this step! Clear skin starts on the inside and with what we eat and how we supplement.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!