If you consistently experience chin or jawline breakouts around the same time each month, sync your skin care with the phases of your menstrual cycle to prevent hormonal acne.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is hormonal acne
- Why your skin fluctuates during your cycle
- How to prevent hormonal acne flare-ups
Hormonal acne is frustrating
Breaking out in papules, pustules or cysts right before or during menstruation is so common. Syncing your skin care with each phase of your menstrual cycle can be a game changer in promoting clear skin.
WHAT IS HORMONAL ACNE
Hormonal acne is characterized by inflamed acne breakouts like papules, pustules and cysts that appear on your chin and or jawline about the same time each month.
I see this type of acne frequently in my practice as a skin therapist so if this sounds like you, you’re in good company. Know that not all chin acne is necessarily hormonal as inflamed acne in the center of your chin and or between your brows can also be related to digestive upset.
However, what is most characteristic of hormonal acne is that breakouts surface around the same time each month. Often, they appear just before or during menstruation.
WHY YOUR SKIN FLUCTUATES DURING YOUR CYCLE
Phase 1 - Menstrual Phase
The first six days of your menstrual cycle, all of your hormones are relatively low. Your skin will be the most inflamed during this phase and may have difficulty retaining moisture. This can cause swelling of the pore lining and may stimulate any closed comedones to surface, papules and cysts to become painful. You may notice that your skin feels dry, dull and sensitive during this phase as a result of a lack of estrogen during your period.
Phase 2 - Follicular Phase
During days seven to twelve of your menstrual cycle, your skin will look and feel it’s best. As estrogen rises, this hormone stimulates collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid production in your skin. This promotes the growth of new skin cells to turnover and replace old ones. You may notice that your skin feels soft, plump and hydrated. You may also notice less lines and wrinkles during this phase as moisture retention is high.
Phase 3 - Ovulating Phase
During days thirteen to sixteen, your skin may start to produce more oil. As progesterone rises and estrogen falls, this change stimulates your skin’s oil production which can get trapped inside your follicles, creating blackheads under the surface of your skin.
Phase 4 - Luteal Phase
Days seventeen to twenty-eight of your menstrual cycle is often when trouble surfaces as a result of estrogen plummeting. Although your pores may appear less visible, oil is more easily trapped under the skin during this phase. The increase in progesterone stimulates oil production and may cause your skin to swell and pores to compress, often resulting in hormonal acne.
HOW TO PREVENT HORMONAL ACNE FLARE-UPS
During the first six days of your menstrual cycle, focus on hydrating and reducing inflammation. Avoid exfoliating and applying active ingredients like vitamin C that can be stimulating on your skin. Choose calming treatments that support your skin barrier and microbiome.
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During days seven to twelve of your menstrual cycle, your skin is at its strongest. Focus on exfoliating to support your skin’s natural turnover. This is the best time to use a mechanical exfoliant (fancy word for a scrub) along with your chemical exfoliant (like an AHA serum or retinol) on separate evenings to keep follicles clear.
*If you notice any redness, tightness, dryness or flakes are present, avoid exfoliating and choose to hydrate and calm your skin instead.
During days thirteen to sixteen of your menstrual cycle, set your scrub aside and continue exfoliating with your exfoliating serum. This is an important time to deep clean your skin by extracting your blackheads from home. Balancing your skin’s oil production is also key at this phase so don’t forget about your hydrating serum. You can also incorporate a niacinamide and zinc serum on the same or alternating nights to control oil and prevent post acne marks.
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During the second half of your menstrual cycle, you’ll want to make sure you’re double cleansing with a konjac facial sponge to prevent oil from getting trapped under your skin. Pay close attention to the signals that your skin is presenting and care for it accordingly.