Period Cycles, Skin, and Summer

Our skin is one of the first indicators of health, and if you’re struggling with skin issues, such as dryness or acne, it may be a sign that changes
are occurring beneath the surface. Although many of us assume changes in our skin are caused by dry weather or other external factors, skin changes instead can be an indicator that something is ‘off’ in our bodies.

According to the Women’s Health Network, common causes for dry skin are:

  • hormonal imbalances
  • thyroid imbalances 
  • nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can be involved with both thyroid and hormonal imbalances since your body depends on a consistent supply of rich nutrition to make and balance your sex and thyroid hormones.

How do I know if I have a hormonal imbalance or
thyroid imbalance? 

Hormonal imbalance- If your skin undergoes changes due to a sex hormonal imbalance, it will seem dry, itchy, or possibly flaky. Though using oils and moisturizers can help in the short-term, the dryness will likely persist until the issue is solved internally.

Thyroid imbalance- Imbalanced thyroid hormones can make skin not only dry, but yellowish in color, cold to the touch, and often pale. Skin issues due to thyroid imbalance might also occur with other thyroid symptoms, like heat or cold intolerance, puffiness in the skin, fatigue, and unusual changes to body shape and weight.

Different stages in our menstrual cycle might also be affecting  your skin as well as thyroid and hormonal imbalances. 

Your menstrual cycle affects the levels of estrogen in your body, which can affect your skin and make it more prone to acne, dryness, excess oil, etc. According to Natracare, the key to PMS skincare begins with staying hydrated and increasing water intake, and antioxidants in your diet.

Menstrual Cycle, Hormones, and Skin

During each phase in our menstrual cycle, our bodies produce different levels of hormones that affect our skin health. NatraCare and SkinCity break down each phase and provide insight on what skincare routine to practice during each phase.

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Week 1. – The first week of your cycle while menstruating, our skin is normally at its most sensitive and dry due to both low estrogen and testosterone levels.  This is a good time to work on preventing inflammation, strengthening the skin’s barrier and soothing/hydrating the skin. At the beginning of your period, continue using a salicylic acid cleanser to fight back the menstrual cycle acne. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich masks are also wonderful to help provide the extra boost your skin needs.Week 2. The second week of your cycle, just after your period ends, our estrogen levels begin to rise once more, you get your natural glow back and your hair starts to shine more. It’s a good time to focus on using an active serum with Vitamin C, such as Pure Vitamin C. This is a good time to keep your makeup and moisturizer light, and opt for a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser. 

Week 3. Week two’s glow follows through into this week.
You are at your most fertile and your energy levels will be high. 

This is a perfect time to work proactively since your skin is at its most stable and resilient.
Vitamin A helps prevent acne, fine lines and hyperpigmentation.

Week 4. During the final week your estrogen levels decrease while testosterone increases. The skin tends to be more oily and pores become more easily blocked. 

Now is the perfect time for the star ingredient BHA (beta hydroxy acid). This tackles blocked pores by loosening up the sebum.
It is also wise to add another level to your skincare now, such as using an AHA which loosens up old skin cells and prevents blockages.

Hormones and Skin Acne:

What it is: acne forms when sebum, which is an oily substance, becomes trapped in pores and is colonized by bacteria. Throughout the menstrual cycle, hormonal imbalances can make acne more susceptible to those with oily skin. 

High levels of estrogen are often an indicator of good skin health as it increases skin thickness and helps it act as a barrier to dirt. During menstruation, low levels of estrogen increase skin sensitivity while high levels of androgens increase sebum production, creating a combination that increases the likelihood of acne. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are also more likely to develop acne as more androgens are present in the body.

Treatments: 

  • Cleansers: cleansers with salicylic acid help exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells.
  • Topical Retinoids: Often prescribed by dermatologists, these creams exfoliate dead skin cells and promote the generation of new ones.

Effects of Menopause on the Skin:

What it is: During menopause, the decline of estrogen can result in wrinkles, sagging skin, and dry skin as there is less collagen production. Oftentimes, acne and facial hair can also develop as androgen levels stay constant while estrogen declines. As the skin starts to thin, women are also more at risk for sun damage.

Treatment: At this time, it is important to wear sunscreen, hydrate the skin, and use moisturizing cleansers. Dermatologists often recommend retinoids to boost collagen production.

Tips for Healthy Skin During the Summer

With long hot summer days, it is more important than ever to stay hydrated and apply enough sunscreen to not experience sunburn or dehydration. Check out these skincare tips from Dermalogica:

Keep skin hydrated How: Up your regimen’s level of hydration with intensive masques, perfect for use one to two times a week. Boosters are a great fit, working best when layered underneath a moisturizer. Toners are a refreshing moisturizer prep, working to even out skin porosity. Tip: Refresh with a revitalizing toner spritz at your desk, in the car, at the gym, on the plane!Make friends with H20Why: Higher temperatures and more time outdoors leads to internal dehydration, which can result in headaches and dizzy spells!What you can do: Eight 8-ounce glasses of plain, filtered water every day help maintain critical moisture balance of the body and skin, and assist in detoxification. Tip: If you drink caffeinated beverages, you must triple the amount of water you drink!Recommended:  Plain and pure water!

When in doubt, apply (and reapply!)

Why:  It’s not enough to just apply sunscreen.: you must apply enough, and apply frequently.   Studies indicate that most people do not apply nearly as much daylight protection as they should.

How much: A teaspoon for the face. For the body, about as much as would fill a shot glass.

How often: Re-apply every two hours. Tip: Stay out of the midday sun from mid-morning to late afternoon whenever you can.

Soothe over-exposed skin

What: You forgot the sunscreen, didn’t apply enough, or got caught in a sunny spell.

What’s next: Unfortunately, the damage is done, but you don’t have to suffer in pain. Super-soothing botanicals and cooling gels can help prevent peeling and reduce redness and inflammation.

How: Apply cooling balms generously over-exposed skin, preferably at the first sight of a pink glow. 

Prevent: One blistering sunburn doubles your risk of melanoma — remember to get a yearly skin exam by a doctor and perform a
self-examination once a month to detect early warning signs of carcinomas and malignant melanoma. Look for a new growth or any skin change.

Repair and treat sun damage

What causes skin damage: UV light causes photoaging in the form of brown spots, coarse skin and wrinkles, whether you have burned your skin or not. When sunlight comes in contact with skin a cascade of damage results (including the stripping of barrier lipids) causing inflammation, production of reactive oxygen molecules that affect healthy cell growth, and stimulation of collagen destructing enzymes.

What to do: A tan may be a popular summer look, but it indicates damage. Bombard your skin with age-fighting ingredients to help undo any damage that may occur, and to further protect it from the aging effects of UV.

Sources: 

https://skincity.com/en/skin-guide/tips-advice/hormonal-imbalance-how-to-tailor-your-skincare-during-your-cycle

https://www.natracare.com/blog/skincare-for-menstrual-phases/

https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/yourhealth/symptoms/skin.aspx

https://www.dermalogica.com/top-6-summer-skin-tips/ys_skinaging_2,default,pg.html

https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/skin-and-the-cycle-how-hormones-affect-your-skin#:~:text=When%20there%20are%20more%20androgens,sebum%20production%20is%20still%20unclear.

https://www.self.com/story/hormonal-acne

https://www.dermalinstitute.com/article/2/

https://aylabeauty.com/blogs/article/skin-changes-during-menopause-a-top-dermatologists-guide

 

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