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How to Cycle Sync Your Skincare & Why You Should Try

By Seanna Cohen, Founder of Clean Beauty School and Certified Skincare Therapist

If you get hormonal breakouts on a monthly basis, it's time we start talking about your period.

For most women, monthly breakouts are just another regular symptom --along with bloating, cravings, and the works. Whether it's one painful pimple on your chin or a whole batch of pimples, the first step to finding a root cause is to understand your menstrual cycle. It took me 30 years to learn ANYTHING about my menstrual cycle, but when I did it was mind blowing.

There are actually four phases in a woman's menstrual cycle and hormones go 'up and down' depending on the phase. If you pay attention to when you break out, you'll probably notice that it happens around the third week of the month (during the Luteal Phase) when progesterone makes skin swell, pores get tight, and oil production increases.

1. The first step to stopping hormonal acne is to track your menstrual cycle
Download an app. There are so many free apps available to easily track your monthly cycle and all of its symptoms. Two of my favourite cycle tracking apps are: FLO App and CLUE. In order to see patterns emerge, consistently track your cycle symptoms for at least 2-3 months.

2. Get to know the four phases of your menstrual cycle and start making small changes to your skincare routine, based on each phase. (The following ranges are an estimation, based on a 28 day cycle)

Menstruation (Days 1-6): Moisturize and nourish

Low estrogen and progesterone can make skin feel dry and look dull or tired. A rise in prostaglandins hormone can cause skin to feel more sensitive and inflamed.
 Avoid exfoliating and waxing
 Focus on hydration
 Rest
 Use an anti-inflammatory raw honey mask to hydrate and calm any existing breakouts

Follicular Phase (Days 6-12): Maintain and stimulate

Estrogen starts to rise, collagen levels boost, skin is thicker and more elastic which creates a natural 'glow'.
 Use a vitamin C serum to prolong your skin's glow
 Try new products during this phase since your skin is at its best
 Exfoliate with lactic acid or fruit enzymes to keep pores free from build-up

Ovulation (Days 13-16): Prevention

Estrogen, testosterone rise, and high levels of luteinizing hormone cause an egg to be released.
 Book a facial to deep clean pores before oil increases during Luteal Phase
 Exfoliate with lactic acid or fruit enzymes to keep pores free from build-up

Luteal Phase (Days 17-28): Calm inflammation and control oil

Progesterone peaks which causes skin to swell and pores to tighten. An imbalance of testosterone can increase oil production, which gets trapped in tight pores, causing pimples to form.
 Cleanse with a gentle foaming cleanser or oil cleanser
 Use anti-inflammatory spot treatments like black cumin seed oil
 Use niacinamide (B3) serum to balance oil production and reduce inflammation
 Calm skin and breakouts with cooling clay masks

3. Seek a naturopathic doctor to further explore internal issues like hormonal imbalance.

Switching up your skincare throughout the month is an effective way to help counteract potential breakouts and side effects, but if there's a true imbalance than that will need to be addresses to see a real change. By tracking your cycle and knowing your symptoms, you’re taking the first step to stop the cycle of hormonal acne and finally feel in control again!

For extra reading on cycle syncing and hormonal imbalance caused by the birth control pill, check out the following resources:
WomanCode by Alisa Vitti
Beyond the Pill by Jolene Brighten
How to prevent acne after going off the pill

Watch this video for more on this topic