“Estrogen is more dominant during the first half of your menstrual cycle and this switches to progesterone in the second half,” says Sejal Shah, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. In the days leading up to your period, progesterone and estrogen levels begin drop, then right after your period starts, estrogen begins to kick up again. This slows oil production, and skin can become dry, dull, and blotchy. “During this time your skin also tends to be more sensitive,” Shah says, meaning it’s more likely to be red and irritated. The days immediately after your period and before you begin ovulating tend to be your skin’s golden hour. “It’s more hydrated, less oily, pores appear smaller, and overall glowing,” Shah says. Then during ovulation (typically, a week to two weeks before your next period), there’s another shift: Progesterone levels increase, spurring oil production into high gear. “This is often the time when women notice acne flares,” she says. And so, the cycle continues.
Beauty companies such as Amareta and Knours offer different solutions. During the first half of your cycle—which includes your period and the week following—formulas are designed to fight dullness and brighten skin with ingredients like vitamin C and inflammation-reducing chamomile. During the second half of your cycle, these skincare companies point you towards formulas to fight breakouts with clarifying ingredients like tea tree oil. For women who don’t notice a big change throughout the month, syncing your skincare routine with your period tracker probably isn’t necessary, says Shah. But for those who do, especially women who experience hormonal acne and clear dry phases each month, adjusting your products accordingly can help. Here, four options to try.
Try Amareta's Fresh Dew Serum Lotion throughout your period when your face might be drier than normal. It contains three natural hydrators: sodium hyaluronate, meadowfoam seed oil, and primrose oil. Bonus: it doubles as a primer.
Formulated with soothing tea tree extract, these Knours In-Bed Cleansing Wipes target acne flare-ups. They’re also made with calendula oil, which is said to act as an anti-inflammatory.
Phytoestrogens, such as soy and grapeseed extract, boost the skin’s repair system by stimulating the cells to create more collagen. Used before your period, the pomegranate enzymes in this Veneffect Micro Exfoliant are said to help brighten the skin.
The Knours Double Duty Mist takes a two-pronged approach that you can use throughout your cycle. The liquid formula is separated into two layers, so you can spray aloe vera water (used for its skin-calming abilities) when your skin is acne-prone, then shake the bottle to combine the water with moisturizing jojoba oil for when your skin feels dry.