Skin looking crappy and oozing more oil than usual? Having a sudden outbreak at your chin area? Let me guess: it’s that time of the month and you’re having your PMS? Uh-oh. Time to look horrible for a few days. Or maybe not.
Your premenstrual skin is probably at its worst a week before your menstruation starts–this is when hormones in your body starts to change. What happens is that levels of estrogen and progesterone fluctuate while your ovaries start to produce testosterone. On one hand, progesterone increases sebum production and compresses your pores, increasing the chances for clogged pores and blemishes. On the other hand, testosterone is also doing its best to load more sebum.
It’s true you likely have to deal with higher sebaceous secretions, increased moisture loss, and heightened skin sensitivity, but it does not mean you can’t do anything to improve its condition. Yes, you can do more than smearing tea tree oil on those pesky pimples; you can pre-empt your PMS skin by doing ten things during this time to keep it healthier and happier.
1. Take probiotics
According to Dr Emily, a Naturopathic Doctor at Period Makeover, beneficial flora may help metabolize and recycle hormones, including estrogen, thyroid hormones, and phytoestrogens from food sources, which can help offset symptoms of PMS, including hormonal acne.
In addition, probiotics can help improve gut health and prevent constipation, thereby decreasing the inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract, which tends to increase before a menstrual cycle. That will prevent chances of reabsorption of estrogen from the gut back into your blood. Apart from preventing a nasty breakout of pimples, this can help prevent eczema or psoriasis from flaring up during PMS too.
2. Take omega-3 fish oil
In addition to maintaining supple skin, lustrous hair and stronger nails, the essential Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help to alleviate the symptoms of PMS including inflammation, uterine cramps and pain. I know some sources cite Omega 6 but I personally had success with Omega 3 fish oil and hence, am recommending it instead.
3. Clean up your diet
Since the real cause for PMS is unbalanced hormones, you can do well by cleaning up your diet. How? By cutting out foods that will cause hormonal imbalance. So avoiding dairy, refined sugar, caffeine, carbohydrate, fizzy drinks and alcohol will help. If you find yourself craving for sugary snacks, try curbing those temptations with fruits. Also, include more fiber like vegetables and whole grain foods into your diet to push surplus estrogen out of your body.
4. Drink more water
Drinking more water will help flush out toxins and keep your hormones more balanced. It will also prevent constipation and maintain gut health. You’ll also find yourself less bloated when you drink more water because it’ll encourage elimination of water. Many woman also find that increasing water intake can decrease cramping. And if you find water hard to drink, try adding lemon slices into your water for that extra zest.
5. Opt for anti-inflammatory ingredients
PMS could result from a disturbance in the body’s production of prostaglandins and a consequent imbalance of the various female hormones. Prostaglandins are also responsible for making your skin appear dull. To help soothe your skin, use a mild cleanser that is void of harsh surfactants like SLS/SLES, alcohol and fragrance but is formulated with anti-inflammatory ingredients like green tea, chamomile, argan oil, hyaluronic acid, white willow bark extract or aloe vera. The same goes with your moisturizer—use one with anti-inflammatory ingredients.
6. Hydrate your skin
PMS also causes your skin to lose more moisture and when that happens, your skin naturally becomes drier and looks duller. Hence, you’ll want to hydrate your skin by using a hydrating lotion or hydrating masks. Using a serum containing hyaluronic acid under your regular moisturizer might be a good idea.
7. Use sunscreen
The skin of women is more sensitive to ultra-violent light in the premenstrual week as our female hormonal activity of estrogen and/or progesterone is causing melanocytes or the pigment-producing cells to produce and deposit excess pigments. Hence,you should stay away from direct sun exposure during PMS to avoid developing skin pigmentation.
I found a study that supports that the skin of women is more sensitive to ultra-violent light in the premenstrual week. From the study, about half the women questioned had some increase in skin pigmentation, which was noted in every case in the latter days of the menstrual cycle and in some cases during menstruation also.
8. Avoid facial treatments
Avoid facials and any harsh skin treatments during PMS as our skin is more vulnerable to breakouts. The best time is to go about two weeks after your menstruation, when your female hormone estrogen has increased. This is also the time when your skin looks the best because the increased estrogen helps maintain skin moisture by increasing acid mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid in the skin and possibly maintaining stratum corneum barrier function (source).
Having said that, schedule your visits to your dermatalogist during your PMS as he/she will be able to see your skin at its worst.
9. Reduce your stress
Researchers found that women who are under stress in the first half of their menstrual cycle are more likely to experience symptoms of PMS for stress releases cortisol, which can cause hormonal imbalance. If you’re someone who has stress issues, dealing with the problem is critical. You may want to consider taking time off, learning how to relax, sleeping more or even taking up a sport to release stress.
Women are encouraged to exercise to fight off PMS symptoms. Doing so obviously can help balance hormones and improve your skin condition such as dull skin and bloating. Not to mention your skin may even emerge radiant and glowing. Well, this is one area I can’t say much out of personal experience because I don’t exercise. But maybe I should and it’ll make a noticeable difference.
Oh, I hear someone asking: “When should these ten tips be practised?” I say, about ten days before your menses but if you can, every day because these are good skin saving tips anyway.