Period Troubles: How Your Cycle Messes With Your Acne

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When your period comes to visit, it brings gifts: bloating, fatigue, and even the occasional freak-out. As if all that wasn't bad enough, though, many of us also contend with the seldom recognized, but very real, skin problems that pop up around that time of the month. The cause of the oily complexion and magnified pores that suddenly surface? It's actually our hormones.

As our hormone levels shift from the more female oriented (like estrogen and progesterone) to the more male oriented (like testosterone) during our cycle, our oil glands go into overdrive, pores blow up, and cystic zits emerge. But, in the same way we’ve learned to prep for our periods by traveling with a stash of tampons and extra Motrin, we can also do a thing or two to quell our out-of-whack complexions.

So, to get the scoop on just how to do this, we enlisted a few experts: Bethanee J. Schlosser, M.D., Ph.D, an assistant professor in dermatology and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Sara Gottfried, a San Francisco-based ob-gyn and author of The Hormone Cure; and Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face. Ahead, get a week-by-week playbook of what’s happening in our bodies, how it affects the appearance of our skin, and how to get it all under control.

What's Happening Two Weeks Before Your Period
As far as our skin is concerned, this is the week that should be considered the dreaded time of the month. Between seven to 14 days before the start of our period, our levels of the sex hormone estradiol fall. Meanwhile, our testosterone remains at higher levels than those of the estradiol. This move to more male-prevalent hormones can lead to a more acne-prone complexion, particularly for those with skin that's more acneic in the first place.

“It’s that shift of balance that can lead to increased activity of sebaceous glands and can manifest as oily skin, with an increase in developing acne lesions and oily hair and scalp as well,” says Schlosser. This is the time when inflammation and zits can rear their ugly heads. [Click here to read the full story at Refinery29!]

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