Renee Rouleau SMOOTHING PEEL

This Skin-Care Mask Duo Is My Secret to Beating Period Breakouts

These smoothing and exfoliating masks from celebrity-loved skin-care brand Renée Rouleau not only banish hormonal breakouts but also brighten my skin all month long.
By Erin Reimel
August 21, 2020
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It happens every month like clockwork—right around my period, pimples start popping up all over my face. They used to stick around for weeks, so by the time my breakouts cleared, it was time for the next round. But then I met celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, who changed the game for me with her stellar line of celeb-loved skin-care products. Seriously, this woman is behind the glowing skin of A-listers from Demi Lovato to Lili Reinhart. So when she suggested I add a pair of her mega popular skin masks to my routine, I listened. 

When I feel my skin on the verge of a breakout—typically the week before my period begins—I immediately turn to my Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel (Buy It, $89, reneerouleau.com) to clear and exfoliate my pores. It also prepares my skin for the next step: the antimicrobial, acne-busting Rapid Response Detox Masque (Buy It, $66, reneerouleau.com), which banishes my pimples and prevents new ones from forming. I pretty much always pair them together, thanks to Rouleau's tip that they work perfectly as a duo.

"Your hormones fluctuate before and during your period," explains New York City-based dermatologist Jennifer Levine, M.D. For most of the month, estrogen and progesterone are the most prominent hormones in your body. But right before your period, testosterone takes over and rises higher than any other hormone, according to Dr. Levine. "Testosterone activates your sebaceous glands, which are in charge of making sebum, or the oil your pores secrete," she notes, adding that when sebum production revs up, your pores get clogged, causing breakouts. Progesterone in your skin also leads to water retention—which puts pressure on your pores and makes their openings smaller—so that sebum gets trapped more easily, says Rouleau. (Related: This Skin-Care Brand Loved By Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes Totally Transformed My Acne-Prone Skin)

Renee Rouleau SMOOTHING PEEL
Credit: Renee Rouleau

Fortunately, Rouleau's two masks were specifically designed to address these issues. I start off by using the Triple Berry Smoothing Peel (it also happens to be a favorite of Demi Lovato's) to exfoliate my skin and prepare it to fight acne. (Fair warning: The berries in the formulas kind of look like blood, so I've definitely scared my boyfriend while wearing it.) "The peel removes the buildup of skin cells on your face, thanks to natural acids like mandelic, lactic, salicylic, tartaric, and malic acids," explains Rouleau. I leave it on for 5-10 minutes before wiping it off with a damp washcloth. After, my skin suddenly looks glowier, and it's prepped for the acne-banishing effects of the next step. "The peel helps the other ingredients penetrate better so they're more effective," adds Dr. Levine.

After I wipe the peel away, I immediately apply the Rapid Response Detox Masque. The shimmering golden formula feels cooling and soothing; I like to keep it on for up to 30 minutes to really let it do its thing. "This mask has antibacterial ingredients like tea tree oil and salicylic acid that can get deep into the pores and counteract acne-causing bacteria," says Dr. Levine. The salicylic acid also calms inflammation and reduces oil production so your pores don't get clogged. (Related: The Best Salicylic Acid Face Wash for Every Skin Type)

Renee Rouleau SMOOTHING PEEL
Credit: Renee Rouleau

Unlike many other acne treatments, it's not irritating or drying (which is the last thing my skin needs when it's freaking out due to my hormones) in the least. I use both masks the week before my period, but I also like to use the detox mask a few more times the week of my period to really keep the bacteria at bay. Rouleau recommends only using the Triple Berry Smoothing Peel once a week to avoid over-exfoliation. (Related: The Best Drugstore Acne Products, According to Dermatologists)

Ever since I've started using this mask duo, I've noticed a visible difference in my period pimples. Either they don't come at all, or if they do, they don't stick around for very long. I always make sure to stay stocked up, so I'm ready to go whenever I feel a pimple brewing beneath the surface.