We cycle through four distinct hormonal phases each month. With our endocrine systems constantly in flux, it can be difficult to know what our bodies need to get to that elusive state of balance.
We asked LA-based holistic aesthetician, Hayley Wood aka Therapeutic Skin Coach, to talk to us about how to manage skincare when our hormonal cycles are wreaking havoc. From lifestyle adjustments to a few powerful products, here’s how to manage skincare through your monthly cycle…
The Follicular Phase
This phase starts on the first day of menstruation. During this phase, the pituitary gland communicates to specific hormones to start producing egg cells in the ovaries again. The follicular phase is often 13 days long and rebuilds energy levels after shedding the uterine lining. For the most part, women don’t seem to experience too much of a fluctuation in their skin during this time unless they are incredibly depleted in certain vitamins and minerals, or have not been experiencing a lot of PMS symptoms caused by excess stress.
This is often the result of excess cortisol, adrenal fatigue and/or even thyroid imbalance if stress isn’t managed daily. The results of these imbalances also have a more lasting effect on the skin, which may be classified as a hormonal imbalance. Typically, the follicular phase is one in which we start to feel better and more energized, so our skin reflects this shift beautifully.
The number one takeaway of this stage is to help the skin feel supported. We can do this by adding vitamin-rich and hydrating ingredients that encourage the skin’s natural ability to regenerate. Over-treating skin with harsh actives (such as AHAs and retinol) could deplete your skin more. In other words, think about feeding your skin instead of stripping it. This is what I recommend…
Sonage High Impact Vitamin C serum | Lightweight water-based Vitamin C Serum harnesses a unique liposomal delivery system to hydrate the skin. The extra boost of citrus-derived Vitamin C reduces the appearance of dark spots and evens skin tone. CHECK OUT
Laurel Whole Plant Organics Antioxidant Serum | This moisturizing and brightening serum features a whole plant blend of gotu kola, comfrey, calendula, nettle, and rosehip oil that stimulate collagen production, reduce sun damage, and encourage healthy cell reproduction. CHECK OUT
Odacite’s Blueberry Jasmine Serum | A treasure trove of antioxidants, blueberry seed oil helps promote free-radical defense as it improves skin tone and texture. Jasmine oil rejuvenates dry and dehydrated skin, promoting a soothed, soft complexion and combat feelings of anxiety. CHECK OUT
The Ovulation Phase
This phase starts once your menstrual and follicular phases are over. This is often the fourteenth day of your cycle. The now mature egg cell is prepared to be released from the ovary to the fallopian tube. Once the pituitary gland communicates this function, the body will secrete the hormone needed for ovulation. This is also the opportunity to conceive or the signal to avoid intercourse. Most standard birth control pills are created to trick the body into skipping this step to prevent pregnancy. At this time the body tends to peak in hormone levels, as well as temperature, which can be associated with breakouts during the next phase of our cycle.
On a skin level, the reason you may experience imbalance is because of actions taken in this stage — eating non-supportive foods, overextending without proper stress management, ignoring the overall body temperature or little-to-no rest/reset time. All of these habits can trigger overcompensation by our skin for detoxification. It will work on one or more of its primary functions as a filter to shed excess waste, a barrier to protect from environmental triggers and regulation of body temperature. The skin will start to feel stressed when working on all of these functions at once.
The ovulation phase is not always when we can physically see an imbalance, but it is the perfect time to set yourself up for skin success. Take preventative action to avoid skin stress. Add a gentle, calming mask to your routine that will balance the primary functions of your skin. This is what I recommend…
Sonage Tulsi Soothing Tri Clay Mask | This calming clay mask extracts toxins and impurities from the skin while delivering minerals to maintain a smooth, fresh complexion. It features three mineral-rich clays with a trifecta of healing Ayurvedic herbs. CHECK OUT
MV Skincare Signature Mineral Mask | Rich in silica, zinc and magnesium, this mask is softening, strengthening and gently exfoliating. CHECK OUT
Sonage Pom Crush Detox Mask | If you tend to become excessively oily and are prone to congestion, give this mask a try. It includes a combination of several gentle but effective fruit enzymes, and is a great way to naturally break down the excess build-up so your skin doesn’t overdo it. CHECK OUT
The Luteal Phase
This phase starts right after ovulation and is typically when many feel the most intense skin shift. Hormone levels peak and immediately drop to help prepare the shedding of the uterine lining if conception didn’t take place. Along with monitoring overall nutrition to make sure the body feels supported during this stage, it is also a time when brain activity can feel sluggish. The need for an afternoon nap may feel exceptionally strong.
Because we don’t live in a culture where our schedules are designed to optimize time and focus per phase of our menstrual cycle, it can feel like we are all overcompensating. We opt for a quick fix to help us stay alert and present. This can mean more caffeine or an increase in stimulating foods. If the body is feeling slow or sluggish, this can mean that our overall system needs more rest.
The best piece of advice I give my clients is to try to get more rest. Otherwise, skin cells may deplete from their overall radiance. Go to bed early. Avoid excess blue light which can trigger hyperpigmentation. If our hormones are not supported (since all of our cells have different circadian rhythms) when we’re pushing ourselves too much, add hydration to your cells. This can help your overall appearance and energy. I recommend these products to rejuvenate tired skin…
Osea Malibu’s Hyaluronic Sea serum | This lightweight, non-greasy moisture boosting serum smoothes wrinkles & fine lines and replenishes dry, thirsty skin. Hyaluronic Acid is considered to be nature’s most powerful moisture magnet, as it draws in moisture and delivers intense hydration that plumps skin and gets you glowing. CHECK OUT
Sonage NMF hyaluronic serum | Hydrating hyaluronic acid gel serum works as a “water-reservoir” to protect against dehydration. Plumping and rejuvenating humectant leaves skin smooth and silky. CHECK OUT
De Mamiel Pregnancy Oil | This gentle, hydrating daily cleansing oil purifies the skin from the pollution, toxins, and stress of modern life. This formula infuses its natural protective layer with deep regenerative nourishment and the soothing and fortifying benefits of carefully selected phytonutrients. CHECK OUT
The Menstrual Phase
During menstruation, it’s really valuable to simplify your care and allow your skin to do what it does best: self-heal.
What is most important during all the cycle phases is to make sure you are connecting your whole body. The primary reason we experience skin imbalance directly connects to a blockage in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is essential for eliminating excess dermal waste and stagnant proteins in the skin. If this system is blocked due to stress, tension or a lowered immunity in our body, it will cause build-up or blockages on the skin. This will present in the form of breakouts, wrinkles, inflammation or even hyperpigmentation. Here’s what I recommend…
Gua Sha | A good practice of at-home gua sha and overall lymphatic system support (like a rebounder routine and/or dry brushing) will make a big difference for glowing and vibrant skin throughout each phase of your cycle. CHECK OUT
Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator | This spray is rich in aloe, healing herbs and natural astringents like lavender and witch hazel. Using this product indicates to the skin that you trust its functions and gives it the space to reset. CHECK OUT