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, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in dermatology and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Dr. Sara Gottfried, a San Francisco-based Ob/Gyn and author of The Hormone Cure; and Dr. 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.
Illustrated by Anna Sudit