'Period face' is a thing. Here's which products to use when.

On top of having to deal with the dreaded mood swings, stomach cramps, bloating and headaches while on your period, you're probably familiar with rogue pimples that pop up on your jawline just before your period. 

Hello, 'period face'

Then, less visible — albeit still incredibly frustrating — is the bout of flaky and dry skin that also occurs throughout your cycle, which is then followed by uncontrollable oil production. 

In short, it's complexion chaos.

"Hormonal fluctuations during our menstrual cycle can impact our skin," cosmetic doctor Dr Yalda Jamali Epios Cosmetic Clinic explained. 

It's a direct correlation of the levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone that are constantly fluctuating, causing our skin to ebb and flow in different states.

Watch: If your period was a person. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

So, is there a way of keeping your complexion looking and feeling its best? And can you pre-determine what will be on your skin's agenda? 

Well, just like your body requires certain nutrients during different phases of your cycle, your skin also needs different treatments and products. This might mean using a heavier hydrating cleanser and moisturiser that addresses dullness and dryness at the start of your period but then switching to clarifying products with actives and acids towards the end of the month. 


Of course, the degree to which your skin is impacted by your cycle changes from person to person so Dr Jamali says it's also important to "take into consideration conditions like endometriosis and PCOS, which will cause further fluctuations in hormonal symptoms." 

But generally speaking, simply observing your skin and slowly implementing skincare changes is a surefire way to help you make the best skincare choices during your monthly cycle. 

We asked Dr Jamali to outline the four phases our skin goes through in a single cycle so you can better understand where your skin is at during each week and sync your skincare accordingly. 

The below guide is based on a 28-day cycle, however, you can adjust it to the exact length of your cycle.

The menstrual phase (days 1-5).

Your skin can feel: dull, dry, sensitive and irritated.

The menstrual phase marks the beginning of your cycle (the first day of bleeding). During this time, your oestrogen and progesterone are at their very lowest, and as a result, your energy and skin can feel run down. 

Because the skin can feel dull, dry, sensitive and irritated, Dr Jamali advised focusing on protecting and supporting the skin barrier during this phase. 


"Ingredients to look out for are niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides and hyaluronic acid," Dr Jamali said. 

The follicular phase (days 6-14).

Your skin can feel: plump and glowing.

The good news is that you can say goodbye to dryness once you’ve entered the follicular phase. This phase is considered the energy powerhouse where oestrogen levels begin to rise and peak around ovulation, while progesterone levels stay low.  

"The rise in oestrogen boosts collagen production and skin feels more plump and radiant," Dr Jamali explained. "Women usually feel more beautiful during this phase and have a glow."

In terms of skincare, Dr Jamali said, "You can use whatever products suit your skin concerns best". Plus, it's probably the best time to experiment with a new product you’ve been hesitant about trying for fear it’ll cause havoc with your skin. 

As sebum production starts to slowly increase around this phase, there is a chance your skin may feel oily and congested. If this is the case, Dr Jamali simply recommended tackling this with BHAs or AHAs such as mandelic acid. 

The ovulation phase (around day 14).

Your skin can feel: hydrated and plump but possibly more oily.

Oestrogen levels are at a peak in this phase and progesterone is on the rise. 

"Skin usually feels similar to the follicular phase with potentially slightly more oil production," Dr Jamali noted.

If you have acne-prone skin or you’re susceptible to pre-menstrual breakouts, you can afford to go harder with your BHAs to control oil production. 


"Other ingredients that can control oily skin are niacinamide, witch hazel, tea tree oil, zinc, AHAs and retinoids," Dr Jamali said. 

The luteal phase (days 15-28)

Your skin can feel: sensitive and flared up. 

Unfortunately, this isn't the most delightful phase and you'll need to brace yourself for skin chaos. Oestrogen and progesterone are both elevated, with the latter dominating, which means your skin is producing an extremely high level of oil. In other words, you'll be prone to breakouts. 

"You are more likely to get breakouts during this phase alongside increased sensitivity and irritation," Dr Jamali said. To make matters worse, those with other pathological skin conditions like eczema can also expect regular and heightened flare-ups. 

To curb this peak 'period face' phase, Dr Jamali urged to "focus on target-treating your skin concerns as well as supporting your skin’s moisture barrier."

You can focus on the same sebum-controlling products used in the ovulation phase (think: niacinamide, witch hazel, tea tree oil, zinc, vitamin C, AHAs, BHAs and retinoids) but with the addition of even more pore-clogging ingredients like salicylic acid. Follow these active ingredients up with soothing, non-comedogenic ceramides and peptides. 

Have you tried skincare cycling before? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature Image: Instagram/@matildadeangelis.