Why do you get spots before your period?
With many of us experiencing discomfort, cramps and bloating, periods can be hard enough without the arrival of spots just before your time of the month. Yet for some, periodic breakouts occur consistently and can contribute to a low mood in even the most upbeat of hoomans. But why does this happen and what can you do about it? Read on to find out...
Your cycle and your skin
It’s all down to hormones! Hormonal breakouts tend to occur on the chin, jaw and mouth just before your period starts. They can occur at any age and can be made worse by lifestyle factors such as insufficient cleansing or poor diet. Just like hormonal breakouts tend to appear during puberty and pregnancy, the changes our bodies go through each month continuously affect our skin.
Your cycle explained
During the menstrual phase (days 1-7 on average), the hormones progesterone and estrogen are low and prostaglandins are high. At this stage, the skin can be dry due to low oil production, and sensitive and inflamed because the prostaglandins are high. Cue irritated, angry skin in need of some TLC!
As you enter the follicular phase (days 7-14 on average), estrogen rises, and the skin returns to a more homeostatic state. At the end of your period, you may find you get some dryness as your progesterone levels drop along with your production of sebum and oils, but skin tends to appear fresher and clearer as your production of collagen and hyaluronic acid increases.
The ovulation phase (days 14-28 on average) brings a peak in estrogen. In the last few days before your period begins, progesterone levels rise, which means that your sebaceous glands produce more sebum. This spike in progesterone can lead to closed pores, meaning debris and dead skin cells find it more difficult to escape. This leads to the pores becoming clogged up and spots then begin to form.
Periods are what I describe as an intrinsic factor that can affect what happens to your skin. Intrinsic refers to genetics and things that are happening inside the body and are therefore usually outside of your control. Despite this, being able to prepare for the times of the month when your skin might need extra attention is useful, so here are some steps you can take to keep your skin as clear as possible:
- Double cleanse to ensure your skin is clear of any dirt and debris that could block up pores and cause spots. Always remove makeup before bed and don’t go overboard trying to cover up your blemishes, as this will also clog up the pores.
- A cleanser containing salicylic acid such as Skingredients Sally Cleanse (€33), is ideal for spot-prone skin and this time of the month. Try using it as a micro mask by leaving it on for 60 seconds before rinsing off for a deeper cleanse and fresh-feeling skin.
- Do not pick your spots – Squeezing your blemishes is a skin sin and can lead to scarring. Keep your hands away from your face and focus on keeping your skin as clean as possible.
- Avoid sugar overload – your sweet tooth is working against you when it comes to keeping your skin clear. You are likely to crave comfort food and sugary treats at this time but with sugar being a cause of inflammation, your choice of snacks could fuel further irritation and congestion, which could worsen your breakout.
- Containing a blemish-fighting blend of lactic acid, exfoliators and moisturisers, Environ Focus Care Clarity + Hydroxy Acid Sebu-Lac Lotion (€42) is great for improving the texture and tone of a breakout or congestion-prone skin. Apply post-cleanse, morning and evening for a soothed and balanced complexion.
- To target spots from the inside, you can also try nutritional supplements. I recommend Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Accumax (€52 for 60 capsules) which contain vitamins A, C and E and calms fluctuations internally for a clearer, more settled complexion.
Always seek medical advice from your GP if your skin is making you feel low. We are also available to provide nerdie support and advice in the form of tips, skinformation and one-to-one consultations. Click here to find out more.