It’s happened to all of us. Your skin has been clear and healthy, and then one morning you wake up to a pimple (or pimples) that seemingly came out of nowhere, despite the fact that you've been perfectly maintaining your skincare routine. Then, a few days later, your time of the month starts and you realize that that’s where the breakout came from.
But why? Is there anything you can do to stop it from happening?
As a matter of fact, while there may not be a way to stop period breakouts completely, there are some steps you can take to treat and prevent hormonal breakouts. That’s where we come in: we’ve put together this guide to period acne as a way to make that time of the month a lot easier to handle. After all, we’re all in this together.
As you probably know, most types of acne are caused by an excess of unwanted oil or bacteria that clog pores and result in a buildup of toxins. In that sense, hormonal breakouts and hormonal acne are no different. During your period, the changes in progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone levels result in an increase of sebum production. Given that sebum is a type of oil secretion, the increase in production leads to an increase of clogged pores, breakouts, and inflammation. As the hormone levels balance out, so do the sebum levels, thereby decreasing the hormonal breakouts on your skin.
The main difference, however, is the pattern of such breakouts. Period acne is linked to the hormonal shifts that occur before and after your blood flow; thus, this type of acne often occurs anywhere between two weeks before your period to anytime during the course of your flow. Period breakouts often persist throughout your period and can even last a few days after the end of your period, as more hormonal shifts occur at this time. One way to find out whether or not a breakout is related to your period is to track when the pimples arise and how long they last, just as you would track your flow. This works to help you better understand your hormonal breakouts / hormonal acne and prep your skin for the upcoming monthly adventure.
Treating period breakouts is all about reducing pain, using gentle cleansers and taking advantage of spot treatments. Period breakouts can sometimes be more painful than other forms of breakouts, as they become easily inflamed and irritated due to the build up of bacteria. Hence, the best treatment trick is to reduce the pain with a warm or cold compress. Simply take a face towel and run it under warm water (to soothe) or cold water (to relieve) and hold the towel to the breakout for 10-15 minutes.
Other treatment options tackle the period pimples more directly. Using a gentle cleanser while treating period skin is recommended because it doesn’t overtreat the breakouts, which could cause the problem to worsen. Some staff recommendations of gentle cleansers include: Cerave's Foaming Facial Cleanser and Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser. Along with gentle foam cleansers, it is suggested to use spot treatments that focus on treating the individual breakouts themselves. This is especially good for period acne, seeing as these breakouts appear in individualized places at specific times. When picking a spot treatment, look for ingredients that are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, like the tea tree oil in our staff pick: Lucky Star Blemish Patches.
Of course, keeping up with daily hygiene is also a great way to combat period breakouts. Make sure you wash your face after workouts, avoid greasy skin products and limit UV exposure.
Luckily, there are some preventative measures that you can take to help limit the amount and severity of breakouts that come on your next cycle. The first is to take extra care to keep up with your skincare routine. This helps to keep the breakouts at bay and limit the damage when they do show up. Second, pay attention to your diet. Sugary foods, white bread, and overly processed foods often promote breakouts, making your skin more susceptible to breakouts when your hormonal shifts kick in. (Check out our article Eat Your Way to Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails for a guide to which foods to eat for healthier skin). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you are staying hydrated. Drinking water can help your digestive system flush out toxins, which, in turn, helps maintain a healthy complexion. Hydrated skin is happy skin. So remember:
The #paradoxcommunity is important to us, so we’d love to hear your stories about period acne. Share them in the comments below or DM us on Instagram with questions. If you liked this article, make sure to check out our pieces on face mapping (here) and skin texture (here). For more skincare tips and beauty content, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest!