So, are you ready to rumble? You’ve had just about enough of those acne break outs once a month, especially the weird ones that appear on your jawline and feel like hard, painful bumps. And, you know the score: Premenstrual acne is not a matter of hygiene or even genetics. It’s all about the hormones.
If you’ve tried kicking butt and taking names in the past when it came to your PMS acne, you probably already know that not all of it responds to the regular over-the-counter treatments. That’s because there’s actually two types of acne that can occur just before your period. One is the result of progesterone and it’s pretty much just an intensified version of your typical acne. The other, however, is the result of estrogen and is different. It’s more like hard little bumps. They can be unsightly and very painful. The first kind can be dealt with using many of the skincare items you already use but being aware that it will be intensified means a bit more diligence.
The second type can be more difficult. It’s got attitude. It doesn’t respond to the typical over-the-counter products, and requires more attention to diet, stress, self-care, and possibly a helping hand from a professional at times.
During the first half of a woman’s menstrual cycle estrogen is the main hormone and during the second half progesterone is the main hormone. Progesterone stays consistent, but the estrogen fluctuates according to ob-gyn Elizabeth Gutrecht Lyster, MD. These hormonal shifts have a direct impact on a woman’s skin. For one thing, during mid-cycle when progesterone is higher, it stimulates the production of sebum, a thick, oily substance that acts as a natural skin lubricant. Unfortunately, as pores constrict during the month and sebum builds, this produces that painful, harden type of acne (cystic) .
So, before you start gathering your usual arsenal, you need to re-think your approach.
First and foremost, always remember you’re the queen in your castle no matter what’s going on with your skin. A woman who loves herself is always beautiful and that self-love means you don’t wait for a problem before you sit up and take note of your skin.
If you keep taking the “wait and see” approach, you’ll be in a never-ending battle, a fight you can’t win. So, get ready to rumble, because winning against PMS acne starts now. Here’s some practical ways to address PMS acne of both types:
Kick toxins to the curb. Did you know that there are ingredients in makeup that can harm your skin, and some are even toxic? Always check the ingredients list. According to Dr. Aaron Tabor, a graduate of the John Hopkins School of Medicine and an avid medical research, you should look for the following:
Emulsifiers: Used in many products to hold ingredients together, research shows that emulsifiers dry your skin and affect its ability to repair itself.
Dioxane: Labeled by the EPA as a human carcinogen, this is a byproduct of emulsifiers. (By the way, you won’t find this word in most ingredient lists so look for these words: Polyethylene, Polyethylene glycol, also PEG, Polyoxyethylene, Any word ending with “oxynol”, and any word ending with “eth” like Ceteareth)
Parabens: Used to preserve the life of a skincare product, parabens are called by doctors as “endocrine disruptors” because they do interfere with the hormonal processes of the body. Another reason to avoid them as if you needed one….
Make effective makeup choices all the time. Choose makeup that will nurture your skin and consult with your esthetician for acne safe cosmetic choices.
Eat right. What you eat has a profound effect on your skin throughout the month, and when it comes to premenstrual acne it is a vital piece of the puzzle. Avoid white bread, cookies, chips and other items that are high in refined carbohydrates. I’m not saying to cut out all carbohydrates unless you’ve spoken with your doctor, but you’ll want to avoid the refined ones. Complex carbohydrates such as the ones found in fruit, whole grain bread and beans are a better choice. Also, watch your sugar in-take. Insulin spikes increase hormonal fluctuations. Opt for berries and fruit to satisfy that sweet tooth. The more antioxidants the better! Eat foods rich in vitamins A and D and B6 the week before can help minimize the hormonal whirlwind. (A quick note: you might try keeping a food diary for a few months and noting what you eat and how bad your premenstrual acne is that month.)
Get plenty of sleep. Skin is profoundly affected by how much sleep you get. Strive for a full 7-8 hours nightly. Sleeping less can increase cortisol levels which will disrupt your hormonal balance.
Avoid touching your face unless you’ve washed your hands.
Use gentle, noncomedogenic skincare and makeup.
Reduce stress by engaging in activities such as yoga and meditating.
Talk to your skincare professional for more information on treatments and products that can give you a monthly advantage!