By Stacey Coles
Sis, there are four main phases of hormonal changes your body goes through each month. The first phase? Ya’ period. And with it, cramps, bleeding, and breakouts — the latter of which the beauty industry is tackling specifically with a trend known as “period beauty.”
But, hold up. We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. To understand how “period beauty” is supposed to work, let’s do a quick breakdown of those phases right quick: Menstrual cycles run from the first day of one period to the first day of the next and are different for every body. On average, a cycle can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days. As stated from jump, phase one is menstruation, and it ranges from two to seven days. Phase two, the follicular phase, overlaps with menstruation a bit, but lasts until around day 13 of your cycle. During this stage, your ovaries are prepping an egg to be released, and your estrogen levels are on the rise. Mid-cycle comes through with phase three, ovulation. Hormones are hella high at this point, causing the ovaries to release an egg to your uterus — a journey that takes about three to four days. Your uterine lining is also building itself up to get ready for the egg’s arrival. Phase four is called the luteal phase. It’s during this time that a fertilized egg will attach to the uterine lining. If the egg is not fertilized, it disintegrates, the uterine lining sheds, and the chemical prostaglandins causes the muscles in your uterus to contract — aka cramps, ugh — and push everything out with your flow.
Throughout all the phases, your hormones are on one. And they can cause breakouts, oiliness, dryness, and inflammation.
So, what is this “period beauty”?
Many skin-care brands have zoned in on these hormonal changes, offering products that sync your beauty regimen with your menstrual cycle. These goods include everything from cleansers and moisturizers to serums and face masks. You may even find products bundled together and labeled “hormonal” or “PMS.”
There is some science to this idea. “Our ‘female’ hormone is estrogen, which is typically dominant, and our other hormone is progesterone, which I’ll call our ‘male’ hormone. Leading up to the start of the menstrual cycle, estrogen is predominant, but there is a change a week or so before the menstrual cycle where the estrogen levels dip and progesterone takes over,” says Dr. Tiffany Clay, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in the Atlanta area. “This leads to a peak in oily skin, inflammation, and worsening of acne.”
There are several period beauty brands entering the space, from higher-priced options like Typology with its menstrual cycle serums and Amareta with its Glowing Skincare Bundle and Clarifying Bundle to more budget-friendly options like Knours’s Sweet Rescue Collection and _faace’s period faace face mask.
Is all this really necessary, tho?
In short, nah.
The trend is based on changes that take place during your cycle, but tbh, the cycle isn’t necessarily the cause of everyone’s skin concerns. Some people may have serious skin issues 24/7, 365 because of genetics, medications, stress, diet, or not-so-great skin-care habits.
“I would say, honestly, that a lot of that is marketing,” says Dr. Dina Strachan, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and internationally recognized expert on ethnic skin. “You know your body changes; it goes through cycles … [but] just because something is different at a different part of your cycle doesn’t mean you need to do something from my medical point of view. [It] doesn’t mean it’s a problem.”
Dr. Clay cosigns this: “I do not think period beauty is necessary because despite changes in the skin during the phases of the menstrual [cycle], if you are keeping your skin care consistent and regular, you can normalize and regulate how your skin matures and minimize some of the changes that occur at menses … Teen girls have such busy, stressful lives already. I would not add on the stress of changing their skin-care routine based on where they are in their menstrual cycle … it is better to provide a stable, regular routine for skin care and acne medications to help keep the skin clear, no matter where they are in their menstrual cycle.”
For the smaller changes you may notice around that time of the month, there are simple solutions. Notice you’re a bit more dewy than usual? Blot, use a mattifying primer, or brush on some oil-controlling powder. Feeling super dry? Switch up your moisturizer.
Overall, the changes you experience during your cycle are recurring — if you have oily skin, you typically always have it to some degree. If you have breakouts during your period, you probably have acne already; it may just flare up with the hormonal changes. So, your normal skin-care routine should reflect those concerns already.
You’ll see that a lot of ingredients in products considered “period beauty” are no different from those being used for “regular” skin-care regimens — think vitamin C, exfoliants, and shine-busting ingredients, for example. And while “period beauty” may not be a must-have, you might find your new fave under the category. Go’n and give the trend a try if you like, but recognize the cycle-specific claims are pretty much just that.
Main Image: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels