For those of us who have them, a period brings with it uninvited guests. Yes, as if its presence alone wasn’t enough to endure we’re struck with its tag along blots and blotches. And although tracking and ovulation apps from brands such as Clue and Flo, and subscription services from the likes of Pink Parcel, have made navigating the pre- and post-menstrual funk easier over the last decade, skin has been largely overlooked – until now.
Sceptical? We get it. ‘Femtech’ is set to become worth over £50 million by 2025, and it’s long been levelled that the industry is pedalled by men and marketers, who unequivocally don't geddit. But according to Dr Kemi Fabusiwa, aesthetician and director of JoyFul Skin Clinic, there are merits to syncing your cycle to your skincare, which means it's not necessarily a gimmick. “We know, for example, that in order to combat hormonal acne, it’s imperative to manage sebum production”. But of course, lots of products can do this, not just ones designed around periods. Skin expert Michaella Bolder recommends incorporating “anything with salicylic acid (BHA) into your routine daily – this can be in a cleanser, serum or mask. And for those with cystic acne opt for an azelaic acid as it's much more gentle and helps to control bacteria levels”.
So why do we get more spots on our period? “It's all down to fluctuating hormones,” says Dr Fabusiwa. “In the first half of your period oestrogen is more predominant, and in the second half it's progesterone. These both trigger sebaceous glands to create more sebum, an oily substance that can clog pores, and lead to inflammation and spots around the mouth and jawline”.
WHAT TO TRY:
HOW TO USE: This ultra-chic French skincare brand’s period-focussed line 'woman' was conceived when one woman told the brand that she scheduled important meetings in the second week of her cycle, to ensure her skin was at its best. In a bid to extend her – and every other woman's – good skin window, the brand came up with four serums, designed to be used during each week of your cycle. With hyaluronic acid and aloe vera, number 1 quenches thirsty skin and soothes it. To coax a post-period glow, number 2 supplies skin-brightening vitamin C. Number 3 is an astringent, formulated with sugar extracts, to counter the production of sebum. And finally number 4, uses seaweed extract and zinc to mattify skin, reduce blemishes and curb inflammation when progesterone is at its highest.
WHAT TO TRY:
HOW TO USE: Switch out your regular midweek mask for this. With hyaluronic acid and green tea, and a potent mix of lavender, clary, sage and zinc – which are all known for their antiseptic properties – it hydrates, soothes and staves off spots. For founder of Faace, Jasmine Wicks-Stephens, “creating one fuss-free product that’s specially formulated to deal with the multiple impacts periods can have on skin made sense.”
WHAT TO TRY
HOW TO USE: Amareta offers a holistic approach to skin care, putting emphasis on listening to your body, and respecting its needs. The Glowing Skincare Bundle, designed to be used on weeks one and two of your cycle, includes a creamy cleansing balm with soothing meadow foam and chamomile extract, and a nourishing face cream packed with shea butter and hyaluronic acid. The Clarifying Skincare Bundle, £80, designed for weeks three and four, comprises an Earth Mother Charcoal Mask with kaolin clay, to detoxifying skin and unclog pores, in addition to the cleansing balm, just in case you're in need of a top up.
Add Alpha-hydroxy acids (such as glycolic acid) into your routine to get rid of excess oil and dead skin cells. Switch to an oily skin cleanser before your period starts. Look for products with Benzoyl peroxide, which can be found in sulphur pastes and spot treatments, to reduce bacterial induced inflammation.
Avoid reaching for that mid-afternoon chocolate bar. Just like other types of acne, in addition to the overproduction of sebum, hormonal acne can be triggered by sugar. But it’s not all bad news, her recommended alternatives include dark chocolate (80% or more) and a glass of red wine.
These stickers absorb the bacteria on lone ranger sports, and protect against the elements, as well as picky fingers.
This set of PMS heroes - a relaxing foot bath sachet, a soothing support essence, and a relief and bath oil – will destress you from bath to bed.
"One of the significant advantages of using hemp seed oil for skin is it can do two things simultaneously: moisturise your skin and balance the oiliness without clogging the pores," says Bolder. This will reduce redness and soothe skin.
With glycolic acid and vitamin C, this sloughs away dead and dull skin, and makes it appear more radiant. Perfect for post-period skin.
The sonic vibrations on this give skin an extra deep clean, and encourage skin cell turnover.