Our hormones are affecting everything, from our energy levels and food cravings to feeling more frisky, triggering hormonal breakouts, and even making us more likely to be sick. We knew our hormones had a huge impact on our skin and mood, but until now, we didn’t entirely understand how, why, and when they were affecting us.
It turns out that by understanding your monthly cycle you can make sure that you’re living your best life every day, and you can even alter your skincare regime to the needs of your skin at different periods – no pun intended! To get the full scoop, we chatted to board-certified OBGYN, Dr. Rebecca Booth, and author of The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle… At Any Age. Literally, if there’s anyone who gets hormonal wellness, it’s Rebecca. This is what she told us…
Understand The Big Three
When it comes to understanding your monthly cycle, you first need to be aware of the three hormones that influence your cycle and the role that they play. Rebecca explains, “each day of the menstrual cycle is a reflection of the different levels of the “big three” hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Not only are we designed to have these levels fluctuate, but their relationship varies each day as well, influencing how we look and feel. The key is to understand why they fluctuate and what we can do to take charge of these variations.”
Days 1-7: Menstruation, the “Reset” of the cycle
What your hormones are doing: According to Rebecca, on day 1 (which is the day that you start your period) “the three major female hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, what we call “The Big Three”) are all low.” However, on the third day of your period “estrogen and testosterone slowly will begin to rise.”
How it makes you feel:
Rebecca explains that “the ‘Big Three’ support not only your mood, but your metabolism, and to some degree, your immunity.” This means you’ll tend to be “a bit weaker early in the period, and the days leading right up to it.” So, maybe period flu isn’t a myth after all, as Rebecca says “many women are more prone to colds and other viruses right before and early on in the period due to the low hormone levels, but this begins to repair itself by cycle day three.” Your hormones will affect your skin too: “estrogen’s low at this point, particularly in days 1-3 , which leads to less stimulation of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid – that dewy substance that gives us the glow.” Oh, and expect to feel extra emotional, when the big three are in full force.
What to do:
Due to the dip in estrogen levels which dehydrates skin during this time, Rebecca suggests upping your use of moisturizer and using “a moisturizer rich in phytoestrogens, which is a plant-based estrogen found in the nuts, seeds, and bark of the healthiest plants.” It would also be beneficial to use a product that contains collagen, as at this point your skin is running low in its supplies. Rebecca also says this is “the ideal time to get a facial or do an at-home facial to recharge your skin and offset some of the side effects of the drop in estrogen in your skin.” But perhaps even more importantly, she insists that we should up our water intake as our “skin needs water to maintain elasticity, so drink up and avoid excess caffeine, which can dehydrate causing dullness in the skin.” And, as hard as it may be, try to stay away from sugars and simple carbs like white bread and pasta, as Rebecca explains “it will make our estrogen deprived skin even more susceptible to blemishes and acne.”
Days 8-15: “The Venus Week”
What your hormones are doing: Your “estrogen and testosterone levels are rising together just prior to ovulation (around days 14-15).” According to Rebecca, this time is often referred to as ‘The Venus Week’ as “the hormonal recipe is designed to encourage confidence and romance.” So basically you’ll be feeling sexy AF.
How it makes you feel:
During this time “the power hormones: estrogen and testosterone, increase romantic and positive thinking, as well as confidence and desire.” Rebecca explains that the reason you feel like this is due to an “increase in dopamine and endorphins which boost your mood and energy.” This period is sometimes also referred to as the “skinny jeans days” as your metabolism is boosted and your skin has a youthful glow.
What to do:
Although you may be majorly feeling yourself, Rebecca reminds us not to get lazy with our skincare regime, as “when skin is at its best, a good regime will help prolong it!” And, because our skin is bringing its A-game, you can “reserve your more intense beauty regimen for the Minerva and reset phases.” Rebecca also tells us that during the Venus stage, you can afford to indulge your food cravings as it’s “the only week in the cycle where you might get away with it from a skin standpoint.”
Days 16-28: The Minerva Phase
What your hormones are doing: “After ovulation, estrogen and testosterone take a dip as progesterone, the hormone Mother Nature sends out to protect the assumed pregnancy, takes charge. Progesterone’s job is to encourage rest and eating,” which is why you feel like you could eat everything and anything in sight and your energy also decreases. During this time, “the mood can be a little more inwardly directed” so it’s the ideal time for “focusing on individual goals and increasing meditation and organization.”
How it makes you feel:
As your estrogen and testosterone drop so does your energy and sexuality, in contrast, Rebecca explains that “progesterone rises, and has a calming effect on sleep, but it makes metabolism a little sluggish, so the cravings and calories result in more bloating, a tendency to gain weight, and more breast tenderness.” Rebecca continued that “as the cycle progresses even progesterone begins to fall, and the mood takes even more of a dive as in response to the “Big Three” dropping. Since the hormones support feel-good brain chemicals the sudden drop causes dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin to all fall as well.”
What to do:
Even though you may not be in the mood, Rebecca assures us that “the best solution for a negative mood and poor metabolism is exercise.” Rebecca recommends doing at least “22 minutes every day (2.5 hours a week) combined with meditation!” Thankfully, she assures us that “even brisk walking counts” while pilates or core-focused yoga are great for both the mind and body. When it comes to skincare, you should “take extra care to prevent skin problems in the week leading up to menstruation, which is the time you’re most likely to experience breakouts and dullness.” If you’re acne-prone, this is a good time to use gentle AHA exfoliators (in your toner, cleanser or exfoliator), which will help to decongest pores and reduce impurities in the skin.
Your monthly plan of action:
So after all that insane knowledge, here’s how you can make small changes to your lifestyle and skincare routine to always feel the best version of yourself.
- Your female hormones are low, so stock up on vitamin C and zinc supplements to boost your immune system before and during your period.
- Surround yourself with healthy food and good vibes to improve your food cravings and your mood.
- Your skin is dehydrated, so drink lots of water, use a richer moisturizer, pamper your skin, and take collagen supplements.
- Werk it! Embrace your body and your added confidence – not that you shouldn’t do this EVERY day!
- Your skin is looking bomb, so to keep your glow game on for the next phase, don’t slack on your skincare regime.
Days 16 – 28:
- Drink green tea, which boosts energy levels and focus.
- Exercise and meditate to boost your mood.
- Try not to eat everything in your cupboard (but no judgment if you do).
- Start prepping your skin for an influx of hormones by rigorously following a good skincare regime. Check out our five ultimate skincare rules here.
We hope you guys found this helpful; if you have any questions, let us know in the comments below.