Most of us have experienced it, but few of us talk about it. Can you control PMS breakouts or mitigate them? And why is it a consistent problem for you, but not your best friend? How do you know if you've got a run-of-the-mill breakout or one that's related to your menstrual cycle? All of these questions are common, and for any girl who loves to keep her skin the clear and beautiful canvas it was meant to be for each and every makeup look she wants to try, it helps to know the answers. Let's start with a simple explanation of your hormonal fluctuations related to PMS.
The Hormone Mix
Most women start to feel telltale PMS symptoms 3 to 7 days before menstruation starts. But what's happening inside your body that leads to the main event begins approximately two weeks ahead of time. This is when your hormones start to rev up and change. Levels of estrogen and progesterone fluctuate while your ovaries start to produce testosterone. Progesterone increases sebum (oil) production and compresses your pores, creating the perfect recipe for clogged pores and blemishes. Additionally, testosterone is doing its best to ramp up sebum, too, and for some women that leads to breakout city. You're not going to check your cycle calendar every time you get a zit, we know. But there's an easy way to reliably assume a breakout is hormonal: is it within two weeks of the start of your menstruation? Are the blemishes around your jawline and/or chin area? If you can answer yes, you're looking at a PMS acne flare up.
Is It Just Me?
Sometimes it can feel that way, especially when you're trying to get a friend to commiserate and she doesn't have the same problem. As common as it is, each woman's skin reacts differently to the hormonal changes. Some women consistently get PMS acne while others rarely, if ever, do. Unfortunately, there's no way to predict how it's going to go for you from month to month. And as women age, their hormones can change. You can go from "normal" as a teen to PMS acne queen somewhere in your 20s or 30s. Though the process is unpredictable, there is a way to help control and mitigate your symptoms naturally. And while you may have heard the same advice pertaining to other subjects, here's another reason to take it to heart.
PMS acne will absolutely be worse the more stressed out you are. So your first order of business is to make sure you're controlling stress levels consistently throughout the month. This means meditate, get a massage, take a walk around the block when you're feeling hemmed in. Take in fresh air and tea, make time to read a good book right before bed to clear your head, keep a journal, and keep up a regular exercise routine to get those endorphines pumping for feel-good vibes.
Mind Your Drinks
This one is super simple, but super important: drink water, then drink some more water. When you feel like a soda or glass of orange juice, drink another glass of water instead. Water flushes out toxins from your body, keeps you hydrated and doesn't have any of the side effects of other beverages (sugar, carbs, hangovers).
Mind Your Diet
It's not just for health, it's not just for weight control, a low-sugar, vitamin rich diet is often the lifestyle change that women swear by to control their PMS acne. A reduction in saturated fats and oils, dairy and other foods do make a difference in the health of your skin. Vitamin and antioxidant power will give you a healthy glow that resists age and hormonal acne. Think lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes and leafy greens! Yum!
Be a Clean Freak
While hormonal acne is internal, the more you can reduce bacteria in your life, the more you'll reduce the chance of it being on your skin. Stick to a skincare regimen that works for your skin type. Try a soothing deep cleansing mask for your skin during that two week party your hormones have before your period starts. Clean your makeup brushes once or twice per week with baby shampoo and let them air dry. Clean your pillow cases to ensure you're not sleeping on dirt and oil your skin previously left behind. Keep your cell phone clean too.