Ladies, if you have certain weeks where the skincare just isn’t skincare-ing or the face isn’t behaving as well as it could, it’s likely because of “period face”.

Hormones can impact our complexion, so should we adjust our skincare based on our menstrual cycles? We’ve consulted experts for their insights and to determine if “period face” is a valid concern!

Meet the experts:

  • Dr Liew Hui Min, a consultant dermatologist at HM Liew Skin & Laser Clinic in Singapore, is a fully accredited specialist consultant in dermatology with the Ministry of Health in Singapore and the General Medical Council (UK). She has a special focus on children’s and women’s dermatology, genital dermatology, and general medical adult dermatology.
  • Dr Yanni Xu, medical director of The Urban Clinic in Singapore, graduated with the second-highest score in her year from King’s College London School of Medicine, winning both the silver medal and Todd’s award. Her interests are in rosacea and sensitive skin, adult and hormonal acne, pigmentation, natural and graceful ageing of the face, and hair restoration.

What is “Period Face”?


reminder: your face changes throughout your menstrual cycle. Be kind to yourselves ladies #girlthings #girltalk #girlytips

♬ original sound – Chloe

Have you ever noticed the variations in your face and skin throughout different stages of your menstrual cycle?

“Period face” refers to the changes that occur in your skin during each phase, such as increased oiliness, breakouts, and alterations in texture.

“The cyclical change in our hormones causes the change in oil “sebum”, pores size, and water content (hydration) in our skin. It does not necessarily mean we have problems with our hormones, but our sebocytes (oily glands in our skin) are sensitive to certain hormones, predominantly testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.

Testosterone remains constant in our menstrual cycle except when the oestrogen starts to fall (i.e. after ovulation). Without sebum, our skin will be dry and dull. However, overproduction of sebum will lead to acne,” said Dr Liew.

Dr Yanni shared that “to understand acne and our menstrual cycles, we need to understand the complex interplay of hormones in our reproductive system”.

“Oily skin and blackheads start appearing during puberty and affect almost everybody. Later in our mid-20s, during our fertility peak, acne can become an issue again especially if the patient has underlying hormonal issues i.e. PCOS or hormonal disruption (i.e. poor quality sleep and high stress). Acne can reappear in the late 30s to early 40s as perimenopause changes occur,” she elaborated.

Related read: “Period Hair” May Be the Cause of Bad Hair Days That You Thought Were Random

Understanding Your Menstrual Phase

The Menstrual Phase (Days 1 to 16)

how to manage period face

Credit: Depositphotos

Expect: Dry and inflamed skin

Throughout the menstrual phase, it’s not just our internal state that feels drained. Our skin also experiences the period blues.

As our energy levels decrease, our skin tends to show signs of dryness, dullness, or inflammation.

According to Dr Liew, our bodies know that pregnancy has not taken place and thus signals for a drop of all hormones.

“Without these hormones, it does not stimulate our oily glands, making our skin dry, irritated, and inflamed. At the same time, prostaglandin increases, leading to mild skin inflammation,” she explained.

How to sync your skincare:

  • Avoid using harsh skincare products like face scrubs and acid peels.
  • Apply good and hydrating moisturisers.

Related read: Weekly Weight Loss Tips Based on Your Menstrual Cycle Stages, According to a Woman Who Lost 5kg in a Month

The Follicular Phase (Days 7 to 14)

how to manage period face

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Expect: Calmer, balanced skin

After your period, it’s almost like you’ve “purged” yourself of anything that might stunt your skin’s glow. Some might even say here’s when your skin is on its way to looking and feeling its best!

“The next phase is when the body is ready for ovulation which is usually around day 14. Hence, between days 7-11, oestrogen level increases rapidly. Oestrogen helps increase cell turnover (renewal of skin) and therefore our skin will glow and be more supple,” shared Dr Liew.

How to sync your skincare:

  • Use a gentle cleanser to maintain the skin’s barrier
  • Apply a light and non-comedogenic moisturiser to avoid clogging pores.

Diet modifications to consider:

In this phase, Dr Yanni noted that the skin would be slightly dryer with fewer breakouts.

  • Consume high-fibre foods to balance estrogen levels and promote its excretion.
  • Eating antioxidant-rich foods like berries and leafy greens can also help reduce inflammation.

The Ovulation Phase (Days 14 to 16)

how to manage period face

Credit: Depositphotos

Expect: Glowing skin; in its best state

During the enchanting period of ovulation, your skin has the potential to undergo a magnificent transformation, resembling that of a radiant goddess.

This remarkable phenomenon is attributed to a hormonal shift, where elevated levels of estrogen work diligently to maintain a robust and hydrated skin barrier while decreased levels of progesterone effectively regulate oil production.

However, Dr Yanni noted that your skin could start to get oily since testosterone peaks around ovulation and that hormone can contribute to increased sebum production.

How to sync your skincare:

  • Choose antioxidant serums like vitamin C to protect against free radicals.
  • Use a mild exfoliant to remove dead skin cells, unblock pores, and prevent clogged pores. These topicals include facial scrubs, retinol, retinoid, and AHA/BHA products.

Dr Liew suggested that we be cautious of overusing to avoid irritant contact dermatitis. Instead, start using them gradually like on an alternate day basis.

Diet modifications to consider:

  • Manage inflammation with omega-3 fatty acids which are found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
  • Stay diligent with hydration! It’s important to keep your skin hydrated and help flush out unwanted toxins.

Related read: Zhao Lusi 4 Beauty Tips, Including a “Lose Weight While on Period” Method

The Luteal Phase Day 16-30

how to manage period face

Credit: Depositphotos

Expect: Flare-ups and chaotic skin

In the luteal phase, where there is an increase in progesterone and testosterone and a decrease in oestrogen, you’ll be most prone to breakouts and flare-ups.

“The combination of closed pores and over-production of sebum causes the follicle to be blocked. A week before menstruation, the progesterone level will fall and therefore the pores will open up, allowing entry of bacteria propionibacterium acnes to get in and feed on this type of oily skin, causing inflamed comedones,” said Dr Liew.

How to sync your skincare:

  • Use topicals that can help unblock pores and reduce sebum production like retinol, retinoid, and AHA/BHA products. Remember to use it in moderation to avoid irritant contact dermatitis!
  • For emerging acne, use salicylic acid as a spot treatment.
  • Pick an oil-free moisturiser to prevent excessive oil build-up.
  • Choose calming products like niacinamide and azelaic acid to reduce redness and inflammation.

Diet modifications to consider:

  • Consume complex carbohydrates like whole grains to help stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce hormonal fluctuations.
  • Reduce dairy and high-glycemic foods. These can exacerbate acne by increasing inflammation and sebum production.

Related read: Will Acne Products Really Cause Cancer? Read This Before You Throw Them Out

Additional Tips for Managing “Period Face” and Your Skin

how to manage period face

Credit: Depositphotos

We’ve also managed to gather more tips on how you can swerve “period face” and keep your skin as clear as possible.

Dr Yanni recommends sticking to a regular, consistent routine that’s tailored to your skin type. On that point, Dr Liew shared that changing your skincare products at every phase of the menstrual cycle “will enhance non-compliance in many individuals and may cause skin irritation”.

With that said it’s high time to start curating a unique monthly skincare regimen and keep to it!

Dr Liew also advised that those who need strong anti-acne treatments like retinoids and AHA/BHA should change their wash and moisturisers to the hydrating range to prevent any breakdown of the skin barrier.

period face

Credit: Depositphotos

Other than that, Dr Yanni mentioned that stress management is important. “Stress can exacerbate hormonal imbalances, so practices like yoga or meditation can be beneficial,” she said.

She also noted that ensuring you get adequate, consistent sleep at night (from 11 pm to 7 am) can help regulate hormone levels and skin repair.

“In summary, understanding the hormonal changes throughout your menstrual cycle and adjusting your diet, supplements, and skincare routine accordingly can help manage acne more effectively.

If acne persists or worsens, consider consulting with a doctor for personalised treatment options,” said Dr Yanni.

Feature image credits: @hannahabrown0/Tiktok, @chloeellies/TikTok

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