That time of the month comes with a lot of friends — cramps, cravings, bloating, acne and even more for some people. It can become hard to remember how amazing our bodies are when we’re focused on hiding fresh breakouts from our dinner date. 

However, as many breakouts as we get during our period, it’s important to remember that acne can have an abundance of causes, things such as diet, allergies, genetics or our hormones. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what causes them – they’re frustrating to deal with, especially when they’re linked to our menstrual cycle. 

Photo: @cinnamonryan

Our bodies go through four menstrual phases, each of which can put us at risk to experience breakouts: the follicular phase, ovulation, luteal and menstruation. The first phase happens to be the follicular phase which can last between seven and ten days. During the follicular phase, our bodies produce a significant amount of estrogen to prepare the uterine lining for implantation, according to Jennifer Herrmann, MD, FAAD who spoke to Byrdie Beauty about menstruation. While in the follicular phase, our skin tends to be at it’s best — estrogen helps improve the skin’s barrier and stimulate collagen — in other words, glowy, plump skin. 

Next up is ovulation, which lasts anywhere between three and five days and continues to boost out estrogen production. Along with our estrogen levels, our testosterone levels also begin to rise during this time. This all helps the body prepare to release an egg. Fun fact, at birth, there are approximately 1 million eggs in our bodies and by the time we hit puberty, there are only about 300,000 left. Out of all of these eggs, only 300 to 400 will be ovulated during a woman's reproductive lifetime.

The Luteal phase comes afterward, lasting between 10-14 days and producing estrogen and progesterone to give the body the support it needs to fertilize the egg. However, if you’re not in the market to have your eggs fertilized, “both of these hormones drop drastically toward the end of this phase," revealed Herrmann to Byrdie Beauty.  

Photo: @mekdesmersha

This causes your body to reach its pinnacle as far as hormones go, so cue in the acne. Progesterone causes the skin to increase oil production which doesn’t mix well with increased body temperatures, leading acne to make its grand appearance. It’s important to remember that your skin is extremely sensitive during this time and picking at your breakouts can be painful and lead to long-term scarring. 

Last up on the list is the menstrual phase which can last anywhere from three to seven days, and even more, if there are irregularities. During menstruation, hormone levels are at their lowest which means that acne-causing hormones are also at their lowest. This can also cause dry skin until you're back in the luteal phase. 


Photo: @nycxclothes

With all of these changes, it’s important to keep your vanity stocked with treatment methods so it’s a little less painful to deal with when the time comes. Opt for treatments that contain retinoids in them to help heal current acne and prevent future acne. If you’re suffering from more severe cases of hormonal acne, consulting with a dermatologist and/or physician can help you find stronger and more effective treatment.  

Ready. Set. Boss. Our daily email is pouring out inspiration with the latest #BlackGirlBossUp moments, tips on hair, beauty and lifestyle to get you on track to a better you! Sign up today.