This article originally appeared on Hellogiggles.
On top of everything else periods do to try and make our lives more difficult every month, the menstrual cycle brings us skin issues in the form of hormonal acne.
The dreaded condition tends to make its appearance along with the flow, although experts tell us that these breakouts we experience during our periods are all part of a hormonal skin cycle that starts at least a few weeks before we actually begin to menstruate.
During PMS, your cycle teams up with your hormones to wreak havoc on the body’s largest organ, which means your typical beauty routine may require some tweaking.
Your period can cause the skin to change, so if you’re ordinarily an oil-slicked T-zone type of gal, your period could make your skin drier depending on where you are in the 28-day cycle.
The bad news is that your estrogen and progesterone are being shown up by hormones like testosterone, which your skin will rebel against. The good thing is there are actually several ways to combat period skin problems.
At the beginning of your cycle, your skin can become dry and flaky, but adjusting the amount of water you drink can help you maintain a healthy glow. If increasing your H2O intake during your period sounds like too much work, consider all the other benefits that come with drinking more water during that time of the month, like decreased water retention, bloating, and cramps.
2Nix the tea, soda and candy.
This goes against everything those persistent PMS cravings stand for, but avoiding sugary foods and drinks is a necessary part of successfully standing up to period-induced skin issues.
3Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
This standard rule of thumb for healthy eating is just as important when that time of the month takes its frustrations out on your face. Among period-friendly foods to eat during your cycle are salmon, nuts, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, dark berries, kale, and swiss chard, which all contribute vitamins and minerals to the body that help to keep your skin supple and glowing.
4Get your snooze on.
Ah, if we could just sleep our periods away, we’d all be happy campers. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop for our cycles (though we’re still rooting for widespread paid time off for periods), but it’s super crucial to our skin to get a good night’s sleep, particularly when that pesky monthly visitor shows up with acne in tow.
As skincare expert Renée Rouleau told Teen Vogue, getting more sleep can help reduce hormonal breakouts during your period.
“Stress and lack of sleep can negatively affect the skin,” Rouleau explained. “In general, stress will worsen your overall skin condition.”
5Make time for exercise.
That is, in between cursing those wretched cramps and fighting off the desire to lie in bed and watch Netflix until this ungodly week of your life passes. It sounds like the odds are against you, but maintaining a clear complexion is just one of the many benefits that come with dragging your butt to the gym even when your period tells you not to.
According to U by Kotex, exercising your way through PMS can help you look and feel better during your period, which sounds like the best way to get through it, tbh.
6Use a glycolic or salicylic acid cleanser before your period.
Because you know the hormonal changes are coming for you and your skin each month, it’s best to prepare for the onslaught of zits before they make their appearance.
Assistant professor in dermatology and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Bethanee J. Schlosser explained to Refinery 29 how a monthly hormonal shift causes skin problems during your period.
“It’s that shift of balance that can lead to increased activity of sebaceous glands and can manifest as oily skin, with an increase in developing acne lesions and oily hair and scalp as well.”
But instead of settling for a temporarily greasy face full of pimples, treating the skin with benzoyl peroxide, glycolic or salicylic acid prior to the arrival of your period can drastically reduce the amount of zits that show up during your cycle.
Dealing with your cycle will probably never be totally smooth sailing, but with these skincare tips in mind, we can at least make it look that way.