You’re likely to feel the worst impacts of hormonal fluctuations on your skin around the week before your period starts – in other words, this is when you can expect your complexion to look a little lacklustre or a hormonal breakout to happen.
This is caused by the dip in oestrogen, which affects the appearance and condition of the skin. “Research has shown that elevated oestrogen is associated with an increase in skin thickness and water content, improved skin barrier function and enhanced wound healing,” said Dr Ho. This explains why the opposite happens when oestrogen levels take a dive.
At the same time, progesterone production increases, which, according to Dr Ho, can induce acne and sometimes even cause skin to be easily irritated, inflamed or itchy.
“During this phase, some women with progesterone sensitivity may experience skin conditions such as eczema, erythema multiforme or urticaria,” she explained. She also noted that women with acne-prone and sensitive skin may be more susceptible to such flare-ups, although the degree of sensitivity will not be the same for everyone.
Some women may feel that their skin is oilier during this period. Dr Ho attributes this to the hormone, testosterone, which activates sebum production and thus causes pimples. “Testosterone remains constant through the menstrual cycle but its effects are felt more when oestrogen and progesterone dip during and pre-menstruation,” she added. Both oestrogen and progesterone will actually nosedive in the few days right before your period, which means that elevated sebum production might be more distinct then.