If Your Hormones Could Talk, This Is What They'd Tell You About Breakouts, Bikini Waxes, And Orgasms
Spring is the perfect time for cleaning out your closets, organizing your life, and sprucing up your beauty regimen. After all, it’s a period of renewal and rejuvenation—why shouldn’t your skin, hair, and nails reap the benefits?
But as you already know if you read about hormones, everything is about timing. There are certain phases of your cycle when high-intensity workouts make optimal use of your current hormone balance and times when rest and restorative yoga are the best forms of exercise for your body and mind. There are weeks when it’s smart to schedule big meetings and speaking engagements and weeks you’re better off focusing your energy on detail-oriented tasks that call for solo time. So it’s probably no surprise that just as your hormones should dictate everything from your food choices to your sex habits (yes, seriously), they should also play a major part in planning your primping sessions.
So should I expect a breakout once a month?
No! Even though your hormone levels go up and down from week to week, you shouldn’t expect to see major breakouts before your flow or require a deep-tissue massage to work out all the muscular tension of your impending periods. When you’re eating and living in a way that optimizes your body’s natural hormonal fluctuations from phase to phase—something I like to call "cycle syncing"—you should feel confident and look great all month long. But because those natural fluctuations can and do create subtle changes in everything from your pain threshold to your circulation, scheduling the right beauty treatments at the right times can help you maintain your gorgeous glow throughout your cycle.
Here’s how to schedule your beauty sessions so you continue to slay all month long without letting the pain of preening slay you.
Follicular Phase (the week after your period): Now's the time to get a facial...and a bikini wax.
This post-period phase is your chance to start anew. Your hormones are hovering at low levels, but your estrogen is starting to increase slightly. If you’re a fan of regular facial treatments or waxes, make sure to schedule them for this week since it’s the time your skin is least sensitive. It’s the perfect time for a major cleanup, so extractions, exfoliation, and enzymes are all fair game—let your esthetician handle the job and don’t go squeezing by yourself!
Ovulatory Phase: Get sweaty and stimulated with brushing, saunas, and orgasms (oh my!).
Oh, hey there, gorgeous! As your estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone steadily rise, you might start noticing an extra bounce in your step and glow in your appearance as you move from your follicular phase to your ovulatory phase. Science has shown1 that women are extra hot just before they ovulate, which makes sense biologically, since this is the time your body would be looking to make a baby (your brain might have other ideas, however). Your skin will be in great shape, so less is definitely more here—take it easy on the products and let your au naturel radiance shine through. If you do notice a few more pimples pop up during ovulation, it’s a sign you have too much estrogen. Treat the flare-up as you would a premenopausal breakout—don’t squeeze; you’ll regret it!
Since all your hormones are rising, now’s the time to be super mindful of keeping them all beautifully balanced—too much of one can result in those dreaded zits and other beauty blunders. Since estrogen dominance is typically the cause of unpleasant signs and symptoms, you’ll want to do what you can to purge any excess amount from your system. Dry brushing is one great way to do that, but getting good and sweaty is best. Try an infrared sauna, and—bonus!—schedule some sexy time alone or with a partner. Reaching orgasmic plateau is one crucial way to flush estrogen from your body. So if you needed one more excuse to achieve the big O, there you have it!
Luteal Phase (the week before your period): Soothe, soak, and don't wax!
When menstruation’s on the horizon, your estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone all peak...and then take a nose-dive as you start to bleed. The extra-high estrogen in particular can make things a little touchy. If you’ve ever tried scheduling a Brazilian for one of the days leading up to your period, then it probably goes without saying: Don’t do it again! The increase in estrogen increases your blood flow, making you a whole lot more susceptible to pain and inflammation—two things you don’t want during and after a wax.
Your testosterone will also hit a high point during your luteal phase—that’s the male hormone (or androgen) that women make in small amounts that can activate your sebaceous glands to make more sebum, i.e., the thick, oily substance that acts as your skin’s natural lubricant. This extra oil may cause breakouts—especially if your hormonal balance is out of whack—and since you’ll also be experiencing increased blood flow throughout your body as you prepare for your period, angry zits may look even angrier. While you may be tempted to remedy any skin snafus with a facial, again—don’t. Your sensitive skin won’t react well to the poking and prodding. Skip the deep cleaning and instead try a superfood mask with spirulina and aloe to soothe inflamed skin. Add a magnesium-rich Epsom salt bath nightly to ease any PMS symptoms.
Menstrual Phase: Prepare yourself for home pampering.
You made it to the end of your cycle, and all your hormones are at a low point. This is the perfect time to do something nourishing for your mind and body by getting a luxurious massage. Oils, reflexology, and acupressure (particularly on your calves) are all excellent ideas for this week too.
However you choose to groom during the various phases of your cycle, remember that a hormone-healthy diet and lifestyle lay the foundation for looking and feeling amazing all month long. Be sure to download the MyFLO app to start learning how your everyday actions affect your energy, thoughts, and—yes—your appearance. Happy spring cleaning!
Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Vitti has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and Women’s Health. She is the founder of The FLO Living Hormone Center, the world's first menstrual healthcare platform that has helped hundreds of thousands of women around the world put their period issues like PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, and PMS into remission naturally using her highly effective FLO Protocol and the FLO Balance Period Supplements, and the creator the MyFLO period app—the first and only functional medicine period tracker. She is also the author of the best-selling book WomenCode. She has presented at SXSW, TEDx, Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, and SHE Summit and regularly trains women in the workplace on how to use her Cycle Syncing Method for greater creativity, productivity, and wellbeing at work.