Tune In: I'm A Menstrual Wellness Expert & Here's The Skin Care Mistake I'll Never Make Around My Period
We often talk about how the skin can clue us in to what's happening beneath the surface: How our complexion appears teaches us a lot about our health. Well, so do periods.
"Menstrual cycles are a vital sign of our overall health. This is something that Western medicine, biomedicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine can all agree on: Periods are a monthly report card about what's going on in our bodies," says menstrual wellness expert, psychologist, and herbalist Lulu Ge, founder of the menstrual and hormone care brand Elix. "Rather than viewing them as a burden, if we get curious about them, we can unlock so much more potential and information about how to live our lives."
In this episode of Clean Beauty School, I chat with Ge about her roots in traditional Chinese medicine, why we've come to normalize period discomfort, and how to better advocate for yourself, your health, and your body—especially when confronted with someone who is not taking your experience seriously.
But we also talked about how you can care for your skin during your cycle—here, her best tip.
What you shouldn't do if you're breaking out around your period.
Right before your period starts, you're in the luteal phase. During this time certain hormones spike that are often associated with excess oil production (progesterone and testosterone mainly), which can lead to blackheads and breakouts.
And the most common reaction for folks who see clogged pores and shiny T-zones is to reach for drying or exfoliating products (like astringent toners, scrubs, or acids). But Ge says this is the time you should actually be going gentler on the skin—not harsher.
"When you start your period, your skin is at your most sensitive. So this is actually the time you should take a break and give your skin some space to rest," she says, noting that you should do the same for yourself too.
And after your period—when you're seeing an influx of estrogen—is "actually a great time for all the peels and treatments to bring out that fresher side of your skin," she says. "It's actually when your skin can handle it too. That way, you're not overdoing it and causing further irritation to the skin."
For more menstrual health tips, tune in to the episode here.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.