Synch & respond
For women, our monthly menstrual cycle can be the most constantly disruptive factor of our skins shifting state.
Regulated by hormones, this cycle affects us physically, emotionally and quite often, drastically. When tracked and observed, it can help cultivate a deep awareness of how our body and mind are interconnected - informing us clearly of the fluctuations that happen within us.
As a consistent and fairly short cycle, lasting the duration of around 28 days, it is a pattern that is easy to tune into and follow. We recommend using these key days to check in with your cycle. Make notes over a period of a few months to see your own personal flux. There are also plenty of really handy apps to help with this, we recommend Clue.
The 4 monthly cycle stages
Phase 1 | Menstruation | days 1 to 5
Phase 2 | Follicular | days 5 to 14
Phase 3 | Ovulation & Luteum | days 14 to 21
Phase 4 | Pre-menstrual | days 21 to 28
days 1 - 5
1 to 5
Bleeding begins. Sometimes this is the only part of the cycle which we pay attention to. It may be disruptive and painful, subduing our mood and energy.
Our bodies are shedding that which doesn't serve us anymore and this very physical release can leave us feeling disorientated and disconnected. Focus energy inwards and embrace your dreamy state. You may crave alone time; do not allow yourself to be burdened by social pressure.
Our skin may be especially greasy and problematic during this phase as it tries to regulate imbalanced hormones. Natural oil production is increased and pores may become clogged and inflamed. Dark circles under eyes can appear and acne can flare up as we feel run down and dehydrated. Cleanse deeply and increase exfoliation to stimulate new cell growth. Saunas or steam will open and clear pores.
Work with your body during this phase of adjustment. Gently exercise and increase rest to support your bodies lymphatic system. Eat wholesome and comforting foods that replenish your blood and body with nutrients.
If you use a contraceptive implant, your periods may be infrequent or stop all together. However it is worth bearing in mind that although you may not bleed, your body still goes through a natural, if subdued, hormonal cycle.
days 6 - 14
6 to 14
After our period has stopped, oestrogen begins to rise. It is our female hormone and regulates our skins moisture, pigmentation and plumpness. With its rise, we feel more outgoing, creative and desirable.
Focus on building your energy. This phase is for our bodies to renew itself after the exhaustion of menstruating, so indulge in what you love.
Breathing is easy as our respiratory system is at its strongest.
Dreams are at their most positive. Think about new, creative projects and goals.
On day 14 oestrogen levels peak. This may leave our skin tired, drained and dull as our body prepares all its energy for ovulation.
The Lutenising hormone which regulates the function of our ovaries begins to surge.
Our senses are sharpened. Channel this clarity into practical challenges and new experiences.
Our bodies are preparing for possible pregnancy, to create and sustain life. Fortify your energy and re-mineralise and hydrate thoroughly with plenty of water and omega-rich foods.
ovulation and luteum
days 14 - 21
14 to 17
18 to 21
Skin will be at its healthiest, clearest and most radiant. With high levels of oestrogen in the body, skin will be functioning at its best, so you can effectively treat longer lasting issues such as ageing and sun damage.
Our sensations are at their most intense. Desire and confidence rise. Harness your exuberant energy for creative tasks and partake in gentle exercise, yoga and meditation.
Energy is creative and thoughtful. Understanding will flourish as you communicate your thoughts and feelings with clarity.
Oestrogen now begins to decrease. The constant wave of oestrogen levels can cause a decline in our body's ability to recover from periods of each high and low. Over time this can cause the dermis of our skin to become drier, loose and more susceptible to damage.
Progesterone, which supports the body throughout pregnancy, is made and released.
It is through this phase that our body shifts from empowering our feminine aspects in the preparation for ovulation, to releasing that power. Our bodies now produce higher amounts of the masculine hormone, testosterone.
If you use a contraceptive implant, which works by stimulating progestogen, similar to progesterone, in your body. This may mean that you experience the effects of this hormone even more so. Derived from testosterone, it can cause our sebaceous glands to be overstimulated and cause acne flare ups.
If you suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, this will be associated with high levels of the luteinising hormone and reduced fertility. An imbalance between luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone can stimulate inappropriate production of testosterone. This will stimulate our sebaceous glands to begin increasing sebum production.
If you suffer from Premenstrual Syndrome or stress, you may find your skin is especially sensitive at this time.
days 21 - 28
21 to 28
Progesterone, testosterone, and testosterone derived hormone DHT, have been building through your body while oestrogen decreases. Even the slightest imbalance of these hormones will have an effect on our mood, emotions and skin. The increase in DHT causes our sebaceous glands to become overactive and this may cause hair follicles to become enflamed, worsened by the presence of bacteria - thus, the monthly acne breakout.
PMS may be triggered by high levels of progesterone. This redundant hormone causes sluggishness along with irritability and feeling emotional and withdrawn. Explore, release and reflect on these feelings through journaling.
Our blood pressure is elevated, our energy restless, and our body temperature on the rise. Our bodies are working hard to stabilise the fluctuation of hormones we have occurred from ovulation. After preparing for pregnancy, it now has to realign itself with its regular menstruating pattern. Ease off vigorous exercise and indulge in massages which will release tensions and soothe agitations.
Our sleep is restless and we become especially sensitive; emotionally and physically. Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne can flare up. As our body's are dehydrated, dark circles under the eyes may appear, reflecting our body's exhaustion. Cleanse deeply and increase gentle exfoliation to stimulate new cell growth and eat protein and antioxidant rich foods to fortify and detox.
Our breathing weakens, so respiratory problems like asthma may become more present.
This is when the imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone are at their greatest and our minds and bodies are at their most unsettled. Focus on unburdening yourself. Sink into a place where you feel emotionally secure and strengthened. Duties and social pressures can often interfere with our own intuition, so make space for quiet, solitary moments. The cycle is about to begin again.