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The skin during premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a well-known part of many women's monthly cycles, which can include a range of symptoms from from emotional swings to physical complaints. But one aspect that doesn't always get as much attention is how PMS affects the skin. For many women, the hormonal changes during PMS lead to noticeable changes in their skin health. This article explores these changes, provides insights on how to manage them, and examines why women get PMS.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, i.e. the period after ovulation until the start of menstruation. Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of the cycle, around day 14 of an average 28-day cycle, which means that PMS symptoms usually start to appear in the days after ovulation.

The symptoms of PMS can vary considerably from from person to person, both in terms of which symptoms are experienced and their intensity. Most women start noticing symptoms about 5 to 10 days before their period starts, and symptoms usually subside when their period starts or shortly thereafter. For some women, symptoms may be mild and barely noticeable, while others may experience severe symptoms that affect their daily lives.

The symptoms of PMS include, but are not limited to, mood swings, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches and acne. It is important to note that not all women experience PMS, and for those who do, the symptoms and their intensity can change over time.

Causes of PMS

Premenstrual syndrome is caused by a combination of hormonal changes, chemical changes in the brain, lifestyle factors, genetics and possibly inflammation. Hormone fluctuations, especially in estrogen and progesterone after ovulation, are thought to be a primary driver of PMS symptoms. These hormonal changes can affect serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, leading to the emotional symptoms of PMS. In addition, genetic factors and lifestyle choices such as diet and stress levels can affect the severity of PMS.

How PMS affects the skin

During the premenstrual phase, the sebaceous glands can be affected by fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly androgens, such as testosterone. Although androgens are typically classified as male hormones, they are also present in women and play a role in skin health, including the regulation of sebum production.

During the menstrual cycle, especially during the luteal phase, hormone levels fluctuate. While levels of oestrogen and progesterone rise and fall, the relative effects of androgens can become more prominent. This can lead to increased sebum production, contributing to outbreaks of acne or oily skin, which some women experience as part of their PMS symptoms.

Common skin problems during PMS

Acne: Increased sebum production can lead to acne, especially around the jawline and on the chin.

Skin rash: Hormonal changes can cause a skin rash or exacerbation if you have a predisposition to eczema.

Increased sensitivity: The skin may become more sensitive, making it more prone to irritation.

Redness and swelling: Hormonal fluctuations can cause inflammation, which can result in redness and swelling.

Management of skin problems during PMS

Gentle cleaning:

Use mild cleansing products. Both Mineral cleanser and Sensitive cleanser are great for cleansing during PMS.


Increase the use of moisturizers to combat dryness. If you have acne-prone skin and are prone to pimples during PMS, we mainly recommend our lighter emulsions: Light Emulsion and Rich Emulsion.

Acne treatment:

Products with zinc, retinol and Niacinamide can help, as can consulting a dermatologist for more severe cases. Night active control works well as a spot treatment during the PMS period.

Diet and lifestyle factors can also influence the severity of PMS and skin-related problems. More on this in Part 2.