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How do hormones impact your skin and what can you do about it?

Unfabled and Renude have partnered to explore the highs and lows of your hormones and skin health

Guest Editor: UnfabledHealth & wellness
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How do hormones impact your skin and what can you do about it?
Written byGuest Editor: UnfabledHealth & wellness
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Have you ever noticed that your skin looks and feels different at different times of the month or during different stages of life? If so, you're not alone! Hormonal changes can have a big impact on your skin [1]. Being mindful of these shifts can help you take more proactive measures to maintain the health and appearance of your skin.

Unfabled and Renude have partnered to explore the way the highs and lows of your hormone levels throughout your cycle and through hormonal life stages like pregnancy, perimenopause and postmenopause, can affect your skin. From breakouts to dryness to dreaded oily phases, here’s everything that your hormones could be doing to your skin. And, better yet, here’s what you can do about it. Let’s get into it.

How does your period impact your skin?

Ever experienced breakouts or dryness around your period? Yep, we’ve been there too. It might seem like a bit of a cliché, but your period can absolutely impact your skin. This is common because of your fluctuating hormone levels. It all starts before menstruation, during the luteal phase, where progesterone levels increase, stimulating the production of oil (sebum) in the skin, which may clog your follicles and lead to breakouts [2].

This may continue when you start your period, or more breakouts may be caused by increased levels of androgens (male hormones), changes in blood sugar levels, stress, or water retention. The exact reasons behind period breakouts are still pretty elusive even to researchers, but there’s a lot going on that can impact your skin depending on your own hormonal makeup [3]. For example, during menstruation, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, leading to a decrease in oil production and for some people, potentially leading to drier, more sensitive skin.

Renude top tips:

  • If you’re prone to breakouts during this time, try including ingredients such as decongesting salicylic acid and oil-balancing niacinamide in your daily routine, and ensure your moisturiser is non-comedogenic
  • If you find your skin gets dry during this time, try adding a hydrating toner into your AM/PM routine under a hydrating serum and moisturiser, and limit the use of any exfoliating ingredients like retinoids
  • For sensitive skin, keep things simple with hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, a gentle cleanser and moisturiser, and avoid any acids or retinoids

How does the follicular phase impact your skin?

The follicular phase is the first part of your menstrual cycle, lasting from the first day of your period through to ovulation. During this time, estrogen levels slowly rise (remember, estrogen is your friend and often has a really positive impact), which in turn has a positive impact on your skin by leading to a more hydrated and radiant complexion [4]. Your skin experiences more natural moisture and collagen production, which will make your skin stronger and more elastic. This is why many people report an improvement in their skin during the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle, and is also the reason your skin might have a bit of a post-period glow.

Renude top tips:

  • If you’re a fan of a radiance mask, this is a great time in your cycle to treat yourself, as these formulas typically include exfoliating ingredients so are best applied to skin at optimum strength (although you may feel glowing enough without!) 

How does ovulation impact your skin?

Ah, ovulation, that time when an egg is released from a follicle in the ovary before making its way down the fallopian tube. During ovulation, you’re more likely to feel confident, social and energised. But, on the other side of the coin, the hormonal changes during ovulation can impact the skin and cause an increase in oil production, leading to a more greasy or oily complexion, or even breakouts. This is due to a surge in the hormone progesterone, which stimulates oil glands in the skin [5].

Renude top tips:

  • If you find skin feeling more oily during this phase, try including niacinamide in your daily routine, which helps to balance oil production in the skin. Adding an extra hydration step such as a toner can be helpful too, as well as decongesting ingredients like salicylic acid in your cleanser to reduce instances of breakouts

How does the luteal phase impact your skin?

The luteal phase is the time from ovulation to the start of your next period. It’s typically a lot of people’s least favourite, PMS phase, and tends to be when you’d expect a lot of common PMS symptoms.

After the egg has been released from the follicle (ovulation), the remaining follicle forms a new structure called the corpus luteum [6]. The corpus luteum is responsible for producing progesterone to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Increased progesterone levels can stimulate the production of oil (sebum) in the skin, which may clog your follicles and lead to breakouts. Interestingly, one study found that almost half of people with periods report experiencing a flare up in breakouts during this time [7]. If no pregnancy occurs, then the corpus luteum breaks away.

After this, your progesterone levels drop, which signals to your body that there was no pregnancy that month. That drop in progesterone tells the uterus to bleed. That is your period…and then we go again.

Renude top tips:

  • If you’re prone to breakouts during this phase, it’s best to manage this in your daily skincare routine with ingredients like retinoids used every other evening, which help to normalise the rate of cell turnover, to limit pores getting clogged and causing breakouts. Salicylic acid can also be helpful, either in your daily cleanser, or instead of a retinoid, depending on the type of breakout you tend to experience. 
  • We always recommend keeping things simple and ensuring that skin is hydrated to support optimum health. Using too many strong ingredients can result in an overproduction of oil and damage our skin barrier, which makes breakouts worse, so even though it can sometimes feel frustrating, it’s important to be patient with our skin and view this as a long term journey as opposed to a quick fix (which sadly doesn’t really exist)  

How does pregnancy impact your skin?

Skin changes occur in about 90% of pregnant women in one form or the other [8]. During pregnancy, hormone levels fluctuate dramatically. These fluctuations can result in increased blood flow to the skin, which can cause a rosy glow and a brightening of the complexion – nice!

Of course, everyone’s experience is different. For some, these fluctuations in hormones during pregnancy can also lead to an increase in oil production, which can result in breakouts and acne [9].

In addition to these changes, pregnancy can also result in the development of melasma – dark patches on the face that are often referred to as "the mask of pregnancy." Stretch marks are also a common occurrence during pregnancy, as the skin stretches to accommodate the growing baby. Oh, the joys, right? But it isn’t all doom and gloom - knowing what to expect from your hormones during pregnancy is the first step to managing your skin through the process.

Renude top tips:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily to protect the skin, ideally a formulation with iron oxides which also protect against high energy visible (HEVIS) light, aka blue light, which has been shown to have an effect on pigmentation. This is particularly important during pregnancy with the increased chance of developing melasma
  • Certain skincare ingredients, such as retinoids, hydroquinone, and salicylic acid at concentrations of 2% or more are not recommended during pregnancy. This can make things tricky, especially if your skin if you’re experiencing increased breakouts, as these are some of the most effective ingredients. But don’t worry, there are pregnancy safe alternatives like azelaic acid and niacinamide that can support the skin. If you’re unsure, please speak to a skin professional such as a Renude aesthetician to get clear advice on the best products for your skin.

How does perimenopause impact your skin?

As you approach menopause, hormonal changes – that can at times be described as erratic – can cause a variety of skin issues, including dryness and breakouts. The overall declining estrogen levels can lead to a drop in collagen production, resulting in the skin becoming thinner and less elastic [10].

Renude top tips:

  • Skin barrier health is even more important during this time, so we recommend including hydrating ingredients like glycerin, panthenol and hyaluronic acid in your daily routine, as well as barrier-supporting lipids like ceramides and cholesterol to support our natural barrier and strengthen the skin overall. You may be surprised at the results you see in your skin simply through optimising hydration.
  • When the skin barrier is completely optimised, including ingredients like peptides and retinoids can be helpful for supporting the skin’s natural collagen production and optimising cellular turnover to improve radiance and, over time, skin thickness. 

What happens to your skin post-menopause?

After menopause, hormonal changes can continue to impact the skin. Decreased estrogen levels can lead to further dryness, thinning, as well as more fine lines and wrinkles [11]. However, some people may also experience an improvement in their skin due to the absence of hormonal breakouts. Think of it this way - after menopause, your cycle stops, and your hormones begin to even out rather than cycling month on month.

Renude top tips:

  • As with perimenopause, supporting your skin barrier is key when natural production of oil and skin hydrators declines. We recommend layering hydration products like a toner and serum. 
  • Moisturisers can now be ultra nourishing as we no longer need to worry about clogging pores, so opt for formulas rich in oils and butters to best support the skin.

The bottom line…

Hormones can certainly have a big impact on your skin. But ultimately, each person’s skin is unique and it's important to keep in mind that the relationship between hormones and the skin is complex and can vary from person to person.

Other factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and skincare habits can also play a role in skin health and appearance. If you're experiencing skin concerns, don't hesitate to consult with a skin professional to find the best solution for you. You can take the skin health quiz as a first step in receiving your personal routine and speak to one of Renude's aestheticians. Always listen to your body (that of course includes your skin) and give it the care and attention it deserves.

This article was created as a collaboration between Unfabled and Renude. All hormonal insights have been written by Zoe Sever, Unfabled’s resident Clinical Lead. Skincare tips from Renude have been provided by Pippa Harman, formulation chemist and co-founder of Renude.

Zoe brings a wealth of knowledge from her broad spanning background, having started her career in Nursing and transitioning to Sexology and Research. She holds a Master’s in Sexual and Reproductive Health and is currently pursuing a PhD in Women’s and Reproductive Health. On a mission to empower individuals with cycles to better understand their bodies, Zoe is helping us to banish shame, stigma and demystify reproductive health.


1. Raghunath, R.S., Z.C. Venables, and G.W. Millington, The menstrual cycle and the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol, 2015. 40(2): p. 111-5.

2. Geller, L., et al., Perimenstrual flare of adult acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol, 2014. 7(8): p. 30-4.

3. Lucky, A.W., Quantitative Documentation of a Premenstrual Flare of Facial Acne in Adult Women. Archives of Dermatology, 2004. 140(4): p. 423-424.

4. Brincat, M.P., Hormone replacement therapy and the skin. Maturitas, 2000. 35(2): p. 107-17.

5. Melville, C., Sexual and Reproductive Health at a Glance. 2015: Wiley.

6. Reynolds, L.P. and D.A. Redmer, Growth and development of the corpus luteum. J Reprod Fertil Suppl, 1999. 54: p. 181-91.

7. Stoll, S., et al., The effect of the menstrual cycle on acne. J Am Acad Dermatol, 2001. 45(6): p. 957-60.

8. Kar, S., A. Krishnan, and P.V. Shivkumar, Pregnancy and skin. J Obstet Gynaecol India, 2012. 62(3): p. 268-75.

9. Kumar, P. and N. Magon, Hormones in pregnancy. Niger Med J, 2012. 53(4): p. 179-83.

10. Zouboulis, C.C., et al., Skin, hair and beyond: the impact of menopause. Climacteric, 2022. 25(5): p. 434-442.

11. Thornton, M.J., Estrogens and aging skin. Dermatoendocrinol, 2013. 5(2): p. 264-70.


Guest Editor: UnfabledHealth & wellness
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