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   Apr 10

How your monthly cycle plays havoc with your skin causing wrinkles, oiliness and spots. But you CAN beat it – and here’s how

Nutrition tip: Skin specialist and nutritionist Alice Mackintosh advises foods which are good sources of the natural painkiller magnesium, such as beans, pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Magnesium also helps to relax muscles and improve mood.

Alternatively, take a supplement with 300mg of magnesium glycinate, a form of the mineral more readily absorbed by the body.

Beauty tip: ‘This is the time for hydrating masks and products with hyaluronic acid to plump up skin,’ says Dr Loong. She says that hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body, attracting and holding water, creating a plumping effect. ‘Skin treatments should be pampering, not too aggressive, as skin will be too sensitive.’

Days 7 — 10

What happens to your body: Your ovaries have restarted production of oestrogen, increasing serotonin levels (the ‘feel good’ hormone) and improving your mood.

Effect on skin: ‘Skin may have a better, more even tone, and feel firmer,’ says Dr Loong. ‘Oestrogen is plumping up skin cells and encouraging the production of collagen; a naturally occurring protein which gives skin its strength and elasticity. People don’t get spots at this time.’

After your period, Alice Mackintosh advises such sources of iron as lean red meat, kale, spinach or dates to boost your iron levels

Nutrition tip: Though skin can be clearer, remember you are at risk of iron deficiency after menstruation because of the loss of blood. This can leave skin looking pallid, sometimes with dark circles under your eyes.

Beauty tip: ‘New skin cells are forming,’ says Dr Loong, ‘so it is a good time to speed up cell turnover by exfoliating dry patches, leaving the skin looking brighter. Your pain threshold is higher, so book hair removal methods now. You can have a peel, too, or laser therapy, as skin is more robust.’

Days 12 — 16

What happens to your body: This is the ovulation phase — a time when many women feel at their best. ‘Nature gives you your most attractive face to catch the eye of a mate,’ says Dr Loong. ‘Hormones, such as oestrogen and luteinising (which regulates the ovaries), peak and cause you to look, smell and sound your best.’

Effect on skin: ‘Collagen production is on maximum,’ says Dr Loong, ‘and our pore size smallest, making our skin look its best. It is a great time for dates or getting photographs taken. You probably won’t need so much make-up either.’

Some women get spotty now, particularly on the chin and jaw line. ‘If you get spotty at ovulation time, it suggests too much oestrogen,’ says Dr Loong.

Oestrogen can stimulate the production of sebum, an oily substance which acts as the skin’s lubricant, blocking pores and encouraging spots. More melanin, the pigment which gives skin its colour, is also being produced now, giving a better, more attractive complexion.

Eating foods rich in vitamin A, helps to ensure your skin’s sebaceous glands don’t overproduce sebum. Look for colourful vegetables such as butternut squash, red peppers, cantaloupe melons and carrots

Nutrition tip: Eat foods rich in vitamin A, says Alice Mackintosh, to help ensure sebaceous glands don’t overproduce sebum. Look for such colourful vegetables as butternut squash, red peppers, cantaloupe melons and carrots.

Beauty tip: This is a good time for anti-ageing treatments which involve plumping up the skin (like collagen masks and fillers) to maximise collagen production and maintain skin’s elasticity, says Dr Loong.

Because of the extra melanin in your body, however, you should be wearing a suncream with a high SPF or you could develop patches of dark skin called melasma.

‘This is caused by a combination of hormones and sun exposure,’ says Dr Adam Friedmann of The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic. ‘Oestrogen and progesterone interact with sunlight giving pigmentation on the skin, typically on the cheeks, nose, lips and forehead.’

Melasma can also be caused by skin trauma so avoid peels or lasers, especially if you have an uneven skin tone already.

Days 17 — 24

What happens to your body: If you are not pregnant, hormone levels start to drop in preparation for menstruation, says Dr Loong.

Effect on skin: One hormone, progesterone, does briefly increase. While this can leave some women’s skin calmer, it makes others’ oilier and more spot-prone. That is because progesterone stimulates the production of sebum. As levels rise, the skin swells and squeezes pores shut, leading to a break-out. Testosterone also creates sebum so can aggravate the problem.

‘Women have a small amount of testosterone building up towards menstruation to maintain the firmness of skin,’ says Dr Loong. ‘Sometimes, if you have too much, it leads to spots.’

Guide to coordinating your life with your menstrual cycle

Cleansing vegetables like cucumber, kale, broccoli and beetroot contain substances which bind to, and help excrete, the excess hormones that can cause spots

Nutrition tip: Alice Mackintosh advises foods that help to remove excess hormones: ‘Go for cleansing vegetables like cucumber, kale, broccoli and beetroot. These contain substances which bind to, and help excrete, excess hormones.’

Try juicing your fruit and veg as it helps our bodies to absorb nutrients more easily.

Beauty tip: Have skin peels to rid yourself of excess oil. Professor Howard Murad, a dermatologist, says: ‘If you know your break-outs are coming in two to three days, use a topical antibiotic cream once a day to help fend them off.’

That can help to kill bacteria that infect blocked hair follicles and cause spots.

Days 25 — 28

What happens to your body: If the egg is not fertilised, levels of progesterone and oestrogen gradually fall until they are so low, they lose their effect on the womb which then sheds its lining, triggering a period. This can lead to bloating and feelings of discomfort because during this ‘luteal’, or latter phase of the month, the body retains water.

Your mood may be affected, too, as scientists now believe oestrogen produces serotonin, making you feel happier. When production drops, so does your mood.

Dr Murad warns: ‘You may not be sleeping well and feel low on energy because of dropping hormone levels. This may make you want to eat more junk food or drink sugary, fizzy drinks to satisfy yourself.’

It is not fully understood why but one theory is that women’s bodies become more sensitive to the hormone insulin at this stage, making them more prone to low blood sugar levels and triggering a craving for sweet food.

Week four can often lead to bloating. Drinking herbal teas encourages the removal of excess fluid, and drinking hot water with fresh ginger or lemon to supports the liver and restores hormone balance

Effect on skin: ‘You’ll be suffering from spots, you skin will look drier and your wrinkles more apparent,’ says Dr Murad.

Ironically, your face may get puffy at this time because the body retains water — although it is not fully understood why.

Nutrition tip: ‘Encourage the removal of excess fluid by drinking herbal teas containing ingredients that also help to support the liver and restore hormone balance,’ says Alice. Look out for fennel, nettle and peppermint ones or drink hot water with fresh ginger or lemon.

Beauty tip: ‘Deep cleansing facials are useful to clean the pores and hydrate the skin,’ says Dr Loong. ‘And anything soothing may also help your general mood.’

Source: Daily Mail

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