This week, we’re talking skin. Have you ever noticed that your skin tends to flare up right around when Aunt Flo is set to arrive? As if your period isn’t already bad enough, now you have an army of zits to fight off. Fear not, we’re here to help you win the fight against your skin and get rid of period acne.

We talked to you, our lovely customers, to find out what your best acne products are when you’re on your period – and you didn’t disappoint. But before we get into that, we’re going to go over exactly why your skin is so out of whack during your time of the month.

Image via Instagram (@intothegloss)

Hormonal acne causes

Throughout your monthly menstrual cycle, hormones like testosterone, progesterone and estrogen are fluctuating like crazy. In the week or two leading up to your period, you have a surge in male hormones, like testosterone. A shift from female-dominant hormones to more male-dominant hormones can cause increased activity of your sebaceous glands, aka the glands that make your skin oily. This means for about 14 days prior to your period, your face will be more oily than normal. On top of that, the increase in testosterone can clog your pores, making your face a breeding ground for period acne.

Another factor that can contribute to pimples is your body temperature. After ovulation, your body temperature spikes and will remain this way for about two weeks until your period starts. I’m personally a sweaty gal, so I notice I sweat more easily in the week or two leading up to my period. If you’re sweaty like me, this increase in perspiration can heighten the amount of dirt that builds up on your face. Either way, the hotter your body temperature, the more oily your skin can get. Boom – more zits.

We got a lot of suggestions from teens on the best acne products to prevent spots while on your period. I tried out a lot of the stuff you recommended (right before my period!) and let me tell you, they’re worth the hype. Here were my favourites of yours and some of my personal loves:

A three-step acne treatment system

So, what’s the best face wash for acne? I’m absolutely obsessed with NERD Skincare. They use all-natural ingredients and focus on treating your hormonal acne without completely destroying your skin in the process. I have rosacea, which is a condition that can cause your skin to be red and inflamed, and can even result in swollen red bumps. It’s relatively easy to treat, but I have to be careful what products I use because most are too harsh for my skin and can cause my rosacea to flare up. I think anyone with sensitive skin can relate to this issue, even if rosacea isn’t the cause.

Most period breakout remedies, especially cleansers and lotions, tend to be really good at destroying pre-period acne, but in the process they destroy the good bacteria that keeps your skin healthy (and irritation-free). NERD’s Acne Treatment System fights off your acne, but doesn’t leave any of those nasty side effects, like dryness or inflammation.

Its three-step system consists of a clarifying cleanser, an acne treatment lotion, and a nourishing cream. You can purchase the products separately, but I feel they work best together. Seriously – they won’t disappoint.

Acne spot treatment

Spot treatments are a must for preventing period acne – especially in your teens. They’re simple to use and often have the quickest results. Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion has been a favourite of mine for years, so I was really happy to see some of our customers are loving it as well. In my opinion, this product is the best acne spot treatment out there. The drying lotion comes in this little teeny tiny bottle that you think you’re going to go through in a month, but I’ve had mine for two years and it’s still kicking, even with monthly use.

At the bottom of the bottle there’s a pink, almost clay-like cream and the rest of the bottle consists of a clear liquid. DO NOT – I repeat DO NOT – shake the bottle. If it gets shaken around in your bag, let it sit on a flat surface for a few minutes so the pink clay can settle to the bottom, otherwise it won’t work as well. To apply it, stick a Q-tip into the bottle right into that pink clay. Take it out and dab it on those pesky pimples! The website says to put it on before you go to bed and rinse off in the morning, but sometimes I put it on for an hour or so during the day if I’m just hanging around the house.

The link above goes directly to their website, but I’ve also found Mario Badescu’s line available over the counter at Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Nordstrom.

Best acne face masks

I don’t know about you, but in the two weeks leading up to my period I’m not feeling so hot, inside and out. My favourite way to treat myself when I’m feeling blah is by doing a face mask and Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay mask is insane. I had never heard of it before a customer recommended it and now I’m obsessed. It’s less than $10 for a one-pound jar and it made my skin feel like magic. The jar will warn you that it will literally make your skin pulsate (yes, seriously) while it’s on your skin fighting off period acne, and your skin may be red afterwards, but this will go away after about half an hour.

Now, as I mentioned I have very sensitive skin, so I was pretty nervous to use this all over my face. If you have sensitive skin like me, it’s recommended you keep the mask on for 5-10 minutes and 15-20 minutes for normal skin. I left it on for 7 minutes and as promised, the redness in my skin went down after half an hour. After using it, I didn’t have any weird flare-ups and my skin looked refreshed. As with any face mask, try not to use this more than once a week, because over-using any face mask will undo all that good stuff it’s doing for your skin.

Makeup to treat and cover acne

Even though I feel all the products mentioned above are totally magical unicorn inventions, they don’t work instantly – nothing will. Hormonal acne takes time to go away, and can take days or weeks depending on the severity. So, while you fight off those pimples with the skincare we recommended, you can hide your zits with makeup!

If you like to use liquid foundation, I recommend using Neutrogena’s SkinClearing Liquid Makeup. This foundation covers your breakouts well, but also reduces the oil that tends to build up right around your menstrual cycle. I find liquid foundation can feel heavy and pore-clogging, but this one feels light and lets your skin breathe so your spots can heal and you can feel great! The link I gave goes to their website, but this product is available over the counter at almost any drugstore.

If you’re more of powder-lover (like me), check out IT Cosmetics. Their Bye-Bye Pores Pressed Powder is my go-to. It helps absorb excess oil on your face and makes your pores basically invisible. It’s translucent, meaning the one shade can be used on any skin tone. It’s one of those makeup products you’re going to buy again and again.

Home remedies for period pimples

Skincare and cosmetics can be pricey, and sometimes we just don’t want to spend our hard earned money on it. I get it! If you don’t feel like pulling out your wallet and checking out the items we talked about, here are some home remedies to fight off those pesky pimples.

Tea tree oil for acne is a timeless remedy. It’s often used to treats cold and flu symptoms so your parents may have it kicking around the house. You can use it all over your face or as a spot treatment, but keep in mind a little goes a long way! I usually dilute it with a bit of water to avoid any irritation, because it’s a pretty potent oil.

Another home remedy I live by is ice. Yes, ice. A pimple is swollen and red, and ice will help reduce the inflammation and redness. No, it may not make your pimple disappear but it will certainly make it less noticeable!

The last home remedy I’ll suggest is a little DIY face mask, made of turmeric and honey. Mix about half a teaspoon of turmeric into one tablespoon of honey, apply it to your face and leave it on for about five minutes. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and honey has antibacterial properties, which are both great for reducing the size of your pimples. Plus, your parents definitely have these items in their pantry.

That’s everything! These are your faves, my faves, and hopefully some future faves for those reading this. If you have any questions about these products or other recommendations, shoot us a DM on our Instagram, we would love to chat!