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As if the cramps, bloating, and tiredness weren’t enough, PMS can also wreak total havoc on your complexion each month. From breakouts to pale coloring, puffy eyes to dark circles, learning to banish all the hormone-related problems that sink your beauty regimen can feel like a burden. Fortunately, we’ve taken the guesswork out and cut to the chase, zeroing in on a few expert hacks to give your routine a much-needed pick-me-up — just when you need it most. Give these quick fixes a try if you can’t just stay in bed for the day.
Fluctuating hormones before your period can cause oil glands to run on overdrive. According to Joshua Zeichner, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, adjusting your skin care regimen midcycle will help deal with the shine. “Try salicylic acid 2% cleansers, which remove excess oil and dead skin cells that block your pores,” he explains. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit ($7.99) should control oil production.
Celebrity makeup artist Marni Burton says you can combat shine under your foundation by adding the appropriate primer. “I like Pore Minimizer Skin Refining Matte Primer by Dior” ($42), she says. “This gives the complexion a more refined appearance.” If your makeup never holds up all day, throw MAC Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone ($22) in your purse. “This literally sucks off grease as if you just matted the area down with powder,” she says. (Except, of course, you don’t have to keep layering on makeup.)
Acne and blemishes
That excess oil isn’t just causing shine and busting through your makeup, it’s also causing pimples to pop up. “You can add a benzoyl peroxide topical to areas that tend to break out, like around your mouth, to prevent the pimples from forming,” Zeichner says. Try La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo ($36.95) to add an extra layer of zit protection.
Choose fragrance-free moisturizers to layer under your makeup, as fragrance can exacerbate problems and irritate your acne-prone skin. “Try a repair serum, such as Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum by First Aid Beauty ($36), which is fragrance-free and allergy-tested,” Burton says. For blemishes and redness, she suggests Bye Bye Redness by IT Cosmetics ($32), calling it “a great neutral color that looks so good on almost all skin tones.”
Fluid retention around your period may make you feel bloated — which means your under-eyes may feel puffy as well. Ugh. But here’s the fix: “Try topical caffeine-containing eye creams to constrict blood vessels and remove excess fluid,” Zeichner says. A formula like L’Oreal RevitaLift Triple Power Eye Treatment ($24.99) should reduce puffiness as it evens skin tone and fights wrinkles.
Burton swears by Kate Somerville Line Release Under Eye Repair Cream ($125) for zapping puffiness before you put any product on. “It has silicone in it, which makes it a great base for makeup application,” she explains. “Keeping products stored in a cool place is always a good idea to reduce puffiness.”
Your hormones can be wearing, in addition to PMS-induced fatigue, so give yourself the appearance of an energy boost with an antioxidant-based eye cream. “Antioxidants like vitamin C help brighten while reducing inflammation and promoting healthy collagen,” Zeichner says. SkinCeuticals AOX+ Eye Gel ($92) contains a key antioxidant blend to nix dark circles and even skin tone.
When it’s time to rise and shine but you’re looking tired, Burton suggests starting your day with an eye patch. “Try ToGoSpa Eyedews [$22], undereye gel pads that will improve circulation,” she says. Moving to concealer, the trick is to pick a color range, Burton explains, meaning more than one color to pop your eyes. “Which color makes your eyes look more awake? A pink? A yellow? A peach?” she says. “In most cases, I use a little bit of yellow in the corners of the eyes, and a pink shade where the darkening is.” If you need something heavy-duty, Burton suggests mixing your concealer of choice, like Dior’s smooth Fix It 2-in-1 Prime & Conceal ($36), with Sensual Skin Enhancer by Kevyn Aucoin ($48). “This is the ultimate coverage concealer,” she says. “Use only the tiniest bit.”
Lots of ladies know the washed-out-complexion woes of having your period. “Young women often may be anemic, especially if they have heavy periods,” Zeichner says. “Make sure to have a well-balanced diet, rich in foods like spinach, which have high iron levels.” If you look pale, feel weak, or notice any hair thinning around that time of the month (or over time), make sure to visit your primary care physician for evaluation.
Start with a vitamin C topical to bring forth a natural hydration and flush. “C E Ferulic by SkinCeuticals [$162], which contains 15% ascorbic acid [a form of vitamin C], is ideal for this issue,” Burton explains. Next, pick a foundation in a “beautiful neutral” as a base for adding color. “Ones from Armani, Make Up For Ever, and Hourglass are very flattering,” she says. Avoid the temptation to use color-saturated formulations to pop your complexion, which will only lead to a cakey look. Instead, finish with a pretty sweep of CC powder, like Doll 10 ($30), or bronzer, like Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Bronzing Veil ($48), depending on your brightening preference.