"As if bloating and cramps weren't enough, the start of my period also marks another monthly occurrence: a total skin freak-out. Aside from the regular appearance of a pimple or four, my hair looks brittle, my skin feels dry, and my face is about as radiant as a rock. Yay. But why?
Rebecca Booth, gynecologist and author of The Venus Week
, blames my symptoms on PMS. In the last week of a woman's cycle, she says, her body experiences an all-time hormone low. Estrogen, which decreases pore size and increases collagen production, plummets right before a woman starts her period. This drop in estrogen is why my skin looks so gross—and why pregnant women have that enviable glow. I asked Booth for her tips on surviving the monthly drought.
Get your chocolate fix: If you're craving chocolate, the darker the better. The flavonoids in dark chocolate mimic the effect of estrogen on the skin, Booth says. This helps calm irritation and boost collagen production.
Drink Wisely: Though you might feel like you need a cocktail, alcohol will only make things worse. Because your body is producing lower amounts of sebum, your skin and hair are more prone to dryness. "PMS time is the time to drink more water," says Booth.
Calm Down: PMS triggers higher amounts of adrenaline in the body. On top of wanting to kill anyone who takes the last parking spot, it can also cause skin splotchiness and redness. The best cure is meditation and exercise, Booth says. She recommends yoga.
On the first day of your period, your body enters a state of hormonal renewal. This is the best time to exfoliate the skin, Booth says. She recommends a gentle facial scrub
or peel to prepare the skin for the rest of the cycle, and maximize the effects of estrogen later in the month."