How to: Sync up your hair care with your menstrual cycle
How can the menstrual cycle phases affect your hair? And how can you utilise that knowledge?
Your period. That fact of life that half the world’s population typically has to deal with. You can love them or you can hate them (usually the latter, let’s be honest), but it’s coming for you (typically) once a month whether you like it or not.
We consider our period as something that happens to us once every few weeks, but the truth is our body is continuously dominated by an ever-changing hormonal cycle meaning its forever adapting and changing to suit our hormones permanently.
We mostly think of our hormonal cycle as a direct contributor to the state of our skin, but did you know your hormones can, directly and indirectly, affect your scalp and your hair? Today, we’re breaking things down when it comes to your hair and what happens to it during a typical menstrual cycle, which lasts anything between 23 to 35 days. What changes can you expect to happen, and how can you best care for your hair in line with your fluxing hormones?
Please note: If you’re taking hormonal birth control, this means your hormones will be being regulated so ovulation won’t be occurring in your body. You may not notice the same hormonal fluctuations and scalp/hair changes as you would if you were not using contraception.
What happens to your hair on your period?
We know what happens to us on our period: emotional sensitivity, pain, lethargy, feeling uncomfortable. Thanks, Mother Nature!
When it comes to your hair though, you may notice that your hair looks duller and your scalp may feel more sensitive to touch or react more to product. When you’re on your period, your oestrogen levels are minimal and your levels of pro-inflammatory molecules (like cyclic fatty acids, prostaglandins) are way up high. Those extra prostaglandins in your system are probably the culprit when it comes to your over-sensitive scalp. They’re additionally responsible for those intense cramps you might experience, and the reverberation of that pain around your body – nice, huh?
So if you get scalp sensitivity when you’re on your period, make sure to reschedule any hair appointments that may worsen that discomfort: hair extensions, hair colouring, perms, or chemical straightening. Why put yourself through even more grief? Be kind to your body during this time: up your rest, bubble baths, and cramp relievers.
Many of us with periods also complain of oily hair as your testosterone levels are high too. You may just need to wash your mane a little more frequently during your period, or if that’s extra stress, reach for some dry shampoo to tide you over.
What happens to your hair after your period?
You probably feel and look your best on those last few days of your period and in the week or so afterward. This is when your oestrogen levels begin to increase and your testosterone lowers, so less grease – woo! This is fantastic news for your skin because this will lead to less oil build up in your pores, leading to a clearer and fresher look.
However, less natural oil can lead to a drier scalp. Maybe not that noticeable to the majority, but if you already suffer from a dry head and hair, this is going to add to the struggle. If this is you, during this week treat yourself to a couple of hair masks to keep the hair and scalp conditioned. Try Cel’s Hair Thickening Mask! It contains glycerin which is a powerful but non-toxic sugar compound that works as a moisture sponge to keep your scalp and hair hydrated, whilst preventing skin irritation and promoting hair growth. Use a generous amount to cover the hair from root to tip after shampooing, paying particular attention to the ends. Leave for a minimum of 1 minute (preferably longer) before rinsing thoroughly.
No matter what your hair type: this is the week in your cycle for optimal hair conditioning time. So treat yourself! Take 10 minutes out of your day and allow that nourishing hair mask to work it’s magic.
What happens to your hair during ovulation?
About 14 days before your period is due, your ovary releases an egg which starts making its way down through the fallopian tube to your uterus. This triggers the body to start producing more oestrogen, which in turn starts the production of the luteinising hormone (LH). LH is responsible for a slight increase in oil production that you may experience, which is actually welcome after a week of scalp dryness! This new combination of high oestrogen and low testosterone means your hormones are back in balance, so excess grease should become less of an issue.
However, your senses are heightened during this time, so be mindful when washing hair and applying product.
What happens to your hair just before your period?
Throughout the time since your last period, your womb lining has been thickening hoping to entice a fertilised egg. When this doesn’t occur, your body’s hormones have to make the lining detach and shed = your period.
There’s a sudden decrease in oestrogen and increase in progesterone and testosterone. This abrupt hormonal shift can cause tender breast tissue, emotional sensitivity, cramping, spots and water retention/bloating – lovely! These hormonal changes the week before your actual period can cause the skin glands to overproduce oil so say hello to breakouts and stringy, greasy hair!
It’s time to up your showering and hair washing. Try Cel’s Microstem Shampoo & Conditioner. It’s paraben and sulphate-free, and hypoallergenic, making it ideal for regular washing! It’s also loaded with biotin which is the renowned critical vitamin for strong and healthy hair.
This may seem like the worst week of the month, but there’s actually a perk… It’s the ideal week to colour your hair! Your slightly oilier hair can help protect your scalp from the chemicals sitting on your head whilst dying. Hey, every cloud…
Knowledge is power. Although your period isn’t the easiest of things to deal with, being in the know of how it affects your hair can relieve some of the anxiety about why it’s behaving in certain ways during the month. Now you know what to look out for, and how to support it during every hormonal stage of your cycle!