By Grace Gold; image from Freepik.com
And no, it’s not a bun…
Breakouts around that time of the month are a common health annoyance that plague many women, but what you may not know is that hormonal changes can affect other aspects of how you look too.
If you’ve noticed more bad hair days around your periods’ monthly visits, you’re not alone. According to the app Clue, which helps you track your cycle in detail, an increase in users report that their hair looks more “oily”, “flat” and “stringy” starting a week before their period, says Ida Tin, CEO of Clue.
The biology behind bad hair days
And there’s plenty of science to back the observation. In the week leading up to your period, progesterone levels soar. The hormone triggers sebum production, which means your skin pumps out more oil – and while this increases oiliness on your complexion, it also increases oiliness on the scalp, explains dermatologist Whitney Bowe.
Then, when you actually start bleeding, progesterone and oestrogen levels dip and relative testosterone levels are at their highest in your cycle. Testosterone can also trigger sebum production, so some women experience greasiness at this point, says Bowe.
Since everyone’s body is different and made of different levels of hormones, you may see the height of oiliness either the week before your period or during the actual week you have it. The effect will usually last a few to several days before returning to more normal levels.
How to outwit the oil
If you’ve got oily hair to begin with, getting the greasies can be a drag. So track whether you feel oiliest the week before your period or the week of your period, and then strategise to stay fresh.
Hairstylist Katherine Weingartner recommends shampooing twice with a moisturising shampoo on these days, so you get a deeper cleansing that removes excess oil yet doesn’t strip the rest of your hair of its nutrients.
If your hair is coloured red or a deep colour that washes out faster – or if you’re short on time – you may not want to wash your hair twice. In that case, Weingartner recommends brushing a dry shampoo or even plain old talc or baby powder through strands daily to refresh.
However, if your hair is parched from chemical processes or is just naturally dry, you’ve totally lucked out. “Some women with dry hair actually love when there’s more oil,” says Bowe. “It creates lubrication on the hair shaft, resulting in shine and less flyaways.”
The bottom line: As the saying goes – you win some, you lose some. By knowing how your hair responds to your period, you can intervene so that your good ‘do days outnumber the bad.