In past Hormonology posts, I’ve written about how high estrogen during your Week 2 (the week leading up to ovulation in the middle of your cycle) makes your facial features slightly more symmetrical and feminine-looking.
Now a new study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology reveals another way high estrogen on these days affects your appearance: It gives your skin a visibly more reddish tone.
To figure this out, researchers snapped photos of faces of two groups of naturally cycling women–50 in one group and 66 in another–once per week for five weeks. They took precautions to eliminate factors that might affect the volunteers’ skin color, for instance, asking them to remove makeup, instructing them to adopt a neutral facial expression and dressing participants in white smocks to shield the color of their clothing.
The researchers also measured the volunteers’ hormone levels each week that their photos were taken.
When they examined the photos and compared the women’s skin tone to where they were in their monthly cycles, it became clear that on the high estrogen days leading up to ovulation, their skin had a significantly redder complexion.
What’s the reason for this skin tone change? The study authors point out that estrogen improves blood flow by widening blood vessels, which means more blood is making it to your face and being shown through your skin’s surface when this hormone is at high levels.
The researchers then go on to speculate that this high estrogen reddening effect could have served a key evolutionary function: Since a reddish glow can denote good health and fertility, it could be one of the many signals your body gives out that you’re close to ovulating.
So, how can you use this information in everyday life? Keep in mind that this hormone-triggered rosy hue–which comes through in all skin types–makes you appear healthier and more attractive. So, during your Week 2, consider lightening up on the foundation and blush and letting your natural glow come through.
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[Photo: Maggie Brauer]