My Hormonology

Ever stand in front of the bathroom mirror and decide you’re going to change the shape of your eyebrows, use a different color eyeshadow, try a new facial serum or do something else to switch up your beauty game?

I recently did. I’d noticed a grey eyebrow hair and plucked it. (I know, I know, you’re not supposed to pluck the greys, but you get one lone grey brow hair staring back at you, then see what you do about it.)

Anyway, the plucking left a bit of a gap in my eyebrow line (surprise, surprise), so I decided to spend some time reshaping them.

As I was plucking and combing and fingertip-licking, then smoothing, I paused for a moment to give thanks that it was Week 2 of my cycle (the week leading up to and including ovulation). And I was seriously thankful that it wasn’t my premenstrual Week 4.

That’s because the rise and fall of hormones in your monthly cycle can impact what kind of changes you make to your appearance–and, more importantly, how you react to those changes–making certain cycle days better than others to extract, experiment and enhance.

If every now and then you’re tempted to change up your appearance, here’s a handy Hormonology Guide that will help you figure out the optimal cycle days to do it and the cycle days you may want to stand up and step away from the tweezers….

Hormonology Guide to Beauty-Boosting

Week 1: New twists on old themes
Day 1 (first day of period) through Day 7

Estrogen starts off at rock-bottom on Day 1 and slowly climbs throughout this cycle week. As the level of this hormone rises, it improves your mood, energy, outlook and confidence enough to make you open to new changes in your beauty regimen–but, probably not big changes.

This means you might go for a different shade of your favorite lip product, sample a new moisturizer in your favorite cosmetic line or try a new hairstyle that doesn’t involve anything as long-lasting as a cut or chemical process.

With estrogen rising, making this small kind of change to your appearance may seem like a bit of fun as this hormone boosts you desire for and enjoyment of more playful pursuits.

And, if the change doesn’t turn out as you’d hoped, thanks to this hormone boosting your mood and resilience, it’s easier to shrug it off and move on to trying something else.

Week 2: Go bold and beautify

Day 8 through ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)

Even if you prefer to be adored for you wit and charm, research shows that a sharp rise in estrogen as you approach ovulation revs your desire to look more physically attractive to others. Add to that, this spiking hormone is boosting your confidence, optimism and adventuresome spirit–and now you’ve got a surefire recipe for jumping headfirst into a bold new look, for instance, you might blow your rent money clearing out the makeup counter at your local drugstore or Sephora, insist to your (understandably wary) hairdresser that you’re reallyreallyreally ready to cut it all off or dye it purple, or you may take one look at your unruly brows and decide you’ve got what it takes to tame them.

The good news about any major change you undergo during your Week 2:

First, you’ll likely enjoy the act of undergoing a transformation. High estrogen makes the excitement and surprise of a mini-makeover even more fun by prompting a greater output of feel-good endorphins and other mood-lifting brain chemicals than it does during other cycle weeks.

Second, you might actually find a new look or beauty regimen that you prefer to your old one. Breaking out of old ruts is difficult, but if there’s any time to do it, it’s during your Week 2 when high confidence emboldens you and makes you bored with the same-old same-old.

Third, if the transformation is successful, high estrogen is making you enjoy the results even more. That’s because this hormone is revving the excitement of positive outcomes and prompting you to give yourself many, many, many back pats for a job well done.

Finally, if the change doesn’t turn out to be the upgrade you intended (maybe your brows came out uneven or a facial serum you tried made you break out in hives), high estrogen is making you better able to laugh it off, resolve to learn from your mistakes and move on. That’s because when this hormone is elevated, it improves your mood and resilience, making setbacks seem less daunting than on other cycle days.

Week 3: A cautious approach

Begins day after ovulation and spans 8 days (which is Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)

This is the least likely time in your cycle when you’d want to make a change to your appearance. That’s because a drop in estrogen and rise in progesterone combine to make you cautious and uneasy about changing anything–especially anything that can’t be quickly unchanged.

On top of this, this hormone combination is tiring you out, making the idea of spending precious dwindling mental and physical energy on a makeover seem about as appealing as getting braces tightened.

That said, if you do decide to try something different with your beauty regimen in this cycle week, you’re probably not going to veer too far from your usual course and you’ll likely stick to changes that are extremely temporary, for instance, you might use a new hair accessory or moisturize twice rather than once in your day.

Week 4: Stick to the status quo

Final 6 days of your cycle

If there’s any time in your cycle when I advise keeping things as is, it’s during your premenstrual week. Bangs are so long they’re covering your eyes and your hairdresser is on vacation? Let’em block your view. No more mascara left and the drugstore is out of your regular brand? I hear short eyelashes are a fashion statement now. Have one scraggly lone eyebrow growing out of place? It’ll keep until Week 1 when it’s safe to turn on your makeup mirror and pick up your tweezers again.

So, what’s the problem? Plunging estrogen is.

As this hormone drops during the final six days of your monthly cycle, it drags down levels of mood-moderating brain chemicals with it. The result? You may be less satisfied with your appearance, however–and this is a big “however”–you’re also less patient and more easily irritated, disappointed and self-conscious. If there was ever a recipe for breaking every mirror in your home, then curling up in a fetal position after realizing you made unfixable mistakes to your hair, face or skin, this would be it.

Worse yet, you also tend to view situations–and your appearance–as worse than they really are during this cycle phase because this dipping hormone is skewing your outlook toward the decidedly negative end of your mood spectrum. So, what might be a small glitch that no one else notices, you could end up zeroing in on and ruminating over, undermining your premenstrual self-confidence further.

My advice: If there are changes you’d like to make to how you look, save them for the first half of your cycle when rising estrogen makes you more upbeat, patient, flexible and open. You’ll enjoy the transformation process more and may like the outcome far better.

OVULATION MINI-MICROSCOPE

fertilefocusscopeKeep track of where you are in your monthly cycle with this portable, easy-to-use ovulation mini-microscope from Fertility Focus.

It’s as small as a lipstick tube and you can use it anywhere. Just dab a little saliva on the lens, let it dry, then take a peek through the microscope. Seeing dots, sticks or ferns on the lens tells you how close you are to ovulation. It couldn’t be easier! Order it at Amazon.com.