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Transitioning from summer to fall can be an opportune time to get to know your skin and its cycles. 

What are skin cycles you might ask?

Skin cycles are the cyclic changes (or rhythms) you might attune to as you start to pay more attention to your skin's appearance on a daily basis. By noticing your skin’s fluctuations and tracking it against your hormonal cycles, seasonal changes, and lifestyle routines you might learn a lot about your own overall health. 

Note: We speak about the hormonal cycle a lot in the content below, and we understand this might not be as relevant for anyone who does not menstruate. However, hormones play a major role in the skin cycle and it is worth investigating if you identify with any of the symptoms listed below. 

Here are 10 symptoms to monitor this Fall:

1. Glowing Skin 

It is absolutely essential that you pay attention to when your skin is looking its best. Recognizing your skin in its healthiest state and understanding the contributing factors will encourage healthy habits. 

    Potential Contributing Factors:

    • Seasonal: spending more time outdoors results in increased vitamin D levels. An essential antioxidant for skin health and reducing stress. Increased vitamin D does not equal sunbathing and burning. 

    • Hormonal: After your period, your body will begin to prepare for ovulation. Estrogen and testosterone levels will rise. This is when your skin will be on its best behaviour. Estrogen gives your skin a healthy glow, and testosterone makes the skin rich in natural moisture and collagen which will make your skin stronger and more elastic. 

    • Lifestyle: Drinking water, and consuming a mostly plant-based diet rich in minerals and vitamins while eliminating exposure to pollution, smoking, alcohol, and other inflammatory foods is a huge feat, and your skin will reward you! Lack of stress and getting 8+ hours of sleep will play a huge role in skin health. 

      2. Dryness

      Occurs more often during the Fall and Winter. Parched skin contributes to the appearance of wrinkles. 

        Potential Contributing Factors:

        • Seasonal: the skin endures more thermal shock in the Fall and Winter months. Moving from indoor environments to outdoor weather, hotter showers, and prolonged exposure to wet rainy/snowy weather can strip the skin of its barrier function. A recent study found that the levels of a protein called filaggrin (which helps maintain the skin’s barrier function) changes between winter and summer in the cheeks and hands proving that the skin is affected by seasonal changes at a cellular level. 
        • Hormonal: During the first days of your cycle, levels of estrogen and progesterone are low. This causes dry skin and wrinkles to appear more obvious. Estrogen plays a large role in the structural integrity and the balance of liquids. Menopause can dramatically affect the skin's texture making it feel more dry.
        • Lifestyle: dry skin is dehydrated skin (lack of water in the cells). Things that could be causing dry skin: lack of essential fatty acids, mineral or nutrient deficiencies, stress triggering auto-immune responses, harsh soaps, toxic ingredients such as (triclosan, SLS, SLES, fragrance, parabens, phthalates), laundry soap residue on scarves and sweaters, oil-free products, medications, hot showers, travelling in airplanes, or high altitudes. 

          3. Puffiness 

          Caused by fluid retention in the skin cells, it will be more prominent in the morning unless it is an allergic reaction. 

            Potential Contributing Factors:

            • Seasonal: puffiness or swelling in the face could be connected to seasonal allergies. Often the shift in seasons weakens the immune system resulting in a common cold, or other head cold conditions causing inflammation of the skin.  Seek medical attention if you are having a serious allergic reaction. Humidity or extreme heat can also bring on baggy eyes through fluid retention

            • Hormonal: It is normal to experience some bloating during ovulation or before menstruation. Premenstrual symptoms can stimulate cravings for salty processed foods, which could result in puffiness. 

            • Lifestyle: Usually caused by diet and the consumption of too much salt, processed foods, or refined carbohydrates. Puffy or swollen skin could also be related to a medical condition or emergency. Lack of sleep can also cause puffiness.

              4. Acne 

              There are many classifications of acne and stages of severity. Read more here. For these purposes, we are describing mild-moderate comedonal acne that recurs in a cyclic fashion.  

                Potential Contributing Factors:

                • Seasonal: The most common cause of seasonal acne is a shortage of vitamin D (a hormone generated by your skin and your liver when exposed to UVB radiation). Vitamin D is a powerful antioxidant which can help boost the immune system and combat bacteria associated with acne. Additionally, it can decrease insulin levels which typically reduce the amount of oil your skin produces. Vitamin D also boosts serotonin, combating stress. Acne is often caused or eradicated by stress.
                Winter months may also bring about acne because of the increase of porphyrins (bacterial excretions that can become lodged in pores and lead to acne) that our skin’s outermost layer experiences due to the lack of light. If you are more prone to acne in the summer months, check out this article.
                • Hormonal: Your skin will be the most problematic during your period and a couple of days prior to it. This is when you can expect period-related pimples, spotting, and acne. All this happens due to the buildup of sebum underneath the surface, causing the appearance of oily skin. Progesterone causes breakouts as it closes the skin pores and induces larger sebum build-up underneath the surface of the skin. The increase of the luteinizing hormone (during the luteal phase- after ovulation) will make your skin prone to bacteria.

                • Lifestyle: Acne occurs when a clogged pore becomes infected. Diet, genetics, and hormones will play a role in the skin’s oil production, and hygiene will play a large role in the bacteria causing the infection.  

                5. Oiliness 

                Oily skin is caused by the overproduction of oil by the sebaceous glands in the second layer of the skin (the dermis). It is most closely related to hormones and occurs most commonly in the T-zone.

                  Potential Contributing Factors:

                  • Seasonal: it is more common for the skin to become more oily in the summer and spring. Increase in oiliness could be related to the dramatic change in environment - going from outdoors to indoors - and the skin taking time to acclimatize. 
                  • Hormonal: It is the imbalance of hormones that cause oily skin, dry skin, and any dramatic fluctuations. Interested in learning more about this topic? Age can also affect oily skin since puberty and hormones go hand and hand. Click here (lead form). 
                  • Lifestyle: stress can play a role in the stimulation of the sebaceous glands. Sometimes back to school and work and being indoors more (plus lack of vitamin D) can cause stress resulting in a sudden oiliness of the skin.  Sometimes your pores can stretch out due to age, weight fluctuations, and previous breakouts. Larger pores also tend to produce more oil. Oily skin can also be brought on by using the wrong skincare products for your skin type. Overdoing your skincare routine with heavy creams or counter-intuitively washing and exfoliating too much can also make the skin more oily.  Excessive washing will cause your sebaceous glands to go into emergency mode, where they produce even more oil to make up for the loss. Lack of sleep can also cause excess oil production and weaken the immune response. 

                    6. Sensitive Skin 

                    Often goes hand in hand with dryness. We define sensitive skin as a type of skin that is highly reactive and can break out in a rash from the brief exposure to a foreign ingredient.

                      Potential Contributing Factors:

                      • Seasonal: Excessive exposure to skin-damaging environmental factors such as sun and wind or excessive heat or cold can increase the skin’s sensitivities. Increased exposure to pollen and airborne allergens can also increase inflammation in the skin. 

                      • Hormonal: Sensitive skin associated with dryness can be more common as we age. The skin tends to become thinner and drier over time which can decrease the distance between the outer epidermis and the nerve endings in the dermis.

                      • Lifestyle: fall and winter might inspire warmer clothes, but fibres like wool can irritate the skin. Exposure to fragrances and other toxic substances might be increased in the fall from being indoors more. Medications can also affect the skin and cause hypersensitivities. Stress causes inflammation and a weakened skin barrier leading to itchiness, redness, blemishes and sensitivities. Cosmetic products can cause contact dermatitis which looks like red bumpy hives.

                        7. Paleness & Dark Circles 

                        Might only be present in the mucosal membranes for dark skinned people if it is a nutritional deficiency. 

                          Potential Contributing Factors:

                          • Seasonal: Lack of sun exposure and overexposure to cold (frostbite). 
                          • Genetics: pale skin could be genetic, embrace it, don’t burn it in the sun! Dark circles can also be genetic as the skin underneath your eyes could be thinner than other people. 
                          • Lifestyle: most commonly associated with anemia. Anemia can be caused by a lack of iron, vitamin B-12, or folate in your diet. Stress, fatigue, lack of sleep can also affect paleness and dark circles. Seasonal changes can dampen the immune system and back-to-school can increase exposure to viruses. Expect to look a little pale and lacklustre with a common cold or flu. 

                            8. Behavioural Aging 

                            Factors that can contribute to signs of ageing are called exposome factors and a lot of them are within your control and reversible.

                              Potential Contributing Factors:

                                1. Seasonal - prolonged sun exposure can cause oxidative damage to the skin and over production of melanin. This can result in sunspots, wrinkles, loss of firmness, pigmentation changes, and sometimes skin cancer. Dry winter weather can cause the areas around the eyes, lips and nose to dry and crack which can cause wrinkles. 

                                2. Hormones - days before and during your period, estrogen and testosterone will be at their lowest. This might cause your skin to look duller, and appear more dry. Life events resulting in hysterectomies, thyroid removal, and hormone therapy can significantly change the texture of the skin, fast-forwarding menopause. 

                                3. Lifestyle - tobacco use can impair blood flow, damage collagen and elastin, and cause sagging and wrinkles. Poor diet increases free radical intake and reduces the skin’s regeneration abilities. Pollution, stress, and travelling at high altitudes are also exposome factors that can contribute to early signs of ageing. 

                              9. Chronological Aging

                              Time itself changes your skin as you age, and that is outside of your control. When women reach menopause, hormonal changes affect skin health too. 

                              Stay hydrated, eat a whole foods diet, manage stress, use good sun protection, and a natural moisturizing skincare routine and don’t worry about what year you were born. You look good!! 

                              10. Flakey/Patchy/Blotchy

                               Potential Contributing Factors:

                              • Seasonal: blotchy skin can be caused by excessive sun exposure and extreme weather conditions. 

                              • Genetics: rosacea and other flakey/blotchy areas that occur in cycles and in a rash like fashion can be related to genetics and an under-lying auto-immune condition.

                              • Lifestyle: Flakey and patchy skin could be caused by an excess of yeast in the body caused by a diet consuming an excess of alcohol, refined carbohydrates, and refined sugars. Blotchy skin could be related to an allergic reaction to certain products, foods, or medications. Blotchiness could also be related to over-exfoliation or harsh topical treatments. Stress may stimulate an auto-immune response resulting in these symptoms. 

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