Why Do I Get More Pimples When I'm on My Period?

Ladies, most of us can agree our monthly visit from Aunt Flo isn’t fun.

From mood swings and back pain to cravings and cramps, it brings with it all sorts of unwanted side effects. You may have even noticed acne worsening around that time of the month. Or if your skin is already clear, you might find yourself waking up to new spots, especially on the lower half of the face - cheeks, jawline, chin, and neck.

Are you imagining it or is period acne an actual thing that happens?

Let’s set the record straight: it's not your imagination!

In fact, menstrual acne is pretty common. 65% of the adult women surveyed in a study reported that their acne symptoms were worse with their menses1.

Why Does Period Acne Happen?

One word. Hormones.

Yup, it all comes down to your hormones.

As you might be aware (because we talk about it so often), at the root of all acne is clogged pores.

Throughout your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels rise and fall. This fluctuation of hormones - namely estrogen and progesterone (the two main female sex hormones), as well as androgens (male sex hormones) - leads to the overproduction of sebum.

When excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells, we have the perfect recipe for clogged pores. Throw in a dollop of bacteria, and we get the infamous, inflamed red spots that pop up before and during our periods.

What Can I Do About Period Acne?

For starters, do not try to pop the pimples. It'll only lead to more discomfort and may even cause scarring. Continue with your usual skincare routine and have trust in the process.

We recommend applying Clear Out every night, or every alternate night if you already have clear skin. With medical-grade retinol and azelaic acid, it will perpetually flush out clogged pores and make skin less acne-prone.

When you do start to feel a pimple coming on, act fast and dab on Stop Spot* throughout the day to target and treat the spot before it surfaces.

You may also want to try regulating your blood sugar levels by eating less high-GI foods. That means less sugar, white bread, and other processed foods.

Most of all, understand that period acne is completely normal. Get plenty of rest, stress less, and take extra good care of yourself!

Have a question about your acne?

We’re here to help! Get in touch with us via Messenger chat or Instagram DM (@clearlybasics).


  1. Lauren Geller, MD et al., 2014: Perimenstrual Flare of Adult Acne

*Stop Spot is known as Calm Down outside the US. While the names are different, the formulation is exactly the same.

Calm Down is only available as an add-on product. Shop it here with your Clearly favorites.

Disclaimer: This article should not be interpreted as personal medical advice. For medical-related matters, please consult your dermatologist.

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See what others have to say about Clearly Basics.

Based on 15 reviews
Skin Type: Combination

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Lighten Up Redness Rescue Cream
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Has changed my skin from acne pro to almost perfect 😍😍

Skin Type: Combination
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Carmelinda Di Manno
Skin Type: Combination
Fresh Feeling

My skin feels so clean and still hydrated when I use this cleanser. It’s balancing and refreshing. My skin has responded really well to it and at times my skin can be sensitive. I highly recommend this product to anyone with relatively oily t-zone area

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Comments: The only thing I now need to use to keep my skin clear.
The holy grail for clearing hormonal acne.

This is the only product that I have needed to keep my skin clear since discovering it about 2 years ago, after suddenly developing cystic hormonal acne at the age of 25. I now only need to use it every second night, so it's incredibly affordable. It has also never irritated my sensitive skin and it has faded previous acne marks to truly clear my skin. After years of trying expensive supplements/products/harsh prescription creams, Clear Out was the only thing that gave me long-lasting results.

Skin Type: Oily
Clearly Basics is the only product that has helped my Adult Acne

I have always struggled with dehydrated acne prone skin. Every month like clockwork I would get a new breakout on my chin or cheek area. These included large cystic acne that by the time they came to a head would take me months to clear. With new breakouts each month this created more & more spots before the first could heal leaving more hyper pigmentation spots that never have time to clear. Clearly basics changed all that for me. It gave my skin a chance to heal and reduced the number of breakouts each month. When I do get a new breakout it resolves itself quickly with less scarring and redness. Now that the acne is under control the products are helping to eliminate the remaining hyper pigmentation spots left from years of acne. I have not been using the product for long but I will continuing relying on this product and look forward to the day I can happily look in the mirror at a smooth clear & even complexion some day soon.

Skin Type: Combination
Comments: Product consistency in terms of smoothness/coarseness/stickiness/ is sometimes a miss, don't believe it affects the result provided.
Great Combo

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