A curly-haired woman sitting on the floor reading a book while holding her hair up.

This Is How Your Hair Changes When You're On Your Period, Because Yes, That's A Thing

by Julia Guerra
Originally Published: 

Attention, ladies: Periods aren’t just a uterus thing; they’re an every-part-of-your-body thing. It will never cease to amaze me just how much menstrual cycles get all up in your body's business, literally from head to toe. From controlling your appetite to disrupting your sleep pattern, consider your flow a full-body experience. Seriously, when you think about it, there’s not a single body part or process that isn’t somehow affected by that time of the month. Even your hair is affected by your period, so yes, you can blame good ol' Mother Nature for those bad 'do days you experience every few weeks.

It sounds a little far-fetched, I know. How can whatever’s going on down there affect whatever’s going on on top of your head? Trust me, friends, I can admit when I’m looking for a scapegoat, but science doesn’t lie: periods do a number on your ‘do.

I first noticed this a few weeks back, when I was complaining to my mother about my strands’ greasy state. I’d switched to a new shampoo treatment not too long ago, and it was working well, until I noticed the dire need to wash every other day because of how oily my tresses looked and felt. “Are you on your period?” my mother asked. Lo and behold, I was.

If you often experience bad hair days when you're on your period, blame your hormones, babe.

Listen, I’m totally one of those people who genuinely finds periods to be more fascinating than infuriating. Having said that, just because I appreciate the miracle of my uterus, doesn’t mean I don’t find hormones to be just as annoying as the next woman. I mean, they literally take the reins on every little thing, and I have enough problems with my greasy hair type without hormones interfering and making matters worse.

So, because my curious mind needed to know what the heck was up with my period and its relation to my day-old, already-greasy tresses (a concept not completely foreign to me but, still, not the norm), I did a little digging around the web. As it turns out, I’m certainly not the only one battling menstrual-cycle strands.

Here’s the scoop: Woman’s Day reports that two weeks before your period, it’s likely you’ll experience some of the best hair days of the month, because your estrogen levels are super high, pushing testosterone levels down low, and ultimately giving hair that luxurious shine you only see in TRESemmé commercials. Unfortunately, though, once that time of the month dawns nearer, that beautiful luster falls by the wayside and is replaced by a bunch of excessive oils trickling down from your follicles.

Why, oh why, must this happen, you ask?

According to the period and ovulation tracker app Clue, you can fully put the blame on your anatomy. You see, the oil taking residence on your scalp, otherwise known as sebum, shares the same opening in the skin as hair follicles. When you're on your period, your body starts producing LH, the luteinizing hormone, and produces an excessive amount of sebum. On its way out of the body, hair is coated by said sebum, resulting in the greasy hair you’ll inevitably be throwing up into a ponytail or hiding with a headband, because #gross.

Thankfully, as quickly as your period comes and goes, so will this bout of bad hair days. In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, OB/GYN Dr. Iris Orbuch says your period can affect your hair anywhere from one week before menstruation, all the way “through menses,” aka however long you bleed. Hopefully, it isn’t too long of a struggle.

So how are you supposed to deal with bad hair days on your period if your hormones are what's causing them?

If you, like me, have lived with the struggle that is an oily scalp for as long as you can remember, then you probably understand the woes of excessive grease, and have your coping mechanisms down-pat. But, if you typically have a very dry or combination hair type, you might be lost looking at your go-to shower products if they aren’t geared toward sensitivity. All I can say is, it’s not the end of the world because, luckily, the beauty industry has your back.

When menstruation leads to oily strands, you’re going to be tempted to hop into the shower every day of your period in an attempt to look like a human who isn’t feeling the wrath of unruly hormones. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best game plan, so you’ll want to channel some self-control. Cosmopolitan reports that washing your hair too much strips it of the natural oils it needs, so if you can help it, avoid a next-day wash, and instead, invest in a good dry shampoo. My personal favorites are the Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo, and Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, if you need somewhere to start.

As for actually washing your hair, it might not be such a ridiculous idea to purchase a formula you specifically reserve only for this time of the month. Haven Spa hairstylist Katherine Weingartner told Women’s Health that shampooing twice over with a moisturizing blend is an excellent way to ensure your strands are getting a deep cleanse, and that you’re removing as much excess oil as possible. There are a ton of formulas on the market already, but if you want something that uniquely works for you, Function of Beauty personalizes shampoo and conditioning treatments based on your hair's individual needs, and I can say from personal experience this kind of customer service is wonderful, and really does work to your advantage.

At the risk of sounding super hippie-dippy, I'll leave you with this: The best thing you can do for your body during your period is to keep calm and try to be understanding. Irritating as your hormones can be, menstruation and everything that comes along with it is a natural process that ends quickly. Stock your bathroom shelf with the essentials, use 'em when necessary, and your hair will be back to normal soon.

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