How to Look After Your Skin when Hormones Try to Ruin Your Life

Warning: I do use the word period in this blog post. Maybe don’t read it if you’re easily icked-out.

When I was a teenager, the most overused word in our house was ‘hormones’. If I had a pound every time my mum blamed something on hormones, I would be very rich now. I used to think she was trying to aggravate me, but as a (slightly) more rational adult, I can see that she was right.




Our hormones – basically chemical messengers – are responsible for a whole lot of upheaval in our bodies. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change; even as so-called adults. (I still wouldn’t describe myself as an adult, even though I’m on the wrong side of 30, and am responsible for several little people).

I don’t know about you, but in the days approaching my period I feel disgusting. There really is no other way to describe it. So, what’s going on? Why do our bodies torture us so? And, what does it mean for our skin?

*An average cycle is 28 days, from the first day of your period to the end of the cycle (the day before your period starts).  Of course, that doesn’t mean your cycle is 28 days, so these time-frames are simply a guide. *


Days 1-7


Day 1 is the first day of your period, and – depending on the length of your cycle – day 7 would be the end. At this time, your body produces more prostaglandin. This annoying, but necessary, group of hormones deal with tissue damage; they help to repair injuries and infection. They affect us during our cycle by increasing pain sensitivity. During your period, you may notice that your skin is extra sensitive, and you may suffer from flushing more than usual. Now is not the time to get your bikini line waxed.


One word: pamper it (sorry, two). In addition to the increase in prostaglandin, oestrogen is now decreased. This causes the skin to be more dry than usual, and makes lines and wrinkles (if you have any) more prominent. These few days would be a good opportunity to relax with a hydrating face mask (sheet masks are my favourite for this). Nothing too aggressive, and try and choose a mask that contains hyaluronic acid. This naturally occurs in our bodies, and – in very simplistic terms – holds water.


Days 7-10


Your period is probably over now, and you should be feeling gooood. Your ovaries will be producing higher levels of oestrogen again, so your skin should be plumper and more hydrated. Seratonin levels will be higher, this is the feel good hormone, resulting in general happiness. Oestrogen encourages the production of Collagen, which acts as a plumper and firmer for the skin.



Now is an excellent time to step up the exfoliation routine. New skins cells are forming, meaning that you will want to get rid of the old ones. Dead skin cells cause the face to look dull and grey, so it makes sense that sloughing them away will leave skin looking brighter.



Days 12 – 16


Ovulation will occur soon, which means Mother Nature wants you looking your best (typical interfering mother). In order to attract a good mate to fertilise that egg, you’ll need to be glowing and fabulous. During these few days, you will hopefully be looking plumper, and firmer, than ever before. Collagen production is at an all-time high, which is good news for that face of yours, and bad news for wrinkles and lines.



You may find your make-up applies better, and you’ll be ready for anything. Enjoy it, because the next couple of weeks are going to be rough….


Days 17 – 24


Remember how increased oestrogen makes the skin more dry and dehydrated? Well, now oestrogen’s evil step-sister takes over. Progesterone is one unpleasant b***h. With increased progesterone comes increased sebum. That’s right, now even the driest skins may find they contain more oils than a massage parlour. Increased oils means one thing: blocked pores and spots.



Keep it clean. You may find you need to switch up your skincare products a bit during these days.  Use a gentle cleanser, and wash twice a day. Any more and you could strip the oils away, which may sound like a good thing, but when the skin feels stripped it will produce more oils to compensate. Exfoliating can increase oil production, so be gentle.


Days 25-28


Progesterone and Oestrogen levels now take a dive, and this causes the lining of the uterus to shed.  You’ll more than likely be feeling pretty rubbish now.  Spots may still be present and accounted for, and you may have cramps and bloating.  Oh joy.



You are about to enter into the sensitive zone (see days 1-7), so go easy, and keep it clean.  It will probably be too late to do anything about the spots at this stage, so use a gentle cleanser, and pamper as you see fit.




  • Try to avoid touching your skin.  Easier said than done, unfortunately.  Touching spots, and generally fiddling with skin is the surest way to spread bacteria, increasing the amount of spots.
  • Clean your mobile.  Phones are a breeding ground for bacteria. Assuming you use your phone in the old-fashioned way (did you know you can talk to people on it?!) then it can be a problem for your skin.  The chin and jaw are the most common area for hormonal breakouts, and where do you hold your phone? Up against your jaw and chin (sort of).  Of course water and mobiles don’t mix, so clean with care.  I use anti-bacterial wipes personally, just be sure to not get anything too wet.
  • Don’t smoke. As well as making you smell pretty rank, smoking affects your skin.  Oh, and it causes cancer, but I’m sure you knew that already.
  • Practise good hygiene.  Clean your skin regularly, and always take your make-up off properly before bed!  Cleanse, tone, moisturise.  At a minimum. Serums can be an important step too, if you have the funds (a good serum can be pricey).
  • Clean your tools! I am very guilty of not doing this (I hate cleaning my brushes and sponges) but it is SO important.  Brushes and beauty sponges contain bacteria, there is no two ways about it.  The best way to avoid swirling dirt and grime all over your lovely clean face? Keeping those brushes clean and sparkly.

Are you still there? That was a long one, I know.  If you made it this far, then thank you, and I hope you learned something about how hormones change the way our skin behaves throughout the month.


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Three Little Words




I was cross, tired and weary.  Bed times in our house had become more and more drawn out over the last few months.  The boys (11 and 7) are usually no trouble; they amuse themselves quietly until bed time.

The girls on the other hand? Not so much. Not naughty; just mischievous.  Cheeky; not badly behaved.  Still, that doesn’t make it any easier.  My body seems to shut down after dinner.  It’s been on the go all day; running, cleaning, playing, cooking, washing, dressing, driving, walking.  By 7pm I’ve had it.  My husband is in charge of bath time.  That’s his chance to catch up, play, and read stories.  I pop in and out in between sorting laundry, and organising uniforms for the next day. I pick up any stray toys, collect the multitude of cups that are strewn around the house (why can’t children use the same cup more than once?!)  I look forward to the couple of hours of peace and quiet, before I pass out from exhaustion.

On this particular evening, I was more keen than usual to get back downstairs to unwind; Netflix was calling my name.  It had been a long day. I trudged up the stairs one more time.  Settled my youngest (18 months); and told her sister to please ‘shhh’ (she is 4).  As I was leaving the room, I heard a little voice; ‘Mummy’.  What now?! I thought.  I turned, wearily, ‘what is it?’.

A pause.


‘I love you mummy’.


My heart melted.

Welcome to parenthood.  Taking the rough with the smooth since time began.




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Midweek Motivation


If anyone can provide good advice it is the late, great Albert Einstein.  I simply cannot sum up his life in a few sentences.  He was a fascinating genius, whose scientific theories shaped how we understand our world today.   He was a lifelong pacifist, and believed that ‘peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding’.  Our lives would be so different if Einstein had not been given the brain that he was.  We have his scientific discoveries to thank for GPS; TVs and the remotes that control them; mobile phones; digital cameras, and computers. I possibly wouldn’t be here blogging without Albert Einstein.  Think about that for a minute.





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Running Tips for Beginners – From a Fellow Beginner

So this year – like every other year since time began – I decided that I would attempt to work on my fitness.  I’m not getting any younger, and huffing and puffing up the stairs is not cool.  This blog is where I share my beauty loves – amongst other things – and being skinny and fit makes you beautiful. Amiright?



So here are my tips, from one beginner to another:


1. Download a fitness tracker.  These apps tell you how far you’ve travelled, and how quickly.  Paired up with the right equipment, they’ll even record your heart rate.  That’s not the best bit though.   They also display the number of calories burned on your run.  Very useful when counting out biscuits later in the day.

2. Tweet those statistics! These apps often give you the option to tweet your results, or update Facebook with a smug status.  Make sure you do this after every run.  This can be a great way to connect with other runners; and to feel superior over everyone else.  Mini Tip: don’t share how many biscuits you have consumed – this will be between you and the biscuit tin.

3. Don’t run when it’s too hot.  You don’t want to end up all sweaty and nasty now, do you?  Also, don’t run when it’s too cold.  That cold air will make your nose run quicker than Usain Bolt – not cute. The cold air does keep the biscuits fresh though….

4. Eat healthily.  The reason for this is simple.  The less calories you stuff in your face throughout the day, the less you have to run.  Just make sure you factor in those biscuits (FYI, a Custard Cream contains 65 calories).

5. Weigh yourself after every run.  This will keep you motivated as you see the weight start to fall off.  It will also help you work out your daily cake allowance.  (You thought I was going to say biscuit then, didn’t you?)

6.  Just breathe.  Or not.  Are you self-conscious about sounding like an over-excited dog as you run past other people on your run? There is a simple solution to this; hold your breath as you pass them.  When you pass out from lack of oxygen, and roll elegantly along the path, your breathing will be the last thing they notice.  Oh.  And biscuits.

7.  Get the right equipment.  You don’t need to spend a fortune, but decent shoes and comfortable clothing will make each run a little less painful.  I also recommend a running belt.  This will hold your phone (don’t forget the running app!!) and biscuit stash.  You’ll need regular snack breaks, so make sure you are prepared.

And Finally:

8.  Just do it. Nobody is going to just hand you that gorgeous body on a plate, you are going to have to work for it.  Mmmmm, plate of biscuits.  Be right back.


What are your exercise tips?! Let me know in the comments below…..



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Midweek Motivation


No words today, other than; I hope you have a fantastic week.



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What Does Make-Up Mean to You?

Why do you Wear Make-Up?

I am guessing that if you are here, then make-up is probably quite a big part of your life (or maybe not, everyone is welcome here).  But what does it mean to you? Do you feel you need it to cover something up; or is it to enhance what you already have? Perhaps you just love to play, and don’t take it seriously at all.  Perhaps it is your job.  Or maybe you are artistic, and make-up is a way to be creative.





Having two daughters now, the eldest of which is four, has caused me to question exactly what part make-up plays in my life.  I plan to revisit the topic of make-up and children at a later date, because I think it is important.  For now though, I will say that I want my girls to find make-up fun.  I want them to know they are beautiful without, but if they want to experiment, then I will support that.


What Does Make-Up Mean to Me?

The way I feel about make-up is a little bit of everything above (except for the job part, make-up artistry is a bit too touchy-feely for me).  Fortunately for me, I don’t have any major flaws to cover, and I am perfectly happy going out without it to the school, or supermarket.  However, anything further, and I will apply something.  Is that because I look hideous without it? No. It is simply that I enjoy the process of priming, concealing, highlighting and all the other bits in between.  Because of various body-confidence issues, I have a complicated relationship with clothes (and food for that matter), but make-up is different.  You don’t need a never-ending budget, or even a huge amount of skill, to look presentable.  You can do the same look day in day out, or you can look like a different person from one day to the next.  I am not averse to spending an hour getting my face ready, when time allows.  This isn’t because of vanity, although I am sure to some it would seem that way.  It is simply my way of relaxing in a hectic – and at times stressful – day.

Do I wear it to attract men? In all honesty, no.  Of course, I am married, so I am not looking to attract anyone else, but I don’t apply make-up with my husband in mind either.  Is that wrong?! If I was trying to keep him interested, then I would probably go for masses of red lipstick, and fluttery lashes.  I’m not though; there is more to our relationship than that.  He’s seen me give birth four times; I think he can handle seeing me make-up free.  Is there anything wrong with wearing make-up to please your other half? Absolutely not, if that makes you happy too.



Make-Up Shaming

So what if you choose not to wear make-up? That’s ok too. Does it mean you don’t respect yourself?  We seem to have entered a time where celebrities are so much more accessible than they used to be.  Instagram; Snapchat; Twitter and the like, all enable us to get a little peek into the lives of the super-rich.  So why do we (fuelled by certain media outlets) want to pour shame and scorn on well-known faces, who choose not to dress up to go food shopping, or to take the dog to the vet.   Does someone who chooses not to wear make-up have no self-respect, or do they have so much that they don’t need make-up to feel better about themselves? It is hard not to be judgmental sometimes – it’s certainly something I struggle with.  When you see that woman walking along the street, wearing a tracksuit, hair a mess, bare faced, do you think ‘uggh’, or ‘good for her; she doesn’t care what anyone thinks’?  Does it really matter though? After all, it should be what’s inside that counts, more than whether someone has contoured their way to oblivion.


So, tell me, why do you wear make-up? Is it for fun? Or do you have other reasons? Please share your thoughts below in the comments!


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Midweek Motivation




Dr. Maya Angelou had an incredible life.  Born in the 1920s in St. Louis, Missouri, she became a young single mother shortly after graduating from high school. Despite having to work several jobs to support herself and her son, she still managed a successful career in the ’50s as a singer and performer.  This was followed by a stint in Egypt, and Ghana, in the ’60s working as a writer.  Angelou then went on to pen 36 books, 30 of which were bestseller.  The first of her books – I know Why the Caged Bird Sings – was the first non-fiction bestseller written by an African American woman.  What followed was a screenplay; an Emmy nomination and a Tony nomination for two of her acting roles; and several autobiographies and multiple poetry collections.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; Maya Angelou had many more accomplishments – a truly amazing woman.


Have a great week, and remember ‘You alone are enough…’

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Blogging Resolutions // 2016

Happy New Year’s Eve everybody! I hope you have had a happy Christmas – if you celebrate – and an enjoyable break.  My Christmas was filled with family and chaos – just how I like it.  Now on to a new start.  I typically don’t make resolutions at the start of a new year, because, quite honestly, I am rubbish at sticking to them.

However, what with my lack of focus during November and December I decided that a new start was needed.  This list is really for me to give myself a mental kick up the backside, and to remind myself of some goals for 2016.


Blogging Resolutions 2016


  1. BLOG MORE: This one is fairly self-explanatory, but I am aiming to blog much more frequently in 2016.  I hope to write 4 or more times a week. Eeek.
  2. BE MORE CREATIVE: When I first started blogging last year, I made the mistake of thinking that every post had to be about new products.  This resulted in many shopping trips (yay!) and a greatly reduced bank account (not yay).  Then, when I put myself on a spending ban, I found that I just didn’t know what to blog about.  Silly, eh?  This leads me on to….
  3. EXPAND MY SUBJECT MATTER: I am actually pretty nervous about this.  Looking back again to last summer when I began my blog, I was full of the enthusiasm of a newbie.  I was going to fill my blog with beauty; family; recipes; clothes and lifestyle blog posts! It was going to be wonderful! Then….it just didn’t happen.  Coupled with me doing some reading on how to have a successful blog, I let all of it get the better of me.  ‘You need to find your niche and stick to it like glue!’ everyone shouted.  Suffice to say, I have not ventured much out of the realm of beauty, which is absolutely fine, but it is just not me.  As much as make-up, skincare and the like are passions of mine, so is my family.  I don’t intend to fill Joyful Things with pictures of my children sitting on potties, eating their breakfast and having tantrums, but I hope to share some of my experiences of motherhood.  As for the clothes and recipes? That won’t ever happen – I don’t have what it takes to be a fashion blogger, and I don’t follow recipes so how can I share them?!
  4. IMPROVE MY PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS: I think this is not a unique goal, and it will be ongoing for the rest of my days I suspect.  I find taking photos for blog posts beyond stressful.   The amount of actual sweat I have shed trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot is ridiculous.  Weirdly, though, I love photography.  It brings me immeasurable pleasure to get my camera out and snap away.  My downfall is understanding camera settings – I am way too impatient to actually study the manual and work out what button does what.
  5. HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE: This is hard to even write, and I probably won’t stick to it, but I have to at least try, right?! I want to believe that I can do it, and then do it.  I want to believe that I can succeed as a writer, but there is still that little (well, quite loud actually) voice that tells me I am not as good as other bloggers.  My writing isn’t as good; my photography isn’t as good; I’m older than the rest of the world! These are all true (well, apart from the age thing – despite feeling past it, I am not) , but the battle is realising that it doesn’t matter.  I want to work on MY blog, and spend less time worrying about what everyone else is doing.  Especially if that means that I am holding myself back from doing what I want to do.
  6.  BE MORE ORGANISED: This is all encompassing, and relates to all the above really.  It starts with beginning my day earlier, and generally being more productive.  It is all too easy to let daily life get in the way of blogging, and then feeling disappointed with myself. I have discovered that I don’t like writing in the evening; and during the day it is hard to find the peace and quiet that I need.  So that only leaves early mornings.  Fortunately I am a morning person, so getting up an hour earlier shouldn’t be too difficult.  I would also like to get into a routine of planning posts in advance; and writing them, and getting the photos sorted ahead of time.  I have dabbled in this, but never really manage to stick to it.  I always seem to be madly trying to put everything together 5 minutes before I want to publish.


Pretty big resolutions, I think, but I hope that there is nothing too unachievable.  I am excited to get on with the year ahead, and look forward seeing where 2016 takes this little blog! Finally, I want to say thank you to all that have visited Joyful Things during 2015, and I hope you will come back in 2016!

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions, or do you prefer to work on goals and personal achievements throughout the year?  Leave me your comments below!



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Midweek Motivation

midweek moti

I hope that nobody reading my blog today is going through hell.  But if you are, please know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Find someone to talk to, whether that be online, or in person.  Whatever works for you.  Just remember; it can, and will, get better.


Have a good week.

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Midweek Motivation



C.S. Lewis was an Irish author, born in the late 1800s.  He wrote the fantastic Narnia books, amongst many others.  He said, and wrote, many inspiring things, but I love this quote in particular.  I have been struggling lately with finding my niche.  Not in the blogging sense of the word, but in real life.  I often wish that I had a proper talent that would shine out of me like a beacon, but sadly I don’t.  I am fairly average at everything.  So, I like to think that this quote is true, and that there is still time for me to find the one thing that I can be amazing at.  I have many goals and dreams, maybe it’s not too late to achieve them.  And if not, perhaps my job on this earth is to have created  four wonderful children who will go on to be super heroes (not literally obviously, but how cool would that be?!).  We can all dream, right?


Thanks for reading, and have a happy Hump Day!



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