The PMT Skin-Saver and Four Ways To Use It…

As I write this, I am officially in PMT Skin Week, which is the one week in each and every month that my skin is in danger of going completely haywire. If anything is going to go wrong with my skin then it goes wrong now. Angry, bumpy jawline, weird forehead dryness, little sore patches around my eyes, an oil slick down the centre of my face – you name it, it’s on the list of potential problems.

There are a few different things that I tweak in my skincare routine during PMT week, including upping my cleansing game (a thorough balm cleanse night and morning, if I can bear it) and choosing slightly lighter day creams, but the key change (and arguably the most important one) is the addition of a BHA exfoliant.

A beta hydroxy acid exfoliant (salicylic acid) has the power to unclog, clarify and pore-refine but at the same time it’s calming and soothing and helps to reduce that horrible angry redness that often appears along with your hormonal spots.

So if your skin is angsty, bumpy and sore but also feels highly sensitive (quite literally a representation of your entire physical state when you have PMT, come to think of it!) then a BHA liquid is what you need. Swipe it on and leave, it’s a quick and simple step that’ll make a huge difference, especially if you usually just try and “ride it out” when it comes to your PMT skin.

My most frequent BHA-of-choice is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. I’ve written a full review post on this brilliant skin-clearing liquid here, but to recap, it’s a wipe-on-and-leave BHA exfoliant that will soothe as it effectively cleans out your pores. Blackheads, pustules, acne bumps, all will benefit from a swipe-over with this salicylic acid toner.

Buy Paula’s Choice 2% BHA here*

You apply the Skin Perfecting Liquid after cleansing and before serum/moisturiser – just pat on with fingertips or wipe with cotton wool and then leave. Here are four great little product combos that I use when I have PMT and my skin is on the spot-prone-but-sensitive side. The product list isn’t exhaustive – I could go on all day with good suggestions! – but they give you a good idea of what I’m looking for in a PMT skincare routine. A thorough cleanse that doesn’t leave skin stripped or tight, a BHA exfoliant and then a light-but-powerful moisturiser.

Sensitive Oily Skin Routine

Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, £25 here* – to remove all makeup, including eye, and thoroughly cleanse skin without stripping it.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid – to exfoliate and clear out pores without irritation.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluide, £14 here* – to moisturise and soothe without leaving a greasy residue.

Dry, Angsty PMT Skin Routine

Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, £25 here* – as before, to remove all makeup, including eye, and thoroughly cleanse skin without stripping it.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, from £10 here* – as before, to exfoliate and clear out pores without irritation.

Murad City Skin Overnight Detox Moisturiser, £70 here* – to effectively brighten and intensely moisturise overnight.

Oily Dehydrated Skin Routine

Dr Sam’s Flawless Cleanser, £16 here* – a lightweight gel but a thorough cleansing option.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, from £10 here* – to exfoliate and clear out pores without irritation.

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Intense Moisture Lotion (full review here) – to hydrate without any heaviness or grease.

Spot-Prone SPF Routine

Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, £25 here* – as before, you know the drill!

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, from £10 here*.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, £28 here* – ultra-lightweight hydration to slip on before…

Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF50, £21 here* – barely detectable and feels beautiful on the skin.

As I said before, I could swap in hundreds of different products here – maybe every time I do a skincare product review I should show how it fits into a routine, like the above? Let me know if that would be helpful!

You can find Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid online at Amazon* (£12 for 30ml here), Lookfantastic (from £10 for 30ml here*) and Cult Beauty here*. It’s unbelievably great on teen skin as well as PMT skin and an easy daily add-on to your routine if you suffer with adult acne.

Whilst we’re on the subject of PMT: since having babies I now get pre-menstrual symptoms of absolutely epic proportions. I mean I’m almost dangerous in terms of mood and I feel drastically, genuinely quite ill. No cramps at all, ever, which used to be crippling pre-kids, so it’s a swings and roundabouts kind of situation but boy the moods. Do we need a separate post on this?

DISCLOSURE POLICY. Posts published after 24th January 2019: if the post contains gifted items or affiliate links then it is indicated clearly beneath the title. Posts published prior to this will have a disclosure within the body of the post and then an asterisk * marking all affiliate links. If the content is a paid-for AD then it is marked as an AD in the title. For more information on disclosure please read here. 



  1. November 19, 2019 / 10:10 am

    The routine outlines make it easy to follow. Simple yet concise, if you know what I mean.
    Please do share your PMT experience. We need to talk about it!

  2. November 14, 2019 / 6:05 am

    I have sensitive dry skin, but Clinique has been great in the past for me so I think the Take the Day Off Balm would work well? I love your product photos as well; the rose petal background is very chic.

    • November 14, 2019 / 5:01 pm

      Thank you Claire!! I love this background too x

  3. Rachel Garman
    November 12, 2019 / 11:47 am

    Hi Ruth, Would the Paula’s Choice 2% be suitable to use during pregnancy? I’ve got the worst eruption of acne at the moment and want to do something more to treat it. I’ve got really sore spots at the moment! Thanks :-)

  4. November 11, 2019 / 1:49 pm

    My skin doesn´t act up in PMT week, but in Ovulation week – had I known that before, I could have skipped all those fertility test sticks I used to pee on when I wanted kids.
    It has become much better now that I am on continuous Retinol though.

    Anne from Doctor Anne

  5. Maria
    November 10, 2019 / 11:23 pm

    I recently started paying attention to when my face goes nutty, and it’s always on ovulation day and the days just leading up to menstruation. I totally agree with you, BHA s are a MUST during these times. It’s like walking a tightrope, and I’m never quite sure that it’s going to prevent Chernobyl’s Acne, but indeed it usually helps significantly. Regarding PMT, mine has significantly worsened after having four children. Prior to having children, I never had ANY symptoms. Now- all of them, in full splendor. I’ve learned not to critique my children or husband during this time, because I know that I’m seeing things through distorted lenses. That at least helps. Additionally, taking magnesium, folate, vitamin D, and EXTRA water seem to be an important factor in maintaining some paltry level of sanity. ;) I’m glad to hear you recommend Paula’s Choice, I’m nearing the end of my Ordinary Salicylic Acid and might try a switch. ;)

    • November 11, 2019 / 3:28 pm

      What’s so weird though, is that you THINK you are being completely rational. Even when I stop to question myself and wonder whether I’m being rational, I just can’t see that I’m not!

  6. Devon
    November 10, 2019 / 6:03 am

    What a clever idea to break it down like this Ruth.,
    If you like the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm I’d suggest trying the Drunk Elephant Cleansing Balm – it’s a really nice balm that you only need a small amount of. An added bonus is it comes with a small vial of Bamboo Booster exfoliant as an optional extra to be mixed in and used 1-2 times a week (with the caveat that I’ve read if using retinol, it’s recommended to the avoid Bamboo Booster or use with caution as it can be too much for skin).

    • November 10, 2019 / 8:35 pm

      Thank you, yes I have it! They are very similar x

  7. Francesca
    November 9, 2019 / 11:28 pm

    It sounds brilliant, must get some. Yes, another post on PMT moods please! I suffered terribly after having 2 children and found going on the pill helped quite a lot, but obviously that’s not for everyone.

  8. Naomi
    November 9, 2019 / 6:07 pm

    Thanks so much for this post Ruth. The skincare advice is great as ever but mostly YES please can we talk about pmt post babies!! I thought it was just me! I’m terrible not only at menstruation but also on the daybi ovulate. And like you my cramps have stopped it’s just the psychological side which is unbearable. Is it due to tiredness and lack of time to ourselves or something hormonal? Re salycic acid toner is it OK to use if your serum has lactic acid in it? Xxx

    • November 10, 2019 / 8:36 pm

      Oh my God I AM ALSO BAD ON OVULATION DAY!!!!! And I get a terrible shooting pain!

  9. Tracy Foltan
    November 9, 2019 / 3:24 pm

    Thanks for the great post, I get terrible PMT too . There is an actual condition called Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which is more severe than PMS. Unfortunately this is not talked about it enough, so it would be great to share as sometimes I feel like a complete nutto when I go mad. I want to be left alone, I feel bloated, ugly you name I have the feeling.

    • November 10, 2019 / 8:36 pm

      I will read more about that! x

  10. Miss Kitty
    November 9, 2019 / 12:20 am

    I love Paula’s Choice BHA liquid, but I tried her retinol serum and was less than impressed. Have you tried it? I didn’t feel it worked as well as some other retinols I have used, and the bottle seemed to run out really fast, probably because I was slathering it on trying to see an effect! Don’t think I’ll bother with it again, but I still haven’t found a good retinol serum that is easy to get my hands on in small-town NZ.

    • November 10, 2019 / 8:37 pm

      No I haven’t yet – but there are a few different ones I think? I’ve heard that one of them is REALLY strong!!

  11. Prue
    November 8, 2019 / 11:54 pm

    Ruth, yes… please do talk about your experiences with PMT.

    What do you mean when you say that you feel “drastically, genuinely quite ill”?

    I’m having problems with my cycle since having babies. It would be good to know I’m not alone. x

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