The ways in which my body and soul ebb and flow with the lunar cycle feel familiar at this point. During a new moon, I’m often extra-tired and sluggish, and just want to hibernate for a few days. I usually start my period around this time, too. Under the full moon, my anxiety tends to get worse; I feel super stimulated, have trouble sleeping, and — if my period has indeed started with the new moon — am ovulating. But the other day, while feeling the pull of Wednesday’s impending full moon (and staring at a face full of pimples in the mirror), I couldn’t help but wonder... Could the full moon be affecting our skin, too?
Warning: there is a lot of speculation ahead. But I think the whole speculation thing is pretty fun, so...
If you're anything like me, the answer is yes. Anxiety, interrupted sleep, and ovulation all have different impacts on the skin, from causing inflammation, to impeding its natural healing process, to flooding the body with the sebum-producing hormone progestin.
These aren’t just factors that affect me personally, either. One study in Sweden showed that “on average, the subjects in the study took five minutes longer to fall asleep on the three or four nights surrounding a full moon and they slept for 20 fewer minutes.” So if you, too, feel like you can’t sleep during a full moon (and your skin shows it), you’re not alone.
Another scientific study of nearly 1,000 women determined that a large proportion of women (28%) menstruate with the new moon. (During every other phase of the moon, percentage of menstruation ranged from 8 - 12%, so that’s a pretty big difference.) This means that many women are ovulating — a phase of the menstrual cycle that releases hormones which tends to cause acne — around the full moon.
Besides all that, the moon cycle, menstrual cycle, and skin cycle (the time it takes for skin cells to turn over and be replaced by new ones) each last about 28 days. Coincidence? Maybe! (But probably not, right?!)
While all of the above can at least be somewhat corroborated by science, there are a few, um, otherworldly connections between the moon and the skin to consider, as well.
We all know that the moon’s gravitational pull affects water, most notably the ocean tides. Well, the gravitational pull during the full moon has also been said to affect the water content in our bodies. “The gravitational pull on water balance in the kidneys causes a shift of movement, making internal parasites more active during the full moon cycle, which then wreaks havoc on your intestinal health, digestion, and hormone balance,” reads a post from Elephant Journal. (P.S. 85% of Americans apparently have parasites.) The same article notes that the moon’s pull does the same with yeast or Candida in the gut—both of which are also known to cause skin issues.
Whether or not all this is true, seeing my zits as little lunar love gifts makes them that much more bearable — if only because I know that, like the moon, my skin is just going through a phase.