We often hear about how hormones affect our skin, but do we really know what that means and which hormones are the culprit? Once you dive into the world of the endocrine system and hormones, you realize just how vast the subject really is.
Hormonal acne is one of the most common hormonal skin problems, and one that you’ll be familiar with even if you don’t experience it yourself. But did you know that your hormones can also be responsible for dryness, loss of elasticity, itchiness, skin discoloration and signs of aging like wrinkles, dullness and dark circles? It can also mess with your skin’s natural barrier too, which can have a knock-on effect.
Ready for the science bit? We want you to understand how hormones can affect your skin and what you can do about it.
How to know when your skin issue is hormonal
Not every issue with your skin is hormonal. Here are some signs that might indicate that your skin issues could be hormonal:
- Sudden changes in your skin
- Skin changes that come and go around a specific event like during or around your menstrual cycle. Link to our acne blog here that explains more hormonal acne.
- If you are overdoing it with products (constantly trying new things, exfoliating too often, too many active ingredients) and you also have or suspect you have a hormonal condition or imbalance. Damage can happen. So reducing it to a simple, gentle but still consistent skin care routine is going to be the best answer. Don’t actually stop unless you know a certain product is causing problems.
What causes hormonal skin issues?
Hormonal changes and fluctuations are usually at the root of hormonal skin issues. There can be medical reasons for these changes or it can be related to lifestyle changes such as:
- Pregnancy / Nursing
- Menstrual Cycle
It’s important to see medical advice before you embark on any changes to your routine which may affect your hormones. We want this information to act as a starting point to help you understand what could be causing your hormonal skin.
If you’re experiencing problems, talk to your doctor or dermatologist so that they can give you advice and guidance on dealing with any issues with your hormones.
Which Hormones Affect Your Skin?
There are a whole range of different hormones that can have an impact on your skin and how it functions. Let’s run through some of the most common to find out more about what could be causing those hormonal changes to your skin:
When we’re stressed, it brings our fight-or-flight response out. This is caused by a surge of adrenaline in the body. If this happens too often it can raise the cortisol in your body, which can impact on your health. It can also contribute to wrinkles, acne and dull skin, as well as oil production.
Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA)
DHEA is a hormone that works in the body to make other hormones in the body. Some people take it as a supplement but it can cause health problems when used this way so it’s best to seek medical advice. DHEA as a supplement may also cause oily skin, acne and unwanted, male-pattern hair growth in women.
The estrogen in the body naturally reduces as we get older. Estrogen has an impact on how our skin makes collagen (which also reduces as we age), this can lead to thinner skin, sagging and wrinkling as we get older.
Melatonin is most closely associated with sleep habits. But did you know that it may also act as a protective agent against UV damage? We’re definitely not saying skip the SPF in favor of some melatonin but it’s worth understanding the relationship between melatonin and your skin. Its association with sleep is key, as without enough sleep your body can feel stressed which can have a big impact on your skin.
Oxytocin is known as one of the body’s happy hormones.It can reduce stress which can in turn reduce inflammation and can help to calm your skin. It’s also associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity and relationship-building. It can help to protect the body against age-related disorders too.
Having low progesterone and high estrogen can increase insulin in your body. This can then speed up testosterone production (a male sex hormone) in the skin which can lead to acne, dry and dull skin, hair loss and peeling nails.
Testosterone is part of a class of male sex hormones called androgens. These can trigger acne by over-stimulating oil glands. This can lead to clogged pores and acne as it changes the skin cells that line hair follicles. It can also lead to unwanted hair growth and dull skin.
Your thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate linked to your heart, muscle and digestive function. A problem with your thyroid can lead to different skin issues including your epidermal barrier function, dry skin and pigmentation too.
How Can You Fix Hormonal Skin Issues?
Each hormonal issue needs a different solution to address it. It’s best to seek medical advice on the best course of action, as making changes to your hormonal balance could potentially cause an imbalance somewhere else. Some hormonal skin issues can be resolved with lifestyle changes (especially related to stress) whereas others will need a more in-depth solution.
Reducing stress is a huge way to improve your health and wellbeing overall. Take the time to relax with a personalized spa skincare routine from The Spa Curator.