The Skin You’re In: How Hormones Affect Our Largest Organ
Hormones are the chemical signals that play a role in our mood, reproductive function, sexual energy, metabolism, and the health and beauty of our skin. Our hormone levels slowly rise throughout childhood and peak during our teenage years. Once we enter into our 30s, they begin to drop and continue to decrease as we get older, causing hormonal imbalances that impact everything from our sleep and stress levels to our libido and, most noticeably, our skin’s appearance. Learning which hormones affect our skin most helps us understand why hormone regulation is so crucial for our skin as we age.
Estrogen is present in both sexes, but women produce it at a higher rate. Estrogen acts as the primary female sex hormone and affects collagen, elastin, and Hyaluronic acid production. It also determines the skin’s thickness, hydration, barrier functionality, and cellular regeneration. In wound healing, it aids the skin’s inflammatory response, accelerates epidermal recovery and tissue growth, and regulates proteolysis, which is the breakdown of proteins and peptides into amino acids.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, produced at a higher rate in males. When testosterone production is optimal, the skin has greater moisture retention, better cellular turnover rates, and is more elastic. However, excess testosterone can overstimulate the sebaceous glands, potentially leading to acne and oily skin. Particularly for women, too much testosterone can lead to unwanted facial, back, and chest hair. In contrast, insufficient testosterone can negatively impact sleep, leading to undereye circles, a dull complexion, wrinkles, and a decrease in skin density.
Progesterone is a female sex hormone, found in greater quantity in post-ovulation women during each monthly cycle. Perhaps one of progesterone’s most essential roles regarding skin health is its regulation of estrogen and testosterone. When correctly balanced, proper progesterone levels can reduce stress and encourage sleep, leading to skin regeneration and a more rested, youthful appearance.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone commonly known as “the stress hormone.” Although you may not immediately think cortisol important for your skin health, it can exacerbate skin sensitivities and conditions. Excess cortisol also decreases collagen production, leaving skin vulnerable to wrinkles and age spots. If stress levels and cortisol production remain heightened, skin becomes dehydrated, dull, and dry.
Hormones and Our Life Stages
While these hormones impact the skin during all life stages, women, in particular, experience hormone-related skin issues during puberty, adult menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, perimenopause, and menopause.
As the body produces testosterone and estrogen in puberty, these hormones bring the onset of acne, which appears on the face, chest, or back. Excess sebum, a secretion made by the sebaceous glands, causes oily skin and aggravates pre-existing conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
Although it would be preferable to leave hormonal acne behind in puberty, hormone-related acne often continues into female adulthood. During monthly cycles, sebum production increases, leading to oily skin and the return of blemishes. Meanwhile, estrogen production decreases, depriving the skin of its natural moisture, glow, and healthy coloration.
During pregnancy, some fortunate women experience that “pregnancy glow,” while many others deal with stubborn acne, rashes, discoloration, skin inflammation, or melasma, the “mask of pregnancy,” dark patches of increased pigmentation mostly seen on the face. Similarly, increased hormones during pregnancy can cause fuller, shinier hair, or stimulate the unwelcome growth of facial and neck hair.
While our human life expectancy has increased, the age of menopause remains the same. Menopause depletes the body’s hormones, wreaking havoc on the skin. Rapid drops in estrogen affect thermoregulation, fullness, and elasticity, while simultaneous increased testosterone production leads to unwanted body hair.
We’re Here to Help
Bringing our body’s hormones back into balance is imperative for the health and vitality of our skin. Fortunately, the Ageless and Wellness Medical Center offers individually customized therapies to combat these adverse effects of aging hormones. With our expertise, we can test you for insufficiencies and prescribe bioidentical formulations and treatment plans to help you win the fight against your declining hormones. Don’t spend another day not feeling or looking your best - let us help you optimize your health and restore your skin’s beauty, glow, and radiance today.