The Magic Bond Between Hormones and Skin

It is a fairly universal truth that in order to properly understand how something works, one must comprehend why it works. We apply this idea to research and innovation, but we can also use it to understand the world of beauty, especially in terms of targeted skincare.

For example, if you never find out why you're getting pimples, even though pimple patches and spot treatments are great quick fixes, you'll never know what's causing the problem in the first place. Our skin is alive and our largest organ; things like diet, hormonal imbalances, and medications can easily change how it works. However, if you don't have a plan in place to learn about your skin, it can be difficult (and frustrating) to find the main causes of underlying problems.

Despite all that your hormones do for you, they remain a mystery; you cannot see them. According to the Endocrine Society, hormones are chemical messengers generated by glands that regulate the function of different bodily systems, including growth and development, metabolism, sexual function and reproduction, and mood. Several noteworthy hormones, including thyroid, insulin, cortisol, oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Hormones Have a Wide Range of Effects on Skin Health

Hormones influence not only how you feel, but also the health of your skin. “We know this because some hormonal problems show up on the skin and hair as well as inside the body”, says S. Tyler Hollmig, MD, Director of Dermatologic Surgery at UT Dell Medical School and Ascension Seton in Austin, Texas.

Hormone levels are typically undetected until something is wrong. According to studies, having low thyroid hormone levels, known as hypothyroidism, can contribute to weight gain, depression, constipation, and even dry skin. Excess androgen, a hormone commonly associated with men but present in both sexes, can cause acne by stimulating the skin's sebaceous glands to secrete oil.

Estrogen is a large contributor in skin health when it comes to hormones. Even before menopause, oestrogen levels can begin to drop. As a result of estrogen's role in stimulating a healthy quantity of oil production, your skin will remain supple and smooth. However, as oestrogen levels fall, skin becomes drier and itchier. Dry skin sufferers and people suffering from eczema are also affected by this.

Hormonal acne occurs in adults and can range from blackheads and whiteheads to severe cysts. Hormonal acne is caused by an excess of sebum (an oily material produced by skin glands), which clogs pores and causes pimples. Though hormonal acne is generally unavoidable, it can be managed to prevent future breakouts.

What hormones do to your skin?

Your skin is covered in small glands called sebaceous glands. These glands secrete an oil called sebum, which helps keep your skin healthy. These glands contain receptors that respond to hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone. Sebaceous glands are extremely susceptible to androgens such as testosterone. The more androgens you have in your blood, the more they stick to your oil glands, making you make more oil.

Androgens are hormones that are made by both men and women, especially during puberty. They can cause oily skin during this time.

Oestrogen may also influence the amount of sebum produced, although additional research is needed. Oestrogen, at extremely high levels, inhibits oil synthesis. In addition, oestrogen promotes collagen production and skin thickness, as well as hydration and wound healing.

What can trigger hormonal related skin issues?

1. Puberty

As oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone ratios shift during the menstrual cycle, acne flare-ups are prevalent. The drop in oestrogen levels causes an increase in oil output. These hormones work together to regulate oil production on the skin. An imbalance might result in excess oil and pimples. Acne is one of the most common skin problems among teenagers, although the severity of the condition can vary greatly due to hormonal imbalances, genetics, and environmental factors.

2. Pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant, her skin undergoes a wide range of changes. Melasma is a skin ailment that causes dark discolorations on your face. Pregnancy causes an increase in oestrogen, which makes skin more sensitive to the sun. As a preventative measure, avoid direct sunlight and always wear sunscreen.

3. Perimenopause & Menopause

In women who are experiencing perimenopause or menopause, lack of oestrogen is implicated in the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the proteins that give skin its structure, in addition to diminished skin moisture. The combination of dryness and collagen loss results in more visible wrinkles.

4. Genetics

Acne is proven to be predominantly inherited. So, if you have a family history of skin problems, you are more likely to have skin issues.

5. Diet

Acne has been related to eating a lot of foods with a high glycemic index (high-GI). This is because high-GI foods might disrupt your hormones. White bread, cookies, cakes, and pizza are examples of high-GI foods.

Dairy and acne have a weak but not impossible relationship. So it's crucial to keep an eye on your personal symptoms and check whether dairy is causing your skin to flare up. It's a good idea to keep a food journal.

6. Stress

Cortisol, a hormone that is produced in greater quantities by the body when it is under stress. Inflammation and even inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis & eczema can be brought on by having high amounts of the stress hormone.

7. Sleep

If you don't get enough sleep, your body will release more cortisol, which will ultimately result in inflammation of skin leading to skin disorders.

In order to improve your skin, should you try to "reset your hormones?"

If you do a quick search on Google, you'll find a lot of so-called health experts who say that a "hormone reset" will improve the health of your skin. But most of the time, these people aren't medical professionals, and their assertions are mostly unsubstantiated. However, don't feel bad if you were swayed by the promise of better health, including better skin. This concept of "resetting your hormones" is alluring to some, but we're not sure if it has any genuine medical significance at all.

 Natural ways to treat hormonal acne

Aside from getting enough sleep and reducing your stress, here are some other things you can do to help your skin.

  • Follow a good skin care routine
  • Consuming a lot of fruit and vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Make sure you get enough Omega-3 fats, that can help reduce inflammation and keep your skin clearer. Keep your gut health in check.
  • Some people find that taking Zinc or Omega-3 supplements helps clear up their acne.
  • Exercise helps keep your hormones in balance and lowers your stress level. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week.
  • Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to be effective in killing bacteria. Tea tree oil can be found in skin care products, or you can use tea tree essential oil topically. If you use the essential oil, make sure to dilute it first as it may be harsh for sensitive skin. We recommend you do a patch test before applying all over your skin.