As we age, our hormones begin to affect our skin. In fact, our hormones not only influence our metabolism and sleep patterns but also play a role in the health of our skin.
The first step to recovery is to understand hormone signals in order to achieve the hormonal balance that underscores beautiful skin.
One of the most important influences in our skin’s inherent aging process is our endocrine system, which produces and regulates hormones. And it is the balance of these hormones that determines our skin’s health. Of the hormones that have the greatest impact on your skin as you age are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, and cortisol.
How do hormones impact the skin?
Our body relies on a complex system of chemical signals known as hormones between the cells, tissues and organs. Created in the endocrine glands [which are controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands of the brain], hormones are then directed to a target site throughout the body.
In fact, these complex chemical interactions influence most major body functions including our metabolism, mental focus, sleep patterns, stress levels, emotions and reproduction. And it is our skin that reveals those tell-tale symptoms.
If our hormones are not functioning properly, the effects can lead to accelerated ageing, decreased lipid production and a wealth of chronic skin conditions including eczema, rosacea and adult acne.
The best way to understand how hormones impact your health and skin is to recognise any imbalances with your general well-being and skin.
Hormone fluctuations are a natural part of our life and they start during puberty. But mid-way during our life, most of the production of hormones are taken over by the adrenal glands. So if you’ve lived a stressful existence, the increase of cortisol, [which is a steroid hormone] could not only affect your metabolism and immune response but also trigger an increase in sebum production. And any excess amount of sebum could cause a variety of skin conditions and outbreaks including acne and rosacea.
Though acne is typically associated with being a teenager, nearly 80% of patients being treated at our clinic are in their twenties and thirties. Yet the outbreaks occur in different regions. Teenage acne, for instance, is primarily found in the T-zone area (forehead, nose and chin) while adult hormonal acne typically appears on the lower section of your face.
Some of the hormone triggers include:
Stress: Chronic stress can cause sleep deprivation, which in turn can disrupt the balance of our hormones. As outlined, stress also increases your cortisol levels and impact excess sebum production, leaving you with inflammation including acne breakouts or rosacea [especially in older women].
Ask your GP to do a saliva test your cortisol levels with an easy saliva test. This will allow you to seek the right support for your adrenal functions. Also, review your lifestyle and look at ways to reduce your stress levels.
Sugar: A high intake of sugar | high glycemic foods can affect your insulin levels.
A low glycemic diet will help counter skin inflammation. Speak to your GP, a dietician or endocrinologist on the best sources of protein and vegetables to include into your diet.
Underactive or overactive thyroid: The health of your thyroid can influence your skin’s appearance including your natural skin barrier. An underactive thyroid often leaves the skin looking dry and coarse skin while an overactive thyroid can cause the skin to appear warm, sweaty, and flushed in appearance.
As your GP to test your TSH levels [thyroid stimulating hormone] which stimulates the thyroid to produce Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones that are essential for your metabolism.
Low estrogen: As we age, our estrogen levels decline, which in turn causes our skin to lose elasticity due to lower production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, and cellular turnover. As a result, our pores become larger and our skin become thinner and more wrinkled in appearance.
But the decline doesn’t stop there. Many women also endure increased pigmentation, leaving the complexion with age spots and uneven skin texture.
High androgen (testosterone): An excess of this hormone causes an increase in sebum production, leaving the skin oily and more prone to adult acne and pigmentation.
Most women experience a rush of testosterone if they, for example, have high levels of androgen in birth-control contraceptives or are experiencing peri-menopause.
Michele Hetherington, senior dermal therapist at Dr Lionel Chang & Associates believes that it is important for patients to first identify any hormonal imbalances if they want their skin to fully recover. This includes understanding how hormones communicate with our bodies along with the primary triggers that cause any imbalances.
“Maintaining hormonal stability through a healthy lifestyle is crucial for healthy skin,” says Michele. “When your lifestyle is out of balance, the hormonal effects will not only compromise your skin but also increase inflammatory signals, leaving you with complete depletion of natural hydration in the skin along with an array of chronic skin conditions.”
It is important to remember that your skin is your largest organ and lotion that are applied are absorbed into the bloodstream. Some over-the-counter skincare products may contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can interfere with your hormone function.
- Parabens: a type of preservative which was first introduced nearly 70 years ago to extend the shelf life of many health and beauty products by preventing the growth of mould and bacteria within them. However, parabens were found to mimic estrogen, a stress hormone that causes many health and skin issues if the levels are in excess. Compounds such as butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben are what you should avoid.
- Glycerin: a well-known humectant that is used to keep your skin moist. However, when it’s heavily processed, its toxic residues can disturb the skin’s cellular structure along with the interactions of water and protein. In turn, the cells retain extra water, which leads to inflammation and oedema.
Having the right medical-grade serum and moisturiser prescribed for you along with a diet that addresses your endocrine system and liver function is vital in the recovery of any skin-related issues or overall health. This includes having the right levels of amino acids [peptides and protein such as the production of collagen] to maintain the skin’s structure, radiance and ability to self-repair.
Not sure how your hormones are affecting the condition of your skin?
Start by booking an appointment with Michele on 9776755. Along with assessing and recommending the most appropriate medical-grade products to incorporate into your daily skincare regime, Michele will devise the best skin therapies [ie: Broadband Light Therapy |BBL], laser treatments or medical-grade peels and facials] to optimise your skin’s health.
For teenagers, we also offer Teen Clean treatments with complimentary Red Light to address acne and other skin conditions.
As an introductory offer, we are offering 10% off all Medik 8 products if you quote this number: M8-H2019 [valid until June 30, 2019].
Individual results may vary. Image by Shutterstock., purchased under licence.