Our skin goes through changes on a daily basis; sometimes we feel our complexions look tired or dull, perhaps lacking in moisture or conversely very greasy or oily. Sometimes we may also suffer from breakouts or acne. For many people these are transient and come and go without causing too many problems. For some, there may be a deeper root cause, which needs to be looked into and treated with good skin care and advice from a dermatologist or other healthcare professional.
Hormones and their effects
Hormones and particularly hormones that are imbalanced, can drastically affect the performance of the skin. Women have three main types in their bodies in varying levels which fluctuate according to their menstrual cycles or whether or not you’re pre or post menopausal. These hormones are known either as:
Little is known about the effects of Progestogen on the skin, though it is thought that in some people, it can block the effects of Oestrogen and accelerate the ageing process. Oestrogen and Androgen hormones can be troublesome for anyone wanting a smooth and radiant complexion for a variety of reasons.
Oestrogenic hormones are in part, responsible for the fact that on the whole, women tend to have a slightly drier skin and smaller pores than men do. It tends to regulate how much sebum is produced in the upper layers of the epidermis, by producing a substance called Hyaluronic acid. This acid is what enables the skin to hold onto moisture and a lack of it can begin to accelerate the signs of aging.
Too much Oestrogen can also cause the pigmentation of the skin to change and encourage the development of spider veins. Too little Oestrogen can end up leading to a thinning of the skin, which can sometimes account for a duller complexion that requires increased levels of moisturization.
Androgenic hormones and in particular Testosterone can, if found in excess in the body, cause a rise in the production of sebum within the epidermis, which, if left to build up can cause blackheads and acne, or regular troublesome breakouts. An oily t-zone is another common side effect of raised Androgens and can create what is known as a combination skin type. Many women with higher testosterone may find that as they age and reach the menopause, they unfortunately start to find accelerated hair loss on their head, but that conversely they begin to grow excess facial and body hair too. Too much Androgen has the effect of thickening and coarsening the skin, meaning that a perhaps more intense level of exfoliation may be needed to get a smoother and clearer surface. Sometimes, dermatologists may recommend a course of microdermabrasion for a thickened and coarsened skin, which will work on not just the upper layers, but lower layers of the epidermis as well. With anything like this it is important to make sure levels of hydration are kept high in the skin and that a good sun protection factor is used.
However, just as with too much Oestrogen, an increase in Androgen hormones can also lead to a dull complexion, as cell turnover isn’t quite as high. The skin can become more prone to wrinkles and fine lines.
If you feel your skin problems may be hormone related, whilst it is worthwhile and beneficial to have a great skincare routine, it is also important to seek help from a healthcare practitioner who will be able to run blood tests to confirm if there are any imbalances or deficiencies in your levels of either Androgen or Oestrogen hormones. Factors such as an increase in stress levels, a disrupted menstrual cycle or something as simple as a change in eating habits or exercise and dieting regime can cause wide fluctuations. If you’re in any way concerned, seek help and advice from a medical professional.