The word ‘hormonal’ is often used to explain away break-outs, bad moods and erratic behavior, but what is the real effect that hormones have on our skin? Hormonal changes are part of the natural aging process that takes us from adolescence to maturity.
Androgens, which are the hormones that stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin, can run the show in our early teens through 20s. When the sebaceous glands are over-stimulated by androgens, acne flare-ups can occur. Androgens also effect body hair growth.
Estrogen takes center stage as women enter ‘child-bearing years.’ Fluctuations especially during pregnancy can result in increased melanin, body break-outs and dry, rough patches of skin. Estrogen fluctuations also occur throughout the menstrual cycle for women and these fluctuations often have a strong effect on skin for women beginning or coming off of birth control pills.
The dip in estrogen levels later in life dramatically increases skin sensitivity while also resulting in a downturn in elasticity and collagen.
Stress hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine, perhaps have the most powerful effect on skin for both men and women. Stress hormones are released any time our brains interpret situation as being potentially dangerous, and these hormones interact with and often cause fluctuations in estrogen, testosterone and androgens.
The best thing treatment for ‘hormonal skin’ is two-fold. First have a professional evaluate your skin. The most common pitfall in home skin care regimens is treating your skins former condition instead of its current one. Pregnant women experiencing break-outs may turn to the astringent they used at 16 and pre-menopausal women may notice that their skin seems thinner and just apply more of the moisturizer that they have been using for the past decade when these are not the best products for their current condition. This inappropriate product use in a home care regimen stresses the skin, causing it to work harder and possibly worsening the condition you are try to fix.
The second part of treating hormonal skin is easier said than done: relax. Simply taking time to breathe deeply is scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones in the body.