The Connection Between Hormones, Health and Happy Skin
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
I have learned so much creating this blog for you that I hope you can learn a thing or
two as well! My favourite resources were watching videos on YouTube and listening to podcasts by Niomi Judge. I also used multiple websites that were educational and helpful in order to create this content covering such a big topic! This blog is filled with lots of material, so buckle up! I have tried to organize it in subtopics so that if you are reading this blog for a specific hormonal topic or issue you can just search the bolded italic font, or simply scroll to the end of the blog and see point forms of each hormone. In this blog I will explain how hormones influence skin both negatively and positively.
Hormones cause changes in our skin at many moments in our life. Primarily hormones play a big part during teenage years, the time of the month (menstruation), pregnancy and menopause. Having hormonal issues such as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or Thyroid issues or any other hormonal imbalances could also lead to skin being off kilter. Not everyone will experience acne or blemishes during these moments of life. Some will experience acne at a young age and not in adulthood, some have perfect skin growing up and in their late 20’s they struggle with acne. There are people who struggle no matter what factors are present, and of course on the opposite side of the spectrum, the few others who never experience acne. I can almost guarantee, since you are reading this blog you have had or currently have a relationship with acne. Before you continue to read and learn amazing things, just know you are normal. Blemishes (unfortunately as much as we hate them) are in fact very common so you are not alone. Lets learn how we can control our blemishes and balance our hormones so the repercussions are less severe.
Breakouts may be normal, but that doesn’t mean we want them!
Welcome to teenage years. Teenage years are hard enough as it is, let alone adding
in wacky hormones and inflamed skin… gosh never a dull moment. As previously mentioned, not every teenager will struggle with teenage acne, in fact, some teenagers may have it for a short period of time and others struggle for their entire teenagehood and even into adulthood. The typical characteristics of hormonal teenage acne are mainly from the imbalances of sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone. Testosterone is often very high during these years, which contributes to large congested texturized pores on the nose and inflammation on the forehead, this area is known as the T-Zone. These blemishes will appear as a mix of pustules (white heads) comedones (black heads) and papules (red blemishes that don’t contain pus or sebum). Often the skin will also be producing more oils which leaves the skin shiny in appearance and more prone to blemishes. A healthy amount of oil production is important for the skin, however an overload can wreak havoc on the skin. Please keep in mind that sebum and oil production is not solely just related to testosterone (or hormone imbalances in general) it is also triggered by weather, products and lifestyle. Testosterone isn’t all bad, it also has some positive influential factors. Testosterone helps maintain muscle, which keeps the skin taught, lifted and supple. When the skin is maintaining its elasticity that also means wrinkles and fine lines are less prominent. So, don’t hate on testosterone too much! Estrogen is a hormone that influences many factors within the skin and at this time of life is mainly triggered by menstruation. Estrogen as much as it can negatively influence the skin, it also provides the skin to regenerate cells quicker, which is why skin can stay looking fresh, bright and young through these years. Estrogen and testosterone are known as the “youthful hormones”. Another factor that can cause blemishes or acne in teenagers (mainly in males) is dirt, sebum (another term for oil) and bacteria getting trapped in hair follicles (an infected hair follicle is known as a furuncle). As facial hair starts to grow and shaving becomes more of a common practice this often spreads bacteria, which then of course increases the likelihood of breakouts. It is important to talk about the proper steps of cleansing the skin and using new razors to avoid this type of inflammation.
There is no way to know if you will experience acne as a teenager. Nor is there a way to know for how long it might stick around. The balancing act is about treating your body properly, keeping your diet and routines as balanced as possible to try and balance out this crazy hormonal time. Unfortunately, the imbalances of hormones does not have a timeline… so even though you may not be a teenager anymore testosterone and or estrogen could still be messing up your skin mojo.
Here comes Aunt Flow and crew. Before the menstruation cycle, ovulation takes place. During ovulation the skin is at it’s peak. Skin will typically be clear, bright and have a natural glow. Then as the period approaches skin will become dull and texture will occur, you might notice roughness/dryness in the skin and active inflammation. Your body is experiencing and influx of androgen and a decline in estrogen. Testosterone is also increased during this time which causes the sweat glands to expand. Additionally, oil production is on also on the rise. It is common that oil and sweat get mixed with cells and other debris which causes a blemish (bacteria trapped and suffocated under the skin). 60% of women will experience acne pre-menstruation and 85% will experience acne during menstruation. Therefore, it is common that blemishes typically come 7-10 days prior to the period and will likely stay as visitors during the duration of menstruation. During the time of your period do not be surprised if your skin is dull and loses its elasticity. Unfortunately this is a common side effect while your body is shedding its internal lining.
Pregnancy! Please tell me I will get that pregnancy glow! Ugh, honestly I wish I could but its up to the odds of genetic predisposition and hormones, so get praying! (I am sorry, I know that’s not the answer you were looking for.) However, specific changes within the skin during pregnancy will be explained and if you continue reading you will find tips and tricks on how to minimize the severity of hormonal blemishes and flare-ups. The odds of having a natural glow during pregnancy is just as high as it is that you will experience skin complexities. It is pretty much a 50/50 toss up. However, if you have in the past or still fight against blemishes or dull premature aging skin you will likely experience the same issues (don’t shoot the messenger). Sometimes this is a set back in the skincare game but just remember to keep your stress low so the baby stays safe and your skin doesn’t get worse. Typical flare-ups will be found on the jaw line, neck, chest, upper lip and forehead (thanks to every hormone freaking out but specifically due from high levels of androgens). Do not use benzoyl peroxide, retinols or salicylic acid on these blemishes while pregnant (avoid those ingredients). Instead use Aloe Vera, lactic acid and or glycolic acid as those are safe to use in moderation and will help moisturize, slough off dead skin and kill bacteria. For further information on pregnancy and safety refer to my blog ‘Pregnancy in the Spa!’ Now for a special thank you and shout out too progesterone. Well, not actually. Progesterone will weaken the skin which also thins out the skin, jeopardizing the skins texture and appearance… ugh, can we say hello to wrinkles and fine lines.Keep drinking water to stay hydrated to help plump and smooth out the wrinkles since anti aging products and Botox are to be avoided during pregnancy. If you are experiencing hyperpigmentation around your mouth (melasma), nipples or thighs this is also a common and normal hormonal response that is triggered by the increase of estrogen and progesterone. Stay out of the sun to avoid the pigmentation from getting worse. As you are pregnant you are at a higher risk for pigmentation issues. On a positive note, if you suffer or experience psoriasis or eczema your itchiness and dryness will likely subside during pregnancy (phew, glad that is a positive message). All this being said, you may not experience any of these negative factors, in fact your skin could be the best its ever been (which I have heard from time to time) but preparing for changes within the skin is never a bad thing since its said that approximately 90% of mothers experience complex challenging skin during pregnancy. The wives tale is, if your first trimester goes well and your skin stays the same or improves, that is a good indication on how your skin will be for the rest of
The skin experiences changes whether one is Premenopausal or have gone or are going through menopause. As women we seem to get hit with a ton of hormonal changes as our life goes on. Although they come with many factors that we would trade in… we do have to be thankful that our bodies are capable of so much. Yes, negative comes along with it –but, damn the female body is capable of SO MUCH, so take a moment to be grateful for that. In order to be considered premenopausal you have to have skipped your period for 8-10 months and once you reach the full year mark of 12 months with skipping your cycle, you are considered to be in menopause. Keep in mind if you skip your period for 6-8 months and your cycle comes back you are not in menopause. Every time you get your period, you must start counting months after that cycle has finished. During premenopause and menopause your metabolism slows down which causes weight to creep up and hide out in your middle section (you know, where the “tire”sits). Along with weight gain from the slowed down metabolism this also means your skin is not producing new healthy cells as fast and won’t repair as fast. These will contribute to:
1. loss of tone and support in the skin
2. loss of brightness
3. skin will become thinner and delicate
4. blemishes/pimples will be staying for a longer period of time.
Yes… I said pimple. You thought you would be over that stage by now right? Frig… no period should mean no pimples!!! Since your body is undergoing lots of natural hormonal changes your skin is also experiencing the shift. Please be compassionate with yourself during this vulnerable time as you will also notice a shift in your emotions. Anxiety and depression are often visitors during this time. Please refer to the emotion section of this blog to learn more on how depression and anxiety and influx of emotions contribute to the skin. Of course, always speak with your doctor if any symptoms get worse, especially when dealing with your mental health. Now. Lets’ chat about things we can do to prevent any further damage during menopause. Invest in a gentle face cloth, preferably a microfiber towel. I retail my favorite brand in store at Inspirations Aesthetics, so feel free to come in for a visit!The reason why I suggest these cloths and consider them as an important investment is to provide your delicate skin with delicate care using a delicate cloth. This cloth will dry your skin without stripping it or being too aggressive, always dab the cloth gently on your skin when drying. Use a creamy cleanser packed with anti-aging or as I like to say, healthy aging and anti-oxidant properties; again, a visit at Inspirations Aesthetics will do you well here. In addition, two other important products are SPF and Retinols. SPF is a protector of your health in prevention of skin cancer, but also in prevention of sunspots and broken down collagen. Retinols are a powerful ingredient that will work hard to smooth out any fine lines and wrinkles and will also act to prevent any further damage from forming. Retinol is a powerful product to add to a routine; please refer to my Retinol blog also uploaded for more information on that! Please educate yourself before you invest in a retinol that may not be suitable for your skin. I am not a doctor so I cannot prescribe you retinols or medications so please follow up with your physician. You can also inquire about taking biotin. Biotin is a supporter for strong hair, skin and nails so this may be a nice supplement to add, however, I cannot stress enough PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS OR VITAMINS!
Okay, what is up with adult acne? Male adult acne is different then adult female acne (for obvious reasons such as the hormonal changes women go through naturally) male acne however is different in that it is typically more sporadic throughout the face (not just on the lower half of the face like common in women) Keep in mind, male adult acne is often on the back as well. Males have larger pores, which produce oil at a faster rate, another factor leading to congestion. On a positive note, having oily skin will slow down aging, but on the negative side, oily skin typically is accompanied by blemishes and enlarged black heads; thanks a lot testosterone and androgen *insert eye roll here*. Testosterone is a male sex
hormone and when levels are high; oil and blemishes are the main symptoms from these active heightened hormones. If you are on any other medications that trigger hormonal growth or suppressants this could also be a factor contributing to the influx and the severity of your blemishes. For you males, one thing that can be a decently “easy” addition is using products or using the proper products (since stereotypically males are known to not use products at all). Once the appropriate products are introduced, irritation and inflammation can subside. Book a consultation or facial with me and a proper routine will be sent home with you. Another factor for you gentleman is your facial hair/beard. Make sure you are using non-comeogenic products when grooming and waxing the beard, along with clean sanitized razors. Since you either shave your face often or apply products often it is important to make sure that the products are effectively removed and that bacteria is controlled. When experiencing and treating adult acne in general (male or female) keep in mind it may take a few weeks to clear, although male and female adult acne is typically triggered by different things some general things to consider to help with your adult acne are the following:
1. Clean your pillowcases once a week (if you continue to do this and feel there is no
improvement, try changing your detergent and discontinue using fabric softener. Sometimes its as simple as those changes needing to be made)
2. Clean you pillows every 6 months (Yes, your actual PILLOW. Clean it!)
3. Switch you hand creams and body products to non-comeogenic (so that when you
apply body and hand cream before bed it is not transferring to your face and causing
4. Avoid multivitamins that contain iodine (iodine can contribute to white tiny bumps under the skin that are stubborn and hard... so consider a multivitamin without iodine)
5. Stop resting your hands on your face!
Whether you are female or male, the typical attributes of adult acne are large cysts that are painful and under the skin. These blemishes typically do not surface which means they linger longer, are harder to treat and dissipate and to add to it, they are not extractable. Using proper products that won’t further clog the skin, using gentle exfoliators, applying a topical retinol and not picking or touching your face will help these (what feels like monsters under the skin) subside.
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) only affects about 5-10% of women between the ages 18-44. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome is due to an imbalance of androgens, testosterone and insulin, and potentially even genetics. PCOS is mainly known for high levels of testosterone. The levels of testosterone are much higher in females who have PCOS than those who do not, in fact testosterone is so high it actually interrupts or fully overrides the release of eggs, which means no menstruation cycle. Since these specific females experience high levels of testosterone they often experience hair growth on unwanted areas (neck, jaw, chest and cheekbones) as well as hair thinning and hair loss on the scalp (male pattern baldness alopecia). In regards to how their skin changes or is influenced, unfortunately the skin is highly susceptible to skin discoloration commonly found on the forehead, neck and groin. Typically skin will also be oilier and blackheads will be more visible and larger. Blemishes are also a common factor, if a female is experiencing PCOS at a young age her acne typically is quite stubborn and causes great congestion within the skin. As rare as PCOS is, there are still treatments and medications that can be prescribed to you by your doctor to help subside your symptoms. Always seek medical advice and attention with PCOS.
Your thyroid is also an important topic to discuss as it releases hormones and has many functions to keep the skin and body healthy. It is also important to touch on because you yourself may have or know someone that has hypo or hyper thyroidism. Let's continue to be nerdy and learn about the thyroid and how the skin is positively and or negatively influenced. When everything is functioning properly in the thyroid, the body and skin stays at its resting point (homeostasis). This is exactly what we want! A happy calm body means happy calm skin. For those who do not experience hyper or hypothyroidism this is probably you. If the thyroid is not functioning properly the skin will not be able to regulate as easily or quickly. So, let's see what the skin does when the thyroid is not resting and does not regulate easily.
Hypothyroidism is the term used when one has a low, or decreased thyroid activity, also known as a sluggish system. In this state the skin becomes brittle, dull, dry, scaly and can even be painful sometimes due to the severe dryness. Sebum (oil) production is inhibited which causes the dryness, this can also cause the skin to age quicker as sebum helps balance, regulate and protect the skin. Since it is common for the skin to appear dull it is also common that the skin has a green/yellowy tinge to it, with dark purple/blue under eyes. This is typically and commonly due to the low blood circulation and liver issues due to the thyroid not releasing sufficient hormones at a fast enough rate to the liver. Not everyone who has hypothyroidism will have symptoms this severe, like anything, symptoms vary per individual. If one is experiencing a high amount of skin disorders due to hypothyroidism it is called
Hyperthyroidism is the term used when one has a high or overactive thyroid. This typically causes the skin to be warm, flushed and clammy (sweaty/sticky). It also could potentially cause (yes you called it) blemishes and active break outs, due to the high production of sebum. Hyperthyroidism also leads to stimulation of the epidermal keratinocytes (outer most layer of the skin) and dermal fibroblasts (internal connective tissues for the cells). All that means is that the body is triggered to produce the protein that makes skin at a fast-intense rate, which can lead to eczema, psoriasis or hyperkeratosis. How does that correlate you ask? Well eczema and psoriasis are a skin condition of dull built up cells that don’t shed causing itchy scaly lesions on the skin and hyperkeratosis is mainly triggered when the skin is over producing and not healing properly it over grows and creates a raised growth lesion. To help keep your thyroid happy (which helps regulates all other hormones) try and do the following:
- Get a good nights sleep
- Eat the right things, nutrition is super important (eat whole foods, grass fed meat)
- Cook cruciferous veggies
- Control your stress
- Maintain a healthy digestive track
- Avoid inflammatory foods
-Consult a physician
Okay, since we have gone through all the facts and the nitty gritty of the hormones and all the potential influential factors in very medial scientific terms… lets dissect something that is in everyone’s daily life… EMOTION! It may not seem like this fits with this blog, but let me tell you, your emotions release MANY triggers and pathways that can positively or negatively influence your hormones. Stress is a great place to start. Stress seems to be the most common emotion people face on a daily bases. Cortisol is your stress hormone; stress is very common and very harmful to your skin. So stop stressing would you? This topic is usually where my clients and I exchange a chuckle or two, because… Well lets face it “no stress” or even “less stress” is easier said than done. Acknowledging this fact, this is where I like to provide some reasoning as to why it is important to actively try to decrease your stress and provide a few tips and tricks on how to lower your cortisol levels. Why do we need to be more mindful of our stress levels? One reason is because high stress leads to sugar cravings, which ultimately leads to eating snacks and food that are not nutritious and not providing sustainable energy for your body. This also means people over indulge! High sugar will lead your blood sugar to spike, this triggers cortisol production at a high level and fast rate, which also leads to a body energy depletion which means your internal organs are working exceptionally hard to keep your eternal organ (your skin) happy! Adrenal fatigue is a real thing and can lead to serious things (more serious than some skin issues,) so let’s take our health seriously! High levels of sugar lead to bumps and texture on the skin. Typically high sugar diets and high stress lifestyles will show up with blemishes on the forehead. These blemishes are unique in that they are not comedones (black heads), they are not papules (pimples without fluid) and they are typically not pustules (white heads) they commonly are simply bumps. These bumps are trapped bacteria and dead skin mixed together making a not so nice cocktail. These blemishes provide a texturized appearance and roughness to touch. These sugar-induced blemishes are stubborn and last for weeks and will be sporadically across the forehead and even into the eyebrows. Cortisol (the stress hormone) eats away at all the goodness our skin provides such as collagen, elastin, and strong skin tissues to name a few. This means that the more we stress or the more our body releases cortisol the quicker we can say bye-bye to happy, healthy, youthful skin. This damage is irreversible unfortunately (hence why its also super important to be using proper products that aid in collagen protection and production). Now that we know why cortisol loves our skin, but, why we hate cortisol… we can discuss what we can do to avoid this culprit! I always suggest mindfulness. Being mindful has changed my world and I am such a believer and
supporter of mindful practices. Some of these practices are things like: meditation, yoga, stretching, journaling, taking a few minutes to take a few deep breaths, read a motivational/self discovery book, go for a walk, take a bath, write out three things you are grateful for, do some goal planning, find an accountability partner who can help you and keep your stress low, write yourself (or someone) an appreciation letter. Seriously, there are so many ways to get you grounded and mindful. Sleep is an important practice that is very healthy for our body, mind, mood and our skin! Sleep balances our hormones, such as cortisol, melatonin, serotonin and estrogen.These hormones are all primary hormones. They need to be regulated for a body to be healthy and functioning. When you do not get a restful 8 hours of sleep your cortisol is heightened which makes your melatonin and serotonin lower, it also triggers you to wake up more irritated and naturally stressed. So, sleep baby, sleep! I encourage you to find a practice that suits you and your lifestyle. Other options that MUST be advised with your doctor before consuming or trying such practices are things such as supplements or specific ingredients like rhodiola, ashwagandha, astragalus and ginseng. I think we can all relate and see that the signs and symptoms of stress can lead to anxiety and depression. Mental health is so important for all physical health. Please, take a moment today in creating a plan to get your stress controlled and your emotions more on the positive side. Like previously mentioned, I know it is harder said than done… but it is paramount to living a healthy life. Please, take your health seriously. If you want any other routines or practices to help with your stress, anxiety or depression please reach out to me and I will share some practices and rituals that help me. Mental health is a real thing and its not something to be shameful of, I am here for your skin as well as your mental health.
For my product junkies, let's talk briefly about product. I won’t be going to hardcore here as product reviews are posted throughout my blog with my product favorites and recommendations. That being said if you are wanting specific information on products or ingredients let me know and I will put that blog entry on the priority list (that blog is already an entry in mind, I just always have so many topics I am excited to post about). Anyways, I digress...
How the heck are products contributing to my hormones? Did we just skip out on the hormonal blog? NAH! Improper and unsafe products won’t only negatively influence your skin but they will also disturb your hormones. They can, disturb how your hormones function, how they release, how they break down and what hormones are triggered. Our hormonal system is run by our endocrine system. When our endocrine system has more stressors placed on it, (such as products) it interferes with all of the endocrines systems. When looking for safe product, be mindful in choosing products that are free from parabens, perfumes, frameldahye, sodium lauryl sulphate, artificial flavours/scents and artificial colouring (to name a few).
Seriously, this blog is overwhelming with information. Feel free to print it out or read specific portions as you see fit. Hopefully this last portion can be a user friendly and educational hormone overview and recap.
- Smooth skin appearance
- Improves and maintains elasticity in the skin
- Helps maintain and produce collagen
- Aids in retaining moisture
- It causes cells to multiply (helping skin regenerate and heal quicker)
- High estrogen can lead to breakouts along the jaw line and down the neck
- High levels of estrogen (think of Birth Control) contributes to melanocytes in the skin (dark spots / sun spots / freckles/ age spots/ melasma etc.)
- Decreased levels of estrogen: skin ages, skin becomes thinner, saggy, dry and dull
(think of menopause and all the changes in the skin – this is due to lowered levels of
- High levels of estrogen lead to heavy painful periods which leads to stress on the
body which in turn increases depression, anxiety and physical changes within the body
- High to normal amounts of progesterone provides brightness and moisture in the
skin (aka youthful glow) Progesterone is a female sex hormone that helps regulate the female cycle. Progesterone is at its highest half way through your period
- Low progesterone can also lead to breakouts along the jaw line
- Puffy face, puffy eyes can be a factor of low progesterone
- Loss of hydration (super dehydrated skin, dry, visible fine lines, premature aging is
due to very high progesterone)
- Progesterone is a very sensitive hormone… it needs to be JUST perfect to provide
goodness to the skin. This hormone is super finicky and temperamental… not one you really want to mess with
-Hormone can be altered for the worse. When progesterone is met with cortisol,
progesterone will thin out and funnel down and be released and distributed through
the body as cortisol.
- DHEA is the “youthful” hormone which keeps your skin taught, plump and free from fine lines
- DHEA is a “anti-aging” hormone, so it works hard in fighting any long term and short term damage to the cells
- Elevated DHEA levels can lead to blemishes and cystic acne down the front and back of the neck (aka throat)
- Generalized stubborn acne (which means blemishes that are fairly consistent that heal slow and are all over the face) – this is not just from high DHEA but also from leaky gut/digestion issues
- Youthful hormone, as much as it makes skin oily, the perfect amount of oil production is healthy for the skin and prevents premature aging
-Increased levels create “beard type” acne (which means acne all along the mouth, jaw and neck)
- Even though this one is listed as a PRO it can also be a con. Oil is great for feeding and helping the skin hydrated and plump, but when one is experiencing sebum over production this will lead to black heads, congestion and potentially blemishes.
Now that your brain has blown up and you have a love hate relationship with hormones let me share some simple basic tips you can do to avoid any further blemishes and to help decrease the inflammation existing in your skin (These are great tips regardless of the reason or severity of your blemishes)
1. Use proper products suited for your skin type and conditions (I offer skin
consultations that can help decide which is best for you)
2. Wash your face every morning and night (or even just at night- once a day is
required and before bed is the best time)
3. Avoid touching your face a lot
4. Change your pillowcases weekly
5. Wash your pillows every 6 months
6. Pat your skin dry (never rub) and use a microfiber towel
7. Avoid Dairy
*exacerbates inflammation within the skin
8. Avoid Sugar
9. Avoid Alcohol
10. Balanced diet
*Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower = detoxification vegetables which help balance
out your endocrine system
*Flaxseed and Turmeric =increases ability to metabolize estrogen
*Pumpkin seeds help with general hormone balancing (great option to snack on
when menstruating or experiencing severe menopause)
*If your diet is heavier on the fried fatty foods your estrogen levels will be higher
(and you will get the “CON” symptoms from estrogen not the beautiful plump skin)
*Avocado, coconut oil, avocado oil – healthy fats
11. Drink lots of water
12. Green tea (and other herbal teas)
13. Omega fatty acids
14. Get good restful sleep
15. Exercise regularly
16. Dry brushing (simple exfoliation techniques) this really helps with your lymphatic system (detoxification properties)
17. Infrared saunas
18. Reduce your use of plastics
Thank you so much for reading and spending this time with me. Please stay tuned, as more blogs will be launched! I love providing information that can make your skin happier and your lifestyle easier! Cheers, and again, thank you for your support!