Can Hormones Cause Skin Issues?
Hormones… we’ve all got them and we all know they can cause all sorts of ups and downs in our bodies. They affect your mental state, your sex drive, your energy level and yes, your skin! If you’ve ever experienced breakouts around the time you get your period, you know that’s true. But why?
Why Your Hormones Affect Your Skin
Just beneath the surface of your skin, under the pores, are small glands called sebaceous glands. Sebum, or oil, comes from these glands and a certain amount of it keeps your skin hydrated and healthy. Sebaceous glands have receptors that respond to hormones, which is why your skin reacts.
The glands are also very sensitive to androgens, such as testosterone. The more androgens that are in your blood, the more they bind to your sebaceous glands to produce oily skin. During puberty, our bodies produce excess androgens, which is why preteens and teens tend to have oily skin and are prone to breakouts.
Through our life stages, we experience different levels of hormones. Women go through periods, pregnancy, and menopause and every stage is completely different. Breakouts before your period are very common. Menopause slows things down, so dry skin is common. And there is a lot going on in your body during pregnancy. All of the hormones (or lack thereof) that are a part of these stages affect your skin.
The three hormones that cause the biggest issues with skin are:
Estrogen is the most well known female hormone. It helps stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. All of these things are what help keep your skin plump and hydrated.
Progesterone triggers the production of sebum, or oil, in your skin. Too much progesterone can mean oily skin. This hormone also affects pore size because it slightly swells and plumps the skin.
Women have testosterone too! It is usually the most “active” just before you get your period. Like progesterone, it stimulates oil production.
Let’s break down what exactly happens with these hormones and your skin during different stages of your body.
Hormones During Puberty
Hormones are usually blamed for the reason teenagers can act a certain way. And they absolutely do have an effect! During puberty when a girl’s ovaries are activated, her estrogen and testosterone rise. Because of the skin’s sensitivity to testosterone and its sudden dump into the system, oil production increases, pores get clogged, and acne may occur.
The same thing happens to boys when their testosterone levels rise dramatically. They tend to get worse acne than girls.
Why Your Skin Breaks Out Before You Get Your Period
As you probably already know, the menstruation cycle is roughly 28 days, though some of us have longer or shorter cycles. During your cycle, your hormones fluctuate, which also means your skin may be different at different times.
During your period, hormone levels are low. The estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels drop and your skin might look dull or even dry. One study discovered that our skin is actually more sensitive during this time. You should be making sure your skin stays hydrated by using moisturizer and drinking plenty of water.
Right after your period is done, your skin is usually in pretty good shape. That’s because you’re producing more estrogen, which is beneficial for cellular turnover. You can help that process along by using a physical or chemical exfoliant.
When you reach the ovulation stage, estrogen drops and progesterone rises. This is when you might notice your skin is oilier. Right before your period, testosterone peaks, so more oil is produced, which makes you more prone to breakouts. Some people develop hormonal acne, which affects both women and men.
Birth control pills and your skin
This may come as a surprise, but birth control pills are sometimes used to treat acne. Because they block testosterone, the body doesn’t produce as much sebum, so it’s less likely for oily skin to trigger into acne.
Doctors usually don’t prescribe birth control for skin problems except as a last resort. There are only three pills on the market that are approved for acne treatment, and they contain both estrogen and progesterone. If you are someone who has taken birth control that resulted in clear skin they probably have the right balance. Brands of birth control that have been approved by the FDA to treat acne are: Ortho Try-Cyclen, Estrostep, and YAZ. Alesse and Yasmin are not approved by the FDA for dermatology issues, but they have been clinically proven to improve acne.
If you have the opposite problem and you’re taking birth control but experiencing more breakouts, you may be on a pill that contains progesterone only. If this is a major concern, talk to your doctor.
Your skin during pregnancy
When you are pregnant, your estrogen and progesterone levels are higher than they’ve ever been. Because they are so high, your skin can actually change color a bit! If you’ve ever had or heard of “the mask of pregnancy”, that’s why. This is a condition called melasma. It’s a form of hyperpigmentation that occurs in 50-70% of pregnant people! The good news is that it is usually temporary and harmless. You can limit your chances of it looking worse by staying out of the sun.
Post pregnancy means a dramatic drop in estrogen levels, so your skin might give you problems for a bit. Once your hormones get back to normal, your skin should return to what it was like prior to pregnancy.
Your skin in menopause
When you go through “the change” your body will produce less estrogen. As a result, you’ll have less collagen, elastin, and natural hyaluronic acid. This results in thinner skin, wrinkles, a dull appearance, and dry skin.
To combat these issues, good skin care is essential. Many people will take a collagen supplement. These are usually in powder form and are odorless, tasteless, and can be added to a drink.
Wrinkles can be minimized by encouraging the cellular turnover cycle. Products such as alpha hydroxy acids or retinol can help this along. Dry skin is best treated with moisturizers containing ceramides. And of course, wear sunscreen and limit sun exposure to keep your skin looking young.
Custom Skincare Can Help!
We all have different issues when it comes to our skin, and at different life stages our hormones have different effects. Qyral takes that into account. Although we can’t treat hormones, we can help you tackle the problems that the hormones are causing.
We can customize your full regime with our personal skin assessment. We take into consideration your usual skin type, its sensitivity level, and a lot of other factors. Because our products work specifically with your skin, hormonal factors play less of a role.