With hormones being the "it-thing" right now when it comes to women's health, I thought that it would be only fitting to talk about how our hormones relate to our skin health. We always breakout around that time of the month (ladies, you know what I'm talking about) or if we get stressed out because of an important life event, school, work, you name it; our hormones at times even control our emotional responses.
There are different times in our lives where our hormones may be changing or imbalanced, the teen years, 20s-30s, and 50s are all huge milestones for different reasons. During these times it may be expected to go through different life changes, and acne may just be a part of that change until your body is adjusted. When our hormone levels are stable, everything else is able to function properly; your reproductive system, skin, mood, metabolism, and the list goes on.
But what happens then if your chronically stressed or suffer from a hormonal imbalance? In what ways will you visually see the aftermath? Well folks, while I hate to be the bearer of bad news; acne is one of those ways. Would it surprise you if I told you that all acne is hormonal? Not to say that all acne is due to an imbalance of hormones, but acne in its simplest form is influenced by hormones.
How Our Hormones Affect Our Skin Health
Hormones are responsible for the growth of our oil glands and skin, and they do not have the ability to produce acne until they are fully matured. This is why children (unless glands are matured) do not experience acne. The skin is a target for these hormones. Which hormones are we talking about specifically? The four biggest hormones which affect our skin health are Estrogen, Testosterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormones.
Estrogen is important for determining how our skin looks and feels. As we age our estrogen levels change; our skin becomes dry, fragile, saggy, and has a general decrease in elasticity. The biggest culprit for women over 40 to experience thin, dry skin is typically due to a decrease in estrogen. However, an overproduction of estrogen can be harmful as well. This can cause a worsened cycle, PMS, and hyper-pigmentation or discoloration of the skin.
If you are low in estrogen you can try eating phytoestrogens, estrogen mimickers found in natural foods. Some good sources are flaxseeds, soy, oats, and lentils. If your levels are too high you can try eating broccoli, kale, and seasoning foods with turmeric which can boost the metabolism of estrogen, naturally lowering your levels.
Testosterone helps with sebum production, which is important for skin health and nourishing your skin with natural oils. However, when an overproduction of oil occurs the pore becomes clogged and acne is born! Hormonal changes related to age can cause a difference in testosterone, making your skin more oily and prone to breakouts.
One way I've found to get rid of excess sebum production is to cut dairy from your diet. Dairy can throw your hormones out of balance due to the IGF-1 found in it and cause a spike in inflammation.
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, has a massive impact on our skin (not to mention our mind
and body as well). A surge in cortisol causes an increase in sebum production and spike inflammation, one of the biggest triggers for acne. Chronic stress and high levels of cortisol can lead to unhealthy habits of coping like consuming excess alcohol, refined carbs, and sugar, which in turn can all make acne worse.
Not all stress is bad, our bodies are actually built to deal with stress, but chronic stress can wreak havoc on our overall health. Your body eventually becomes overwhelmed and your systems can go hay wire; chronic stress can worsen almost any condition, especially acne!
You can always try to reduce stress through meditation, moderate exercise, and taking some relaxation or “me time”.
“An overactive thyroid can cause warm, sweaty, and flushed skin, while an under active thyroid can lead to dry, coarse skin with a reduced ability to perspire. If you suffer From skin problems and have weight, digestion (constipation or diarrhea), or energy issues (fatigue or feeling overly stimulated), you should talk with your doctor about thyroid testing.”
If you believe that you have a dysfunctional thyroid or to get tested, consider working with a licensed physician to achieve total thyroid health.
Yes! Acne is hormonal!
As you can see, our hormones play a huge part when it comes to the appearance of our skin! Got stress? Try meditating! Imbalance of estrogen or testosterone? Try introducing hormone balancing foods! While achieving optimal skin health can be difficult, it’s important to evaluate all of the different hormones and stressors which may be further triggering your acne.
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Kali Kushner, known as the Instagram alias myfacestory, is a natural beauty advocate in the greater Cincinnati area who is passionate about using organic skincare and holistic remedies to heal acne from the inside out. Her dedication lies in her own chronic acne struggles as she continues to restore herself while helping those around her.