How Hormones Effect Our Skin

Teens: The Oily Years

Girls start puberty around ages 12 or 13, sometimes this number differs based on genetics and environmental factors. During puberty, the female body starts producing sex hormones, namely estrogens and androgens, in higher quantities than before as it gears up towards adulthood.

When it comes to popular hormones, estrogen takes the prize for most widely known and discussed. However, there are many misconceptions about this elusive and incredibly important substance. First of all, it is not purely a female hormone. True, it is primarily made in the ovaries and is abundant in females, but it is also found in males and made in different tissues outside of the ovaries. Secondly, the word estrogen actually encompasses a group of chemically similar hormones, so it is not a single substance. Estrogens include estradiol, the most abundant form in adult females, estriol, the primary estrogen during pregnancy and estrone, which is produced during menopause. During puberty, estrogen also communicates to other parts of the body through specialized receptors, causing breasts to develop, for example, or giving a new curve to hips and thighs. In the skin, estrogen decreases pore size, creating a smooth surface. It also helps build collagen and elastin, proteins that give the skin its springiness and elasticity, respectively. And, it helps the skin heal and maintain moisture.

Androgens include testosterone, which is generally thought of as the male hormone, but, as with estrogen and males, testosterone and other androgens are also present in females. During puberty, a boost in androgens stimulates coarser, thicker hair growth, particularly pubic and underarm hair. In the skin, the hormones enlarge pores and boost the production of sebum, an oily substance produced in the skin.What you get is the telltale sign of teenage skin: acne.

20s to Mid-30s: The Best of Times

Estrogen peaks during your 20s, giving most women their best-ever complexion: luminous, taut, and even-toned. The shift in hormone levels around your period, however, can lead to acne.

If the cycle remains on schedule, estrogen peaks right before ovulation, which can make the skin appear to glow (this is the same hormonal boost that gives pregnant women their shining skin). Testosterone also peaks, which drastically increases the likelihood of blemishes and breakouts. The hormone also increases the libido.After ovulation, both estrogen and testosterone drop.

Late 30s and 40s: Getting Drier

Your 30’s are when estrogen levels start to dip, heralding sinking levels of skin-tightening collagen and elastin and skin-plumping hyaluronic acid.

As the overall level of estrogen decreases, the skin does not bounce back the same way. Instead, collagen and elastin production decreases, which causes the skin to get drier and lose its elasticity. Estrogen loss impacts aging skin far more quickly than sun damage.

By their mid-to-late 40s, most women are in perimenopause, the transition between regular ovulation and menopause, which is when ovulation stops completely. As the hormone cycles change to accommodate this new stage, you may experience adult acne, increased facial hair and a thinning head of hair.

50s and Up: Menopause Realities

Menopause has usually started once a woman is in her 50’s. The ovaries still produce hormones, including estrogen and testosterone, but the levels are very low. The main hormone that affects the skin during menopause is estrogen and, as it fades, the skin produces less collagen and elastin. During this time, the skin gets thinner, drier and more wrinkled. Menopause may cause other skin problems, including acne or rosacea.

Drops in estrogen can also cause hot flashes. These flashes can cause a sudden sensation of warmth in the face and chest, making your skin appear very red.

Every human being experiences the changing of our skin as we age, the best way to keep your skin at it’s healthiest is to have a proper skin care routine that will need to change as we age. Make sure you check in with your skin care professional to make sure you’re using the right products for your age and skin type.

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