How Your Hormones Affect Your Skin At Every Stage

The experts weigh in on how hormones change the skin and what you can do to alleviate distressing symptoms

Women experience extreme hormone fluctuations at various stages of their lives, from adolescence, through pregnancy and into menopause. These hormone changes can affect the skin, causing overactive sebaceous glands or a drop in collagen production, among other symptoms. But for those battling these issues, there are solutions. Mirjana Brlečić – the founder of natural skincare range Nikel Cosmetics – and Dr Alek Nikolic – an aesthetic medicine and skincare expert – explains why the hormones influence the state of our skin at different life stages and how to manage it.

The first stage – Puberty

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The most notable changes in the skin occur during the teenage years, caused by a surge in the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which stimulate the sebaceous glands. This often causes increased production of sebum and results in breakouts of pimples and acne. Not all teenagers will experience skin issues – genetics also play a role in how the skin changes through this shifting into adulthood – but for those who do, the good news is that a sensible skincare regime coupled with a healthy diet can go a long way to minimising the effects.

“Cleansing your skin is essential, but this isn’t because your skin is ‘dirty’,” explains Dr Alek. “It’s simply out of balance. So you don’t need to use an astringent product, as this will only worsen the oil production.”

When choosing products that will help to manage your skin’s oil levels, it is vital to ensure you choose natural, clean products that don’t contain toxic ingredients – toxic skincare products are present in the many brands on pharmacy shelves. Many teenagers look to these products to help them get rid of their skin issues, and because they contain ingredients that irritate their skin, they only worsen the situation.

Which Ingredients Should You Avoid?

CEO of Tocara Skin & Body Science, Caro Copeland, shares her list of ingredients you should avoid:

  • Petrochemicals (including ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene and xylene isomers) are known to clog skin pores, trapping toxins and slowing skin cell growth. They can also absorb oil-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from your body and excrete them.
  • Parabens are synthetic preservatives that, in high doses, have been associated with endocrine- and hormone-balance disruption and oestrogen mimicking. They also have carcinogenic properties.
  • Propylene glycol and ethylene glycol are put into cosmetics to increase absorption. They contain a compound called dioxane, which can lead to dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities and stunted skin cell regrowth. They are also known carcinogens.

Because puberty is generally the time when most women start to establish their skincare regime, it is important to find a routine that works for you. Click here to find out more about toxic beauty and how it can affect your skin throughout your lifetime.

What you eat and drink can also play a part. “Zinc is important for hormone balance, so include it in your diet,” says Du Plessis. “It’s found naturally in seeds such as flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.”

The Second stage – Pregnancy

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Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can create complexion problems or a radiant glow – or both extremes at different times. “Pregnancy can affect the skin in different ways. Some women experience an increase in sebum production, which can bring on adult acne,” says Dr Alek. “If this occurs it’s best to see a specialist as many products that treat this condition can’t be used while pregnant.”

Pigmentation is another side-effect of hormone changes. A lot of women experience dark spots on their forehead and cheeks, which normally subsides after they’ve given birth. Staying out of the sun is important, as the sun exacerbates this problem.

The third stage – Menopause & hormones

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Adult acne may become a problem around menopause, when oestrogen levels start to fall and androgen levels start to rise, causing a loss of collagen and affecting sebaceous-gland activity. This often causes increased production of sebum, the oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands, and results in breakouts of pimples and acne. At the same time, women may start to notice dryness and red patches on their skin. “Collagen is needed for the skin’s support structure, and loss of collagen causes the skin to lose thickness and creates fine line and wrinkles,” explains Dr Alek Nikolic, an aesthetic medicine and skincare expert.

“Include a good moisturiser in your beauty regime, such as Nikel’s Nikelift face cream, which contains a natural complex that has strong antioxidants for rejuvenation and a youthful skin,” says Brlečić.

Diet is also important at this life stage, as the body’s supplies of vitamin E, which is needed to keep the skin moisturised and supple, begin to decrease. “Include avocado, nuts and sunflower seeds in your diet, as these are all rich in vitamin E,” nutritional expert Andrea du Plessis advises. 

Want to know more?

You might love all the exciting hustle-and-bustle energy the city has to offer, but your skin? Not so much. Air pollutants in built-up areas can cause premature ageing and dehydrate the skin. The good news is that there are ways to protect your skin and repair some of the damage done, with modern skincare at the forefront of these methods. Click on the link to find out how you can ensure your skincare is city-smart.