Hormones are absolutely essential for every human cellular function. As part of the endocrine system, steroid and Peptide hormones travel from the glands in the body through the bloodstream to target certain cells, influencing cell function and organ health. The proper balance and health of hormones plays a huge roll in the health and beauty of your skin.
Steroid Hormones – The fat soluble hormones from cholesterol (Cortisol, Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone, Aldosterone, and DHEA, though they are all derived from DHEA.) For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing the first 4.
How they relate to the skin –
Cortisol: Today, most people are living with constant heightened cortisol levels. This affects our whole body, throwing it out of wack, but most directly can affect our digestive system. High cortisol is meant to activate the “fight or flight” syndrome, which allows us to react quickly and effectively to danger or emergency. If cortisol is constantly high, there’s not much energy left at all for digestion. This is a big problem for the skin because the skin and digestive system are intimately connected. If you aren’t processing food, you are not getting the nutrients you need and you aren’t eliminating toxins like you should. This shows up on the skin in the form of rash, dermatitis, eczema, acne, rosacea, etc. If your cortisol is high. you likely suffer from post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, oily skin, or salty food cravings.
Things that raise cortisol and keep it high: processed foods, sugar, coffee, stress, lack of sleep, negative thoughts and worry. I find it interesting that most of us start our day with coffee and deal with high amounts of stress daily – not to mention how much sugar or processed foods we have in our Western diet…hmmm…no wonder we are all tired, broken out and aging prematurely!
Ways to lower cortisol: meditation, journaling, exercise (yoga is great,) antioxidants, whole foods, quality sleep, positive thinking.
Estrogen: This hormone is responsible for cell growth (one of the reasons it’s so important in the role of pregnancy.) Higher estrogen levels will improve skin texture, but levels that stay too high can have negative effects on your health due to rapid cell growth. High levels of estrogen can also be responsible for hyper pigmenting of the skin (as seen in the “mask of pregnancy.”) Birth control is also a culprit when it comes to hyperpigmentation.
Be aware of how much estrogen you are actually getting. You may not realize it, but estrogen comes in different forms.
- xeno estrogens – This is what your getting in certain processed foods, pesticides, parabens and plastics. Heating or re-using plastic bottles or microwaving plastic containers is a good way to get xeno estrogens into your body. So are using products containing parabens or eating foods that contain high amounts of pesticide residue (apples, grapes, lettuce, meat, dairy, etc should all be organic, aka pesticide-free.)
- pharma estrogens – This is what’s in birth control or HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy.) For more great information on pharma estrogens, visit Dr. Mercola’s website: www.mercola.com
- phyto estrogens – Certain plants, fruits and veggies can mimic estrogen in the body once they are eaten or absorbed into the skin.
- human estrogens – This is the estrogen that is naturally produced by the body via DHEA and cholesterol (mind you, not ALL cholesterol is bad – we need certain amounts to thrive.)
In order to prevent your estrogen levels from getting too high, try to avoid xeno and pharma estrogens if possible.
Progesterone: This hormone has many benefits for the skin including anti-inflammatory, smoothing and moisturizing. It is sometimes recommended to use a topical progesterone cream (percentages differ) to improve skin texture and aid in lowering PMS symptoms. However, high amounts have been linked to oiliness, breakouts and hyperpigmentation.
Testosterone: Ever wonder why we ladies tend to breakout right before our monthly visitor? Well, its for the same reason we get more irritable! Our Estrogen and Progesterone levels drop right before our menstrual cycle which means our testosterone levels are more dominant. High testosterone levels can be related to skin eruptions (pimples), irritable mood or anger, and bloating.
Part Two: Peptide Hormones
**This information is meant to explain how hormones affect your skin – and does not condone Hormone Replacement Therapy, even bio-identical. This information should not be used in place of medical advice. That being said, bien-etre always advises a balance between Eastern and Western Medicine, and encourages health through diet, cleansing, and supplements.
Dr. Mercola, www.mercola.com
Benjamin Fuchs, R.Ph., Sanitas Skincare