Hormones and Skin
Hormones are chemical messengers, secreted by glands, that direct the function of various processes in your body, such as growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, mood and reproduction. You are at your most fertile during your 20's and early 30’s. From your mid-30’s onwards, fertility drops off until menopause. So, even before menopause, as we age, estrogen levels will start to decline and, as estrogen is in every cell of the body, this can also have an impact on skin health. A woman’s ovaries are turned on at puberty and there occurs a rise in estrogen, as well as testosterone, (it’s not a male-exclusive hormone). Many of the skin changes we experience around puberty, and later in life, are due to small glands called sebaceous glands. They start to increase in size and secrete sebum, with the most sebum secreted between the ages of 15 and 35. These glands are affected most dramatically by androgens, which are male sex hormones, like testosterone, but are present in both sexes.
It is widely known that hormones play a huge role in skin health, and having low levels of thyroid hormones, called hypothyroidism, can contribute to a low mood, weight gain and dry skin. If you have irregular periods, excess hair on your lip and chin, with acne along your jawline, you may want your doctor to evaluate you for the possibility that you are suffering with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
High insulin (another hormone) levels may also contribute to PCOS. As estrogen declines, the collagen and protein that provide its structure and plumpness break down, and the skin can become dehydrated too. With age, skin can suffer from epidermal thinning caused by a progesterone drop, leading to more prominent wrinkles. The skin consists of something called ‘zombie cells‘ which at some point start to check-out, possibly divide and can secrete inflammatory reactions that may cause a plethora of illnesses. That is why it’s important to nourish every cell & organ in our body with organic nutrient-dense foods, filtered water, organic grass-fed meats, choose chemical free toiletries, cosmetics, and cleaning products - all to help detox and regenerate these cells. Eliminating Xenoestrogens, including plastics, pesticides, chemicals, and certain water systems are key too. Many modern cosmetics and skincare ranges can cause our skin cells to atrophy, shrivel and shrink; so finding an alternative, natural and healthy skincare range, like Kat Burki, is key!
Kat Burki Skincare, uniquely powered by cutting-edge nutritional science, delivers cold pressed and processed, nutrient-dense formulations. Loved for what they do contain, as well as what they don't, the range removes all the nasties we’ve been talking about! I ADORE the Super Peptide Firming Crème with its high absorbency of a rich anti-aging moisturizer to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, rich in antioxidants as-to defend against environmental damage.
I also can’t live without my PH+ Enzyme Essence. This balancing face serum is essential for skin that not only looks healthy, but actually is healthy. It should fall in the mid-level pH range—not too alkaline, not too acidic. To get that optimal-level glow, Kat Burki Skincare harnesses a plant-based enzyme complex with turmeric, papaya, pumpkin seed oil, and vitamin C, allowing your skin to stock up on the nutrition it needs to defend against the aging process.
Your skin is a reflection of what’s going on inside your body as the gut biome is a major component of skin health, so let’s start by nourishing ourselves, using food as medicine. Stabilizing blood sugar levels will also really help your skin and hormone health, as increased levels can turn into insulin resistance. Healthy Fats to enjoy are: avocado, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, olives, and a good quality olive oil high in Polyphenols.
Good fats will keep your blood sugar balanced, supplying your body with the fuel it needs to create hormones. Eating lots of cruciferous vegetables to naturally support your hormone detoxification pathways and seed cycling is also a must and will help to regulate and enhance your natural hormone production. So, avoiding foods that are packaged and processed is best. A colorful organic plate of food will provide you with a broad spectrum of nutrients to support your hormone health and skin. Ilove the carotenoid pigments as they help protect your skin from UVR from the inside out.
Here are some nutrients, naturally-sourced in foods, that may have skin-protective effects:
*Carotenoids(red), astaxanthin (red), beta-carotene (orange), and lutein/zeaxanthin (yellow), have been shown to decrease skin redness, reduce inflammatory markers in the skin, and inhibit DNA damage and oxidative stress.
Here are some food sources of these skin-protective carotenoids:
• RED: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava (but not strawberries or cherries). Astaxanthin is mostly found in fish and shellfish. It is what gives shrimp its pinkish color.
• ORANGE: Beta-carotene is in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, cantaloupe, peaches, mango and apricots.
• YELLOW: Food sources of zeaxanthin include corn. Lutein is found in green vegetables such as parsley, basil, kale, spinach, and broccoli.
Vitamin C, D, E, and nicotinamide (a form of vitamin B3) are great for the skin. New studies suggest that nicotinamide may help to reduce the risk of cancerous skin growths in those who may be more susceptible. Food sources of nicotinamide include liver, meats, legumes, coffee, tea, yeast, grains, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Omega 3 (a high quality EPA is the best. Thorne is my favorite brand with no fillers or binders) may protect the skin from the effects of UVR.
Probiotics are key as they help keep your gut in check. The gut microbiome is intrinsically connected to all systems of the body, supporting the vaginal microbiome too, and can help manage skin concerns like acne or eczema. I love Symprove or Ion Gut by Zach Bush.
The liver is like the plughole in a bath. Everything goes through it - hormones, cholesterol, toxins, alcohol, medications, bile production and excretion, metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and enzyme activation. Milk thistle tincture and medicinal mushrooms will help to reduce any damage to the liver caused by free radicals. Plants, green tea, cocoa extract, pomegranate, and silymarin from milk thistle, all replenish the skin.
Dr. David Sinclair from Harvard University (Professor of Genetics) has been researching the benefits of NAD and resveratrol for longevity. They have been shown to positively affect skin health by promoting its photoprotection. Please check out David Sinclair’s podcast called Lifespan. It is life optimization at its best for cellular health. He dives into the research of hyaluronic acid, peptides, retinol, resveratrol and NAD as the leading science-proven skin healthcare protocols to date. If you want meticulously researched and scientifically credible supplement information, I turn to my friends at Examine.com.
The Sun is always a wonderful way to expand your vitamin D levels and improve skin tone (30 mins with good light as early as possible), but if you are sun-deprived please look into SAD lights. Lumi lights are fantastic value, and will help to boost your hormone and mitochondrial function. If you’re also looking to upgrade your wellness protocols with bio-hacking cutting edge technology, then look no further than the incredible HIGHERDOSE brand, which really focuses on women and their unique hormonal biochemistry,
I love their infrared masks. The mask is a light therapy device that combines red and near-infrared LED technologies. Light therapy is a gentle, non-invasive treatment that mimics low-level wavelengths found in natural sunlight. This relaxing and effective treatment warms the skin, boosts your mood, and enhances your natural glow after just a single session.
For a great collagen powder opt for Agent Nateur who has worked with the amazing functional medicine practitioner, Dr Will Cole, formulating a collagen powder for radiant skin and resilient nails.
• Pearl powder is the richest source of calcium on the planet. When ingested, this oceanic adaptogen stimulates the appearance of collagen production and regeneration for youthful, clear skin and healthy hair and nails. The synergy of this nutrient-dense blend also supports the appearance of two important antioxidants, glutathione and superoxide dismutase, both essential for vitality.
Hormone health is about supporting and nourishing all systems of the body, including brain function, metabolism, immune system, microbiome, nervous system and the sexual & reproductive systems.
Air and movement are all the practices you need to regulate your hormone health and LIVE VIBRANTLY.
Neeley Moore is a London-based reflexologist/holistic practitioner.