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3 Surprising Reasons Hormones Are Messing With Your Skin

Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director. Previously she worked at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
3 Surprising Reasons Hormones Are Messing With Your Skin Health
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In regards to a healthy complexion, hormones are some of the most important influencing factors. Just ask any teen who's dealt with breakouts during puberty or a person going through menopause who suddenly is dealing with sensitive skin, and they'll tell you: Hormone health and skin health are deeply interwoven. 

However, hormones are a tricky thing to talk about. For starters, there are so many different types of hormones that can influence your skin, from sleep and stress hormones (melatonin and cortisol, respectively) to sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, and so on). But then so many factors can disrupt or throw off your hormone balance, so it's challenging to pinpoint what might be the root cause of any said concern. 

Well, we discussed a few of them in the most recent episode of Clean Beauty School with skin care expert and naturopathic doctor Trevor Cates, N.D. Here, a few call-outs; tune into the episode to learn more: 

1. Seasonality 

This may come as a surprise—because it did to me—but the seasons influence your hormone balance. "It's really fascinating to look at the research of what we know about hormones and how they change throughout the year. They actually do shift with the seasons because your body is trying to adjust to the changes in sun, temperature, food, and habits," she says. 

For example, the seasonal changes in sun exposure can affect our circadian rhythms, which influence what hormones are released in sleep. Why does this matter for your complexion? Skin can enter repair mode when you're resting, largely thanks to melatonin.

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2. Self-perception

How you feel in your skin is just as important as your skin health itself. If you're not feeling confident about the way your complexion looks, you may be tempted to pick at it, over-treat it, and so on. Take it from someone who goes to town on their face when they're feeling less than (I've dubbed it "stressfoliation"), the way you feel about your skin can influence how well you treat it. 

Some of this, too, boils down to hormones, says Cates. "When our hormones are out of balance, it can affect the way we feel. For example, if our serotonin or progesterone is low, it can make our mood feel low. And then when we look in the mirror, we don't really love what we see," she says. "And I think that that definitely plays into body and skin image issues. Because we look at our skin and we can beat ourselves up." 

3. Exposure to endocrine disrupters

We talk about endocrine-disrupting chemicals a lot here, as they're pretty pervasive. So pervasive, in fact, that it can feel like a needless and overwhelming task to avoid them. (I get it! I often feel the same way!) 

But as Cates tells us, "Our bodies are amazingly well-equipped to handle a lot of these toxins. The problem is that we're exposed to more of these now than we've ever been," she says, noting that, yes some of these are unavoidable (pollution in our air and soil, for example). 

But there are small choices we can make daily to help limit this from happening, such as opting for cleaner personal care formulas. "When balancing your hormones, focus on the day-to-day, Don't worry too much about an occasional exposure to an [endocrine disrupter] that you can't control," she says. 

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