Article: Skin Perfect - Test Your Hormones!

Skin Perfect- Test your Hormones

By Ann Vlass N.D; B.Sc (Hons)

Naturopathic Doctor and Medical scientist Ann Vlass explains how the correct hormone tests can help us decode our skin problems and boost younger looking skin!

Can you imagine just by answering a few questions, and having a hormone sample analysed, you may be able to decode your skin deficiencies! This is something we do regularly at our clinic - and the results are astounding! So throw away your cosmetics and all the money you spend on your outward appearance, and take a closer look at your insides and see how your hormones can greatly influence your skin.

Before we go into the group of hormones generally involved in skin deficiencies and regeneration; it is important to help you understand that the appropriate hormone testing is necessary for this type of analysis. 

Correct method for testing your hormones:

A pathology test is only as good as the laboratory standards by which it is measured, and the appropriate testing methodology used.

Unfortunately, a (blood) serum hormone test is not suitable for all hormone assessment, and yet, we see patients on a daily basis who tell us their hormone tests are ‘normal’ but in fact, their hormone measurements were not indicating ‘active’ or free ‘bio-available’ hormones. Many hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone are lipophilic (‘fat-loving’) and, therefore, attracted to the lipid membrane covering red blood cells, and these red cells carry the ‘active’ hormones into our body tissues, and away from the watery (serum) component of blood.

So, imagine you have a sample of blood taken and then it is sent to the laboratory in which it is centrifuged or separated into its components; the red cells where the hormones like to sit are discarded while the watery serum, where the ‘active’ hormones are not, is tested. Silly isn’t it! And, blood testing is more expensive to perform and not flexible for assessment of different time points. This is why we collect saliva or urine sampling of free ‘bio-available’ hormones. These collections can be ordered through our clinic, or a Naturopath who specialises in hormonal issues. It is important you see such a practitioner to know the appropriate and strict collection method for the sampling.

Now that we have a handle on the correct hormone tests to consider, here are a few examples of decoding hormonal relationship in skin deficiencies.

Decoding your skin deficiencies

Hormone imbalances of growth hormone, thyroid hormones, oestrogen, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol and melatonin are some examples that can give you clues as to why your skin is devitalised, pigmented, riddled with acne, wrinkled and dry. 

Our antioxidant and immune protective skin hormones: Over time, skin cells can pigment easily and become irregular (predisposing us to skin cancer). Limiting over-exposure to the sun helps, but make sure you have sufficient immune boosting hormones such as melatonin and thyroid hormones. A helpful tip- if you want to help your body to boost its own melatonin production is- get your beauty sleep!  Research in recent years attributes melatonin with high antioxidant potential making it a very important anti-cancer hormone. Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of important hormones such as growth hormone and oestrogen which is also important for youthful skin appearance. 

Our ‘fertile glowing’ hormone: Healthy oestrogen balance lubricates our skin and makes our hair, skin and eyes glow! It attracts men to women - at the most fertile time in a woman’s menstrual cycle- when its levels peak. In fact, makeup ‘attempt’ to mimic healthy oestrogen levels. Blush, lipstick, shimmers, foundations and eye makeup all act to reflect the natural appearance of young fertile women with healthy oestrogen levels. The sad irony is that these products can disrupt healthy oestrogen levels in the body, leading to a lot of health problems. 

Hormone deficiency, wrinkles and dry skin: As we age, oestrogen levels decrease along with other important hormones and this can create noticeable aging effects, the most obvious being wrinkles. Thyroid and growth hormone production slow down and cause our sweat glands to shrink. Our sebaceous (oil) glands also shrink when we have deficiencies of oestrogen, testosterone and DHEA. The final effects cause our skin to dehydrate. 

Hormone imbalance, acne and oily skin: This is when we investigate insulin levels, oestrogens, testosterone, DHT and, in women consider Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a very common female hormonal disorder associated with androgen-induced acne. 

Pigmentation problems: Melasma (also called chloasma or ‘mask of pregnancy’) generally occurs when an imbalance of oestrogen and/or progesterone stimulate pigmentation hormones, causing dark brown or grey, irregular sized patches on the face. The OCP, pregnancy, darker coloured skin, cheap synthetic cosmetics, and over-exposure to the sun can increase the incidence of melasma. Too little cortisol hormone resulting in a severe adrenal condition called Addisons disease is associated with hyperpigmentation of the skin especially in the creased surfaces.

The powerhouse cosmetic industry may entice us into thinking that all our skin problems have ‘external’ solutions, but as you can appreciate your internal health and especially hormone balance is as important (if not more) in reaching and maintaining perfect skin health!

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