What Are ‘Good Hormones’ and How Do They Help Your Skin
Our body’s chemistry works in mysterious ways, and keeping our internal worker bees, aka good hormones, happy is an integral part of the puzzle. Most women experience breakouts around their menstrual cycle. Some even suffer from adult acne owing to hormonal imbalances. But hormones are responsible for a lot more than just the arrival and disappearance of zits. Fluctuating hormone levels are often the underlying cause of a range of skin issues like dryness, loss of elasticity, eczema, acne, to name a few.
And while we can wax lyrical about hormones being the true villain in our quest to achieve beautiful skin, there are some good ones out there, too. And sudden changes in the skin might be your body’s way of telling you that something is not quite right. So understanding how good hormones affect the skin’s health can prove beneficial in tackling concerns in the long run.
So What Are Good Hormones?
The endocrine system, as we know, is made up of different glands and organs responsible for releasing a variety of hormones. Think of them as chemical messengers that enable organs to communicate with one another, and, in turn, control everything from how the body functions to one’s mood, libido, and more. A study published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation emphasises the role of hormones in maintaining skin integrity. Hormone imbalances influence the overall metabolic rate of the body, which includes skin cell turnover, and can manifest in various skin issues.
However, from over-50-odd hormones that the body secretes, a select—elite, perhaps—group has been classified under good hormones because when these babies are released into the bloodstream, they make us really happy…and that has a positive effect on our skin!
Hormones are chemical messengers that enable organs to communicate with one another, and, in turn, control everything from how the body functions to one’s mood, libido, and more.
And How Do They Help Exactly?
Meet the stars of the hormone hall of fame, also playing the role of your skin’s best friend in the movie titled Your Life!
Most of us are familiar with estrogen and its role in promoting sexual and reproductive health. But it is also responsible for stimulating elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid production, resulting in firm, plump skin. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, estrogen receptors are present in skin fibroblasts, suggesting a direct effect of estrogen on collagen synthesis.
Estrogen also regulates the body’s moisture levels, which helps reduce pore size and make the skin appear healthy and smooth. This hormone is also associated with hair growth as estrogen boosts growth by binding to the receptors on hair follicles. But as we get older, estrogen levels start dipping (usually by the mid-to-late 30s), causing wrinkles and skin sagging. Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and catching enough zzz could ensure that your estrogen levels are balanced. And your skin will thank you for it.
Speaking of catching enough zzz, melatonin is another natural compound created by our bodies. It essentially helps us regulate our sleep-wake cycles—melatonin levels peak in darkness and dip during the daytime. And that’s probably why the popular term ‘beauty sleep’ might have something to do with this hormone.
Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that allows our skin to switch to repair mode, in turn, reversing damage caused by daily aggressors like pollution, UV rays, among others. A study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology states that melatonin has been shown to protect the skin against oxidative damage by scavenging free radicals. A good night’s sleep is essential in turning back the clock as it helps restore skin vitality, fades fine lines, and heals free radical damage. Research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences suggests that melatonin encourages skin regeneration and repair by promoting the proliferation of fibroblasts.
And while there are supplements for everything today, the ones featuring melatonin should not be taken recklessly—consult a GP and dermatologist to ensure your body needs supplementary support before popping a melatonin pill.
A favourite word/term in the health and wellness industry, endorphins are the body’s natural stress or pain relievers. Often released during physical activity or moments of joy, they contribute to stress relief. A study in the Archives of Dermatology states that Endorphins have anti-inflammatory effects, which may alleviate skin conditions exacerbated by stress, such as psoriasis or eczema. Endorphins are associated with improved blood flow, which benefits skin health—increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the skin, promoting a healthy complexion.
From over-50-odd hormones that the body secretes, a select—elite, perhaps—group has been classified under good hormones because when these babies are released into the bloodstream, they make us really happy…and that has a positive effect on our skin!
Androgens, like testosterone, aren’t just found in men, they are also produced by the female body. And testosterone, in particular, plays quite an important role—just like estrogen, testosterone comes with its set of skin benefits. It is responsible for sebum production glands, which ensure the skin stays moisturised. But when it goes out of whack, it leads to excessive sebum production, which could lead to clogged pores—and thus causing acne. Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology studied the correlation between androgens and sebaceous gland activity, and its effect on acne development. Understanding these hormonal influences has paved the way for targeted acne treatments, such as anti-androgen medications, that help manage the condition.
High testosterone levels could also be the result of polycystic ovarian disorder [or PCOD], so it is wise to consult a doctor if you experience irregular periods, hair thinning or excessive hair growth, especially around the face and neck.
Known as the pleasure hormone, dopamine provides an intense feeling of reward. It is often referred to as the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter that not only influences mood but also contributes to skin health. According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, dopamine receptors are present in skin cells, and this hormone has been shown to positively influence skin barrier function. Dopamine is associated with a radiant complexion as it activates melanin production, contributing to a healthy skin tone, and boosting skin’s natural luminosity.
Often referred to as the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin is released during social bonding activities. Along with that, this hormone can be awarded with the skin healer tag as well. Oxytocin has anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to its positive effects on the skin. According to a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, oxytocin has been shown to enhance wound healing and skin regeneration through its pro-migratory and anti-inflammatory effects. This hormone, in turn, reduces inflammation and promotes a healing environment, enhancing overall skin health.
Serotonin is another neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation, and you guessed it, it impacts our skin as well. A review in the Journal of Dermatological Science notes that serotonin receptors are present in the skin, and they play a role in modulating sensations such as itching and pain. But the reason we love serotonin is because it promotes wound healing by influencing cell migration and production.
According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, dopamine receptors are present in skin cells, and this hormone has been shown to positively influence skin barrier function.
Let’s Talk About Supplements
As mentioned earlier, the above-mentioned hormones are naturally produced by our bodies. Low levels can be regulated with diet, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle changes. Supplements should only be taken in the prescribed dosage by a doctor as excessive use can have an adverse effect on one’s health, causing mood swings, addiction, and in severe cases, organ damage and chronic diseases.
The interplay between hormones and skin health is intricate, with each hormone playing a distinct role in various aspects of skin function.