HOW HORMONES AFFECT YOUR SKIN – PART 3 PREGNANCY & MENOPAUSE
Our hormones are hugely powerful chemicals that surge through our system constantly. They all have different jobs and some dominate at certain times in our lives. But how do they affect our skin?
Bridget Carmady, Naturopath and Founder of Clémence Organics takes a look at different life stages, what hormones are most active at these times, how they affect our skin and what skin issues thrive in these conditions.
Part 3 Pregnancy & Menopause
Although these two stages of life can be far removed from one another, they both herald a time when hormones are significantly changed from the norm.
This wondrous time in many women’s lives can lead to a glorious glow or skin from hell. Our bodies react differently and if you had a predisposition to a certain skin issue, this I the time it will show its ugly face! Here are a few of the common skin conditions that present themselves in pregnancy:
The reason some women get a pregnant ‘glow’ is the same reason some women get the worst acne of their lives. Increased androgen levels stimulate skin sebum production, leading to oily skin and acne.
Recommendations: Whilst you have to let your hormones do their thang during this time, you can help keep sebum production under control with a healthy diet and the right skincare. Diet should include low GI foods, reduced milk solids (milk and ice cream) and anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds). Skincare should be anti-inflammatory, naturally antibacterial and non-comedogenic (won’t block pores).
Pregnancy also means a time of physical change for the body, and where there is growth, there is potential for stretch marks, most commonly breasts, tummy and thighs.
Recommendations: Prevention is definitely better than a cure. Where you anticipate growth, apply a treatment that will reduce the occurrence of stretch marks. I highly recommend our Ultimate SOS Balm which can help prevent and also reduce existing stretch marks.
The hormone that causes our skin to tan and helps create our freckles and moles, melanin, also picks up during pregnancy. Whilst it’s barely noticeable for most women, some get what’s called chloasma or ‘the mask of pregnancy’, which is when areas of dark colouration appear on the face.
Recommendations: Thankfully in most cases chloasma fades after pregnancy but it is particularly important to wear sunscreen during this time to reduce any further melanin production.
This significant time in our lives heralds the end of our fertile days and our menstrual cycle. Hormone levels fall, particularly oestrogen and progesterone, and our body undergoes a whole raft of changes. Skin is not left out of this upheaval.
The most significant change caused by reduced hormone levels in menopause is a decrease in collagen production. This affects both elasticity and skin thickness. Vitamin D is also harder to produce which has a flow-on effect to the skin, influencing both immunity and skin repair/ageing. Dryness also comes as a result of the decrease in oestrogen and progesterone. Talk about hitting skin for 6!
To support the skin during this time, the best approach is through a combination of internal and external recommendations.
• Collagen support – add foods and nutrients to your diet which support collagen production including protein, vitamin C, and zinc (keep your eyes peeled for next week’s blog post which will be all about collagen!).
• Vitamin D – increase vitamin D rich foods (oily fish, eggs, nuts and seeds) and consider adding a supplement as absorption is reduced in menopause.
• Dry skin – increase omega 3 and omega 6 rich foods (salmon, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds) and ensure you are drinking 1-2L of water daily.
• Collagen support – choose skincare products which contain vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.
• Vitamin D – get a little sun on your bod each day (not during peak UV times). 10-15 minutes is all it takes to boost vitamin D levels.
• Dry skin – choose skincare products which are rich in natural oils and butters, and contain hyaluronic acid to hold water in the skin.