Your Skin + Hormones | By Amanda Laird of The Heavy Flow Podcast
Writer and Holistic Nutritionist Amanda Laird is the host of The Heavy Flow Podcast, where she discusses all kinds of issues surrounding women's health and hormones. Her insight into the connection between your cycle and skin health is an important part of understanding how to take a holistic approach to beauty. This holistic approach is why we offer our 21-Day Radiant Skin Reset to teach you about how diet can affect your wellness, and therefor hormones, and in the end make you feel beautiful from the inside out.
Hormonal skin, every day of your cycle
Your menstrual cycle is a vital sign and important indicator of your health and wellness, just like your heart rate or pulse. The hormones that are at play during your menstrual cycle aren’t just for making babies; they also have an effect on your mood, energy levels, appetite, sleep and skin – every day of your cycle, not just when you’re PMS-ing.
Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are three hormones at play during the menstrual cycle and each of them have an influence on the health and appearance of your skin.
Estrogen helps to keep your skin smooth and hydrated, while progesterone tightens up your pores and contributes to your skin’s “glow” – it’s the high levels of progesterone during pregnancy that give mamas-to-be great skin. Testosterone, not just a male sex hormone, increases sebum production, which can lead to acne and breakouts.
Hormones are like an orchestra; when one instrument is out of tune it throws off the whole band. An imbalance between these hormones can show up as irregular menstrual cycles, PMS, painful or heavy periods, and in our skin.
Your skin throughout your cycle
At the start of your cycle when you’re on your period, estrogen and progesterone are both low. During this time you might be dealing with any lingering breakouts or blemishes that cropped up during your PMS week and your skin might be a little dull as a result of these low hormone levels.
The middle of your cycle is likely when your skin will look it’s best, when estrogen and progesterone are both at their peak. Then before your next period, these hormones fall while testosterone remains high. This is when you might be experiencing breakouts as the testosterone is triggering an increase of sebum production.
These hormone-related breakouts tend to crop up on your jaw line and cheeks. If you’re breaking out in the same places around the same point of your cycle month after month, it’s a good sign that there’s a hormonal component to your acne.
How birth control affects your skin
Hormonal contraceptives are often prescribed for skin-related issues and some birth control pills are even approved for use as an acne medication.
However, the synthetic hormones in birth control aren’t going to solve the underlying hormonal imbalances that contributing to your breakouts and when you decide to stop taking the pill your skin might end up looking even worse. Hormonal contraceptives suppress your natural hormone cycles and your skin may kick into overdrive when you stop taking them which can mean even more skin troubles.
Menopause and your skin
Hormones affect the health and appearance of your skin as you get older and move closer to menopause. Throughout our 40’s and 50’s as we experience perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels start to decline and our testosterone levels can increase. This can result in fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin or even acne and breakouts.
Balance your hormones for beautiful skin and better periods
The good news is that our hormones are receptive to positive changes to our diet and lifestyle.
Here are three tips that will help to improve your cycle and your skin:
Eat a plant-based diet: You don’t have to be a vegetarian, but your plate should be primarily composed of whole, plant-foods like leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.
Ditch the dairy: Milk, cheese and other dairy products can mess with your hormones, which tends to show up in your skin.
Cut down on sugar: The best way to balance your hormones is to balance your blood sugar. Get rid of added and refined sugars, and make sure that you’re getting a little bit of protein and fat with each meal and snack to avoid spikes in your blood sugar.
Skin health starts from the inside out, thanks to our hormones. When our hormones are in harmony, it is reflected in our menstrual cycles and in our skin!
Amanda Laird is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist™ and host of the Heavy Flow Podcast – a weekly podcast dedicated to casual conversations about periods, reproductive health and other taboo health and wellness topics, available on iTunes and at www.amandalaird.ca. Amanda is the author of the forthcoming book, Heavy Flow, published by Dundurn Press in February 2019. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.
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