Your Skin & Your Hormones: What I Wish Every Client Would Do for Their Skin


Hello all! My goodness it has been a few! As many of you know, it's been a busy season at i {heart} skin and I am so excited to be spending more time in the treatment room. but it has left me with a little less time to blog. However, blogging about skin and self care is something I am super passionate about, so I will be continuing to update as often as I am able!

Today, I'm writing about something that has been on my mind for awhile. A good question I am sometimes asked is What is the one thing everyone should be doing for their skin?

And today I have an answer.

The answer is: everyone should be figuring out their hormones. How they work and how to work with them. Not the answer you were expecting? Hear me out!

Hormones. That's it. It's not face massage or toner or monthly facials. (Though those things are obviously important, too.) What I really wish every client would do for their skin, is learn more about their hormones.

I've done a lot of research in the past few years, trying to decode common skin challenges my clients face. One of primary concerns being acne, and in particular hormonal acne. I would estimate that about 25% of clients who come through my door are flummoxed by the fact that they still break out in adulthood. Hormonal acne is pretty easy to spot as it tends to show up on the chin or around the jawline. It is extremely common but can be very difficult for some of my clients to manage. However, it isn't impossible and it starts with understanding what's going on below the surface.

So here is where I remind you that I am not a doctor or a medical professional and am in no way qualified to give medical advice. And I won't. In my quest to better understand how our hormones affect the skin, I sought out numerous resources which I will share in this post. What I can say, as an esthetician, is that your hormones absolutely impact your skin, and it behooves your greatly to understand that, if you want to create positive change in your skin.

What does it mean to learn about your hormones? It's a weird concept, I know. In fact, if you told me a year ago that I would ever be harping on so much about hormones, I probably would have laughed. Or just become very uncomfortable. Talking about our bodies and how they work can be awkward at first. But it really doesn't need to be. I promise you that it is so worth it to start learning about this stuff as it pertains to your skin!

Even if you aren't someone who struggles with hormonal acne, hormonal imbalances can contribute to just about any other skin issue - hyperpigmenation, dullness, dryness and inflammation (which also leads to premature aging.) I can speak to this personally. I am not someone who personally struggles with hormonal acne, but what started for me as a little "research" on behalf of my clients, lead to me better understanding my own hormones and learning to better work with them. And in doing so, I have experienced a lot of positive changes in my overall well-being.

Early last summer, I listened to a podcast (linked below) featuring Dr. Alissa Vitti, author of the book "Woman Code". What she spoke about resonated with me. The hormonal imbalance issues she described fit me and many of my clients. I read her book, downloaded her app and began implementing some of the lifestyle changes she recommends. I made changes around my self care, getting enough rest, eliminating certain things from my diet and introducing others.

Dr. Vitti's approach involves incorporating different foods, exercise and activities at different times, according to our body's needs throughout the month. I can personally attest, that without a ton of effort or even perfect consistency doing this, I immediately began to experience positive changes. My energy levels improved. I experience less mood shifts and swings throughout the month. I was able to troubleshoot PMS symptoms and much more. Skin aside, I recommend learning about your hormones as another form of self-care. It's that life-changing! While the "Woman Code" approach is what worked for me, there are numerous books on the subject of hormone balancing and I encourage you do do your own research.

But, what does this hormone stuff have to do with your skin? Well, when the inside is more balanced, so is the outside. Your overall skin health is a reflection of your internal health. Most of us understand this when we notice that these hormonal breakouts show up at roughly the same time every month. We know the link exists, but think there's nothing to be done about it. What I've learned in my research over the last year, is that we are wrong about that last part. There are things that can be done about it. You just have to empower yourself with a little knowledge.

If there was one thing I wish every client would do for their skin, it would be to work on the hormone piece. Because without it there is only so much I can do to help someone correct what's happening to the skin, as a result. I can treat the skin topically, but it's up to you care for it internally. Simply put, happy hormones = happy skin. Clients who adopt a more holistic approach to their skin are much happier with the results they are getting because we are treating the skin from the inside out, instead of just trying to come at it from the surface. That said, I definitely have some tricks I've learned as a facialist to treat hormonal acne in the treatment room and at home. Read on!

In the Treatment Room

Facials can definitely be beneficial for treating hormonal acne, but you want to make sure you're getting a facial that incorporates the right modalities. For hormonal acne, and acne in general, I like to treat it from multiple angles.

I like manual lymphatic drainage facial massage and facial reflexology to help facilitate natural detox. Because the lymphatic system sits below the surface of the skin, it has a lot to do with keeping our skin healthy and functioning optimally. Addressing this component helps flush stagnation and blockages underneath the skin that can contribute to hormonal acne. As a bonus, It's also great for blackheads.

I use Blue Light LED Therapy to address surface bacteria and inflammation, calming breakouts and the redness they leave behind while healing. The light helps not only prevent future acne flare-ups, but treats any existing damage to the skin.

The third thing I like are peels. I use progressive, non-agressive chemical peels to help break up old, dead skin buildup that may be contributing to the problem. Because our skin's natural turnover cycle slows with age, part of what we are seeing with hormonal acne, is the skin's inability to properly shed skin cells like it did when we were younger. This excess buildup on the surface then makes it easier for acne bacteria to get trapped and causes blemishes. Skin also takes longer to heal with age, for similar reasons. Peels help the turnover process along and can in the process also combat future acne.

Timing also matters with hormonal acne. I recommend getting a facial with one or more of these modalities about one week before you expect a hormonal breakout to help cut it off at the pass and reduce activity during your cycle.

At Home Fixes

More good news! If you can't make it in for a facial you can easily replicate a lot of this at home. Exfoliating the dead skin cells with a chemical exfoliant such as glycolic acid or retinol acts as a mini-version of a peel. I like the Glycolic & Retinol Pads or the Retinol Scrub from SkinScriptRX because they also incorporate brighteners for combatting post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

It would also be appropriate to use a cleanser or toner than contains glycolic and maybe a bit of salicylic acid, if you are oily. You don't want do this every day but some form of gentle exfoliation is appropriate 1-2 times per week normally, and 2-3 times a week if you expect a breakout.

To replicate lymphatic massage for your face at home you can use your hands and some very light pressure or incorporate a roller tool. (See this blog for more on how to use the rollers.) Doing a little face massage for yourself, even if it's just while you're cleansing, is all that's needed to stimulate some lymphatic movement and flush out toxins. Be sure to give some love to your neck first. Using light downwards pressure, to facilitate the detoxification process.

Other products I like to incorporate for hormonal acne are hydrating serums and moisturizers. When you are breaking out, it might seem instinctual to reach for drying or stripping products but doing that can actually aggravate the acne more. When your skin is stripped of moisture or hit with too many aggressive products, it will react by getting even more inflamed, which won't help matters.

When dealing with a hormonal breakout, I suggest that you continue to moisturize your skin with hydrating toner, serum, moisturizer or all three. Remember how we talked about the skin's turnover slowing down with age? Dehydrated skin also has a hard time turning over, so the last thing we want to do is compound the factors that may be contributing to sluggish, acne prone skin.

Resources to learn more:

Okay! Now that you've heard me out, here are some links to professionals and resources for hormone stuff. I also hope you'll seek out more resources that resonate with you. If you find a good one, let me know!

Podcasts:

Alisa Vitti on The Balanced Blonde Podcast

Alisa Vitti on The Almost 30 Podcast

Alisa Vitti on Wellness Mama

YouTube:

Alisa Vitti: TEDx Talk

Books:

Woman Code by Alisa Vitti, HHC

Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, ND

Apps:

MyFlo Period and Symptom Tracker

Websites & Articles: Flo Living Blog

Article: Renee Rouleau: How do Hormones Affect Your Skin in Your 20s?

Article: Renee Rouleau: How do Hormones Affect Your Skin in Your 30s?

Article: Renee Rouleau: How do Hormones Affect Your Skin in Your 40s?

Article: Renee Rouleau: How do Hormones Affect Your Skin in Your 50s?

Article: Renee Rouleau: How do Hormones Affect Your Skin in Your 60s?

About the blog:

This is a blog about everyday skin health. As an esthetician I strive to provide comprehensive skin care advice and knowledge to anyone who wants to know more.

Read on and please don't hesitate to reach out! I love educating people about their skin and am always happy to respond to questions.

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