How Shifting Hormones Can Make Your Skin Feel Like It's Aged Overnight

You probably knew hormones triggered acne outbreaks, but they play a role in skin aging too. Thankfully, a new crop of products is offering help on both fronts.

How Shifting Hormones Can Make Your Skin Feel Like It’s Aged Overnight , Close up portrait of successful, confident mature woman with cerebral palsy standing against orange background looking to camera
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Like many women, Stacy London, a fashion stylist and former co-host of What Not to Wear, was baffled by the changes she began noticing in her skin at age 47. "I didn't understand why it was so dry and itchy and why my routine and products that had worked before suddenly didn't," says London.

It's a common complaint: "Estrogen starts declining during perimenopause, a highly variable period for women that starts in our 30s to mid-40s. The effect — dramatic shifts in the quality of skin — is magnified during menopause in our mid-40s and 50s," says Jonquille Chantrey, M.D., a dermatologist in London. "Lowered estrogen levels alter collagen and elastin production, weakening the dermis and reducing hydration levels."

This, in turn, causes fine lines to crop up as well as a loss of volume and elasticity. The experience can be a shock. "When women see these symptoms, they often say they feel like they aged a decade overnight," says Dr. Chantrey.

And their products aren't up to the task. London was so determined to find formulas to address the changes in her skin that she became the CEO of State of Menopause, a company that makes, among other things, State of Rich Facial Moisturizer (Buy It, $35, to tackle extreme dryness. Read on for what else helps.

What Are Hormones, Exactly?

"A hormone is a protein in the body that acts as a messenger to control the way all your cells work," says Zenovia Gabriel, M.D., a dermatologist and a hormone expert in California. Although every cell has the genetic material necessary to produce hormones, the hormones that act on the skin are predominantly manufactured by the adrenal and pituitary glands, located in the brain and the sexual gonads (testicles and ovaries).

There are several times in a person's life when hormone production ebbs and flows — pre-puberty, puberty, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause — and throughout these periods, people are apt to see differences in their skin, from acne breakouts to extreme dryness, says Dr. Gabriel.

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State of Menopause State of Rich Facial Moisturizer

State of Menopause State of Rich Facial Moisturizer
State of Menopause

How Hormones Wreak Havoc on Your Skin

Despite all appearances, these proteins aren't out to destroy your complexion. Often, the changes you see are simply a side effect of hormones working elsewhere in the body. For example, during pregnancy, it's common for melanin-producing hormones to activate. This causes, among other things, nipples to darken, so a newborn baby can easily locate where their next meal is coming from. But once the excess melanin in the mother's system is no longer being absorbed by the growing fetus, it may linger and manifest on the skin as melasma (those dark patches often referred to as "the mask of pregnancy").

Then, during perimenopause and menopause, the hormones that triggered your reproductive system to menstruate and procreate become imbalanced and eventually drop — causing your skin's oil glands to spur pimples and then all but shut off, leading to dryness. (

Skin Care That Tames Hormones Impacts

If hormones are a fact of life, governing necessary changes in the body, is there anything that can allow them to do their jobs minus the collateral damage that shows up as pimples, wrinkles, laxity, and other undesirable things on the skin? Dermatologists have long prescribed birth control pills to regulate the hormones that cause a woman to get her period (and also acne) and hormone-replacement therapy to mitigate the dryness that plagues women in menopause.

But there are also many new topical treatments to try. Some contain substances that simulate what real hormones do in your skin, says Mamina Turegano, M.D., a dermatologist in Louisiana. "The benefit of using those is they get to the root cause of the issue," she says. Dr. Gabriel's self-titled skin-care line features a plant-based estrogen called Genistein, which functions like naturally produced estrogen in the body but only acts locally and where it's applied.

Try Inflam-Aging Night Repair Treatment (Buy It, $72,, which also contains antioxidants to undo the day's free radical damage. Another approach: Emepelle Eye Cream (Buy It, $98, has a patented ingredient that helps restore the function of estrogen-deficient skin.

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Dr. Zenovia Skincare Inflam-Aging Night Repair Treatment

Dr. Zenovia Skincare Inflam-Aging Night Repair Treatment
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Emepelle Eye Cream

Emepelle Eye Cream

Other products alleviate the symptoms of hormonal fluctuations. Pause Well-Aging Detox Serum (Buy It, $85, contains collagen-renewing peptides and reparative antioxidants to address thin, sagging skin and diminished luminosity. And Payot Paris My Period La Cure (Buy It, $26, is a series of nine serums applied beginning on the first day of a woman's cycle to rebalance the skin and decrease breakouts.

Dermatologists also turn to hyaluronic acid–based injectables, such as Juvéderm Volite. "Our research found that the filler increased skin hydration for nine months," says Dr. Chantrey. Lastly, for symptoms of perimenopause, such as hot flashes brought on by hormonal fluctuations, there's Womaness Gone in a Hot Flash (Buy It, $17, (Next Up: Finally, Skin-Care Brands That Believe Menopause Is More Than Just Hot Flashes)

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Pause Well-Aging Detox Serum

Pause Well-Aging Detox Serum
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Payot Paris My Period La Cure

Payot Paris My Period La Cure
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Womaness Gone in a Hot Flash

Womaness Gone in a Hot Flash
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