How Do Hormones Affect the Skin in Your 20s?

Updated July 6, 2014. Intrinsic aging is determined by heredity, your genetic programming that controls the hormones responsible for aging. The skin will behave differently under the influences of these hormones, but how do they affect skin from ages 20-30? Particularly in the early to mid-twenties (ages 22-25 in particular), hormones from the teenage years should start to level out and breakouts should be less. However, fluctuations in hormone levels right before and during a woman’s period can stimulate sebaceous glands to produce excess oil resulting in monthly breakouts. Also, since many in their twenties take birth control pills, this may have an impact with breakouts since it can affect your natural hormonal balance, positively or negatively. But aside from hormonal breakouts, the skin is generally much calmer, but dehydration is more prevalent because of increased progesterone levels affecting water retention…

Here are my tips for healthy and beautiful skin in your 20s.

De-stress and get plenty of sleep. Many in their 20s are busy studying, working and socializing, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night isn’t always happening. Did you know that stress and therefore lack of sleep can negatively affect the skin? Stress not only affects acne flare-up, in general it worsens the overall skin condition. It induces the adrenal glands into overproduction of cortisol, a steroid, which in turn makes sebaceous glands produce more oil and make skin extra oily. This the reason why in stressful periods, people experiencing an increase in acne get more inflamed, puss-filled papules than simple whiteheads or blackheads.

Consult with your doctor to experiment with different types of birth control pills to control acne. If you are someone who currently takes birth control pills, particularly for a long period of time but are now experiencing increased breakouts, I recommend checking with your doctor to experiment with different types. Many of my clients have found that making a change can have a positive influence in lessening acne and occasional hormonal breakouts. Some examples of FDA-approved birth control pills that seem to lessen breakouts include Ortho Tri Cyclen, Yaz, and Estrostep but your doctor can help to determine the best course of action. If you are not someone who is taking the pill, it may help due to the affect on natural hormonal balance.

Go easy on anti-aging products. There is much awareness about preventative skin aging and many young women are very conscious about putting in the effort earlier than later. While I certainly applaud and encourage this effort, it’s important not to overdo it in a home care regimen. Many anti-aging products have potent active ingredients in them that increase the metabolism of the cells (such as certain vitamin combinations and peptides) and may be too active for a younger complexion. Since skin in the 20s is already metabolically active, the stimulation of anti-aging products could possibly increase breakouts. Especially in the 20s, it’s very important to use products only for your skin type.

Use a skin lightener to address pregnancy-induced melasma. Due to the increase in hormonal activity while you are pregnant, many young women can develop pigmentation. This is a very frustrating condition as patches of brown spots can appear most often above the lip, on the cheeks or forehead. The cause is hormonal changes (the increase of estrogen) which turns on melanin pigment production. What to do? For anyone who is pregnant, your best defense for preventing pigmentation is to start using a natural skin lightener every day under your sunscreen. A skin lightener like Vitamin C&E Treatment is designed to suppress melanin activity. But of course, while you’re pregnant, you want to opt for natural skin lightening ingredients such as vitamin C (specifically Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate). There are many types of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid and L-Ascorbic Acid are a few examples) but I have found that Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate works best.

Use a skin lightener to fade brown spots due to birth control pills. If you haven’t been pregnant and are still getting brown spots and discoloration, it could be from birth control pills. Due to the increase in estrogen it can create, the pill can trigger your melanin cells. Talk with your doctor to experiment with different dosages to manage your hormone levels. Vitamin C&E Treatment is really important to use daily under sunscreen to fade discoloration.

Load up on topical skin hydrators. To combat dehydration in the skin, introduce serums like Skin Drink which uses the humectant, Hyaluronic Acid which holds up to 1000 times its weight in water. Simply put, your skin gets really hydrated, skin cells get plump and moist and the skin has a fresh glow. Skin Correcting Serum is also a hydrating way to address breakout prevention.

Use a gentle, antibacterial cleanser to prevent monthly hormonal breakouts. Since the chemistry of your skin changes during your menstrual cycle, switching up your cleanser (not your entire routine) can help head off a breakout. A perfect acne-fighting cleanser is AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel which utilizes salicylic acid and gentle micro beads to deep clean the pores. It was actually awarded “Best Cleanser for Oily Problem Skin” by Allure Magazine. Since it’s sulfate-free, it won’t dehydrate or irritate the skin. Start about three days before your period hits, as that’s when hormones begin to change, and continue through the week. When you’re not experiencing breakouts, a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser for your skin type will clean the pores and remove makeup.

Use Anti-Cyst Treatment to prevent monthly cystic breakouts. In addition to changing up your cleanser prior to your period, if your breakouts tend to be more cystic (the stubborn, sore “underground” blemishes that develop deep within the skin), apply Anti Cyst Treatment to the area most prone to getting these three days before your period and continue through the week. Even regular pustular breakouts can be prevented using this product, too.

Limit sugary carbohydrate foods in your diet. Another key aspect of preventing hormonal breakouts may have to do with what you put in your mouth. Those sugary carbs so many young women crave during their period may be the very thing causing the breakout to occur. They can cause a prolonged increase in insulin levels and increase acne. So try cutting back on the carbs, especially prior to your period, and you may find you’ll experience less monthly blemishes.

Limit dairy in your diet if you’re prone to cystic breakouts. Since most dairy cows are given growth hormones, the consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt become factors that influence endogenous hormones and mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin to ignite the acne process. Consider eliminating all dairy for two weeks to determine if this is the cause of your cystic breakout activity.

Read how hormones affect the skin in the teens, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take our Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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