When Allie Egan started breaking out in severe dry patches, her dermatologist’s diagnosis was contact dermatitis. Despite treatment, the patches never went away—until, years later, a hormonal workup for a fertility test revealed a form of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto’s disease, which, it turned out, was a cause of not just infertility but those dry patches.
Now, Egan says, “I want to bring this power of understanding hormonal health to others.” In 2020 she founded Veracity, a skincare brand that relies on hormone testing to create personalized regimens.
The body’s endocrine system is more far-reaching than most people realize. “Hormones affect our memory, cognition, and mood, and over time they can alter our metabolism,” says Gwendolyn Floyd, co-founder of Wile, a brand of hormonal wellness supplements. “They control sleep quality and can even contribute to heart problems.”
They also affect our appearance, says Joel Evans, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the director of Connecticut’s Center for Functional Medicine. “Hormones dramatically impact the way we look, perhaps more than any other system of the body,” he says. “Imbalances can cause acne, hair loss, facial puffiness, and bloating.” The skin serves as a barometer for hormonal fluctuations, says dermatologist Macrene Alexiades, who will often order a thyroid panel and measure sex hormones (LH, FSH, DHEAS, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) for patients in her New York practice.
For women estrogen is frequently name-checked, as it aligns with life’s significant transitions. It rises during puberty, explodes during pregnancy, and dips during perimenopause and menopause. “Estrogen is vital for women’s health,” says French skin scientist Elsa Jungman. And it has a significant effect on skin function. The skin is lined with estrogen receptors, and its thickness shifts during the menstrual cycle. Skincare brands like Payot and Typology have created products based on the idea that our regimens should shift accordingly. When estrogen dips in menopause, the skin feels the impact. “It means a decrease in hyaluronic acid and collagen, so more fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, and loss of elasticity,” Jungman says.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is also called out often. But while many assume their cortisol is high, Veracity’s data has shown just as many women with low levels, a sign of adrenal fatigue, which can also affect skin, Egan says. “When cortisol is in overdrive, you produce more sebum, which results in acne,” she says. “But with lower cortisol you see slower healing. So it may mean not many new breakouts but that the ones you have aren’t going away.”
Growing information around the negative effects of endocrine disruptors in personal care products is part of the reason hormones are now part of the skincare conversation, says Alexiades. So too is the increasing interest in our overall personal health metrics. Although many brands still embrace a one-size-fits-all model, the future of skincare may be a much more holistic concern.
This story appears in the February 2022 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW
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