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How hormones affect the skin 

The skin is the largest organ of the body so it’s no wonder hormones have a major impact. Here’s the science of how hormones impact the skin.

“In this wide sense, the human skin and its tissues are targets as well as producers of hormones. 

Indeed, human skin cells produce insulin-like growth factors and binding proteins, propiomelanocortin derivatives, catecholamines, steroid hormones and vitamin D from cholesterol, retinoids from diet carotenoids, and eicosanoids from fatty acids.

Hormones exert their biological effects on the skin through interaction with high-affinity receptors, such as receptors for peptide hormones, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and thyroid hormones. In addition, the human skin is able to metabolize hormones and to activate and inactivate them” (Horm Res 2000).

Our skin is not an independent organ. The product of hormones in the skin impacts our health including the immune system!

Thinning and wrinkled skin is a sign of lack of hydration in the skin. It is common in peri– and post-menopausal women and is often a sign of hormone depletion.

Transdermal natural progesterone can be used as a skin moisturizer. When used as a skin cream, not only is progesterone well absorbed but can help restore skin hydration. Many patients notice a more youthful appearance and reduced presence of wrinkles.

Effects and side-effects of 2% progesterone cream on the skin of peri- and postmenopausal women show  “…that topical 2% progesterone acts primarily in increasing elasticity and firmness in the skin of peri- and postmenopausal women. These effects in combination with good tolerability make progesterone a possible treatment agent for slowing down the aging process of female skin after the onset of menopause” (Br J Dermatol 2005).

Testosterone is also linked to improved skin appearance. 

“…The male hormone, testosterone, has a rejuvenating or ameliorative effect when applied to aging human skin. Clinically evident changes, such as effacement of wrinkles, hair growth, and augmented sweating, are present but modest, particularly when compared to the improvement in the microscopic architecture of the skin. Progesterone and pregnenolone produce similar but more diminutive alterations. The female hormone, ethinyl estradiol, was without effect, while the corticosteroids accentuated the degradative changes of senescence” (Effect of Topical Hormones on Aging Human Skin).

DHEA may also improve the skin. Rats were treated for 9 months with local topical application of DHEA compared with oral conjugated equine estrogens. The rats treated with DHEA showed “significant changes in all skin layers” (Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig 2010).

Another study noted, “…it is well known that the skin undergoes regressive changes after menopause and that these changes are mainly related to a loss of skin collagen content. The potent stimulatory effect of topical DHEA reflected by an increase in the number and size of dermal fibroblasts and the expression of procollagen types 1 and 3 suggest the possibility that topical DHEA could be a useful antiageing agent in the skin” (BR J Dermatol 2010).

And a third study confirmed these conclusions and found that DHEA provided “beneficial effects on skin characteristics that are rarely provided by topical treatments” (Maturitas 2008).

The skin and hormones are intimately tied and human skin even produces and metabolizes sex hormones. Given all the functions hormones play in regard to the skin, it makes sense that when the skin is acting up, it could be related to hormone production. Furthermore, hormones themselves may be considered as a treatment for certain skin issues including aging skin.


C C Zouboulis. Horm Res 2000;54(5-6):230-42. Human skin: an independent peripheral endocrine organ. Souced from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11595811/

Holzer G et al. Effects and side-effects of 2% progesterone cream on the skin of peri- and postmenopausal women: results from a double-blind, vehicle-controlled, randomized study. Br J Dermatol 2005 Sep;153(3):626-34. Sourced from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16120154/#:~:text=No%20serious%20side%2Deffects%20of,of%20peri%2D%20and%20postmenopausal%20women.

Papa C.Effect of Topical Hormones on Aging Human Skin). J. Soc. Cosmetic Chemists, 18, 549-562. 1967 Aug. Sourced from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

El-Afly M et al. Skin responses to topical dehydroepiandrosterone: implications in antiageing treatment Br J Dermatol. 2010 Nov;163(5):968-76. Sourced from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20698844/

Nouveau S et al. Effects of topical DHEA on aging skin: a pilot study. Maturitas.  2008 Feb 20;59(2):174-81. Sourced from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18242894/