Author Mal Fletcher once said, “Wrinkles ought to be worn as a badge of honor, as a mark of survival if not wisdom.” Most of us, however, would gladly pass on that particular honor. Unfortunately, it is a badge we will all wear eventually, at least to some extent.
Many parts of your body change as you grow older, some due to wear and tear, and others due to lifestyle choices. One of the first places you notice the effects of age may be on the face that greets us in the mirror. The condition of your skin is influenced by both internal and external factors. On the outside, your skin is affected by sun exposure, toxins, and environmental pollutants. Internally, your genes, diet, and age play a role.
Twenty-first-century science offers opportunities to forestall many of the effects of aging. This may motivate you to take corrective and preventive action to protect this valuable asset—your skin. One option that shows a great deal of promise is the benefit hormone replacement therapy can have on skin aging. Understanding the relationship between hormone replacement therapy and skin can open up significant opportunities to forestall wrinkles and other signs of skin aging in favor of a more youthful outlook.
The Science of Skin Aging
The skin is your largest organ; it stands between your body and the outside world. It plays an important role in protecting your internal environment and serves as a barrier to keep damaging, external forces out. The skin helps you maintain hydration and body temperature. It prevents bacteria and certain toxins from invading your internal space.
The skin is comprised of three layers. The outer epidermis contains skin cells, pigments, and immune cells; it serves primarily a protective function. The middle layer, the dermis, regulates temperature and supplies nutrients. This layer has blood and lymph vessels, nerves, glands, and hair follicles. The dermis is held together by collagen which provides structure and strength and elastin which lends flexibility. The innermost hypodermis preserves your body temperature and cushions your internal organs with fat cells. Hair follicles, blood and lymph vessels, and nerves pass through this layer to connect with the body’s systems.
Many of the changes that become evident on your skin as you grow older reflect aging that is actually occurring in the connective tissue below the skin’s surface. Muscles become less supportive and fat may shift leading to bags or a sunken look under the eyes. Skin loosens and sags as production of supporting proteins collagen and elastin slows, weakening the matrix holding tissues together. Your skin becomes less capable of counteracting the effects of gravity, and it is drawn downward.
Additional changes occur as you age. Skin becomes drier as sweat and oil glands atrophy. It grows thinner and its elasticity diminishes. Blood vessels become more fragile causing you to bruise more easily. New cell production slows, and it takes longer to heal. Accumulated sun damage is evident in age spots, skin discoloration, and the degradation of collagen and elastin under the surface. Wrinkles and fine lines appear as a result.
Supports for Aging Skin
In the interest of protecting your important asset, you must care for and invest in your skin—one of the best practices in skincare are preventive. Ideally, you have taken good care of your skin throughout your life, and you have a healthy basis on which to age. But it’s never too late to promote better skin. Supportive efforts can include:
- Protect with sunscreen. Some estimates attribute 80% of skin aging to photoaging, damage from ultraviolet light exposure, though much of that occurs in childhood. One of the most critical supports for healthy skin is, therefore, protection from the sun. Minimizing the sun’s damaging effects can be essential to prevent skin cancer, and dermatologists recommend sunscreen that serves as a barrier to both UVA and UVB rays. Scheduling regular skin checks with a dermatologist is key to catching any signs of skin cancer.
- Eat a nourishing diet. A 2020 review of research involving various nutrients revealed that diet primarily benefits skin aging in three ways. First, the protein peptides and fatty acids (including Omega 3s, Omega 6s, olive oil) consumed in our diet provide building blocks for new skin tissue. Second, anti-aging ingredients including vitamins and polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, and teas promote antioxidant repair of oxidative damage. And third, polysaccharides like those found in mushrooms and algae have enzymatic factors that provide protection by “inhibiting the degradation of skin components and maintaining the integrity of the skin structure.” Selective supplementation can augment the benefits and fill in the gaps of a nutritious diet.
- Hydrate. Drinking adequate water supports all of our tissues. Higher water consumption, including all dietary sources, is associated with improvements in epidermal hydration, both at the surface and in measures of deeper hydration. Consuming plenty of water is an easy way to benefit the skin.
- Upgrade your skincare routine. Besides drinking plenty of water to hydrate from the inside, hydrating skin from the outside can be equally important. Gentle cleansing that does not dry the skin should be followed by moisturizing products that protect skin and prevent moisture loss. Products containing vitamins and antioxidants help to reduce free radicals, rejuvenate skin, and improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Consider hormone replacement therapy. The hormonal changes that trigger perimenopause and menopause have been associated with significant skin aging in women. For this reason, many health care practitioners focus on this connection and use hormone replacement therapy to restore healthy estrogen and progesterone levels. A recent literature review determined that “hormone replacement with bioidentical hormones is a safe and effective way to prevent skin aging.”
Even with the best of care, the effects of aging take a toll. Tissues age, and supports, including hormones, decline. Often, we try to camouflage skin changes. Getting the input of an anti-aging specialist can address the causes of these changes at their source, rather than simply attempting to cover them up.
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Skin Aging: Getting the Right Support
Perimenopause, menopause, and the decline of female hormones are normal parts of aging, but they can significantly impact the condition of your skin. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy remains one of the most exciting advances in anti-aging medicine because it addresses the cause of your symptoms. As such, it may be prescribed to treat skin aging as well as a host of other age-related changes.
Today, hormone replacement therapy is used to counteract estrogen deficiency and may improve skin’s dryness, fine wrinkles, and diminished wound healing. Beyond the benefits for our skin, hormone therapy can offer relief from vasomotor (hot flashes and night sweats) and sexual (vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse) symptoms.
Rather than giving in to the wrinkles that have started to greet you in the mirror, learn more about anti-aging advances that may improve the way you look and feel. Support your skin from the inside and outside with supportive lifestyle choices. Then, get the input of a specialist in treating age-related hormone changes and take advantage of the relationship between hormone replacement therapy and skin aging.
If you want to know more about hormone replacement therapy and skin aging, BodyLogicMD wants to help. The hormone health specialists in the BodyLogicMD network can offer products and services to support skin aging to help you look and feel your best. This includes BalancePro, an innovative treatment program that includes custom hormone replacement therapy. Set up a virtual consultation today, and take the Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about the programs offered by BodyLogicMD.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.