Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can create complexion problems or a radiant glow, or both extremes at different times.

Vitamin E-rich food such as avocados, nuts, and sunflower seeds can help to manage the effects of hormonal change on the skin

Women experience extreme hormone fluctuations at various stages of their lives, from adolescence, through pregnancy, and into menopause. These hormone changes can affect the skin, causing overactive sebaceous glands or a drop in collagen production, among other symptoms. But for those battling these issues, there are solutions.

MENOPAUSE

Adult acne may become a problem around menopause, when oestrogen levels start to fall, and androgen levels start to rise, causing a loss of collagen, and affecting sebaceous gland activity. This often causes increased production of sebum, the oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands, and results in breakouts of pimples and acne. At the same time, women may start to notice dryness and red patches on their skin. “Collagen is needed for the skin’s support structure, and loss of collagen causes the skin to lose thickness and creates fine line and wrinkles,” explains Dr Alek Nikolic, an aesthetic medicine and skincare expert.

“Include a good moisturiser in your beauty regime, which contains a natural complex that has strong antioxidants for rejuvenation and a youthful skin,” said Mirjana Brlecic, founder of natural skincare range Nikel Cosmetics.

Diet is also important at this life stage, as the body’s supplies of vitamin E, which is needed to keep the skin moisturised and supple, begin to decrease. “Include avocado, nuts, and sunflower seeds in your diet, as these are all rich in vitamin E,” nutritional expert Andrea du Plessis advises.

PREGNANCY

Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can create complexion problems or a radiant glow, or both extremes at different times. “Pregnancy can affect the skin in different ways,” says Dr Alek. “Some women experience an increase in sebum production, which can bring on adult acne. If this occurs it’s best to see a specialist as many products that treat this condition can’t be used while pregnant.”

Pigmentation is another side-effect of hormone changes. A lot of women experience dark spots on their forehead and cheeks, which normally subsides after they’ve given birth. Staying out of the sun is important, as the sun exacerbates this problem.

PUBERTY

Going through puberty is hard enough without having to face acne. The most notable changes in the skin occur during the teenage years, caused by a surge in the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which stimulate the sebaceous glands. This often causes increased production of sebum and results in breakouts of pimples and acne.

Not all teenagers experience skin issues – genetics also play a role in how the skin changes through this shifting into adulthood – but for those who do, the good news is that a sensible skincare regime coupled with a healthy diet can go a long way to minimising the effects.

“Cleansing your skin is essential, but this isn’t because your skin is ‘dirty’,” said Dr Alek. “It’s simply out of balance. So, you don’t need to use an astringent product, as this will only worsen the oil production.”

What you eat and drink can also play a part. “Zinc is important for hormone balance, so include it in your diet,” says Du Plessis. “It’s found naturally in seeds such as flaxseed, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.”