Like many other body processes (menstrual cycle, digestive tract, etc.), your body sheds the old to make way for the new. The natural turnover rids your skin of environmental impacts such as UV damage and bacteria, and is the key to healthy, glowing skin. From your hormones to skincare, here’s how to optimize your cell turnover.
What is the Skin Cycle?
The skin cycle, also referred to as epidermal turnover, is the skin’s natural process of shedding old and damaged skin cells and creating new ones. During this process cells gradually move upward from the deepest layers of your skin to the surface epidermal layer. As they move through this cycle, they harden, die, and your skin replaces the old with brand new, healthy cells.
On average, this cycle takes about 28-39 days, but can last as little as 14-21 days for teens/young adults. As we age, our skin’s turnover rate slows down and can nearly double the cycle time in our 50s and 60s.
Why is the Skin Cycle Important?
Proper cell turnover is essential to healthy, youthful looking skin. When factors inhibit the normal shedding of old cells, such as hormones, stress, or sun exposure, it can lead to dullness, acne, and increased wrinkles and fine lines. Built up dead cells can also trap bacteria causing blemishes and breakouts. As we age and our skin cycle slows down, the dead cells that accumulate play a role in sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.
The Skin Cycle + Hormones
When it comes to nearly all natural body processes, hormones play a major role - and your skin cycle is no different. When your hormone levels are balanced, the skin cycle can move through its process seamlessly, effectively ridding itself of damaged and old cells and making way for new healthy cells. If hormones are imbalanced, due to stress, endocrine disruptors, poor sleep quality, or a number of other factors, this process can be negatively impacted as can the quality of new cells being produced.
Imbalances of different hormones can have a variety of effects on the body, but as a general rule of thumb, deficiencies in hormones, such as progesterone, estrogen, and cortisol slow down the skin cycle leading to a dull, congested, and dry complexion due to a buildup of dead skin cells.
Alternatively, high hormone levels, especially in DHEA and testosterone, cause an increase in oil production which can trap dead skin cells and bacteria leading to inflammation, clogged pores, and acne.
Your hormones play a major role in determining the health of your skin, so testing your hormones and understanding their impacts on your skin can do wonders for achieving better skin and overall health.