How to keep skin healthy during hormonal changes

Hormonal health plays a major role in the condition of our skin. Whether it's a specific stage of life such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause or during the phases of the menstrual cycle, the natural shift of hormones during these times can mean skin is more oily, dry, or sensitive. A couple of the most commonly experienced skin symptoms associated with hormonal changes –dryness and sensitivities– are a direct result of a weakened skin barrier and immune function. These are particularly commonly associated with the decline of estrogen during the menstrual phase and menopause. 

Many hormonal shifts are out of our control, but by cultivating a healthy physical skin barrier, acid mantle, and microbiome you can support skin through the many stages it goes through. 

What makes up the skin barrier?

The ‘skin barrier’ is commonly misattributed to only refer to the physical barrier. That is, the upper layer of the skin is composed of tightly packed corneocytes (dead skin cells) and lipid-rich ‘glue’ made of fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol. But, the skin barrier is so much more than this! It’s also made up of the acid mantle and skin microbiome, which are the other two components of this extremely complex and intelligent skin ‘security system’. 

Why skin pH is so important

The acid mantle creates a thin layer on the outer part of the skin and is responsible for keeping skin at the ideal pH (which is slightly acidic at around 5.5). This helps keep the environmental pollutants out, and moisture in. It also creates the perfect condition for good bacteria. When the acid mantle is too alkaline or too acidic, it can lead to inflammation and chronic skin conditions. Alpha hydroxy acids are an example where a controlled process temporarily changes the skin’s pH to achieve the goal of exfoliation and brightening, but when used too often can disrupt the skin’s balance and create permanent damage to the acid mantle and skin barrier as a whole. 


skin microbiome


What is the skin microbiome? 

A disrupted acid mantle can also cause damage to the skin’s microbiome, which is a thriving population of microbes. The composition of the skin microbiome is determined by the location on the body and overall physiology of the skin, in other words the amount of oil and moisture found in the area. For example, oil-loving Propionibacterium species (which contribute to acne) are more commonly found where sebum is prevalent, and Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium species (which contribute to body odor) are commonly found in areas like the feet and inner elbow where skin is more moist. When we disrupt our skin’s microbiome, dysbiosis occurs, causing one strain of bacteria to overpopulate and overcrowd the rest. For example, an excess of Propionibacterium can contribute to widespread acne, or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can lead to a staph infection. 

What disrupts the skin microbiome and causes dysbiosis? 

  • Gut health, such as poor diet and antibiotic use
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Environmental pollution and sun exposure (causing free radical damage)
  • Poor skin care practices 
  • Hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps
  • Stress

How to promote a strong barrier function and skin microbiome: 

Do: Focus on gut health. Several studies have shown a relation between skin disorders and the diversity of the gut microbiome, which can be caused by an abundance of over processed, sugar-rich, highly inflammatory foods. 

Don’t: Over wash your face or body. When you cleanse, use a gentle, non-drying formula and never antibacterial soap. 

Do: Work up a sweat! The skin needs to remain slightly acidic to create an inviting environment for good bacteria and to fight off the unwanted ones. Sweat is not only acidic and helps to maintain skin pH balance, but contains components that bacteria use to survive. 

Don’t: Over-use active ingredients. Exfoliating acids and retinoids all have their place in skincare to help brighten and slow the signs of aging. When used too frequently though, they can directly harm the skin microbiome. Always incorporate recovery days in your weekly routine. Rotate your active products with moisturizing, soothing products.  


graydon berry rich


Do: Incorporate good bacteria into your skincare routine. Just like your diet, you can use skincare products that promote healthy skin microbiome. Try: Three Skips Harmony Cucumber + Kombucha Microbiome Balancing CleanserEtymologie Probiotic Vitamin C Serum, or Graydon Berry Rich Probiotic Face + Eye Cream.

Do: Use daily sunscreen. This will ensure you help protect the skin from UV radiation, which can lead to dysbiosis. Studies have shown that sun exposure can negatively affect the microbiota diversity and composition. My favourites are: Consonant The Perfect Sunscreen or Cyberderm Simply Zinc Ultra Tinted SPF 50


If you're not sure where to start or what products may be leading to a ph- or microbiome imbalance, reach out to me to book a personalized skin consultation. I can help you find the right routine for you based on your lifestyle and budget. That will help heal your skin and get you the results you're looking for. 

- Seanna

This post was written by our Skin Therapist-In Residence Seanna Cohen. At the helm of our skincare sanctuary, Seanna is a Certified Skin Therapist & expert with 10+ years of experience in the beauty industry. After years of trialling products, receiving client insight, and offering facials, she brings unparalleled expertise and a passion for clean beauty. She is here to curate personalized solutions tailored to your unique skincare needs. 


Seanna Cohen



Lee HJ, Kim M. Skin Barrier Function and the Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Oct 28;23(21):13071. 

Oh, A. L. Byrd, M. Park, H. H. Kong, J. A. Segre; NISC Comparative Sequencing Program, Temporal stability of the human skin microbiome. Cell 165, 854–866 (2016).

Willmott T, Campbell PM, Griffiths CEM, O'Connor C, Bell M, Watson REB, McBain AJ, Langton AK. Behaviour and sun exposure in holidaymakers alters skin microbiota composition and diversity. Front Aging. 2023 Aug 8;4:1217635. 

Kendall AC, Pilkington SM, Wray JR, Newton VL, Griffiths CEM, Bell M, Watson REB, Nicolaou A. Menopause induces changes to the stratum corneum ceramide profile, which are prevented by hormone replacement therapy. Sci Rep. 2022 Dec 15;12(1):21715.

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