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Skin

5 best hormone hacks

Hormones out of whack? Turns out there’s a simple way to manage breakouts, sugar cravings and the perfect night’s sleep – NEWBY HANDS talks to naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib to find out more

Beauty

Take a probiotic

“If you are on the Pill, or are perimenopausal or menopausal, then I recommend a probiotic 100 percent,” says Dr Nigma Talib. ‘It helps your gut better absorb vitamins and minerals – the Pill can reduce the body’s absorption of vitamin B, which is key to combatting stress.”

Don’t ignore skin changes

“Hormones are what help keep our skin hydrated and moisturized, but any changes, especially from our 40s onwards, can leave it feeling super-dry,” says Dr Talib. Switch up your skincare by using hydrating serums and moisturizers – virtually every skin needs hydration, but dry skin (which is different from a dehydrated skin) also needs nourishing with a richer, but not necessarily heavier, cream. According to many leading estheticians and skin doctors I speak to, the recent trend for serums instead of face creams has only led to an increase in dry skin – for dewy, plump, pillow-y skin, you need both.

Hormones are known as a common cause of acne, and if your skin is normally clear and has started breaking out, this needs to be treated. Dermatologist Nick Lowe has some sound advice if you notice any on-going changes: “Seek professional help, as it will only get worse. The sooner you get proper treatment advice, the easier it will be to sort out.” And like Dr Talib, he also recommends cutting dairy from your diet if you develop acne. “I’m not a fan of eating yoghurt, but I do like using it on the skin,” says Dr Talib. “The lactic acid is soothing on acne, and you can add a pinch of turmeric (but be careful, as it can stain the skin); it helps brighten and calm the complexion.”

Get enough sleep

Hormonal changes can really affect our sleep – in fact a doctor recently told me that regularly waking around 4am can be linked to low estrogen – “and we know the effects a lack of sleep have on our skin, so try to instill good bedtime habits,” says Dr Talib. While lavender may be known for inducing sleep, vetiver and petitgrain essential oils are actually thought to be even more effective in helping us drift off. The De Mamiel Sleep Series uses the principles of Chinese medicine and botanical oils to treat different sleep problems, from repeatedly waking up (Anchor balm) to having difficulty falling asleep (Settle oil). Alternatively, when your body is tired but your mind is still racing, Bynacht White Noise Balm is wonderfully calming when rubbed onto pulse points and the chest before bed. Routine is key to sleeping well, and the following bedtime regime has worked wonders for me: I add a capful of Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax oil to a run bath, take magnesium supplements before bed to relax the body and mind (this alone can be a game-changer), and spritz This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray on pillows and my Slip silk eye mask.

Take vitamin B

“Aside from being good to counter stress (which affects our health and complexion) and an energy booster, vitamin B plays a huge role in the detoxification process, helping metabolize ‘dirty’ hormones in our system,” says Dr Talib. “Estrogen is 100 percent cleared by the liver, and the B vitamins are critical for efficient liver detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables, including kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, also act as ‘hormone cleansers’ and help promote the pathways of the good hormones in our system.”

Curb the cravings

“Stress is one of the biggest causes of hormones going out of balance,” says Dr Talib. “When stressed, the body releases cortisol as part of our fight or flight response, which in turn raises insulin levels. But with repeated daily stresses this happens over and over, and ultimately this surging of insulin in the body leads to the development of insulin resistance.” And it’s this that triggers that craving reaction – usually for sugar and carbs – and it can also cause a feeling of never really feeling satisfied after a meal. “The key is to up your protein, which can balance blood sugar levels, helping with cravings,” says Dr Talib.

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