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It's All About Sex: Hormones and Skin Moisture

By: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD
Posted: August 20, 2008

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For women, the picture was very different. Female water levels in the skin correlated reasonably with their estrogen levels, but the correlation was not as high as in men. Strangely enough, the correlation with testosterone was completely absent. In evolutionary terms, women generally did not prefer macho guys—a little bit of feminism or sensitivity in a man was preferred since it ensured women that he would not go crazy and try to kill a lion in front of his male friends. Ancient women preferred to have a caring mate that would defend his family over a mate trying to impress his friends.

Changing estrogen levels and their effect on skin moisturization also correlate to menopause. When menopause occurs, estrogen levels and skin moisturization sharply decrease, creating wrinkles. Evolutionally speaking, this occurs because female body does not expell so much energy on maintaining the skin's condition to look good in order to reproduce. Instead, the body is changing (and preparing for grandchildren).

Sex hormones definitely play a role in skin moisturization but the title of this column is that it really is all about sex. This can be proven in the lab with NIR equipment. Colleagues and I also measured seven pregnant women in the laboratory—and they must have had the best moisturized skin that our lab ever measured. Strangely enough, their water levels were not correlated to their estrogen levels or to their levels of testosterone but to the ratio of estrogen over testosterone.

So, finally I am there: The best skin moisturizer turns out to be pregnancy. Really, it is all about sex. As a man who could never become pregnant, I could never have skin that looks as good as a pregnant woman. All I can do is keeping on trying … after all, it’s all about sex!

-Prof. Dr. Johann W. Wiechers
Technical Advisor, Allured Publishing
Independent Consultant for Cosmetic Science
JW Solutions, Gasthuispolderweg 30 2807 LL Gouda, Netherlands