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Hormonal Vulnerability and the Spa Professional

By: Geoffrey Redmond, MD
Posted: June 24, 2008, from the February 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Acne, oily skin and hair problems are always hormonal, resulting from vulnerability to testosterone. When skin is overly sensitive to testosterone, even a tiny amount will increase production in the oil glands. Similarly, the excess facial or body hair removed by electrolysis or lasers is always caused by testosterone stimulating hair follicles.

Many doctors mistakenly conclude that when a patient’s testosterone levels are normal, the cause of the person’s symptoms is not hormonal. However, if a woman’s skin is extra sensitive to testosterone, even normal levels can cause acne, hirsutism and alopecia. Beyond acne and seborrhea, testosterone accelerates skin aging in women. Consequently, anti-aging skin care is necessary to counteract these effects.


Of all the symptoms produced by hormonal vulnerability, thinning scalp hair is perhaps the most distressing. Some affected women virtually withdraw from life because of it. Dermatologists and even endocrinologists usually tell women that there is no remedy. However, this is not the case. Treatments that target the hormonal cause can be effective in the majority of cases of alopecia.

Physical well-being

Most women experience some physical discomfort during the last week of their cycle and often for the first day or two of menstruation, as well. Symptoms can include not only cramps but also migraines, muscle aches and pains, mood swings, bloating and abdominal discomfort. It is obvious that these are triggered by hormones because they occur in the part of the cycle in which estrogen and progesterone—the two main female hormones—change too rapidly for the body to keep up. Although menstruation usually brings relief, hormonally vulnerable women still must endure several miserable days each month. To make matters even worse, complexion problems tend to be at their worst during this time.

Studies have shown convincingly that massage is extremely effective in reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The week preceding the onset of their period may be a particularly important time for women to enjoy spa services. Physical discomfort—even barely noticeable mild but persistent pain—can contribute to depression. Because massage, sauna and other such treatments soothe bodily discomforts, they can be extremely helpful for women who experience hormonal swings during their cycles. Spa professionals who provide these services should be aware of the relief they can bring and also recognize the need for sensitivity when dealing with clients who are at their rawest.