hOrmones and I have a complicated relationship. I’m allowed to say this because I started taking oral contraceptives in college in an effort to combat my years-long battle with cystic acne. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful to have this solution available to me – but it was also positioned as the only option rather than dig deeper and see what else might be going on under the surface.
You may also have connected puzzle pieces, realizing to yourself that you break out at a certain time of the month or when you are highly stressed or anxious. These conditions are directly related to your hormones. In fact, “hormones are the cause of almost all acne no matter your age,” says Gary Goldfaden, MD, a Miami dermatologist and namesake of progesterone, estrogen, and cortisol. Brand.
Knowing that hormones and skin health are closely linked, I was intrigued by skincare brand Veracity, which offers personalized regimen recommendations based on an individual’s hormone levels. The name itself means “honesty usually,” and I appreciate his mission to instill an understanding of our bodies in women. The first step? An at home hormone test, started me on my biohacking journey.
What is honesty?
After years of trying to figure out her skin—specifically, the cause of her dry patches—Allie Egan, CEO and founder of Veracity, has taken matters into her own hands. Through a series of doctor’s appointments and in-depth hormone tests, she learned she had an underactive thyroid. This long experience inspired her to create Veracity, which she calls “a solution that uncovers the root causes of problems, big and small, and puts you on a path to better skin and wellness.” The process begins with Veracity’s Skin + Health Test, which I picked up in hopes of better understanding my connection to personal hormones.
At 30, as I look to my future and what that means in terms of having kids and simply living a healthier lifestyle, I had to take the test…and as a beauty editor, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do this in part for vanity reasons, and to understand how my hormones affect my skin. Similar to a proportions test, the process involves spitting into a bottle, sending it away, and waiting for your results. In addition to submitting the sample, I filled out a form about medications and life events—things like starting a new job or going through a breakup—that can affect my hormones, and in turn, my skin.
When I received my results via email a few weeks later, I was overwhelmed. I’m no expert on hormones, and seeing terms like “low progesterone” and “low estrogen” seemed intimidating. In addition to progesterone and estrogen, Veracity measures testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, and pH—all of which were on the low side for me.
A simple answer, but one I didn’t think of right away, is that my progesterone and estrogen levels were low because I’m currently on birth control pills. “When women take birth control pills, their ovarian hormone levels will be… Very similar to those in menopause.” but, Kirti Patel, MDand OBGYN and Chief Medical Officer at Point of viewnotes that the type of test Veracity offers is more accurate for those who aren’t taking hormonal contraceptives.
Dr. Francis says having your doctor, such as an endocrinologist or gynecologist, review these findings with you is a smart move. “They can help you determine if there are underlying issues causing the imbalances,” she says. From there, you can make a plan and find the right expert to help you. “Home tests can be a nice first step to opening up the conversation about reproductive health, menstrual cycles, what to expect, and how our bodies function,” he says. Lucky Sekhon, MD, Reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist, and OBGYN at RMA of New York. But, she stressed, “it cannot be reliably used to diagnose problems.” Instead, Dr. Sekhon says she’ll run more blood tests — as opposed to Veracetti’s saliva test — to confirm what’s going on and then make a diagnosis from there.
On the Veracity results page, there’s a tab called “Compare,” which I found useful because it showed where I stood among other testers regarding hormone levels and their experiences, such as the association between low estrogen and acne. I have pointed out a few skin issues in the form of my intake, including acne, dull skin, dark circles, and hyperpigmentation, and this tab provided insight into how I rank among others with the same hormone-related issues. For example, 64.8 percent of the other testers had low estrogen levels and also had acne. With health and other obstacles in general, I find it easy to feel alone in it, but seeing these results made me feel less like I was the only one going through it.
Based on my findings, Veracity recommended a routine of products and supplements like Veracity’s Blemish Calming Cleanser ($42) and Vital PRGST Boost ($65) to balance the skin-related effects of low progesterone and Moisturizing Balance ($55) to do the same for low estrogen. . There were also ingredient recommendations for my skin—sulfur for blemishes, mushrooms for inflammation, and hyaluronic acid for hydration—which will be helpful to remember when shopping for products from other brands.
In terms of diet, my Veracity report advised me to eat more cashews because of their higher levels of zinc, which, according to their website, “tells the ovaries to produce progesterone which is a great natural anti-acne supplement.” I’ve also started taking a vitamin C supplement, but I love that the site lists ways to get the nutrient through foods like yellow peppers and cantaloupe.
For lifestyle, Veracity suggested I work on my sleep and incorporate gentle, restorative yoga. This doesn’t quite align with my HIIT addiction, but I’m going to try to find more balance. I also found it interesting that there was mention of needing to feed my nails, as my nails are always a wreck. “Low estrogen levels lead to water loss and nutrient deficiencies, which can cause dryness and ridges in the nails,” Veracity told me, which was spot on.
It may sound silly, but having these results makes me feel empowered to know what’s going on in my body. I have been off the Pill and am intrigued to see how this will affect my hormone levels. Says Egan, “It’s great to get in the habit of testing every 3 to 6 months to see how your body is adapting and to see if you need to change any of your lifestyle or supplementation practices.”
I’ve already started incorporating some of Veracity’s recommendations, including taking a probiotic and the vitamin C supplement mentioned above. I also have an appointment with a hormone specialist on the books to go deeper into my results and get blood work done.
The Health Test only scratches the surface of everything that’s going on inside the body, and I’m eager to learn more about levels of other hormones that the test didn’t include. However, I feel that taking this test was the first step in understanding my body better, and I will continue to research additional information about my health, wellness, and skin goals.
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