We all probably know enough about testosterone at this point to know the benefits are more than just skin deep.
But what about exactly skin deep? Does T play a role in the quality of skin we have and if so, what? If you answered ‘Yes’ and ‘It makes our skin ripple with muscle and bushy with hair’ then you’re right.
Woah, woah! Where are you going? It’s only part of the right answer. This is an article, not a fortune cookie. There’s a bit more to it than that.
Let’s take some time to pore over (thanks 😉 ) in more detail how T levels can affect our skin for better or worse, at various points through life.
Let’s start with the most obvious textural differences in skin, between men and women. Male skin tends to be tougher and firmer, thanks to naturally higher levels of androgens in our system.
These androgens include, but aren’t limited to, testosterone.
Supporting players are the likes of Dihydrotestosterone. DHT is created in the skin and reproductive tissues and may have a role to play in male pattern baldness (but that’s a whole other article).
Androstenedione is another example of a key androgen that both ovaries and testes produce, but the latter creates considerably higher amounts.
Those are just support acts though. Testosterone is by far the most important steroid hormone when it comes to your skin, which is why we’re focusing on it here.
Men make on average 10 times more T than women, so its effect is most obvious when comparing genders. But variations in men’s levels can have a big impact too. Particularly as after 30 when our T output inevitably start to drop.
The following are some of the main ways testosterone influences the ol’ epidermus, as pappy used to call it.
There are many pretty obvious physical advantages to increasing muscle mass.
One that often gets overlooked though, is the fact that when T binds to your muscles it regenerates the surrounding cells, solidifying them.
With these cells reinforced it reduces the incidence of fat deposits in the skin leading to excess flesh.
Let’s face it lads, ideally chins are like Highlanders in that movie about Highlanders, the name of which escapes me right now… There can be only one!
In your 30s your skin start to gradually lose its natural collagen. That’s the stuff that keeps your skin taught and youthful looking. So as it drops over the years, literally so does your face.
There are two ways you can recoup the droop. You can go to a clinic for collagen injections and wind up feeling your man from Hellraiser at a day spa, or you can work on keeping your T up. Testosterone helps by thickening tissues around the dermis and epidermis skin layers.
These denser tissues in turn promote something called fibroblast cells, which produce more collagen to be absorbed the body, keeping you looking tighter for longer.
T stimulates the sebaceous glands in the skin which produce oil. We know what you’re thinking, but once your body has settled down hormonally the effect is really positive.
The hormone creates more sebum and enlarges the pores allowing it to be absorbed. With the hormonal balance better than when you were a teen, this means moist and supple skin, rather than slick and shiny.
Alright so full disclosure those sebaceous glands that can keep your skin moist in later life are the same ones that potentially made your life hell earlier on.
Testosterone is the rocket fuel that propels you through puberty so in your teens levels are seriously spiking.
Believe it or not, it served a purpose back then too. It didn’t just protect you from dates with the opposite sex for a while, it also protected you from pollutants in the air that could damage your skin.
Most of us having nothing to worry about in adulthood though. Striving to keep T at a natural peak won’t cause spots. Only flooding your body with more than it can process, through steroid abuse for example, will cause issues.
Despite what you may have heard, for the most part T is actually great for your hair. It attaches itself to the follicles and uses its natural steroid quality to promote faster and stronger growth.
For us guys with higher levels that means everywhere. Which also has some surprising benefits like…
Every man gets to an age where the wrinkles kick in and his skin begins to look like his scrotum is spreading.
It’s not just a case of growing a beard to hide those creases. When a facial hair follicle is sprouting, it actually protects that area from wrinkling.
This is because facial hair contains cells that hold extra moisture so the covered and surrounding area doesn’t lose its elasticity.
That’s why Chewbacca doesn’t age a day, no matter which of the Star Wars prequels, sequels or originals he pops up in.
A combination effort by some of what we’ve already talked about here.
The higher sebum that T produces helps to refract the sun’s rays. Hair also provides a layer of protection, as does the extra collagen.
All of this not only helps prevent sun damage helping you to keep fresh faced for longer, it also lowers your chances of skin cancer.
REMEMBER though, unless you are rocking full Chewbacca hair coverage it’s important you still wear sun block, regardless of how impressive your T levels are.
So better skin is just another string to testosterone’s multiple string guitar.
As with anything to do with your hormones though, it’s all about a healthy balance. So where low T can cause thin, dry skin and hair loss, too much often equals an oily zit fest.
The best way to get optimum results and avoid problems is to trust your body, and actively try to stimulate its own inbuilt supply of testosterone.