A New Blood Test Could Reveal Your Risk of Alzheimer’s — Here’s What to Know
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SheKnows may receive an affiliate commission.
Perimenopause and menopause can do a number on your skin, leading to changes you may not be thrilled with. Now, there’s a solution a growing number of women are turning to: estrogen cream for your face.
While estrogen cream is well-known as an effective treatment for the vaginal dryness that can come with menopause, the hormone can also help with the skin on your face.
These topical treatments are designed to address signs of aging that are common in perimenopause and menopause, but there are some things to consider before diving in. Interested in using an estrogen face cream? Doctors break down what you need to know before trying it out.
A true estrogen face cream is a compounded medication—meaning, it needs to be mixed up by a pharmacist or doctor, explains Flow Advisor Kelly Casperson, MD, host of the podcast You Are Not Broken. “There’s no FDA-approved estrogen medication for your face,” she says.
These medications typically use estriol, which is a low-potency estrogen compared to estradiol, which is typically taken as an oral medication, Dr. Casperson says.
“Estrogen face cream is just topically applied to those special areas of skin where you need it, so you can get the skin benefits of estrogen without potential side effects,” adds board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, MD, founding director of Eternal Dermatology Aesthetics.
Estrogen face cream has a few potential uses. “When you hit perimenopause or menopause, your estrogen levels decrease,” Rodney says. “Estrogen contributes to elastin and gives skin a tighter feel and appearance.”
Declining estrogen levels are linked with premature skin aging and dryness, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Estrogen-containing creams can help support healthy cellular processes and fight signs of skin aging,” he says.
Among other things, estrogen creams claim to do the following:
There is some research to back up the use of estrogen face cream, although it’s older. One study of 59 women found that those who used estrogen face creams saw improvements in their skin elasticity and firmness after six months. Their pore size also shrank by 61 to 100 percent.
Another study followed 15 women who had been through menopause and were given a 0.01 percent estrogen cream. After four months, the researchers found that they had thicker skin and increased levels of collagen.
Overall, estrogen face cream, “decreases fine lines and wrinkles, and increases collagen in the face,” Dr. Casperson says.
There are a few things to consider before using an estrogen face cream. One is that true estrogen creams can’t be purchased over the counter. “There are over-the-counter products that claim to have estrogen or its precursors—these technically cannot contain estrogen because it’s a hormone and would need FDA-approval and be a prescription,” says New York-based board-certified dermatologist Gary Goldenberg, MD, founder of Goldenberg Dermatology.
Because this is a compounded medication, there is a risk of a lack of uniformity between pharmacies, says Dr. Casperson. Something else to consider, she adds: “Insurance doesn’t cover it.” Meaning, this can be pricey—or, at least, more expensive than drugstore creams.
You’ll also want to make sure you purchase estrogen face cream from a reliable source. “If the concentration is too high, you could experience system absorption,” Dr. Casperson says. Meaning, it could be absorbed into your bloodstream vs. just your skin, where it could cause an increased risk of blood clots and stroke. “There’s also been some reported cases of hyperpigmentation with estrogen products.”
Again, true estrogen face creams aren’t something that you can get over the counter. However, some companies will write you a prescription and give you estrogen face cream that way.
The most common creams popping up include:
Alloy’s M4. This cream ($150 for a three-month supply) includes estradiol, along with glycerin and vitamin E to address signs of aging.
Musely The Aging Repair Cream. Musely’s cream ($66 for a two-month supply) contains estradiol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and aloe.
Dr. Casperson recommends talking to your doctor before using an estrogen cream, noting that “your doctor should know what you’re using.” Just be aware of this, she adds: “Most doctors are poorly educated on hormones and their safety, so I wouldn’t use your physician as an end-all, be-all in hormone-related benefits and products unless you’re specifically seeing a hormone specialist.”