Midlife women want younger skin. Quite a few of us, judging by the global anti-ageing industry — which will be worth an estimated £60.7 billion in 2022, according to market research firm Statista. We’re all looking for that magical potion that rolls back the years.

You’re hot flush! News flash, I think. It’s possible I have.

Dr Marion Gluck is the world’s leading pioneer of the use of bio-identical hormones (chemically identical to the ones your body produces) to rebalance your own and improve well-being.

More than 30 years ago she was a Hamburg doctor and founded the Marion Gluck Clinic in London. This clinic is very well-known among those who seek hormone replacement therapy or hormone-balancing therapy.

Dr Marion Gluck (pictured), who is the world's leading pioneer of the use of bio-identical hormones, has created a customised hormone facial cream

Dr Marion Gluck (pictured), who is the world’s leading pioneer of the use of bio-identical hormones, has created a customised hormone facial cream

Now she has created a customised hormone facial cream — let’s call it HRT for the face.

Only available on private prescription as it is essentially a medicine, the Estra-, Estri- & Pro-Radiance Formula Range contains either the active bio-identical hormones oestrogen (in varying strengths as estriol or estradiol) or progesterone, plus other skin-friendly ingredients.

It sounds amazing — an elixir of youth, in a pot. This could potentially be the game-changer.

I’m excited, and only a little sceptical. Systemic HRT is a form of hormone replacement therapy that involves the administration of drugs through your bloodstream. To counter the effects of menopause, HRT travels throughout your bloodstream. Aged 52, I’m one of them.

But while oestrogen gel and a progesterone pill daily boost my energy and focus, disappointingly, they haven’t done much for my skin. It’s dryer than it was five years ago and has lost elasticity — if I sleep on a creased pillow, the indentation on my cheek remains until lunchtime.

I schedule a consultation to Dr Valeria Arcampora, a hormone and skin specialist at The Marion Gluck Hospital in London and Dr Gluck.

Dr Acampora explains: ‘In peri-menopause and menopause our hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone decline. Apart from general health, this also affects our skin, which becomes crepey and sagging, and then dry.’

Females may get spots and pigmentation. And these aren’t just cosmetic issues, she says.

Anna Maxted (pictured) had a consultation with Dr Valeria Acampora, hormone specialist and skin specialist at The Marion Gluck Clinic in London, and Dr Gluck herself

Anna Maxted (pictured) met with Dr Valeria Arcampora and Dr Gluck, both hormone specialists and skin specialists at The Marion Gluck Clinic.

‘We want flawless beautiful skin, but these are actually diseases. Our epidermis thins out when our skin gets wrinkled. Medically speaking it’s also a sign our skin is not as healthy as when we were younger.’

As for why my systemic HRT hasn’t rejuvenated my skin, Dr Acampora says: ‘When we are menopausal, our body is really craving hormones. All hormones taken systemically, including those that reach the skin, are mainly kept in check by our vital organs: the brain, bones, and heart.

‘Latest scientific studies have shown that we also need to apply hormones locally. And we add some antioxidants, anti-pigment and other molecules that help with dryness to create a product tailored to that patient’s specific needs.’

But can’t I just dot some of my systemic oestrogen gel on my face? Please don’t, says Dr Gluck aghast — it’s alcohol-based, not for sensitive skin and could even cause pigmentation.

Is there a problem with double dosing?

She reassures me: ‘It’s absolutely fine if you are on HRT. Topical hormones are used in low amounts and all aspects of your treatment will be considered. It is not one or the other.’ Great news. So how do ‘hormoneceuticals’ improve our skin?

The fibroblasts cells, which are the skin’s main contributors to our skin health, become less active as we age. These skin cells are stimulated by oestrogen and progesterone.

Anna (pictured right) was prescribed the Pro-Radiance and the stronger oestrogen Estra‑Radiance to be used on alternate days

Anna (pictured right) was prescribed the Pro-Radiance and the stronger oestrogen Estra‑Radiance to be used on alternate days

Dr Gluck adds: ‘We know if we have too much oestrogen, we become bloated.’ As in premenstrual syndrome, for example. ‘The reason being that oestrogen attracts fluid. But it’s actually very nice if we put a little oestrogen on our face — it attracts fluid and the skin plumps up a bit.’

While these unique formulations of HRT for the face are new, Dr Gluck notes: ‘The knowledge that topical hormones are good for the skin, and the science behind it, has been there for a long time.’ When Dr Gluck was a medical student in Germany working on hospital delivery wards, placentas were frozen and sold to the beauty industry (until the 1970s when regulations changed), as they contain progesterone.

While it’s not compulsory, she encourages patients to have blood tests to check their hormone levels. Peri-menopausal patients might not need Pro-Radiance as progesterone declines first. Post-menopausal women might have to use stronger oestrogen.

I’m prescribed the Pro-Radiance and the stronger oestrogen Estra‑Radiance (they’re very low dosage, so they don’t become systemic) to be used on alternate days. Dr Acampora explains how she’ll create my cream: ‘I will start with a base made specifically for dehydrated skin because of the decline of hormones. I will add some vitamin C — you don’t have a significant pigmentation problem, but it will help prevent any further pigmentation. It’s a powerful antioxidant so will also help with the skin ageing process which we can slow down. Also, I’ll add some retinol. [vitamin A].’

The cost for a three-month supply is around £90 and mine is delivered a few days later.

Anna (pictured) was told by Dr Acampora that it will take around three more months for her fine lines to improve

Dr Acampora told Anna (pictured) that her fine lines would improve over the next three months. 

It’s certainly a simple routine. After washing my face, I use one blob each evening prior to bed. I don’t use any other product and, after six weeks, I look undeniably fresher-faced and my skin is dewier.

Dr. Acampora stated that it would take three months more for my fine lines and skin to heal.

While the difference isn’t huge, my skin has acquired luminosity. I check this improvement regularly in the mirror but it’s a constant. Dr Acampora says that the only problem is my lips becoming even more dry after I have stopped using lip balm. Could this happen with hormone facial creams? She said no.

Many skincare products are designed to attract water and sit on top of skin, says she. ‘So the top layer of our skin becomes very moisturised and sends a signal to the fibroblasts — which produce hyaluronic acid and hydrate the skin from within — “Oh she puts a lot of water on me, I have enough. Don’t produce water from inside.” So from putting on all these skincare products, our skin becomes dryer and dryer.’

‘Our physiological mechanism is the opposite,’ she says. ‘It starts from within. Hormones and vitamin A don’t hydrate your epidermis, they mainly penetrate the dermis and stimulate the fibroblasts to be more active. Training is necessary for the fibroblasts. This will make our skin healthier. It’s the gym for our skin.’

It surely is, because I’m starting 2022 with a glowing complexion that belies the psychological ravages of the last 18 months. And, as Dr Gluck says: ‘If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you look good.’

We wish you a happy new year!