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The Cause: Two weeks prior to your period, your body produces a surge of androgen, a hormone that revs up sebaceous (oil) glands, causing clogged pores and acne, says New York City dermatologist Jody Alpert Levine, MD.
The Rx: Zap zits with salicylic acid in a topical treatment or in a cleanser like St. Ives Apricot Blemish Fighting Facial Cleanser, $3.99, drugstores. If that doesn't help, ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic to eliminate the bacteria that cause acne. Still breaking out? You may want to consider a prescription for an oral contraceptive that regulates androgen levels, says Dr. Alpert Levine.
The Cause: Birth control pills trick your body into thinking it's pregnant by raising estrogen levels. This increases melanin production, making skin more susceptible to sun-induced dark spots, says Dr. Alpert Levine.
The Rx: Laser resurfacing at a doctor's office evens skin tone and helps erase those spots. It's pricey (treatments start around $400), but most women see results after one session. Use sunscreen, and try a serum like Lancome Bright Expert Intense Brightening Spot Correcting Serum, $90, lancome.com; the vitamin C in it lightens dark areas.
The Cause: Menopause begins in your 50s, but the hormonal effects start years earlier, during perimenopause. Collagen and elasticity suffer as production of progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen slows, says Phuli Cohan, MD, author of The Natural Hormone Makeover.
The Rx: Moisturize with a rich cream that contains anti-aging ingredients to plump and rehydrate skin (try Bliss The Youth As We Know It Moisture Cream, $79, blissworld.com).
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2008.