Our skin glows when we are in love. That’s thanks to oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone,” which our bodies release in response to a loving touch. Of course this can happen during sex, but also when we hug a loved one or feel a welcome caress. Oxytocin’s effect on our skin is so strong, board-certified dermatologist Nicole Hayre, MD, can tell immediately when one of her patients is in a new relationship or experiencing heartbreak.
“I get to know my patients very well and sometimes during their visits someone suddenly comes in and looks differentsays Dr. Hayre. “It could be that they suddenly look great or that their skin looks completely worn out, just drained and wiped off. That’s happened several times in my 20 years of practicing where I thought, ‘Oh, something’s wrong.’ And it’s not the expression on their face. It’s not something they said, and it’s just what their skin looks like. And then I’m going to talk to them and find out what happened.”
The science behind the oxytocin glow
She realized that this change was a result of oxytocin. It is mainly produced in the hypothalamus of the brain, but it is also produced in other parts of the body, including the keratinocytes of the epidermal layer of the skin. Translation: Your skin produces oxytocin. The hormone also binds to receptors in the skin.
“When it does, it turns off a destructive pathway commonly referred to as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype,” also referred to as SASP, says Dr. Hayre. “And this phenotype usually spews out these cytokines that are inflammatory and destructive. And so when oxytocin is present, it turns that off and gives the skin time to rejuvenate and get healthier.”
She scoured research and found that oxytocin has benefits throughout the body (in the gastrointestinal tract, lung system, etc.) “In general, oxytocin makes you healthier,” says Dr. Hayre. And she confirmed the role it plays in skin health with a small study in her office. Six women collected urine samples over 24 hours so that Dr. Hayre could measure their oxytocin levels. She then used a standardized photography system and rating scale to determine what the women’s skin looked like in relation to their age.
“What I found was that there was a linear correlation — the higher the oxytocin, the better they looked for their age,” says Dr. Hayre. “And this was despite sun exposure, because the woman in my study who had the most sun exposure actually had the highest oxytocin levels and looked the best for her age.”
Dr. Hayre realized that this link between being socially and physically healthy and having more radiant skin is indeed a system. “I called it the ‘oxytocin social exchange system,'” she says. She shared her research with her patients and was amazed by the response. “We all joke about ‘the shine’ and things like that, but no one has really proven it before or there’s scientific evidence for it. And, honestly, some of the women who get really excited about this are the ones who feel a loss, for example, were abandoned and they were just broken and exhausted. Now they feel validated, like “Yeah, he took this from me. Look what he did to me – I knew It.”
Bottling the magic
Based on her research, Dr. Hayre came up with a way to harness the impact of oxytocin on our skin and literally bottle it up. She identified a botanical that has been used in medicine for centuries to mimic oxytocin’s ability to turn off inflammatory SASP and is using it as the secret ingredient in all products in her new brand, Cutocin.
“Due to Food and Drug Association (FDA) regulations, I can’t say for sure that it shuts down SASP the way oxytocin does” and getting FDA approval costs millions, says Dr. Hayre. “But we can say that we see a similar effect, which is that the skin behaves as if oxytocin is rejuvenating very quickly.”
So far, Cutocin has three products, and they all contain the patent-pending botanical. The Social Exchange Balancing Cream ($159), the Social Exchange Balancing Serum ($159), and the Weekly Rendezvous Exfoliator ($130).
Social Exchange Balancing Cream – $159.00
This cream is the first Cutocin product that Dr. Hayre has made. “The cream is fully loaded — it has your antioxidants, your peptides, a gentle form of retinoic acid. And we put in the patent-pending ingredient and it’s like the secret sauce that was missing all along,” she says. have been selling these all in one fully loaded creams in my office for years, and they are good, but i have never seen skin change as fast as with Cutocin. And I’ve never seen the reaction from the buyers, the patients, like I have with this. I’ve been selling it out of the office for a few years and there were a few times, especially post COVID with supply chain issues, where we ran out and people freaked out – and I’ve never seen that before with any of the products I’ve sold.”
Social Exchange Balancing Serum – $159.00
Next up was this serum. Dr. Hayre designed it to be used in the morning and then to use the cream at night. But if you have sensitive skin and can’t use the cream because of the retinoic acid, she says you can use the serum day and night. “The serum also contains the patent pending ingredient, azelaic acid and antioxidants. Plus, it has a nice finish,” she says. Azelaic acid reduces inflammation and evens out skin tone, while the antioxidant niacinamide boosts skin hydration while brightening. The formula also contains sodium hyaluronate (a form of hyaluronic acid) to hydrate and peptides to revitalize and improve elasticity.
Weekly Rendezvous Exfoliator – $130.00
“We came out with the Weekly Rendezvous pads to give your skin something extra,” says Dr. Hayre. “They exfoliate with a really nice, gentle formulation of mandelic acid, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid,” and of course, the oxytocin-mimicking botanical, she says. “You swipe the cotton pad over your skin and leave the solution on for five, ten minutes or more and then rinse it off. Do that once a week and you’ll be nice and smooth and your skin care products will absorb better.”
Expect to see a sunblock soon, “because I’m a dermatologist and I like the sunblock,” and a cleanser that uses the same technology coming soon from Cutocin. In the meantime, you can use any of the above self-love potions to give your skin that oxytocin glow all by itself.
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