Oestrogens have significant effects on different cell types important in skin physiology, including the epidermal keratinocytes, dermal fibroblasts and melanocytes. In addition, they can also modulate skin appendages such as the hair follicle, the sebaceous gland and the apocrine glands. Oestrogens may also have important modulatory roles in events such as skin ageing, pigmentation, hair growth, sebum production and skin cancer. It is now recognised that oestrogens can modulate their actions via two distinct intracellular receptors (ERalpha and ERbeta) or via cell surface receptors, which activate specific second messenger signalling pathways. This paper highlights the effects of oestrogens on different components of the skin and reviews some of the more recent developments in terms of receptor expression and cell signalling pathways.