Keratins are a family of intermediate filaments that serve various crucial roles in skin physiology. For mammalian skin to function properly, and to produce epidermal and hair keratins that are optimally adapted for their environment, it is critical that keratin gene and protein expression are stringently controlled. Given that the skin is not only targeted by multiple hormones, but also constitutes a veritable peripheral endocrine organ, it is not surprizing that intracutaneous keratin expression is underlined by tight endocrine controls. These controls encompass thyroid hormones, steroid hormones such as glucocorticoids (GCs), retinoic acid (RA) and vitamin D, and several neuroendocrine mediators. Here, we review why a better understanding of the endocrine controls of keratin expression is not only required for an improved insight into normal human skin and hair function, but may also open new therapeutic avenues in a wide range of skin and hair diseases. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.