Menopause officially begins one year after your last period, and can bring many changes to a woman’s body – especially to the skin. In this article, we explore how menopause affects the skin, traditional estrogen treatment, and promising cosmeceuticals in preventing and treating signs of aging in menopause skin.
How does menopause affect the skin?
Estradiol levels, one of the three major estrogen hormones secreted by the body, declines to nearly zero after menopause. This estrogen-deficient condition can lead to a dramatic reduction in overall skin health and appearance, due to the negative impact on dermal cellular and homeostatic mechanisms. These changes appear in the form of loss of collagen, loss of elasticity, increased MMP (enzymes that break down collagen) activity, which result in dryness, wrinkles, impaired wound healing, decreased antioxidant activity. These changes may affect self-esteem, psychological health, and increased physical perception of aging.
Traditional estrogen treatment
Since the 1940s, estrogen hormone preparations have been a popular treatment for menopausal women to treat symptoms such as hot flush (sudden feeling of heat, mostly over the face, neck and chest). This Menopausal Hormone Treatment (MHT) was later changed to include the addition of progestin to avoid the development of health conditions such as endometrial hyperplasia, and cancer.
There have been few studies that measure the effects of normal dosage of MHT on skin health, with most studies on the effects of estrogen on skin health dating from the time estrogenic dosage of MHT was as much as 10x the amount in present day treatment. Furthermore, in most of the research, there has been large and usually unmeasured and uncontrolled effects of exposure to smoking, environmental aggressors, race, and aging.
Hence, while traditional treatments such as local hormone treatment have generally been regarded as effective in reversing skin aging in estrogen-deficient or menopausal skin, the uncertainty of the long term side effects has led to the development of newer therapeutic agents in the form of botanicals .
Cosmeceuticals to treat estrogen-deficient, menopausal skin
Cosmeceuticals represent the blending of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. One of the greatest sources of new cosmeceutical ingredients are from plants. Plants are rich in antioxidants as they must survive constant UV exposure. Botanicals are also considered safe as they meet the FDA’s criteria of substances that are safe to use in topical over-the-counter formulations.
Resveratrol, a compound derived from grape, has been well researched for its anti-aging properties, and can be beneficial in the treatment of estrogen-deficient, menopausal skin in post-menopausal women. Recent studies reports that resveratrol has anti-inflammatory properties that protect against UV radiation from the sun, and oxidative stress. It also helps to stimulate production of collagen in fibroblasts, and inhibition of melanogenesis – helping to prevent the formation of pigmentation and dark spots.
The Elixir V Serum is an intensely nourishing concentrate of deep hydrating, lifting and tightening peptides. It contains Larecea™ our trademarked extract of Brassica oleracea (a botanical extract from cruciferous family plants) and a super-power Japanese Knotweed plant extract which is a source of trans-resveratrol, a potent anti-oxidant that enhances cellular regeneration at night, without the irritation effects of traditional retinoids.
Phytoestrogens & Isoflavones
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are examples of possible therapeutic agents that can send estrogen’s important skin health signals in place of decreased estrogen levels. Recent research has found that phytoestrogens (plant-derived compounds) that contain SERMs can play a major role in treatment for aging and estrogen-deficient skin.
The Mineral Booster is a dual function refreshing mist to increase absorption of skincare at night, for a perfect look with make-up & during touch-ups in the day. It contains skin-calming & repairing active ingredients, including precious rice bran extract, licorice extract, and Glycine Max Soybean Extract – that is a rich source of phytoestrogens and isoflavones. Suspended in a purified deep sea water mist harvested 600m below sea level using sophisticated technology. Perfect for tropical and humid climates.
Many studies have examined phytoestrogens which act as SERMs and help to send estrogen’s signals in place of decreased levels of estrogen. Isoflavone is a phenolic compound classified as an phytoestrogen. Isoflavones are found in high quantities in soybeans and other legumes. Phytoestrogens have been found to act as an anti-aging ingredient, resulting in increased production of collagen and hyaluronic acid in the skin.
They are also potent antioxidants, with anti-inflammatory properties. Studies conducted in 30 post-menopausal women found that treatment with isoflavone-rich, concentrated soy extract caused significant increase in skin thickness and number of collagen and elastin fibres. Additionally, creams and lotions containing phytoestrogens and isoflavones in a 12-24 week study showed improvement in skin dryness, thickness, facial wrinkles, increased hyaluronic acid, and type I and III collagen production. In these studies, no significant adverse effects after topical application of these cosmeceuticals.
Novel botanical compounds
In a study conducted by Lephart and Naftolin, two plant-derived compounds have been shown to improve the condition of the skin, especially in estrogen-deficient, menopausal skin. 4’acetoxy resveratrol (4AR) and equol are 2 novel botanical compounds that were associated with improvements in 8 skin parameters in a cohort of post-menopausal women.
The results show that for skin firmness around the eyes, Equol was associated with a 78% improvement, while 4AR associated with 68% improvement from baseline. For skin smoothness, equol was associated with 63% and 71% improvement for 4AR, while rates of frown lines and wrinkles were 72% for equol, and 77% for 4AR. Even skin tone improved 70% for equol and 83% for 4AR. Radiance and brightness rates were similar (73% for equol, 72% for 4AR), while rates of pore size (52% vs 63%), skin spots and discoloration (56% vs 73%), and hydration showed slight favoring of 4AR with equol at 71% and 4AR at 72%.
Overall, the percentage improvements were very similar for the 2 botanical compounds. This indicates that topical application of plant compounds with SERMs can play a major role as cosmeceuticals in the skin care industry, showing significant improvement in estrogen-deficient skin.
Lephart, E.D., Naftolin, F. Menopause and the Skin: Old Favorites and New Innovations in Cosmeceuticals for Estrogen-Deficient Skin. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-020-00468-7
Desmawati, D., & Sulastri, D. (2019). Phytoestrogens and Their Health Effect. Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences, 7(3), 495–499. https://doi.org/10.3889/oamjms.2019.044Tags: Anti-Ageing, Cosmeceuticals, Skin Health