Menopause : All about your skin and hormonal changes

Menopause : All about your skin and hormonal changes
Menopause : All about your skin and hormonal changes

“From Vichy Laboratories scientific communication our mission is to continue research on menopause to incarnate all historical background we have and take the menopause knowledge further. This way we ensure that we accompany women daily and ensure best of science for her future.”

Pioneer in menopause skin care

Since 1992 Vichy Laboratoires explore the specificity of the skin at menopause with objective of committing to accompany women in this very specific moment.

As a pioneer in this territory, Vichy explore, define and characterize  not only visual changes but also decodes, identifies and explains biological mechanisms behind menopause changes on skin.

Thanks to this profound and very advanced scientific knowledge, for the first time ever, a cosmetic skincare product could compensate the impact of menopause on cutaneous ageing to restore the comfort and confidence of women.

What happens to your skin during Menopause?

There are 3 types of clinical changes associated with cutaneous ageing on the face in post-menopausal women: atrophy, slackening and dryness. We will explain each of these by going step further below:

At the epidermal level

The slowing down in keratinocyte renewal causes accumulation of aged keratinocytes. Lipid synthesis is decreased, resulting in changes in the skin’s barrier function and cutaneous dryness, leading to slower desquamation and a modification of the optical properties of stratum corneum, which becomes dull and yellowish.

At the dermo-epidermal junction level

Over the course of the ageing process, the dermo-epidermal junction becomes flattened and gradually loses its undulations. The expression of collagen VII gene declines and its production is no longer correctly ensured. The loss of collagen VII is accelerated in photo-damaged skin and may induce loss of cohesion in the different layers of the skin.  This is the main structure protein of the anchoring fibrils that enable proper cohesion between the epidermis and the dermis.  Communication and nutrient exchanges between the epidermis and the dermis are then reduced, which alters cutaneous homeostasis as well as the skin’s mechanical properties.

At the dermal level

There is a reduction in the number and size of fibroblasts. This phenomenon has repercussions on the production of collagen, elastin fibres and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). However, the production of the enzymes breaking down dermal proteins (collagenases and elastases) rises with age. It is now traditionally accepted that collagen content declines in the course of ageing, accompanied by a reduction in the solubility of collagen molecules and changes in their mechanical properties. The ageing of human fibroblasts is accompanied by a reduction in collagen synthesis while the synthesis of non-collagenic total proteins remains unaffected. Elastic fibres also undergo changes; they rarefy, lose their orientation and the absence of hydration alters their elastic properties and leads to breakage. In addition to reduced collagen synthesis, cutaneous ageing leads to a fragilization of the hyaluronic acid found in the dermis, which becomes highly sensitive to degradation by certain enzymes. 

What to remember about skin in menopause


The menopause is a period of clinical variations that can have the followiong impacts on skin:

·       Atrophy

·       Sagging of cutaneous tissue

·       Drying out


There are 2 type of changes:


·       A major reduction in sebaceous function

·       A modification of dermal structure which is seen thanks to a reduction in skin viscoelasaticity (twistometer) and an increase in the formation of skin folds on pressure (densiscore).

·       A decrease of epidermal thickness


·       Degradation of proteins and of the desquamation process are slowed down, causing the accumulation of aged keratinocytes.

 DHEA expertise

DHEA is well-known in the scientific community, it is a youth-preserving hormone that is naturally produced by the human body. We all have it inside ourselves and it assures our skin looks young, fresh and beautiful. What we have found is that after menopause, the body has list 90% of its DHEA, a major cause for skin losing some if its youth.

Clinical studies have characterized the clinical signs and the composition of the skin of menopausal women, Vichy is interested in the cutaneous impact of the decrease of DHEA during the menopause.

 The clinical impact of topical application was then investigated and has demonstrated an effect on the thickening of the epidermis, the increase in the number and size of sebaceous glands, the reduction in the papyraceous appearance of skin and improved complexion.

 The clinical effects observed in these two studies have constituted a reference to elaborate a new study which the purpose is to bring to light the effect of topical treatment of DHEA on gene activation and their associated proteins.

 DHEA being such a mystery to many, here are some FAQ about DHEA to shade a light:

Q. What are the clinical effects of the hormonal decline in the menopause?

The clinical signs of hormonal ageing were identified a few years ago: atrophy, sagging of cutaneous tissue and drying are the 3 main clinical changes associated with declining hormones in the menopause.

Skin is affected at all levels:

  • In the epidermis the synthesis of lipids is slowed down resulting in a change in the barrier function and cutaneous dryness. Skin renews less and becomes dull and dry.
  • In the dermo-epidermal junction, there is flattening and reduction in the production of type IV collagen causing a reduction in cutaneous homoeostasis and therefore communication and exchanges between the epidermis and dermis.
  • In the dermis, there is a reduction in density and sagging of volume through the reduction in the production of collagen, elastin and various glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).

Q: How does one find out more about hormonal ageing?

To understand the cause of clinical signs, L'Oréal Research studies for Vichy were conducted. At the biological level*, the skin of ageing women is characterised by a major reduction in sebaceous function (-57%), a reduction in visco-elasticity and an increase in cutaneous folds.

In 2011, knowledge about the skin of menopausal women was extended even further, through a 2nd study identifying the proteins involved in hormonal ageing: the desquamation process is slowed down, keratinocyte differentiation is boosted, thereby affecting the homoeostasis of the epidermis.

* Labrie F Study-  Knowledge of the skin of menopausal women = 58 women

Q: What is DHEA?

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone or prasterone) is a steroid hormone synthesized from the age of 7 by the suprarenal gland from which all sex hormones are synthesized. These sex hormones regulate numerous aspects of cutaneous biology. The role of DHEA as a precursor for hormones makes it an important factor in the homoeostasis of the human body and skin in particular.

Its production peaks about the age of 25, and then declines with age. At the age of 70 only 10% of its maximum value is found.

Q. Why the interest in DHEA? What is the role of DHEA in cutaneous ageing?

After having demonstrated the knowledge and biological mechanisms of hormonal cutaneous ageing, Vichy was interested in the role of DHEA in cutaneous ageing

Initially, it was demonstrated that DHEA is an essential hormone in maintaining youthful skin. In fact, the clinical impact of restoring DHEA (orally) was investigated with the aim of finding out if this hormone could compensate and halt the signs of ageing. This study showed that DHEA resulted in:

  • An improvement in sebaceous function and hydration
  • A reduction in cutaneous pigmentation
  • An increase in epidermal thickness

 Then, the clinical impact of a topical application of DHEA was investigated demonstrating an effect on the thickening of the epidermis, the increase in the number and size of sebaceous glands, the reduction in the papyraceous appearance of skin and improved complexion.

The clinical effects seen in these two studies represented a reference base to implement a new study (genomic and proteomic) whose objective was to demonstrate the impact of DHEA on the activation of genes and their corresponding proteins.

 The genomic study identified that with the application of DHEA the genes involved in the proliferation of keratinocytes are stimulated, whereas those involved in differentiation are reduced, which is proof of regulation of epidermal homoeostasis. At the dermic level, the topical application of DHEA causes an increase in the expression of genes involved in the dermic structure.

These observations were confirmed in a proteomic study, where an increase in the expression of type I and III collagen and HSP 47 was demonstrated.

 Vichy therefore identified DHEA as a key hormone capable of reactivating the fundamental markers of youthful skin, impacted by the hormonal decline which occurs with menopause.