The answer is very complicated, so I hope you will you will bear with me. But first, why is the “how” important? Because if we know how estrogen supports the skin, then maybe we can help alleviate the damage we can see in the mirror when estrogen goes down.
Estrogen does a lot for our bodies, including the skin and scalp. Estrogen deficiency (like in menopause, natural, or surgical or chemical) leads to ageing and delayed skin repair. Many women go through early menopause, or have to contend with the effects of removal of the ovaries, or deal with estrogen suppressants (to control the growth of a tumor that responds to estrogen).
How estrogen affects our body
Estrogen protects human cells against oxidative damage.
Estrogen inhibits MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor) and caseine kinase II. Trust me, this is important!
Estrogen protects cells against oxidative damage caused by ROS*.
Estrogen seems to be the most important factor in delayed healing in the elderly.
Estrogen deficiency leads to telomerase inhibition, telomere shortening and reduced cell proliferation.
Obviously, it is not surprising that menopause (and the other ways we can into estrogen deficiency) plays havoc with our body.
I can see two ways to deal with estrogen deficiency
1) Hormone supplementation (hormone replacement, HRT). However, if/when cells that possess estrogen receptors become cancerous (and some will if we live long enough), then you are done with hormone replacement. Also, hormone supplementation has been linked to some nasty types of cancer (in particular, invasive lobular breast cancer) and HRT will accelerate cancer progress.
NOTE: Phytoestrogens are not a remedy when dealing with cancer cells positive for estrogen receptors: if a phytoestrogen binds to the receptors, it will turn on the cancerous cells as well.
2) Look at the mechanisms by which estrogen helps your skin and hair and use actives that can do that job without binding to estrogen receptors.
The good news? Skin Actives has the products that can help with the changes caused by menopause, and we continue to assemble the best actives that can benefit your skin while keeping you safe. I will keep you posted.
References (I include these for the benefit of those who want to get into the amazingly complicated world of estrogen)
Wilkinson, H. N., & Hardman, M. J. (2017). The role of estrogen in cutaneous ageing and repair. Maturitas, 103, 60–64. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.06.026
Bayne, S., Jones, M.E., Li, H., Pinto, A.R., Simpson, E.R. and Liu, J.P. (2008) Estrogen deficiency leads to telomerase inhibition, telomere shortening and reduced cell proliferation in the adrenal gland of mice, Cell. Res. 18 (2008) 1141-1150.
Bottai, G., Mancina, R., Muratori, M., Di Gennaro, P. and Lotti, T.,(2013) 17β‐estradiol protects human skin fibroblasts and keratinocytes against oxidative damage, Eur. Acad. Dermatol. Venereol. 27:1236-1243
Tresguerres, J.A., Kireev, R., Tresguerres, A.F., Borras, C., Vara, E. and Ariznavarreta, C. (2008) Molecular mechanisms involved in the hormonal prevention of aging in the rat, J. Steroid. Biochem. Mol. Biol. 108 (2008) 318-326
Gosain, A. and L.A. DiPietro, (2004) Aging and wound healing, W. J. Surg. 28: 21-326.
Emmerson, E. and M.J. Hardman (2012) The role of estrogen deficiency in skin ageing and wound healing, Biogerontology. 13: 3-20.
Affinito, P., Palomba, S., Sorrentino, C., Di Carlo, C., Bifulco, G., Arienzo, M.P. and Nappi, C. (2013) Effects of postmenopausal hypoestrogenism on skin collagen, Maturitas. 33 (1999) 239-247.
Thornton, M.J.(2013) Estrogens and aging skin, Dermatoendocrinol. 5: 264-270
Inoue, T., Miki, Y., Abe, K., Hatori, M., Hosaka, M., Kariya, Y., Kakuo, S., Fujimura, T., Hachiya, A., Aiba, S. and Sasano, H. (2011) The role of estrogen-metabolizing enzymes and estrogen receptors in human epidermis, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 344: 35-40
Velnar, T., Bailey, T. and Smrkolj, V. (2009) The wound healing process: an overview of the cellular and molecular mechanisms, J. Int. Med. Res. 37: 1528-1542
Hardman, M.J. and G.S. Ashcroft (2008) Estrogen, not intrinsic aging, is the major regulator of delayed human wound healing in the elderly, Genome Biol. 9: R80, 1-17.
Emmerson, E., Campbell, L., Ashcroft, G.S. and Hardman, M.J. (2010) The phytoestrogen genistein promotes wound healing by multiple independent mechanisms, Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 321: 184-193.
Ashcroft, G.S., Greenwell-Wild, T., Horan, M.A., Wahl, S.M. and Ferguson, M.W. (1999) Topical estrogen accelerates cutaneous wound healing in aged humans associated with an altered inflammatory response, Am. J. Pathol. 155: 1137-1146.
Ashcroft, G.S., Mills, S.J., Lei, K., Gibbons, L., Jeong, M.J., Taniguchi, M., Burow, M., Horan, M.A., Wahl, S.M. and Nakayama, T. (2003)Estrogen modulates cutaneous wound healing by downregulating macrophage migration inhibitory factor, J. Clin. Invest. 111: 1309-1318
Yoshihisa, Yoko, Andoh, Tsugunobu, Rehman, Mati Ur, Shimizu, Tadamichmacrophage migration inhibitory factor-mediated hyperpigmentation,The regulation of protein kinase casein kinase II by apigenin is involved in the inhibition of ultraviolet B-induced