Menopausal and Post-Menopausal Skin: The Benefits of Cosmetic and Culinary Argan Oil
Berber women in Morocco found that applying cosmetic Argan Oil to skin skin and eating Culinary Argan Oil helped reduce skin aging and menopause symptoms.
So, Universities in Morocco looked for a scientific explanation for these benefits.
What they discovered was why the lower hormone levels at menopause accelerate skin aging.
This also allowed them to explain why some diets from other parts of the world combat aging due to lower oestrogen levels.
The Cause of Skin Aging at Menopause?
The principal cause of skin problems, and other symptoms at menopause, is the reduced levels of the hormone oestrogen ( also known as “estrogen” ).
This is because oestrogen is a powerful antioxidant.
Oestrogen supports collagen production and skin fibre generation.
So, as oestrogen levels go down skin elasticity, a sign of aging, also drops.
These changes in the skin lead to symptoms such as skin dryness, burning sensations, itchiness, blotchy skin and rashes.
Lower oestrogen levels can also lead to other health problems.
Many of these are problems that culinary argan oil is already noted to be of help with.
The Moroccan Argan Oil Study
A 2014 study evaluated the effect of the daily consumption and/or application of Argan Oil on skin hydration and age in postmenopausal women.
The results of the study confirmed that:
“consumption of Argan Oil led to a significant increase of gross-elasticity of the skin, net elasticity of the skin, biological elasticity and a significant decrease of RRT – (resonance running time – a measure of skin elasticity).
The application of Argan Oil led to a significant increase of gross-elasticity of the skin, net elasticity of the skin, biological elasticity and a significant decrease of RRT.”
They also found that using Argan Oil led to a significant decrease in transepidermal water loss and a significant increase in water content in the epidermis.
So, simply making additions to your diet may have a significant impact on skin and possibly other oestrogen realted health issues.
We look in to this later in this article.
Understanding the Bio-Chemistry Behind Skin Aging at Menopause
Your skin is made up of two layers.
During menopause lower levels of oestrogenic secretion lead to a decrease in dermal fibroblasts and so collagen and elastic fibres.
The decrease in collagen levels can be as high as 30% during the first 5 years after menopause, which equates to a decline of 2.1% per postmenopausal year over 15 years.
This decline in collagen also accelerates other degenerative changes and contributes to other post-menopausal symptoms, such as breakout skin, acne, and blotching.
Oestrogen: A Powerful Antioxidant
Oestrogen is a natural antioxidant that is central to protecting the skin renewal process.
When oestrogen levels drop, this leads to an increase in reactive oxygen species.
The increase in reactive oxygen species causes an imbalance in the synthesis of “transforming growth factor-beta” (TGFß). It is this small protein that is involved in the activation of cell growth, collagen and elastic fibre production. It is also connected to other important processes linked to cancer.
This imbalance also favours the activation of metalloproteinases (MMPs) which further degrade collagen and elastic fibres.
It is clear, then, why oestrogen replacement therapy can have a beneficial effect on the signs of skin aging.
It maintains skin elasticity in postmenopausal women by keeping up levels of the anti-oxidant hormones.
There are still some concerns over the side effects of long-term hormone replacement therapy.
Health issues such as stroke are connected with lower oestrogen levels.
Yet taking a hormone replacement therapy does appeared to be linked to increased risk of stroke in women.
Before menopause, women have a stroke rate higher than that of men of the same age.
However, after menopause women then experience a higher stroke rate than men of the same age.
It was reasonable to assume that lowered estrogen levels are influlencing this.
Yet, in the real world giving estrogen replacement therapy seems to increase cardiac problems and stroke.
An in-depth report on this found that:
“Women who began taking HRT within 5 years of menopause experienced no change in the stroke-free period compared with women who did not receive HRT.
Likewise, initiation of HRT more than 5 years after menopause increased the risk of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.”
You can read a full report into HRT and strokes here.
A more natural way to support collagen and skin fibre through diet and skincare would be desirable.
Benefits Culinary Argan Oil in the Diet Against Skin Aging
Scientific studies had already confirmed that the consumption of culinary Argan Oil, and application of cosmetic Argan Oil, can be effective for slowing or reversing the symptoms of skin aging at menopause.
Culinary Argan Oil is known for having a positive effect in the treatment and prevention of diseases such as:
- High Cholesterol Levels 
- Heart Disease 
- Diabetes 
- Arthritis 
It is interesting to note that these diseases have higher incidence in Post Menopausal women .
It would seem likely that the metabolic pathway that lead to these diseases are also hormone related?
Argan Oil & Menopause Studies in Detail
A study was conducted with a group of 60 Post Menopausal women to observe the effect of daily culinary Argan Oil consumption in the diet and/or the application of a cosmetic Argan Oil for skin care.
The research measured improvements in skin elasticity ( age ) in post-menopausal skin.
The study was divided into two groups of 30 women and lasted for 60 days.
During the study, none of the subjects was allowed hormone replacement therapy.
No other anti-aging products or vitamin supplements for skin were used.
Culinary Argan Oil was consumed as a dietary supplement by a group of 30 women at 25 ml/day.
A different, but also highly beneficial oil for skin, Olive Oil, was chosen for the control group.
The control group of 30 women were given 25 ml/day of Olive oil.
Both of these groups applied cosmetic Argan Oil topically to their skin every night.
Culinary Argan Oil & Cosmetic Argan Oil in Combination
The test group eating culinary Argan oil as a food supplement, and applying cosmetic Argan Oil externally, had a “significant improvement in skin elasticity”.
The test group taking Olive oil and applying Argan to to their skin saw no statistically significant improvement over the use of cosmetic Argan Oil alone.
It is supposed that this result was due to the higher antioxidant content of Argan oil – which is nearly double that of Olive oil.
The antioxidants are mostly vitamin E as well as polyphenols, especially phenolic acid ( ferulic acid ).
Treatment with Argan oil supplement increased the levels of vitamin E in the bloodstream of postmenopausal women.
Much more so than Olive oil.
Ferulic acid, present in Olive and Argan Oil component is a phenolic compound which prevents oxidation as it stays in the blood longer than other antioxidants.
It is thought that the synergistic antioxidant effect of vitamin E and ferulic acid combined is key to the maintenance of skin elasticity.
There are also two more important nutrients, sterols, called schottenol and spinasterol present only in Argan Oil.
The effect of these on skin elasticity is unknown.
We already know that Phytosterols in Soy can be metabolised in anti-oxidant oestrogen mimics.
Whether they contribute to the benefits of culinary or cosmetic Argan Oil for post-menopausal skincare is not known.
It is likely that the effects of high levels of anti oxidants affect cell growth signals.
This may explain why there is a side-effect-free improvement in skin elasticity when taking eating Argan oil as a supplement.
The anti-oxidants boost the weakened anti-oxidant effect of oestrogen.
The result is more messages to the fibroblasts of the cells to produce more collagen and elastin fibres.
The Results in Detail
This research into Argan Oil uncovered the fact that aging in post menopausal skin is due to a process that could be slowed or even prevented by taking higher levels of anti-oxidants and in particular Vitamin E in the diet or by supplements.
However, Argan Oil contains many complex nutrients with many known health benefits and it is quite likely that these also contribute to this effect.
Anti-oxidants in isolation may not have the same effects.
Natural Therapy Options
Other options: Isoflavones and the Benefits of Phytoestrogens
Asian women, particularly those in regions where soy-based foods like miso, tofu, and soy sauce are commonly consumed, have been observed to experience fewer menopausal symptoms compared to women in some Western countries.
Soy Isoflavones, such as genistein and daidzein, are considered phytoestrogens because they can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.
Some studies have suggested that the regular consumption of soy-based foods may be associated with the following benefits for menopausal women:
1. **Reduced Hot Flashes:** Soy isoflavones may help decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes, a common menopausal symptom.
2. **Improved Bone Health:** Soy isoflavones could contribute to better bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
3. **Cardiovascular Health:** Consumption of soy foods has been linked to potential improvements in cardiovascular health, including the reduction of cholesterol levels and better blood vessel function.
4. **Skin Health:** Soy isoflavones may promote skin hydration and collagen production, potentially improving skin elasticity.
It’s important to note that while these potential benefits are promising, individual responses to soy isoflavones can vary.
Some women may experience significant relief from menopausal symptoms by incorporating soy-based foods into their diets, while others may not notice a significant difference.
Additionally, the effects of soy isoflavones can depend on factors such as the amount and duration of consumption, genetics, and overall dietary patterns.
As with any dietary changes or supplements, it’s advisable for women to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized guidance and to discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with soy consumption, especially if they have specific health concerns or conditions.
In 2009 a study was undertaken with 30 postmenopausal women. They gave subjects 100 mg/day of isoflavone-rich, concentrated soy extract for six months..
At the end of the study researchers found:
- A 9.46% increase in the thickness of the epidermis in over 60% of subject
- An 8% increase in Collagen in the skin increased in 86.2% of subjects
- Improvement in the number of elastic fibers in over 75% subjects
- Numbers of dermal blood vessels increased significantly in over 60% of subjects. 
How Argan Oil Was Used in Menopause Skin Study
To say how much cosmetic Argan Oil is needed for a 60 day course is difficult.
It depends on the total area being treated.
Cosmetic Argan Oil:
Generally 1 to 2 60 ml bottle of cosmetic Argan oil for external use should be sufficient for at least one month to 6 weeks.
Culinary Argan Oil:
During the research a total of about 1.5 litres ( 25ml per day x 60 days ) of Culinary Argan Oil was eaten.
This would require about 7 x 200ml bottles.