Clinical and Genetic Profiling of Hormonal Acne-Prone Skin

A stressed woman examining her skin in the mirror
The influence of hormonal fluctuation on acne-prone skin in 2 different populations is evaluated.

A pilot study to assess clinical and metagenomic changes in acne-prone skin in women of Chinese and White origin has identified differences within and between hormonal phases. Novosphingobium taxa were discovered in lower abundance in the White skin microbiome, however both populations revealed similar bacteria abundances. Skin redox balance suggests a weaker oxidative stress response in the Chinese population than in the White population. These are among the study findings published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Acne may be linked to the menstrual cycle and microbial profile in women. Investigators endeavored to discover the relationship between clinical parameters in skin and microbial profiles and hormonal fluctuation on hormonal acne-prone skin in 2 populations.

They initiated a study in Stockholm, Sweden that included 9 Chinese women (mean age, 26.4±2.5 years) and 9 White women (mean age, 28.1±7.1 years) with regular menstrual cycles, mild to moderate facial acne related to their menstrual cycle, no hormonal contraceptive, no additional skin diseases, no ongoing treatment for acne, and no pregnancy or breastfeeding 3 months before the study. All participants were given the same mild cleanser for use throughout the study. Protocol required participants to not wash or apply products on the day measurements were taken. Measurements were taken 3 times: luteal phase (5 to 7 days prior to menstruation), menstrual phase (day 1 to 3 of bleeding), and follicular phase (7 to 10 days following the first day of bleeding).

Investigators found changes in pore volume, hydration level, transepidermal water loss, and sebum level. They noted that Cutibacterium, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus were the most abundant identifiable genera in both populations, without significant abundant differences within the menstrual cycle.

During the follicular phase, they found 11 bacterial metabolic pathways downregulated in Chinese skin compared with White skin. Most of these pathways were linked with skin redox balance. This suggested to investigators that Chinese skin may have a weaker oxidative stress response than White skin.

Investigators observed Novosphingobium taxa, which may protect skin from pollution-mediated oxidative stress, were greater in the skin microbiome of Chinese participants.

Study limitations include the underpowered sample size.

Investigators said that, “this pilot study explored some of the clinical and metagenomic changes in acne-prone skin, and provide guidance to tailor-personalized skin care regimes during the menstrual cycle.” They added that, “the skin redox status in acne-prone skin, provides more opportunity to tailor-personalized skin care regimes.”

Disclosure: This research was supported by Oriflame Cosmetics AB. Several study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Hrapovic N, Richard T, Messaraa C, et al. Clinical and metagenomic profiling of hormonal acne-prone skin in different populations. J Cosmet Dermatol. Published online July 10, 2022. doi:10.1111/jocd.15225