The hormonal changes during and after menopause will impact on your skin, from overnight breakouts to deepening wrinkles. “So what is a woman to do?” we ask ourselves.
By Michelle Watts
Menopause is inevitable-every woman will go through it and it’s always approached with varying levels of discretion. It’s a delicate topic as it’s such an intimate experience in a woman’s life and differs greatly from one woman to the next. Many women don’t know what to expect and sometimes can almost feel alone or isolated. Here we look at the changes to your skin during menopause.
One of the most annoying things that you’ll notice during menopause is your skin will change. This can be uncomfortable and distressing, so I would like to highlight some of the conditions you may experience and the different ways we can take a preventative approach to our skincare.
When to Expect Skin Changes to Start
It usually starts around our mid-to-late 40s as we enter the perimenopausal stage and right up till we hit full menopause. On average, that’s around 51 years old, a time when our estrogen levels drop and these fluctuating hormone levels start to play havoc with everything including our skin.
Common Skin Issues During Menopause The decline of estrogen levels is associated with various skin issues such as puffiness of the eyes and skin, fluid retention, flushing and sensitivity (rosacea), increased sebum levels (oily skin and break outs), dryness, uneven skin tone, pigmentation and ageing.
The most common effects are:
- Loss of Collagen – the protein collagen found in our skin gives it its firmness and elasticity, and as we hit menopause the collagen production starts to slow down to as much as 30% in the first five years after menopause. This loss is associated with the estrogen deficiency. The drop in collagen is what leads to wrinkles and sagging of the skin.
- Dry Skin – Dry Skin is the most common skin condition reported by older women. Estrogen is essential for keeping the skin hydrated and the barrier function intact. It is important to keep the skin well moisturised and to use a mild, pH-balanced cleanser.
- Night Sweats and Flushing – As many as 50% of women going through menopausal transition will report night sweats and hot flushes – this number increases to 80% after menopause. Flushing usually happens on the face, neck and décolleté. This is caused by a decrease in the skins microcirculation caused by estrogen deficiency. It will sometimes appear as redness on the skin surface.
- Acne – Unfortunately, acne is not just something that occurs in teenagers. Acne in older women can happen in the perimenopausal stage, but there are so many new topical skincare treatments available to help control acne outbreaks. If you find yourself in this situation, speak to your skin specialist or your GP. They can recommend a solution.
- Wrinkles and Loss of Elasticity – Due to a drop in estrogen levels, our skin loses the elastin fibres that make our skin plump and bouncy. When these start to drop, facial wrinkles and creases tend to deepen.
It all sounds like a mouthful of negativity but don’t despair, as I’ve highlighted a lot of what can go wrong before I get to the good parts of what we can do to change or prevent these skin conditions. And I am sure many of you can relate to what I’ve mentioned, hence why I wanted to highlight them first. Some women may only experience one of these symptoms and some even none. Remember, changes in the skin will vary from woman to woman.
The good news is, and I love the good news part the most, there are a lot of products and treatments that can ease the symptoms and help. In fact, many brands are proactively creating products for women who face a lot of the issues I’ve mentioned. However, a well-considered skincare routine should be your first priority.
Start With a Good Home Care Routine
- Gentle Cleansing: choose mild pH-balanced cleansers
- Exfoliation: to stimulate cell renewal, look for products containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids or gentle physical exfoliators
- Anti Oxidant Moisturisers: look out for ingredients such as Vitamin A, C, & E
- Cooling Sprays / Mists: they help with hot flushes and flares of redness on the skin
- Skin Lotions / Serums: look for lotions containing Hyaluronic Acid as it draws moisture to the skin
- Hydrating Masks: they add moisture and hydration to the skin, a great way to calm, relax and ease stress
On top of a homecare routine, I highly recommend the following in-salon or clinic treatments with a qualified skin specialist or dermatologist at least once a month:
- Specialised Treatments: When you start noticing a drastic change in your skin, speak to a professional right away. Early intervention while your skin is still receptive can have beneficial if not reversible effects. I can personally say I have had some of these treatments with exceptional results. The aim is to stimulate collagen production within the skin. Micro-needling, Meso-Therapy, Laser resurfacing and Radio Frequency are some treatments worth enquiring about.
- Retinoids: They are a derivative of Vitamin A and are considered one of the best for anti-ageing.
These treatments stimulate collagen and help to maintain the thickness of your skin while reducing wrinkles. However, please speak to your skin specialist before applying Retinoids yourself as they can be very harsh and can cause dryness in your skin, therefore damaging your skin even further. Also, avoid sun exposure while undergoing treatment.
- Vitamins C & E: Incorporating Vitamins C & E into your daily skincare routine again helps to build collagen and give you a glowing and radiant skin. It also boosts the efficiency of your sunscreen which I highlighted the importance in my previous article on Skin, Sun and SPF. It is extremely important to practice a good sun protection routine DAILY.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): These acids are good ingredients to look out for when choosing skincare products such as lotions, serums and exfoliators as the AHAs reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Regular use will maintain your skin’s youthfulness, texture and radiance.
- Hyaluronic Acid: This acid is a naturally produced molecule in the dermis and has moisture-retaining qualities. I often refer to it as the “moisture magnet” as it draws moisture to the skin. As we age, the production of hyaluronic acid slows down, therefore creams and serums will help replenish what is lost. A few extremely popular products containing hyaluronic acid are Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum and Clarins Double Serum, two of the world’s best selling over-the-counter products that can be purchased in most stores, online and in duty-free outlets.
- Sunscreen: Daily year-round sun protection will help prevent further skin damage and even reverse some of the damage already done. Minimise your daily sun exposure by applying at least some SPF 50 – a must for ageing skin. I highly recommend applying SPF 50 all year. (See last month article)
- Healthy Lifestyle: Living a healthy lifestyle can help push back the hands of time. A good diet, frequent exercise, and avoiding smoking. Regular check-ups with your GP can also help monitor your health during menopausal changes.
To summarise, I would say take good care of you. Try and lead a healthier lifestyle. It’s time to take your skincare to the next level. If you haven’t already, commit to a skincare routine that consists of well-formulated products with some of the ingredients I have mentioned. In addition, speak to a professional skin therapist who can recommend treatments and home care products so you can follow a daily routine at home.
If you have any specific questions regarding our article this month or any other questions please email Beauty@cosmocreole.com