Usually beginning in the mid-40s or early 50s, menopause is a life phase that affects all women but up until recently has been shrouded in stigma and taboo. Driven by fluctuating hormone levels (such as estrogen and progesterone), menopause brings with it a host of issues from hot flushes to brain fog. It can also trigger a range of skin issues including breakouts, congestion, oily skin, dullness, dehydration, dryness, pigmentation and dark spots. It’s a time when the skin really starts to show signs of laxity due to the drop in estrogen levels, which in turn will also cause collagen production to quickly decline. During menopause its important to really nurture the complexion, working to balance the skin and treating skin conditions as they appear. Below are a few tips to help protect and balance your barrier function during this time.
During menopause, the body produces less melanin, which helps to protect the skin from UV damage. Sun exposure can also trigger a further loss of estrogen during this time. It’s important to protect the skin by using a broad-spectrum SPF50 as the final step in your skincare routine each morning.
Collagen, one of the most abundant proteins in the body, is responsible for giving the skin strength, structure and elasticity. From our 20s onwards, we begin to naturally lose our supply of it each year. This loss is accelerated during menopause; it’s estimated women can lose up to 30% of their remaining collagen supply within the first year. Incorporating edible collagen into your routine boosts collagen at a cellular level, and is clinically proven to plump, smooth and firm the skin.
A derivative of vitamin A, retinol speeds up skin cell turnover to reveal fresh, new layers beneath. It also helps to repair damaged DNA and stimulate collagen production, both addressing the signs of ageing that can become more apparent during menopause. Although highly effective, retinol can be drying and irritating for some skin types, so start at a low dose and use once or twice a week before working up to more frequent use as the skin builds tolerance.
Oxidative stress, which occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, can result in a further decline of estrogen. Along with eating a healthy and balanced diet rich in antioxidants, applying them topically can help to give the skin another line of defence against menopause’s symptoms. Examples include vitamin C and E, niacinamide, botanical extracts (phytoextracts) and resveratrol.
Found naturally in the skin, hyaluronic acid plumps and hydrates the skin. As with collagen, it declines as we age. When using it topically, hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the air deep into the skin. It also prevents transepidermal water loss, keeping the skin hydrated for longer. Used in a serum, hyaluronic acid can help to counter dry and parched skin during menopause.
Another skin-identical ingredient, ceramides are fatty acids that help to fortify and nurture the skin’s barrier, which performs an important antibacterial function. Using a moisturiser rich in ceramides can help to replenish moisture in menopausal skin.
The hands and lower body can become particularly dry during menopause so it’s important to quench the skin. I recommend incorporating a rich oil in the shower and a cream or oil afterwards to really nourish and hydrate the skin. It’s also important to increase blood flow within the body, daily movement can do wonders for both the body, mind and soul during this period in time. You may experience an increase in facial hair, I suggest looking at electrolysis or tweezing to remove this as opposed to waxing.