In a perfect world there would be no secrecy surrounding menopause. The same dialogue that revolves around puberty and skin changes (and products that can help) would extend to menopause. But so much is left unsaid about this time in life and, as a result, many women are unsure of what to expect when it comes to the differences they may experience in how they feel and look. In an effort to demystify menopause and skin changes that can occur, these experts provided valuable insight into why your skin changes, what changes are most common, and how to look and feel your absolute best during and after this transition in life. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for your skin during menopause.
Why does your skin change during menopause?
Before you get a grasp on how to care for your changing skin, you may want to address the elephant in the room: WHY, exactly, are all of these changes happening? “Menopause affects women’s hormones, which can cause noticeable changes in the skin,” said Dr. Arash Akhavan, FAAD, owner of The Dermatology and Laser Group in Manhattan, NY. “Collagen production decreases as we age, but menopause causes a more rapid loss of collagen leading to sagging skin as well as the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Menopause severely impacts estrogen levels, which can cause changes in sebum production leading to acne and dryness and the growth of hair in unwanted areas of the face.”
With dryness, acne, sagging skin, and unwanted hair all menopause possibilities, how can you possibly begin to tackle them? (answer: patiently — one thing at a time). So, let’s begin!
Menopause skincare solutions
There are no preventative measures to avoid the changes that can happen during menopause, but topical treatments, in-office procedures, and lifestyle changes can help, according to Dr. Akhavan. “Using a prescription retinoid in your skincare routine will assist with the production of collagen and help treat any acne,” Dr. Akhavan said. “Make sure to stay hydrated and moisturize your skin frequently with a ceramide-rich moisturizer to balance the oils and combat any dryness. In-office procedures such as injectables, lasers, microneedling, and radiofrequency treatments can aid in the production of collagen and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
As for unwanted hair, laser hair removal can treat unwanted hair growth, but Dr. Akhavan stresses that it is important to note that since this is hormonal hair, results will not be permanent and ongoing treatment will be necessary. “Hormone replacement therapy is also a great option as it will replace the estrogen lost during menopause which can help ease these unwanted symptoms,” Dr. Akhavan said.
As usual, retin-A and moisture take top billing when you’re treating your skin at home, but if you are open to consulting a dermatologist, this may be the perfect time to treat yourself to a collagen-boosting in-office procedure.
Elizabeth Koshy, founder and CEO of Empress Naturals, which specializes in skincare for peri-menopausal and menopausal women, also recommends rosehip seed oil, which is intensely hydrating and protects against free radical damage, and organic argan oil to combat inflammation and boost hydration levels.
Menopause skincare tips/tricks
In addition to modifying or upgrading your regular skincare routine, Koshy says these tips can help your skin look its best during menopause:
** Avoid Tanning: “You are exposed to dangerous UV rays when you tan outside or in a tanning bed, which can hasten the aging process and result in wrinkles, age spots, blotchy skin, and perhaps even skin cancer,” Koshy said.
** Do as Directed: When used in excess, active substances might cause more harm than good, Koshy said, so follow the instructions carefully. “Excessive application might result in clogged pores, uneven texture, and other negative consequences,” Koshy said.
** Develop a Minimalistic Routine: More isn’t always better. “Having an extensive skincare routine, especially many anti-aging creams, might irritate the skin — this frequently increases the visibility of aging symptoms,” Koshy said.
** Be Patient: While some products promise instant results, almost all anti-aging skin care will take up to three months to show its effect on your skin, Koshy reminds us. Your best bet is to make sure you stay with it and remain patient to see results.
Lifestyle tips for menopause
Topical treatments and in-office procedures are fantastic ways to stay on top of changing skin, but don’t neglect the importance of lifestyle modifications. These are among the most important, according to Koshy:
** Stack up on fruits and vegetables: “Many menopause symptoms can be avoided with a diet high in fruits and vegetables,” Koshy said. “They might also aid in the prevention of certain illnesses, including heart disease. This is crucial because the risk of heart disease tends to rise after menopause. Age, weight increase, or possibly lower estrogen levels may be to blame for this.”
** Water, Water, Water: Dry skin and dryness in general is a major symptom of menopause and loss of estrogen is the main reason for this pesky symptom, Koshy said. “Water consumption of 8–12 glasses per day helps alleviate these symptoms. Additionally, drinking water can lessen the bloating brought on by hormonal changes.”
** Avoid sugar and processed food: “A diet overloaded in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate dramatically, leaving you exhausted and agitated,” Koshy said. “This could make menopause symptoms — both physical and psychological — worse. Additionally, these foods have been linked to mood swings, nightly sweats, and hot flashes. Caffeine and alcohol are examples of common triggers.”
** Protect your bones: “Menopause-related hormonal changes can weaken bones and increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis,” Koshy said. “Dairy items like yogurt, milk, and cheese are among the many foods that are high in calcium. Calcium is also abundant in green, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. Vitamin D, on the other hand, can be tricky. Sunlight is your best source of Vitamin D but is also responsible for aging skin. Foods that can help increase your Vitamin D levels include fish, eggs, and supplements rich in Vitamin D.”
Don’t fear normal menopause changes — know what to expect and arm yourself with facts, knowledge, water, moisturizer, and a little bit of Retin-A, for the win.