Menopause and the years leading up to it bring a host of frustrating and unwanted changes for women.
Dry skin, brittle nails, and hair loss are some of the more visible signs and symptoms that can cause women to feel self-conscious and less attractive.
Similar to your teenage years, when hormones go haywire, menopause-related hormonal changes can trigger acne outbreaks, dark spots, unwanted facial hair, and easily irritated skin. Declining estrogen contributes to thinning, sagging, and wrinkling skin, especially around the neck, jawline, and cheeks.
Fine lines and wrinkles typically develop first around your eyes – known as crow’s feet – and above the upper lip. In addition, your body makes less collagen, causing skin to lose its elasticity, so you may notice less muscle tone or more cellulite.
Estrogen stimulates the formation of skin-smoothing collagen and oils. After menopause, your skin dries out because estrogen production slows down – along with your body’s ability to retain moisture. Drier skin can lead to itching and make wrinkles more prominent. It’s important to research new skincare products to make sure they are not too heavy or have ingredients that can irritate or dry out the skin.
Be proactive about your skin in menopause
You can combat some of the skin-related effects of menopause by talking to your dermatologist and taking proactive measures to take care of your skin:
- Follow a regular skincare routine that includes washing your face before bed and in the morning with a gentle cleanser that is right for drier skin. If you are experiencing breakouts, consider a cleanser that contains glycolic or salicylic acid. Avoid acne products that dry your skin.
- Exfoliate every few days to remove dead skin cells, but limit harsh ingredients and avoid excessive scrubbing or abrasive washcloths and loofahs. Exfoliating products can help rejuvenate the skin and reduce dark spots. Skin-lightening products can help fade spots.
- Use a heavier moisturizing cream, especially during winter, to keep moisture locked in on both your face and body. Look for a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid or glycerin, and possibly retinol if it doesn’t irritate your skin. The same goes for your hands. Carry a hand lotion with you and moisturize your hands after washing. Protect them from the sun, harsh chemicals, and the elements. Wear gloves when doing house or yard work.
- Skip long, hot showers and put on moisturizer while your skin is still damp. This will help your skin absorb the emollients and lock in moisture. During the dry winter months, this is essential to prevent cracking, dry skin, and irritation.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water so you stay hydrated. Limit sweets, alcohol and processed foods, which can cause breakouts or make you look puffy. When your skin is dry, it magnifies wrinkles, puffy eyes, and leads to dull, lackluster skin.
- Aim for 7-9 hours of regular, uninterrupted sleep each night to fight off under-eye bags and restore the skin. Sleep deprivation can cause skin damage at a number of levels, including raising cortisol levels, increasing inflammation, and inhibiting collagen formation.
- Learn to manage your stress. Try yoga, meditation, and other stress-reduction techniques to help you relax. Chronic lack of sleep, too much stress, and constantly feeling overwhelmed is a recipe for looking frazzled and haggard. Typically, people who are stressed also binge on junk food and make poor nutritional choices, which doesn’t help your skin.
- Fit in a good sweat session on the regular. Exercise, especially workouts that make you sweat, can help flush out toxins. Exercise also boosts circulation and collagen and increases the number of nutrients and oxygen to your skin. The extra oxygen and blood flow can help your skin look brighter and give you a youthful glow.
- Up your intake of essential fatty acids, which are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes. Eat foods high in omega-3s and omega-6s or supplement with fish oil, black currant seed oil, and flax oil. These healthy fats help produce the skin’s natural oil barrier and keep skin plumper and younger-looking.
- Apply sunscreen even during winter and on cloudy days. Look for a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher, or foundation with SPF protection, and wear it every day.
- Be wary of experimenting with a bunch of new products at once. Watch out for skin reactions to new products. It can be tempting to try out new anti-aging products promoted on infomercials, in magazines or even a prestige brand that is on sale. Products with fragrances, preservatives, an oil base or retinol can cause skin irritation, outbreaks, and red spots. As the pH level of your skin changes, your skin becomes more sensitive and prone to rashes and red spots.
Although aging is a fact of life, don’t let menopause get you down! Sometimes, going back to the basics and a simple skin care routine is all you need. There are many serums, moisturizers, and even makeup that claim to create a smoother, healthier complexion. It’s worth doing your research before throwing away hundreds of dollars and filling your beauty bag with useless products.
You may want to talk to your dermatologist or beauty consultant about your changing skin. There are many skincare products and cosmetic dermatology procedures that fight fine lines, target sagging, and plump the skin. For acne or skin issues that persist, make an appointment with your dermatologist to determine the problem.
APDerm offers a variety of medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology services backed by a team of skincare experts. Highly trained board-certified dermatologists provide professional, individualized care and are dedicated to addressing your skin care concerns through menopause and beyond!