What Are the Right Skincare Products to Use During Menopause?
Times of transition can be frightening but exhilarating.
Like when you start a family, or a relationship ends, or you begin a business, or your work takes you to a new place – a bittersweet goodbye to the old and then an exciting new start.
Menopause is one of those transitions – the end of one phase, but the beginning of something bold and new, too.
More and more, the older women in my life who are a few steps ahead on the path inspire me.
And every day, strong women in the public eye prove that each new stage of life brings new possibilities.
The average age for the onset of menopause is 51.
Remember my philosophy on aging – we just keep getting better!
In that spirit, I decided to look more closely at the changes our skin goes through during menopause and the best approach to caring for our skin during that pivotal time.
The bad news? The hormonal changes that happen during menopause definitely deplete the skin’s resources.
The good news? We have access to so many formulas now that work at a deep level to restore those resources.
And, while every woman’s skin will react a bit differently on the surface, no matter what symptoms occur for you…there’s a formula for that.
That being said, let’s look closely at what really goes on with our skin during menopause, so you’ll know the best way to respond.
Along the way, I’ll introduce you to some of the top tools, a few you may not have heard of, that we have today for supporting and strengthening your skin through all the changes.
What is Menopause?
It helps to start with a basic understanding of what goes on during menopause, and that all begins in the ovaries.
The life of a follicle in the ovaries is a complex thing and there’s a lot that science still doesn’t know, but in simple terms, follicles develop in the ovaries during every cycle and produce eggs.
During ovulation, normally one of the primary follicles will develop to the point of releasing a mature egg.
Hormone-secreting structures called corpora lutea develop in the ovaries at the same time.
The body tries to compensate by producing more of the pituitary hormones that usually encourage the follicles and corpora lutea to develop, but to no avail.
Without the corpora lutea, the levels of estrogen and progesterone decline, and this decline has major effects on the skin.
That, in a nutshell, explains all the hormonal fluctuations that we always hear about surrounding menopause.
Around 85% of women experience symptoms around the time of menopause as a result of that fluctuation.
Most last for around a year, but at times they can go on for up to three years.
Menopause is considered complete after 12 consecutive months without a period.
How Does Menopause Affect Your Skin?
Low levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause affect the skin in several ways.
The big 4 effects are these:
1. A decrease in collagen production. Estrogen stimulates collagen production, maturation, and turnover, so when estrogen levels fall, there’s a direct effect on collagen.
Decreased collagen causes thinning of the skin.
After menopause, the skin loses around 30% of its collagen.
2. Decreased fat under the skin. Normal levels of estrogen promote the storage of fat under the skin, so lowered estrogen levels mean less fat will be stored there.
That explains why skin tends to sag more as we age.
3. Decreased hydration. Estrogen also promotes hyaluronic acid production, and hyaluronic acid helps to increase the water content of the dermis and epidermis layers.
Again, the reduction of estrogen has adverse effects and in this case, leads to loss of water content.
4. Increased pigmentation. Melanin, or pigment, production in the skin is a complex process that’s regulated by hormones.
The fluctuation of hormone levels, as well as the changing balance between estrogen and progestin (and other hormones), disturbs the usual melanin regulation and dark spots of excess melanin can result.
These are the age spots that are so common.
The delicate balance of hormones in our bodies controls so much of the molecular processes that occur moment by moment that it’s hard to overstate the role hormones play in our lives.
If it seems that hormone replacement would be a no-brainer, not so fast.
It turns out that’s a pretty complicated decision and depends on lots of individual health factors as to whether it’s worth the risks or not.
How Can You Prepare for Menopause?
In my book, the best and safest way to prepare your skin for the effects of menopause in the years leading up to it is to develop a consistent skincare regimen that strengthens and nourishes the skin at the deepest levels.
That’s where the hormonal changes will have the greatest effects.
The ingredients I’ll cover below will become your skin’s best allies.
In short, you want to to do this:
- promote the synthesis of collagen
- help maintain the skin’s water content with humectants
- protect from environmental factors like UV rays and pollutants, which speed the aging process
And remember when it comes to skincare, consistency is key.
Substances like vitamin A can show powerful results, but they work over time.
The results are lessened with sporadic use.
Whether you have many years to prepare for menopause, or you’re already feeling the effects of hormonal changes, it’s all about the self-care habits you form.
Remember to protect and nourish your skin from the inside-out by consuming the critical nutrients and vitamins on which it depends to function at its best.
And stay hydrated.
When you do those things, as a bonus, you’re also protecting your body against the bone loss that’s another common effect of the lowered estrogen levels after menopause.
Forming healthy lifestyle habits of getting regular exercise and staying hydrated while eating unprocessed, whole foods now can go a long way towards keeping us all feeling and looking younger for decades after menopause.
5 Ingredients That Benefit the Skin During Menopause
1. Hyaluronic acid: HA is a well-known power molecule that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water.
It’s naturally occurring in the body where it cushions and lubricates the joints and other structures.
The scientific literature calls it the “most versatile macromolecule present in the connective tissues” of our bodies.
Hyaluronic acid’s unique ability to bind to water molecules means it attracts moisture and then keeps it in your skin, providing a healthy environment for cells to function at their best.
More supple skin with a more vibrant, plump appearance.
HA also helps defend your skin against bacteria and environmental harm by keeping the skin’s protective barrier moist and intact.
Although HA is best known as a humectant, it also helps calm inflammation and contains antioxidants that protect the skin from UV damage.
And as we know, UV damage is the ultimate age accelerator with estrogen loss a close contender.
HA is your ninja-like countermove.
2. Vitamin C: This critical vitamin works perfectly together with HA to compensate for the lowered estrogen levels.
It boosts collagen production, diminishes dark spots, and works to brighten a dull, dry complexion.
Vitamin C is commonly included in serum formulas that are designed to deliver a higher concentration of ingredients and more deeply penetrate the skin.
Many serums contain vitamin C in the form of L-Ascorbic Acid.
It’s the most potent form of vitamin C, so it’s best to introduce slowly and be sure it doesn’t irritate your skin before adding it to your routine at high concentrations (between 10%-20% are common).
3. Colostrum: This wonder ingredient is made of the same components found in mothers’ milk.
Understandably, it won’t be a choice of vegans as it does come from the first milk of animals (most often sheep or cows).
While we don’t have much scientific evidence to back it up yet, anecdotal reports of the results from colostrum applied topically are in – and people swear by it.
Usually combined with natural oils and plant extracts, it’s known for its ability to promote cell regeneration while delivering growth hormones and vital immune factors.
Colostrum is packed with the antibodies, fats, and proteins that newborns need, so while it protects the skin barrier at the surface, it’s also thought to work at the deeper levels repairing and stimulating collagen production.
4. Probiotics: As you probably know, probiotics like acidophilus are the helpful bacteria that make a terrific addition to your diet.
Used orally, they counteract the presence of bad bacteria in your gut and promote healthy and efficient digestion.
Used topically, probiotics also work defensively to protect the skin against unwanted bacteria.
While the hormone fluctuations and diminished estrogen levels during menopause lower the skin’s defenses and can create a playground for bacteria and inflammation, probiotics may offer a great solution for some skin types.
For those who struggle with breakouts leading up to or during menopause, formulas containing probiotic strains are a potential skincare win.
5. Peptides: These are small amino acid chains which aid in the communication between the skin’s cells.
This means they effectively boost the skin’s immunity, hormone activity, and wound healing capacity.
Peptides are known to reduce wrinkles and help maintain collagen production, so they can play an important role in counteracting the effects of hormonal changes.
Peptides are also antimicrobial, so they’re critical to maintaining a well-functioning acid mantle and protecting the skin at a time when it’s barrier function may be diminished.