Your Skin and Menopause

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If you’re in perimenopause or postmenopause, you may notice your skin become dry, thin, slack, and more easily bruised or prone to redness. Age spots, lines, and wrinkles start to emerge and become more noticeable. Blemishes pop up unexpectedly. You may even sprout an embarrassing facial hair or two.

During the phases of menopause, your skin undergoes dramatic changes as hormone levels become erratic and eventually plummet. For some women, that change can feel like it happens overnight. According to Olay Principal Scientist, Dr. Frauke Neuser, the biggest changes in your skin over your lifetime occurs during menopause. “Skin regeneration and repair slow down significantly while aging processes are accelerated.” Aging skin suffers from a loss of natural lipids, like ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol, which contributes to inflammation, dehydration, and a compromised moisture barrier.

During menopause, the skincare routine and products we’ve relied on for years to keep our skin looking healthy stop working effectively and don’t address the skin issues that start cropping up. If you’ve had a particularly dramatic swing in skin type, say from oily skin to dry skin, your current skincare regimen may be entirely unsuitable. It’s easy to become frustrated on how to care for our skin, and many of us end up wasting money on a drawer full of products that don’t work. To help you make the transition to a new skincare routine, we’ve compiled the best tips on caring for your skin during menopause.

Dry, Dull Skin

During menopause, skin loses some ability to hold water, and there is a decrease in natural oils and collagen, causing thinner, dryer skin that looks dull. If you live in or are visiting a dry climate or exposed to a dry environment like an airplane, dryness will be especially noticeable.

  1. Don’t use soap, especially deodorant soap to cleanse your face. It’s too drying. Use a gentle cleanser.

  2. Apply a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid after washing your face. Hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its own weight in water. It draws in moisture so is ideal for hydrating the skin and giving you back your glow. 

  3. Use a gentle exfoliation product once or twice a week to keep your pores clear of dead skin cells.

  4. Get a regular facial. The interval will depend on your unique skin needs. Some women benefit from facials every 6-8 weeks while others are fine with a couple of times a year. Find an esthetician that understands the unique needs of menopausal skin.

  5. If professional facials are not in your budget, practice this 7-step regimen at home every 2-3 weeks to get some of the same benefits of a professional facial. It’s preferable to complete the routine at night and sleep on a clean pillowcase. Pillowcases are a breeding ground for bacteria, dead skin cells, hair oils, and other pore-clogging matter. Self extractions and picking at the skin can worsen acne so leave this step to a professional.

    1. Cleanse your skin with a gentle face wash. Even if you are not wearing makeup wash your skin to remove accumulated dirt and pollution.

    2. Exfoliate with a gentle exfoliation product. Don’t rub too hard.

    3. Steam your skin with a clean washcloth run under very hot water, taking care not to burn your skin. Leave the cloth on your skin for a few minutes.

    4. Apply a clay mask to cleanse the pores and remove impurities. If your skin is very dry and not acne prone skip the clay mask as it may be over drying.

    5. Repeat the steaming-washcloth routine to remove the mask.

    6. Apply a hydrating mask for dry skin or a brightening mask for dull skin and rinse it off with cool water.

    7. Finish by applying a moisturizer. If you are going to go out in the sun, make sure it has an SPF of at least 30.

 
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Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Slack Skin

The skin stays plump in large part due to collagen, which we lose quickly during menopause. The skin starts to sag and wrinkles become more prominent. Studies show that women’s skin loses about thirty percent of its collagen during the first 5 years of menopause. After that, the decline is more gradual. Women lose about two percent of their collagen every year for the next 20 years.

  1. Protect your skin from the sun. Use a moisturizer with a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher every day. Don’t forget to protect your neck and chest. During the summer months, wear a broad-brimmed hat for extra protection.

  2. Avoid tanning in the sun or using a tanning bed. It will only accelerate the aging process and further damage the skin.

  3. Use a moisturizer every day to trap water in the skin, brighten your skin, and make lines less visible.

  4. Try a serum to further hydrate and re-densify the skin.

 
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Blemishes

Hormone fluctuations are frequently to blame for breakouts although certain foods and product ingredients can also make you break out. Your body changes during menopause and foods and products that you once tolerated may be causing acne.

  1. Some makeup along with many skin and hair care products contain oil or other ingredients that can cause acne breakouts. If you continue to use them, you may continue to see blemishes.

    • Certain mineral powder foundations like Alima Pure Satin Matte loose powder and BareMinerals Original Loose Mineral Foundation are generally okay for daily use, while certain liquid foundations are okay for occasional use.

    • Stay aware from common poor clogging ingredients in hair products, including sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium coco sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate.

  2. Certain foods can cause breakouts. Try an elimination diet and see how your skin responds. The shortlist of potential acne causing foods includes:

    • Dairy (includes whey protein shakes)

    • Soy (includes soy protein shakes)

    • Peanuts (includes peanut oil and peanut butter)

    • High glycemic foods/high sugar (white refined grains/breads/carbs, alcohol/beer, sweets, sodas)

    • High sodium/salty processed food (fast food, pizza, cured deli meat, packaged foods)

    • Iodine (includes iodized salt, spirulina, kelp, seaweed, carrageenan, chlorella)

    • High amounts of caffeine (boba, coffee drinks, pre-workout shakes, energy drinks)

  3. Other lifestyle factors can cause blemishes. Make sure you get plenty of sleep on a regular schedule. Lower your stress levels with daily self-care activities. Don’t touch your cell phone to your cheek. Wash your pillowcases at least once a week. Forgo fabric softener, including dryer sheets and fragranced detergent.

  4. Supplements that may help with acne include fish oil, probiotics, and zinc. Make sure the brand is of high quality.

  5. Don’t over dry your skin through aggressive washing or product application. It may make the problem worse.

  6. Something you should already know by your age, but don’t sleep in your makeup and wash your makeup brushes and applicators frequently.

  7. Cleanse your skin post-workout or after any activity that causes you to sweat. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen if you will be outside.

 
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Red, Irritated Skin

Around 50, the pH level of our skin changes. With this change, skin becomes more sensitive, and women are more likely to develop rashes and easily irritated skin. Women may also notice that they are more sensitive to itchy fabrics, soaps, or beauty products. Additionally, hot flashes can trigger or aggravate rosacea, a chronic skin condition that causes swelling of the blood vessels beneath the facial skin, causing redness, spider-like blood vessels or acne-like blemishes.

  1. Don’t use too many products at once and introduce one new product at a time. For most of us, a simple skincare routine is best. Test the products on the back of your hand or arm if you are particularly sensitive.

  2. Avoid any products with fragrance. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrances are considered the leading cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis. Fragrances are not regulated by the FDA and may contain synthetic, preservative, or allergy-provoking substances. Most likely products you are using that have a scent are not using 100% natural fragrance. Read our guide to everyday personal toxins and menopause for more tips.

  3. Check the EWG’s Skin Deep database for products that use fewer chemicals and skin irritants.

  4. Wear clothing and use bedding made from natural fibers like cotton and silk that allow your skin to breath.

  5. See a dermatologist for any suspicious or persistent skin irritations.

Age Spots

Age spots are the little brown spots that we start to notice on our face, chest, and the back of our hands, although they can appear anywhere on the body. People with lighter skin tend to get them more along with people who have had prolonged exposure to the sun or used a tanning bed earlier in life.

  1. Creams and lotions are available that can help lighten brown spots, but be prepared to apply the product daily for 6-12 weeks before you notice a difference. Also, make sure that the product you select doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients like mercury.

  2. Various treatments administered by a board-certified dermatologist work faster. However, they cost more, and there are potential side effects. Even with treatment, age spots can return so it’s important to avoid the sun after investing in one of these procedures.

    1. Laser therapy typically entails one or two sessions and results can longer than creams and lotions.

    2. Cryotherapy entails freezing the age spot. As the skin heals, it looks lighter.

    3. Microdermabrasion is when the dermatologist smooths away the age spots. You might have mild redness or flaky skin that goes away.

    4. Chemical peeling involves brushing a chemical solution onto the skin to exfoliate it, then peeling away the dead cells.

  3. Protect your skin from the sun. Use a moisturizer with a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher every day on your face, neck, and chest. A recent study found that you can avoid age spots using a daily SPF 30. During the summer months, wear a broad-brimmed hat for extra protection. If you garden or cycle, wear gloves to avoid getting spots on the back of your hands.

  4. What looks like an age spot could be skin cancer. Get a skin cancer check at least once a year and anytime you notice a suspicious mark on your skin.

Parting Wisdom

Adapting your skincare routine is an important part of caring for aging skin, but there are other aspects of our lifestyle that play a vital part in helping us get and keep that lovely glow.

 
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  1. Less is always more. Don’t pile on the makeup. It only makes you look older. In fact, not only do you need to change your skincare routine as you age, but your makeup routine and products need an overhaul as well. Confidence, good health, and joy beats makeup hands down. Be comfortable in your own skin sans makeup, and lower your personal toxins while you’re at it.

  2. Manage your stress levels. Stress and anxiety can trigger or worsen a variety of skin conditions. There are many quick, easy ways to manage stress on a daily basis. Discover a few techniques that work for you.

  3. Sleep well. Studies show that one poor night of sleep can cause hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles/fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth. Skimping on sleep can accelerate aging and make it hard for the skin to recovery from environmental stressors. Try some of our tips.

  4. Eat healthfully. A diet rich in plants and phytoestrogens like flax seeds can have hormone balancing effects and help with hot flashes as well as overall health.

  5. Take good care of your telomeres to keep the cells in your body regenerating longer and help you to feel young, regardless of your chronological age.

  6. Be curious, try new things, worry less, laugh and smile more, live with joy and love every day.

We would love to hear about changes in your routine and products that have been effective in helping keep your skin looking great. Drop us a line at hello@lisahealth.com.

For more information and support around your menopause and midlife journey, join us over at Lisa Health.

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