Slowly but surely a specific segment seems to be emerging and gaining traction with women, who take an active interest in how they look as they move through youth to maturity, with beauty brands creating & launching skincare products specifically for peri-menopause and menopause. My brief for the article that I was originally researching and that ended up being “Menopause and Skincare Series” was to look at how potentially different those beauty products are from skincare for more mature skin or anti-ageing skincare already on offer. Is skincare for peri and menopause different from anti-ageing skincare? What ingredients are included in order to address body’s hormonal reactions and effect on the skin? Would such skincare products work or be effective on their own, without the hormone replacement therapy and dietary changes for example? In this post I spotlight the expertise & recomendations of aesthetic Doctor & Hormone Specialist Dr. Sophie Shotter MBChB Bsc (Hons) MBCAM.
Dr. Shotter started out as an anaesthetist, but switched her attention to aesthetics in 2012. She believes in holistic approach to both ageing and health and tries to help her clients look and feel their best with the help of aesthetic procedures and hormonal optimisation in both Illuminate clinic and at the Cosmetic Skin Clinic. She is trained in BHRT (bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, where plant-based hormones are not dissimilar to our own hormones) and considers balanced hormones to be an answer to one’s wellbeing and staying younger for longer.
“When we hit peri-menopause”, says Dr. Shotter, “our skin goes through probably its biggest ‘ageing spurt’ as a woman. We lose around 30% of our collagen within the first five years of perimenopause. This means that the anti-ageing products you once used and which always worked well, will often no longer work as efficiently. The big reason for this is that our fibroblasts (cells which produce collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid) need oestrogen to fuel them. They have receptors on their surface to which oestrogen binds, allowing them to work better. Without oestrogen binding to them, these cells become very sluggish and skin becomes thinner, duller and less hydrated.”
“The concerns that women with menopausal skin have are different to pre-menopausal women, and skincare targeting menopausal women often reflects this. The skin often becomes very dry and dehydrated, and menopausal products are aimed at restoring this. There are products aimed at dealing with heat and flushing (although be cautious about anything mentioning Alcohol Denat – this can feel cooling, but is actually very dehydrating). Skincare will often be aimed at these slightly shifted concerns, as well as more powerful collagen stimulation and retention.” According to Dr Shotter, ‘a novel approach towards menopausal skincare has been pioneered by the British skincare brand Emepelle ( I will do a separate post about this brand, but it has also been mentioned in my research on peri-menopause and menopause by my knowledgable friend and founder of Fighting Fifty website Tracey McAlpine ), which uses MEP technology. MEP is a synthetic oestrogen analogue, which binds to the oestrogen receptors and makes fibroblast cells work more efficiently again”. The results on the clinical studies which Dr. Shotter has seen are truly impressive, and it mirrors what she sees in her patients at the clinics where she works.
Another ingredient, which is a little different and worthy of note, is the incorporation of phytoestrogens into skincare, which is done by the US brand Pause according to Dr. Shotter. Phytoestrogens are plant based hormones derived from soya, which can emulate the effects of oestrogen on the skin. Other crucial ingredients to look out for as women go through perimenopause and menopause include ceramides and retinol. Ceramides are essential for helping the skin’s barrier to lock in moisture more effectively. The barrier often weakens during menopause, which means moisture is lost more easily. Retinol is a gold standard ingredient for stimulating the collagen-producing cells in the skin, and will help to drive them to produce collagen more effectively. The effect of retinol is often however less pronounced after menopause, and the results will be better in women using products as mentioned above or who are taking HRT.
Pause Well-Ageing that Dr. Shotter mentions above, was developed thanks to the advances in scientific research …and was also driven by trying to find the solution to the uncomfortable hot flushes that women experience during menopause. The brand offers innovative formulations that are targeting skin problems experienced due to menopausal changes and the whole range helps to harmonise the skin during hormonal adjustments within the body. Brand’s formulas also contain the patented Pause Well-Ageing Pause Complex, which has a carefully selected synthesis of vitamins, antioxidants and peptides which support the process of collagen production in order to tone, tighten and plump up the skin. One of brand’s best-sellers is the Hot Flush Cooling Mist, which helps to instantly cool down the skin and minimise its discomfort caused by hot flushes. Even though it’s impossible to prevent them, the mist offers a practical solution and an almost instant improvement in how the skin feels, as it creates an impression that the temperature of the surface of the skin cools & calms down, while appearance of redness is minimised.
Dr. Sophie Shotter also thinks that “HRT and Bioidentical HRT are excellent for many women looking to address menopausal symptoms, and we do know even from the earliest studies in the 1940s that positive skin changes were noticed in women taking oestrogen. The above products will achieve skin results without using HRT. Many compounding pharmacies are now able to make bio-identical hormone face creams, as well as systemic hormone products, which are made on a ‘bespoke basis’.”
One more aspect worth taking note of are “the dietary changes, says Dr. Shotter, which can make a big difference to symptoms, but be aware that those changes will have limited impact on the skin beyond the positive effects of, for example, cutting back on sugar and therefore reducing glycation in the skin”.
To learn more about Dr. Sophie Shotter please click here
P.S this post, as is any other post in the “Menopause and Skincare Series” is not sponsored, nor features advertisement of brands.