Menopause & Skincare Series: what you need to know

Hormonal changes in a female body start taking places long before women realises that the processes leading to menopause have already started. This process is called peri-menopause and until fairly recently the whole topic was considered a taboo of sorts, as if it has nothing to do with the normal functioning of our bodies. One reason for that is that the topic itself is quite sensitive and many feel uncomfortable even discussing menopause with their doctor. Women also tend to link peri and menopause with how age is viewed and talked about in our society, with the process of ageing and moving out and away from being a ‘young, sexy & attractive woman of the reproductive age’ forever. It’s one thing to have had children and not wanting to grow your family any more, it’s quite another to complete the process of wanting and being able too conceive. Possibly because we still lack the wider reaching discussion on this topic many women simply don’t know how to deal with those changes in a way that is individual to them. With this in mind, is it really surprising that changes in our skin feel and appearance, as well as overall wellbeing, becomes an even bigger shock for women who already are running like hamsters on the daily life wheel?

During peri-menopause skin becomes thinner and less plump. Often a woman looks at herself in the mirror and suddenly notices that she no longer looks like the used to be. Especially when those visible changes affect not only the face, but the body, neckline & decollate. After a particularly hot summer all of a sudden new pigmentation appears, note is taken to be more vigilant about sun protection next year – but as the weather cools down and seasons change, pigmentation doesn’t become less visible. Skin also becomes drier and all of a sudden, as if in the flushes of teen years, pimples and spots start making appearance on the face. All of those changes unfortunately are connected with the decrease in the levels of oestrogen in the body – add to that mood swings and frame of mind, as if the barometer, turns to permanent ‘rainy’.

Traditionally and for many years Hormone Replacement Therapy has been used to deal with peri and menopause. By replacing the diminishing level of oestrogen in the body, HRT helps to prevent osteoporosis, positively affects the mood and reduces night sweats. Unfortunately there also exists a connection between oestrogen and breast & ovarian cancers due to the regular use of HRT. Never-the-less for the time being HRT remains one of the most common therapies, while doctors are working on other, possibly safer ways, to replace oestrogen in the body.

From 40 onwards, slowly but surely, our skin starts to lose its plumpness and elasticity due to the declining levels on naturally produced by our bodies collagen and elastin. Skin will also gradually become more lacklustre, less even and more prone to redness and irritation. Some women develop rosacea, which becomes more visibly noticeable if you regularly consume alcohol, even in small amounts. Small and superficial wrinkles will gradually become more pronounced, while process of skin regeneration will slow down.

From 50 onwards skin becomes even more prone to redness and more lacking the natural glow, as skin’s sebum production slows down as well. Skin will start thinning and thus will be more impacted by the environmental aggressors.

In your 40s:

  • Include scrubs in your weekly skin and body care rituals. When it comes to your face, it’s better to use Alpha Hydroxy Acids rather than a scrub.
  • Choose skincare that stimulates collagen production, including Vitamin C and the peptides, which will not only speed up the slowing process of cell regeneration, as well as stimulate natural collagen production.
  • Chose skincare ingredients which will help tone the skin and improve its elasticity. Regular facial acupuncture is beneficial, if you are not a fan of Botox.
  • Use hydrating serums which will help improve the appearance of the wrinkles, as well as calm your skin down with such ingredients as hyaluronic acid and plant oils rich in vitamins A, C & E.
  • Use moisturisers and serums, as well as face oils that are targeting pigmentation – look up for ingredients such as seaweed extracts, narcissus, buddleia, Madonna Lily.

In your 50s:

  • Start combining serums with face moisturisers or face oils during your nighttime routine. Once a week use a hydrating face mask, which you don’t have to wash off.
  • Choose skincare that contains natural ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which will help maintain skin’s natural protective barrier, as well the level of its hydration.
  • Look for skincare that contains botanic extracts like Spanish lavender, which can help make the depth of wrinkles less noticeable, if you don’t want to use Botox.
  • Don’t forget about effectiveness of combining your skincare with daily facial massage, facial acupuncture or facial yoga.
  • Look out for skincare that helps address redness caused by hot flushes.

Not surprisingly there is a significant increase in the female interest in start-ups like US’s Kindra, which not only shares expert advice in relation to a variety of aspects of menopause – from sports & sex life (the company also sells a cream for internal use to help improve intimate relations ) to ingredients that can help sleep better at night or gain upper hand in the battle with the hot flushes.

Dr. Marine Vincent, a pharmacist & founder of The French Pharmacy in London, recommends Vichy Neovadiol (day cream Rose Platinum & Phytosculpt for face and neck), as well as Dr Hauschka‘s Evening Primrose line from the moment you start noticing peri-menopausal changes. She notes that with hormonal changes that peri-menopause brings, women notice that their skin becomes duller and more reactive to stress. She advises treating skin like you would your child – delicately. Dr. Vincent also recommends nourishing skin care, which offers hydrating benefits and gives skin the feeling of comfort – first violin in this orchestra is given to hyaluronic acid. She also notes benefits of skincare that contains Vitamin A.

Dr. Marine Vincent, pharmacist & founder of The French Pharmacy

Facialist and aesthetician Andy Millward says that he has only seen one skincare brand that caters for menopausal skin (Emepelle, which I will feature in a separate post), which contains the key ingredient that addresses the loss of oestrogen. Their formulations also contain typical collagen stimulators like retinoids, peptides and niacynimide. If we look at skincare as a means to fight or delay the ageing process and maintain skin plumpness, would such skincare cream work more effectively if compared to regular use of skincare that contains peptides and retinoids? Andy is not so sure. But he also notes a significant shift in the use of the term ‘anti-ageing’, so if we consider ‘skincare for menopause’ to be a new term, which will replace ‘anti-ageing’, then what do we do with the customer segment in the 30-45 age bracket, who haven’t started experiencing peri or menopause and at the same time aren’t overly concerned with ‘anti-ageing’ just yet.

Facialist Andy Millward

The topic of menopause and skincare is incredibly vast and nuanced, so I thought I would do several posts that are shorter in length, in order to allow you to digest the information with ease, rather than be overwhelmed by it all. So until the next post, take care and remember, it’s not just the age, it’s also our attitude – towards how we view and treat ourselves.

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