Approaching the menopause can have its own unique set of skin challenges, and while all people who menstruate will experience the menopause in their lifetime, many approach this time of their lives feeling unprepared and unaware of the changes about to take place, especially as symptoms can begin several years before the menopause hits. So what really does happen to our skin leading up to and during the menopause, and what can we do to maintain the best skin possible during this time?
What effect does the menopause have on the skin?
Leading up to and during the menopause, our estrogen levels significantly drop. Not only does this cause the more common side effects of hot flashes and mood fluctuations, it can also affect our skin. Some of the most common symptoms people experience during this time are skin dryness, sensitivity, and redness. This is because oil glands in the skin begin to shrink, and less oil is produced. Many experience flaky, itchy skin and find it difficult to find products that moisturise and hydrate, without causing further sensitivity.
Another common skin symptom during the menopause is noticing a decline in the firmness of the skin. Studies show that the skin loses about 30% of its collagen during the first five years of menopause, and as collagen diminishes, fine lines and wrinkles may become more obvious and skin around the eyes, cheeks and neck may become looser and less plump. Those who previously had oily skin may notice large, open pores as oil production reduces and the skin becomes more slack.
Similarly to the way we can experience breakouts as a teenager, the change in hormones during the menopause can also trigger acne in some people. While many teenage acne treatments are too harsh for a more mature, dryer skin, there are plenty of acne-fighting ingredients that can be beneficial.
What changes should I make to my skincare routine as I approach the menopause?
Ensure your routine is packed with ingredients that soothe, hydrate and help to increase collagen production within the skin. Ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, Peptides and Retinols/Retinoids can all help to plump the skin and maintain elasticity.
For those who experience hot flashes, facial mists and lightweight, cooling textures can also be very helpful. Ingredients such as Glycolic or Salicylic Acid are great for those suffering from hormonal breakouts, helping to reduce congestion and calm redness.
If you're not yet using an SPF daily, it is never too late to start! Protecting the skin from UVA and UVB rays come rain or shine is one of the most effective ways to prevent accelerated skin ageing and reduce pigmentation.