It is vital as we go through menopause to understand the changes that happen to our skin so that we can protect it and can care for it. In the first 5 years of menopausal hormone disruption, it is estimated that up to 30% of our skin collagen is lost.
Hormones carry messages to the brain and promote healthy cell growth and repair. So, when hormones fluctuate during menopause, those functions can be affected.
Hormone depletion in menopause, particularly oestrogen, can have visible and physical effects. Oestrogen plays a huge role in preserving our skin’s youthful quality. Our skin has a high volume of oestrogen receptors, so it is common for women to experience skin problems during menopause.
Collagen is a protein that makes our skin cells firm and stretchy to retain a good structure. However, as we age, collagen production starts to slow down, especially after menopause. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) help to keep our skin plump and flexible. Unfortunately, we lose GAGs due to declining oestrogen levels, which leads to cell depletion and means that our skin is more likely to bruise or tear. Along with reducing GAGs, collagen loss affects our skin elasticity and firmness and leads to wrinkles and sagging.
Not only does oestrogen help with the formation of GAGs, but it also encourages oil production, which helps to retain moisture in the skin to plump up cells. As oestrogen levels drop, there is less oil production, so our skin can become drier and more prone to irritation. Extreme dryness can cause itching (pruritus) or a sensation of your skin having a moving tingle or tickle (like ants crawling), known as formication.
As a result of reducing oestrogen levels, our skin cannot heal itself as effectively as it used to. So, as well as being more prone to skin damage in menopause, our repair system doesn’t work as well. This means we must be mindful of taking special care of any wounds.
During menopause, we can have hot flushes. During a flush, tiny blood vessel endings rise to the surface in the parts of our body most exposed to the environment, such as our face, neck, and head, to help cool down. As our skin flashes red, we may feel more self-conscious because what’s going on inside our body becomes visible to others. Try to stay confident and calm, as anxiety can make symptoms feel worse.
Hot flushes can manifest more severely as Rosacea. As blood vessels rise to the skin’s surface on the face, small breakouts occur in both blood vessels and pores, causing a red rash-like appearance.
Hormone fluctuations in menopause can cause imbalances in the skin that can cause acne. Adult acne is generally different from adolescent acne in that teens tend to get pus-filled spots, black or whiteheads. In contrast, menopausal women usually get small, hard cysts on their jaw, chin, or neck.
Most of our ageing happens in our 50’s as we go through menopause. However, don’t be discouraged. A good diet and a healthy lifestyle can slow down the ageing process considerably.
Maintain a healthy diet
Having a healthy, balanced diet with adequate hydration assists our cells in their everyday work. When our hormone levels fall, we need to make good choices about what we eat and drink. Try to avoid food and beverages that rob your body of vital nutrients or that make it work too hard to process. In particular, limit alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and foods containing additives.
Moisturise & Protect
While we can’t avoid menopause, we can help minimise its effect on the appearance of our skin. Good skin moisturisers and rich emollient creams can help to protect our skin’s barrier from moisture loss. Harsh cleansers, soaps, very hot bathing, and scrubbing will strip our skin of its natural oily barrier and make our skin more vulnerable to moisture loss. Look for products that match the pH of the skin to help retain moisture balance. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen! It is vital to protect our skin from UV damage, burning, and dryness.
Products containing hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid can help with plumpness, tone and texture. Retinoids which are derived from Vitamin A, boost collagen production and can have an impact on wrinkles. They also open pores to help prevent blockages. Retinoids can dry and irritate the skin, so they are usually only available on prescription. Skincare products containing Vitamins C and E may also help build collagen and give skin a firming boost. This will also improve the efficiency of your sunscreen.
I use Age Defy+ Collagen Boost with Vitamin C. It’s a radiance-boosting, collagen-support serum with vitamin C, Bakuchi oil & Hyaluronic acid. I apply it every morning alongside an SPF sunscreen as part of my skincare routine.
If you are concerned about menopause symptoms, speak with your GP for advice.
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