What happens to skin during menopause?
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but your skin tells the story of your life.
Personally, we’re big fans of the little lines that come with age - telling the story of your trials and tribulations. Getting older isn’t something to shy away from, but that’s not the same as not wanting to look vital and well.
Yes, our skin might tell the story of our life but it also gives an insight into our wellbeing. During menopause it offers a barometer for what’s happening to our bodies. The question is, how can we give our skin what it needs to look and feel its best?
What your skin is telling you during menopause
Most women notice changes to their skin throughout the three stages of menopause. Those changes can include:
More lines and wrinkles:
The American Academy of Dermatology Association says that skin loses about 30% of its collagen during the first five years of menopause, and after that women lose about 2% of their collagen ever year for the next 20 years. The loss of collagen can mean that skin is less firm and more susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles or simply appearing less plump.
A loss of elastin fibres and hyaluronic acid (which helps the skin retain moisture) can also contribute to a change in skin’s appearance. The loss of oestrogen also contributes to dry skin.
Increased facial hair:
Some women notice an increase in facial hair as they go through menopause because the ratio of oestrogen to androgens changes. As oestrogen and progesterone levels decline, testosterone levels remain the same.
Some women find that skin becomes more sensitive to product ingredients during menopause. It might become more itchy or predisposed to rashes and irritation from things like fabrics, perfumes and dyes. Once again the culprit is changing hormone levels.
Annoyingly, women also sometimes find that they are more prone to breakouts, which is once again due to the shifting balance of hormones in the body.
Red with hot flushes:
Hot flushes are a common consequence of menopause, which can leave skin looking flushed for a period of time. Some women experience rosacea, which can be triggered by the hot flushes as well as increased anxiety that often comes with hormonal changes.
On a general note, women tend to find that skin simply changes. Do if you once had dry skin it might become oily, or vice versa.
Otherwise known as melasma, pigmentation is another skin side effect of menopause while hormones are in a state of flux (it can also be caused by sun exposure). It usually appears on the cheeks, upper lip and forehead and can go away on its own after a few months. There are also treatments available.
How to support skin during menopause
While some of the signs of menopause are simply to do with ageing, and that’s ok, there are things that we can do to ease other skin side effects, nurturing skin so that it continues to look its best. You may find that medical interventions such as HRT also help with skin side effects if you choose to go down that route, but there are additional/alternative things that can help as well.
A healthy diet is always good for your skin, but during menopause the body needs different things to what you might normally include. It’s recommended that you include plenty of vitamins A and C for skin wellbeing. Some people are big fans of ginseng, which can be found in the form of tea, tinctures and supplements. Lots of antioxidants in things like blueberries, green tea, and cinnamon are beneficial, as is limiting your intake of refined sugar and alcohol.
Vitamins and supplements can help to support the skin during and beyond menopause as well. For example, collagen peptides, and vitamins A, B, C, D and E are recommended for skin's elasticity and overall health. However, you should always consult your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
Protecting your skin from the sun each day by wearing sunscreen and limiting your exposure is generally good advice for skin health. Of course, we all want to enjoy the nice weather when the sun is shining, so we would never suggest staying away from it, but sun hats and SPF products are a good idea.
Update your skincare routine
As skin changes, so too should your skincare routine. It has the capacity to be both a joy and a bit of a secret weapon when it comes to supporting skin health and overall wellbeing during menopause. For example, even if your skin becomes oily, try to avoid overly stringent products for cleansing - you might try a cleansing oil instead to help balance it. Consider using different creams for night and day if you don’t already, and if skin is sensitive then aim for products with fewer and more natural ingredients to limit the prospect of irritation (for example, our MPlus skincare collection is 100% natural). As oestrogen is the primary culprit in many of the skin side effects of menopause, you can also draw on the power of some plants and their naturally occurring oestrogens (phytoestrogens) to superpower your skincare routine.
For things like melasma and facial hair there are also other therapies that can help, some of which you can speak to your GP about and others that are available through specialist aestheticians or spa therapists. Hormonal treatments can also help if that’s a route you would like to explore - like HRT.
You will find more skincare and wellbeing advice to improve your menopause experience in our free downloadable guide.