Skincare Tips: Taking Care Of Your Skin During Menopause

November 23, 2020


Dr. Keira Barr

Recently I shared my top 10 skincare tips for those in menopause with mindbodygreen. So, I thought it would be helpful to share them with you too. And of course add a few more tips.

When we talk about hormonal skin changes, we tend to focus on puberty. However, if you are over 35 years old, you are probably starting to notice some changes in your skin and puberty is long gone. That is because starting in your mid-late thirties your hormones begin to diminish. Paired with diet and lifestyle factors that can make your hormones go haywire, your skin will bear the signs of this aftermath.

So What Is The Story About Sex Hormones and Your Skin?

Estrogen is necessary for the normal functioning of the skin. It also supports the functions of the blood vessels, hair follicles, oil glands, and pigment-producing cells. 

It is associated with: 

  • collagen production
  • increased skin thickness
  • increased hyaluronic acid production
  • improved skin barrier function 
  • maintaining skin hydration
  • reduced sebaceous (oil) gland activity
  • improved wound healing.
  • regulating inflammation.

The effects of progesterone on the skin are less well defined. But it may promote skin elasticity and pigmentation. During the second half of the menstrual cycle, progesterone increases blood circulation in the skin as well as sebaceous gland activity. Androgens also play a role in oil gland production.

As your hormones decrease during menopause, skin health declines as well. There will be a decrease in sweat, sebum, and immune functions. Subsequently, this results in significant changes on the skin surface. These changes include pH and sebum secretion. Moreover, these changes can also affect the skin microbiome.

So What Happens?

The result is that the skin becomes more dry and sensitive. Hence, making the skin more vulnerable to irritation and inflammation. Without estrogen’s help, fine lines and wrinkles become more noticeable. There is a delay in wound healing. And bruising is more common. Furthermore, thinning of the vaginal tissue leads to dryness, itching, and irritation. This creates a recipe for painful sex.

There is a decrease in skin cell turnover giving skin a dull appearance. As a result, pigmentation becomes more prominent. Due to relative androgen dominance, there may be an increase in facial hair and acne.

What Sort Of Changes Do You Typically See?

Women’s skin loses about 30% of its collagen during the first five years of menopause. And in the subsequent 20 years, about 2% of the collagen every year. This rapid decline in collagen leads to our skin losing its firmness. It begins to sag. Pores appear more prominent. Wrinkles that used to show up when we smiled or frowned now are visible all of the time. So what do you see? Changes in skin tone, texture, and pigmentation. These changes lead to a dull complexion with sagging skin, wrinkles and more prominent age spots. 

Simple Skincare Tips To Help You During This Time

Boost Your Hydration:

Because the skin loses the ability to retain moisture, the skin can get pretty dry, especially in low humidity. Hence, instead of soap, wash your face with a gentle cleanser like this Hydraboost cleanser.

While showering, reserve soap for what I call the ‘PPF’: pits, privates, and feet. Follow this by applying a moisturizer after bathing while the skin is still damp. By doing so, you will be locking in the moisture. An essential component of skincare, we often overlook methods to correctly applying moisturizers. 

 Also, apply moisturizer throughout the day whenever your skin feels dry. A moisturizer with hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or glycerin is helpful. 

As your skin may be more sensitive and fragile, avoid aggressive exfoliation or scrubs that could tear or irritate the skin.

Make SPF Your BFF:

Adequately and frequently applying sunscreen is a salient feature of glowing skin. During menopause, it is more important to use sun protection daily. UV rays will further break down collagen and increase skin pigmentation.

Protect Your Collagen:

The first step is removing anything that stops collagen formation or repair. For this, you need to get rid of added sugar and prioritze sleep.

Sugar and how we prepare our food can interfere with healthy skin aging. Both can lead to the formation of Accelerated Glycation End Products ( AGEs). These are proteins formed by excess sugar and foods cooked at high temperatures like grilling and roasting. These AGEs destroy collagen, making it stiff and harder to repair. The result is creation of wrinkles, skin sag, and jowls. Thus, AGEs age your skin. Not many people think about food when it comes to protecting collagen. How we prepare food is one of the subtle skincare tips. 

Hot Tip: Marinating meats with acidic ingredients can reduce AGE production by up to 50%. Acidic ingredients include vinegar, tomato juice, or lemon juice. Cooking over ceramic surfaces, rather than directly on metal, can also reduce AGE production.

Boost Your Collagen:

Eating foods that promote collagen production and help your skin to hold on to the much-needed moisture is a great place to start.

Look for foods rich in:

  • Vitamin C: is necessary for collagen production. Along with other antioxidants, it can help reduce inflammation and damage that contributes to skin aging. Foods rich in vitamin C are pomegranates, spinach, and tomatoes (also rich in lycopene which helps protect your skin from UV rays).
  • Lutein: is a carotenoid that is great for overall skin tone and texture. It also helps the skin to maintain moisture. Lutein is present in greens, squash and broccoli. As well as asparagus and red pepper.
  • B vitamins: these are key for healthy skin. They help reduce inflammation and retain moisture within the skin. They also improve the skin barrier and cell protection by increasing elastin and fibrillin. Collagen supplements are also a great addition. They contain peptides that promote collagen and elastin production by encouraging healthy fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are cells that produce collagen and elastin. 

Add in some Targeted Products:

Consider adding in a skincare product that boosts collagen in your skin. These products include retinol, bakuchiol, or peptides. Topical products rich in vitamins C, E, and ferulic acid reduce inflammation and build collagen. As a result, in addition to protecting and strengthening the skin, these products will also brighten it. These products will supplement a diet rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants. 

Address Your Acne:

If you are breaking out, you may not be able to tolerate the treatments you used as a teenager. That is because the skin is thinner and drier, and those treatments will be harsh. So using a cleanser with salicylic acid can be beneficial. Avoid acne products that can dry your skin as that can make acne worse. Take a look at your diet. Dairy products and sugar can stimulate the production of sebum.

Switch to Products for Dry and/or Sensitive Skin:

The pH of our skin changes around age 50, thus making the skin more sensitive. Sensitive skin is more likely to develop rashes and is prone to irritants. To maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, use fragrance-free products. Products with anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, and soothing properties are essential to restoring moisture. 

Replenishing essential fatty acids (EFA) support skin elasticity and barrier integrity. EFAs include gamma-linoleic acid from several plant-based oils. These also include evening primrose oil (EPO) and black currant seed oil. 

Sea buckthorn oil and niacinamide can help with inflammation. And hyaluronic acid can help replenish moisture.

Show Your Gut Some Love:

Many skin issues have a link with food sensitivities or intolerances. Several foods are inflammatory to the skin and gut. The cumulative effects of food sensitivities and diminishing hormones wreak havoc on the skin. The damage to the skin can be in the form of acne, redness, dry, or flaky skin. 

In addition to sugar and dairy, add gluten and alcohol to the list. (I know! I love my glass of wine too. But I will share my tips on how to have your wine and drink it in another post).

Since everyone’s intolerances vary, consider removing one or two of these foods for 3 to 4 weeks. Take notice of any changes in your skin. Be sure to add them back one at a time. And if your skin worsens, you know which offending food to avoid.

Bottom Line Of Skincare Tips

Numerous medical conditions influence the health and appearance of your skin. Your gut health, the function of the liver, thyroid, and adrenal glands, and insulin insufficiency all influence hormonal balances during the menopausal transition. The cumulative effects of all these processes in the body show up on the skin in myriad ways. 

So, take an inside-out and outside-in approach when it comes to your skin. These skincare tips might be the key to a radiant complexion during menopause.