Menopause Skincare and How to Fix Problems - Stella
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Menopause skincare – how to fix five common issues

byLucia Ferrari

It’s not just mood, sleep patterns and changes to our thermo-regulatory system that are affected by hormones during menopause. Hormones can have a big impact on our skin too. In particular, it’s the drop in oestrogen that begins during perimenopause which affects how our skin looks and feels. When it comes to menopause and skincare – it could be time to rethink your products.

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Why is menopause skincare important?

A recent study of 1,000 menopausal women (commissioned for World Menopause Day in October 2020) found that 49 percent of women were unaware of the major impact that menopause could have on the skin  – yet many felt their usual skincare products didn’t have the usual effect which had knocked their confidence. Find out more about the stages of menopause.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can work wonders by restoring the oestrogen supply (by wonders, I mean it can improve skin firmness and skin hydration levels). However, HRT is not for everyone, for example if you have had an oestrogen-related cancer it is unlikely available for you. Talk to your doctor about whether it’s suitable – read more about the HRT debate

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Help is at hand in the form of menopause skincare – it just requires working out exactly what’s the issue and knowing the right ingredients to look out for.

Dr Sophie Shotter, medical director and founder of Illuminate Skin Clinic in Kent, treats many women in their 40s, 50s and beyond, She gives us her symptom checklist and, along with Harley Street Dermatologist, Dr Emma Wedgeworth offers some advice as to exactly which ingredients to look for if you feel the time is right to up the ante on your menopause skincare.

1. Drier skin

Dr Sophie explains, “This is usually the first thing people begin to notice. During menopause, our skin produces fewer natural oils, which are what keeps it looking dewy, plus they keep water in our skin. This is because our lipid (oil) barrier deteriorates and we suffer transepidermal water loss so the skin gets much dryer.”

What can we do?

Dr Emma suggests, “The first thing to check is to make sure you’re using a gentle, non-foaming cleanser to prevent extra drying. I always suggest a creamy cleanser. Then it’s key to choose a product that can help repair the skin barrier – look for ceramides in the ingredient list for this. Another useful ingredient is niacinamide which is soothing as well as reparative and can also help reduce sensitivity if that’s an issue too.” 

Dr Sophie and Dr Emma both recommend a moisturising product which contains hyaluronic acid, “It’s your skin’s natural sponge to help it hang on to more water,” says Dr Sophie. “So ideally try a hyaluronic acid serum followed by a ceramide-rich moisturiser.”

What to look for in your menopause skincare products?

Non-foaming, creamy cleanser with ceramides and niacinamide, moisturising cream with ceramides and hyaluronic acid serum.

2. Loss of firmness

Dr Sophie explains, “Our fibroblast cells which produce collagen need a good supply of oestrogen in order to function at optimum levels. So as our oestrogen levels drop, so does our collagen production. In the first five years of menopause, we lose 30 percent of our collagen.”

What can we do?

Dr Emma suggests, “Retinoids are the gold standard for boosting volume.” Look for products that contain retinol, as it can stimulate cells to produce more collagen. Some people may be sensitive to retinol and could try an ingredient called bakuchiol, which has also been shown to stimulate collagen and is a good alternative if retinol doesn’t agree with your skin.

Dr Sophie and Dr Emma are also both impressed with the new ingredient MEP (methyl estradiolpropanoate), which can be found in some of the newer skincare lines targeted specifically for menopausal women. It may just sound like clever marketing but MEP mimics the effects of oestrogen on the skin and appears to have genuine benefits for menopause skincare routines.

What to look for your menopause skincare products?

Products containing retinol, bakuchiol and MEP.

3. Fine lines and wrinkles

Dr Sophie explains, “Many women start to notice more lines and wrinkles during menopause which is also driven by the loss of collagen. Less collagen means our skin loses structural integrity which can result in fine lines.”

What can we do?

Dr Emma suggests, “Retinoids can also help with fine lines and wrinkles but let’s also not forget the importance of wearing a daily SPF for this too. Over time the skin’s ability to protect itself against the sun will also result in more wrinkles. 

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“In this country it’s still important to protect our skin year-round from UVA. I tell my patients to wear at least an SPF 30 every day. And there’s evidence that we do not apply nearly enough of the amount of product needed. A rough guide is half a teaspoon for the face and neck is the correct amount.”

Dr Sophie is a fan of peptides when it comes to menopause skincare, “There are some peptides that behave like in-clinic muscle relaxing treatments to relax wrinkles and muscle movement on a micro-level. Hyaluronic acid also works here too to plump out fine lines.”

What to look for your menopause skincare products?

Products with SPF 30 and peptides.

4. Menopausal breakouts

Dr Sophie explains, “Many women who have had great skin throughout their adult life can find they suffer from breakouts once they hit menopause. This is because oestrogen drops much quicker than testosterone so you can be left with unbalanced oestrogen and progesterone levels which can result in both unwanted hair and spots.”

What can we do?

Dr Emma suggests, “Look for products containing azelaic acid. On the whole I prefer creams. I find it’s tolerated well by my menopausal patients. Salicylic acid can be used for breakouts but it can be irritating and I find it more useful for treating teen acne.”

What to look for in your menopause skincare products?

 Creams with azelaic acid.

5. Dull-looking skin

Dr Sophie explains, “During perimenopause and menopause the turnover of our skin slows down. New skin cells come through much slower and this can result in less radiant skin than previously.”

What can we do?

Dr Emma suggests, “Superficial exfoliators such as AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) are more effective than physical scrubs. But it’s important not to overdo the AHA as this can lead to further skin sensitivity. Less is definitely more for regaining your natural glow.” 

Dr Sophie also warns, “If you do prefer a physical scrub, make sure you choose one with round beads or microdermabrasion crystals and never scrub more than twice a week. If you’re prone to redness, avoid physical scrubs altogether.”

What to look for in your menopause skincare products?

Exfoliators with AHAs.

Enjoy shopping knowing the proven science behind the labels! Find out more about menopause on our blog or read about skin changes in our menopause symptoms library.

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