Vive la libération!
Yes, the onset of menopause can bring a sense of freedom. Okay, you’ll need to travel with a personal fan for a while, but once you muddle your way through the myriad of sometimes confusing symptoms that show up, you may find a reason to celebrate your menopause.
As liberating as the loss of your period every month can feel, the downside is less oestrogen. A gradual loss of oestrogen is intimately connected to retaining our feminine beauty and begins in the years leading up to menopause, known as peri-menopause.
Amongst the changes in your body, none is more disturbing or confusing than the changes in our skin during menopause. And the gradual loss of oestrogen is intimately connected to retaining our feminine beauty.
At first, you may barely notice a drop in oestrogen. But androgens remain constant. These are the male hormones (testosterone) that all women have. Once a hormone that worked in harmony with oestrogen, testosterone can now freely roam around your body, becoming a dominant hormone and, in some cases, can lead to adult acne.
Not to be mistaken for the pimples of your teenage years, adult acne can often be isolated and inflamed. If this does occur, there are positive steps you can take to minimise the trauma to your skin.
- Seek out the advice of a medical practitioner interested and specialising in women’s hormonal health issues.
- Ask your doctor about using a topical vitamin A (tretinoin) cream. In Australia, tretinoin is only available on prescription to help with skin changes in menopause.
- Be kind to your skin. Choose a gentle, non-foaming cleanser, a moisturiser with essential fatty acids and serums with AHA’s BHA’a and Vitamin A.
- Continue to protect your skin diligently from the sun to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can appear during the healing phase of adult acne.
- Reach out to a skincare professional for expert advice.
Have you noticed sagging skin and a loss of volume?
Once you get closer to menopause, some of the changes to your skin can be unsettling, and while acne symptoms may reduce, you may begin to notice more pronounced wrinkling and sagging skin. It’s not that the onset of wrinkles appears overnight, but gradually you’ll notice a loss of volume in the skin. For many women, myself included, a loss of facial volume is more concerning than the arrival of a wrinkle that traces where a smile has been.
This volume loss can begin to appear under the eyes, the cheeks, and around the mouth and signals a loss of fat in the skin and the supporting collagen that gives our skin its strength and elastin that keeps the skin flexible.
There are solutions to skin changes in menopause.
Invest in a skincare regimen with a highly potent and stable vitamin C formula. When used daily, vitamin C is a vital ingredient in building collagen. Look for a serum formulation with a pH below 3.5 with airtight packaging to improve stability, or opt for a vitamin C powder that you can mix with other serums or moisturisers or a lipid-soluble formula containing Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate.
You could consider dermal fillers. Most fillers are effective and safe when administered by a skilled health professional. Most dermal fillers consist of the naturally occurring substance hyaluronic acid that can provide subtle improvements to plump up the skin when injected into specific areas of the face and restore a volume loss. But it’s not for everyone, and it may not be for you.
High-Intensity Focussed Ultrasound. Targets areas where menopause may be contributing to a loss of elasticity and is beginning to sag and is a safe way to tighten the skin with minimal social downtime, and results can last for up to 12 months.
Medical Micro-needling activates new collagen. With minimal downtime or side effects is an excellent option for improving the loss of collagen.
When you have hyper-pigmentation, blotchiness and uneven skin tone?
What was once a lovely tan is now becoming blotchy pigmentation. Once again, hormonal deficiencies triggered by the onset of menopause are the culprit. With the reduction in melanocyte-stimulating hormones, your pigment production can become dysfunctional, leaving you with uneven pigmentation that seems to have appeared overnight.
One of the most distressing skin conditions for many women, but you can take action as there are solutions and preventive measures.
- First and foremost, wear a well-formulated sunscreen all year round. If possible, look for a sunscreen with moisturising properties and potent antioxidants like green tea, L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and a-tocopherol (vitamin E). But failing those antioxidant additions, make sure, at the very least, your sunscreen is broad-spectrum.
- Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), when applied topically in a serum formulation, will protect the skin from the infrared heat of the sun, which can exacerbate the onset of uneven pigmentation.
- IPL – Targeted and specific, Intense Pulse Light (IPL). IPL uses light energy to target pigmented cells in your skin by absorbing the light energy and converting it into heat. By heating the cells, unwanted pigmentation is diminished and eventually removed.
Changes you can expect to the structure and contour of your face.
The slowing down of oestrogen production also means subtle changes in the shape of the face. Bones begin to shrink, and the fatty pads around the eyes and cheeks start to diminish, leaving you with a somewhat hollow and aged appearance to the face.
It all sounds a bit depressing, but there are solutions and measures you can take to slow the changes to your skin in menopause.
- Ensure you maintain adequate vitamin D levels by getting at least 10 minutes of sunshine every day.
- If it’s winter or it’s just not possible to get a daily dose of sunshine, then increase vitamin D through your diet by eating eggs, oily fish, mushrooms and unprocessed cheese.
- Have your vitamin D checked annually. If your levels are low, your doctor will recommend incorporating at least 400IU of a vitamin D oral supplement.
- The loss of fat pads under the eyes gives the eye area a dark and hollow appearance. You might consider dermal fillers. However, consult with your healthcare professional for advice and seek an expert in cosmetic injectables.
Not quite ready to celebrate?
Menopause is a natural part of life for every woman, but it can also be a very confusing time. By the age of around 45, your body will begin to shift into peri-menopause, so even though you may not notice the subtle changes, it’s an excellent time to start managing some of the visible changes in your skin by seeking out professional and medical advice.
Ask your doctor about Hormone Replacement Therapy. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but it’s always good to know your options.
You might like to check our Dr Ginni Mansberg’s book, The M Word. How to thrive in menopause.
Dr Ginni explains the changes occurring during menopause in a way that’s easy to understand.
And now you?
Ramp up your overall health with nutritious whole food and increase your intake of a wide variety of colourful vegetables.
Choose an excellent skincare routine and stick with it.
Take a long hard look at any dubious habits like smoking, processed foods, sugar intake, and excessive alcohol consumption that might need to be modified.
And most of all, foster a positive attitude and embrace your newfound liberty!
If you’d like to know more about how your hormones impact your life, you may like this article: Don’t let your hormones ruin your life.
See you next time,