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.
But, before we get there; during the years leading up to menopause, known as peri-menopause changes start to take place in the body and as liberating as the loss of your period every month can feel, the downside is a reduction in oestrogen which is intimately connected to many aspects of retaining your feminine beauty.
Amongst the many changes in your body during this time, none more disturbing or confusing than the changes taking place in your skin.
At first, a drop in oestrogen may be barely noticed. But androgens remain constant, these are the male hormones (testosterone), that all women have. Testosterone, once a hormone working in harmony with oestrogen, 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 the use of a topical vitamin A cream. There are many brands and in Australia are only available on prescription. Going by the name of Retin A but also tretinoin or retinoic acid.
- 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 professionalfor expert advice.
Sagging skin and a loss of volume.
Once you get closer to menopause, acne symptoms may reduce but you may begin to notice wrinkles and sagging skin. It’s not that the onset of new wrinkles appears overnight, but slowly you’ll begin to notice a loss of volume in the skin. For many women, myself included this is of more concern 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 initially signals a loss of collagen.
Collagen gives the skin its strength and structure.
But there is help at hand.
- Invest in a skincare regimen that includes 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 these days, when administered by a skilled practitioner, are very effective and safe. 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 can provide subtle improvements to plump up the skin where there is a loss of volume. 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. This is a safe way to tighten the skin with minimal social downtime, and results can last for up to 12 months.
- Micro-Needling both professionally and at home micro-needling can do a lot to activate new collagen and with very little downtime or side effects is a very good option to improve the loss of collagen.
Hyper-pigmentation, blotchiness and uneven 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 in this way, the unwanted pigmented is diminished and eventually removed.
Bone and fat loss.
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 begin to diminish, leaving you with a somewhat hollow and aged appearance to the face.
It all sounds a bit depressing, but there are measures and solutions you can take to slow the process down and minimise the problem.
- Ensuring your vitamin D levels are maintained at the high range by getting at least 10 minutes of sunshine every day.
- If it’s winter or just not possible to get out in the sunshine, then increase vitamin D through your diet by eating eggs, oily fish, mushrooms and unprocessed cheese.
- Have your vitamin D checked annually. If you are found to be within the low range of acceptable or even deficient, your doctor will recommend incorporating at least 400IU of a vitamin D oral supplement.
- The loss of fat pads under the eyes, which give the eye area a dark and sunken appearance consider dermal fillers in the tear trough; the area is just below the eye. For the best possible results, this procedure should always be done by a skilled cosmetic doctor.
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 a good time to begin managing some of the visible signs 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. A great read explaining what’s happening within your body and all your options to help your thrive in menopause.
Ramp up your overall health with nutritious whole food and increase your intake of a wide variety of colourful vegetables.
Choose a great skincare regimen 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 new-found liberty!
And if you’d like to know more on how your hormones impact on your life you may like this article: Don’t let your hormones ruin your life.
See you next time,