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How Does the Menopause Affect your Skin?

Updated: Dec 7, 2021


Mention the menopause, and hot flushes, night sweats, and mood swings immediately come to mind. However, other less attention-grabbing issues like dry skin get overlooked.


Menopause is defined as the time in a woman’s life when there have been no menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. It marks the end of fertility and the beginning of a whole host of changes. Menopause can be a natural process or brought on by surgery, radiation and drug treatments, or certain underlying conditions.


Natural menopause, in the western world, occurs on average around the age of 51 but may happen earlier or later. Although, the transition to menopause (perimenopause) can begin around six years earlier. It’s the time when the levels of oestrogen and progesterone hormones produced by the ageing ovaries fluctuate and slowly start to decline. It can lead to an irregular menstrual cycle and trigger hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, forgetfulness, trouble sleeping, fatigue and other symptoms.


But what about your skin? It can be easy to ignore what is happening to our skin. We overlook the fact that our usual skincare routine isn't working for us anymore. Perhaps we're using more body moisturiser than usual, and what about that annoying acne outbreak last week? Didn't we leave that behind in our teens?


The hormonal changes that happen throughout perimenopause and menopause can have a dramatic effect on our skin.


The Menopause and your Skin

Oestrogen is responsible for many processes that maintain our skin’s youthful appearance. So, as the level of oestrogen drops, we begin to see the tell-tale signs of ageing, including:


• Thinner skin

• Fine lines and wrinkles

• Looseness and sagging

• Crepiness in our neck area

• Dryness

• Sensitivity

• Itchiness (pruritus)

• Acne

• Increase in facial hair

• Delayed wound healing


Why does this happen?

Starting as early as your twenties, women slowly begin to lose collagen and elastin from their skin. Collagen and elastin are proteins that work together to give your skin texture and shape - that youthful plumpness and bounce. During the first few years of menopause, we can lose up to 30% of collagen. As a result, our epidermis (outer layer of skin) and the dermis underneath starts to thin, causing fine lines, wrinkles, sagging and crepiness in the neck area.


Thinning skin can become fragile and more susceptible to bruising and tearing. The lower oestrogen levels that cause the thinning of the skin also significantly delay wound healing, which scientists previously believed to be due to ageing alone.


Oestrogen is also essential for sebum production (the natural oils that coat, moisturise and protect your skin), which helps maintain skin hydration. A reduction in oestrogen leads to our skin becoming dry and more sensitive. Dry skin is one of the most common skin complaints reported by women over 40 because the skin becomes less able to produce its own oils, protect itself against harsh elements and chemicals, and retain water. Extreme dryness, in turn, can cause itching, known as pruritus. The skin becomes dry, tight and irritated, and when we scratch it, this can create an uncomfortable exacerbating cycle.


Fluctuations in hormones can also lead to acne and excess facial hair on the cheeks, neck and chin. Even women who have never experienced blemishes in their teens can develop acne during perimenopause. It can last well into menopause, your 50s, 60s or 70s.


But don’t worry, all is not lost. There is plenty you can do to try and combat these changes and help your skin be the best it can be.


How to Care for your Skin during Perimenopause and Menopause.

Many factors can affect your skin, including the weather, your lifestyle and diet, your health, the environment you live and work in, and hormonal changes. It, therefore, makes sense to continually adjust your skincare routine to meet your skin's changing needs.


A professional skin consultation should be the first step you take when considering starting or changing beauty treatments or a skincare routine.


We will ask you about your skin history, health, lifestyle, current skincare routine, and several other factors (including sun exposure and self-tanning) during a consultation. Combined with a visual assessment of your skin, we will work with you to develop an individualised skincare regimen or treatment plan.





Retinol

If you don't already have a vitamin A derivative in your routine, now is the time to add one. Retinol helps to transform the skin by increasing collagen and elastin production while also exfoliating the top layers of dead, dull skin cells. It is capable of treating everything from wrinkles to acne.


Moisturisers

During menopause, your skin loses its ability to hold onto moisture, meaning that moisturisers become more critical than ever. Switching from lightweight gels and lotions to rich creams that contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid can help keep your skin hydrated for longer.


The menopause affects more than just the skin on our face and neck, so we must moisturise everything from the neck down. A great way to get started is to book an exfoliating and moisturising body treatment, creating the blank canvas to continue your body care routine at home.





Sunscreen

Sunscreen is essential whatever your age, and it's recommended you use one with a protective factor of 30 or higher every day, rain or shine. You want to apply sunscreen to your face, hands, neck, and any other area that clothing won’t cover. Regular sunscreen use can help prevent hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce your risk of getting skin cancer. During menopause, upgrade your sunscreen to one that contains antioxidants as this will protect your skin from environmental aggressors like free radicals, smoke and pollution, as well as sun damage.


Facial hair removal

Waxing may be an option. However, if your skin has become thinner and more sensitive, waxing may not be the best option. It could potentially tear your skin or cause irritation.


It may be time to look at an alternative hair removal treatment such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy or electrolysis. To find out more, head over to our treatment information pages or speak to one of our beauty therapists who will recommend the best hair removal treatment for your needs.





No matter how positive your attitude is about menopause, the symptoms are real. And really annoying. Luckily, there are beauty products and salon beauty treatments specifically designed to help. Keep your skin firm and supple for longer and help keep you looking and feeling more like yourself.


Are you experiencing the effects of menopause on your skin? Or do you want to plan for the future? Our friendly, experienced team of therapists will be only too happy to answer your questions. Or, if you're in the City of London, why not book a skin consultation at our salon.

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