What Happens to Your Skin During Menopause?
The menopause creates hormonal changes that wield a significant effect on the skin, and women will experience everything ranging from dryness to a loss of elasticity and a drop in collagen production. In this article, we’re going to be taking a closer look at the menopause and the impact it has on the skin, as well as the popular procedures selecting for combating such impacts.
Menopause is a natural process which sees the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone – the so-called ‘female hormones’. Eggs will also stop being released, and a number of unwelcome side-effects may follow. These include the much-talked-about hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain, and restlessness, among many others. While menopause essentially boils down to women no longer menstruating for a minimum of twelve months, symptoms over start months or years earlier, during a transitional period known as the perimenopause. The average age for a woman starting perimenopause in the US is currently 51.
One of the many side effects of the menopause which garners less attention is the aging of the skin. Collagen levels plummet, elasticity reduces, and dryness takes overall symptoms which result from hormone changes and fluctuations which occur during middle age. However, with proper adjustments to your skincare regime, and with a positive relationship with a cosmetic dermatologist, the impact of the menopause on your skin can be dramatically lessened.
Changes to the Skin Caused by Menopause
Estrogen is a hormone which is directly responsible for many of the factors of youthful-looking skin. In a process that begins in your mid-twenties, collagen levels in women’s skin begin to steadily drop. However, during the first few years of menopause, women are liable to lose up to 30 percent of their collagen as a direct result to a lack of estrogen. The results are stark; deep lines and wrinkles occur, the skin begins to sag, crepiness arises in the hands and neck, and blood vessels become more visible. Estrogen also plays a key role in oil production, and the drop in this hormone causes the skin to become drier and thinner, too.
However, there’s more: as the ‘female hormones’ continue to plummet, the ‘male hormone’ – testosterone – begins to increase. This shift causes hair to grow on the cheek, neck, chin, and chest, acne to arise (often for the first time in decades), and many more unwanted changes. This can be a lot to deal with, but you shouldn’t panic: simple lifestyle changes can make a big impact, as can in-office cosmetic procedures. Indeed, there is an array of wellness and beauty treatments designed to slow the aging process caused by the onset of menopause.
Caring for Your Skin At Home During Menopause
By the time you enter the perimenopause, it’s highly likely that you’ve long since established a skincare regime that works for you. However, due to the rapid fluctuation of hormones, you’ll probably want to make some adjustments to your beauty rituals, in order to ensure youthful, healthy, and beautiful skin. This begins with simple measures – the use of sunscreen and retinol both play a significant role – and focus on key areas such as the neck, chest, and hands, as well as the face. Let’s take a look at some of the main skincare points to consider.
You should already be making use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above – every single day, no matter what the weather is doing. This won’t just help to prevent skin cancer, it will also reduce signs of aging including wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation. During the perimenopause, it’s highly recommended to upgrade your SPF to one which features additional antioxidants. This additional protective ingredient will help to tackle the aging effect of pollutants, free radicals, and other such environmental aggressors.
If you haven’t already brought a vitamin A derivative, such as retinol or retinoids, into your daily routine, then now is the time to begin. If you’ve been making use of the same formulation for many years, you’d also be advised to switch it up to suit your changing skin type.
For example, if you used retinol as a teenager to treat oily skin, your demands during the perimenopause or menopause are going to be drastically different, due to your much lower oil production. Prescription-strength retinoids help to ‘wake up’ the skin and boost collagen and elastin production. Furthermore, they exfoliate the top layers of dead skin and ensure a healthy, fresh, and vibrant glow. Retinol comes in a wide range of forms and strength levels, and since your skin starts to dry out during the menopause, we’d always recommend a cream-based formulation which will add moisture to the skin while providing a much-needed vitamin boost.
Your skin loses much of its ability to hold water following the onset of menopause. This results in thorough moisturization becoming an essential part of your daily routine. Much has been written in recent years about hyaluronic acid (HA) – a truly remarkable moisturizing ingredient which can hold over 1,000 times its own weight in water. Bring a HA serum into your daily skincare rituals, and follow its application with a high-quality moisturizer. Now is also the time to opt for richer, more luxurious creams rather than lightweight formulations.
Cosmetic Procedures Suitable During Menopause
Not interested in surgery, but are on the search for ways to address the unwanted hair, skin sagging, and hyperpigmentation caused by menopause? There are a number of minimally invasive procedures which – when paired with a renewed skincare routine – can work wonders and rejuvenate your face and body.
1. Botox® & Filler
Bringing together dermal fillers and neurotoxin injections (such as Botox®) can be a brilliant way to restore fullness and vitality to the skin, as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Many cosmetic dermatologists will make use of small quantities of Botox® and dermal fillers in order to replace lost volume, rather than to add to a feature that wasn’t there before. This will allow for a more natural look, and help the individual feel more confident about aging. It’s important to note that fillers can also be used on the hands for rejuvenating purposes, too.
2. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels have been often misunderstood, and have even garnered something of a negative reputation in recent years. However, they are in fact one of the simplest and most effective treatments for menopausal skin. A series of gentle chemical peels – using hydroxy or glycolic acids – will improve the skin’s texture and tone, and will help to jump-start collagen production while sloughing away dead skin to reveal a smooth, glowing complexion. Chemical peels are available in a range of concentrations, so feel free to talk to your specialist to find out which is the best for you. Remember: chemical peels aren’t just for the face, and can also be used on the neck, chest, and hands!
3. Hair Removal
Rising testosterone levels will cause increased facial and body hair growth, and if you’re on the lookout for ways of permanently removing them, electrolysis and laser hair removal are the best options for you. The treatments you receive will ultimately depend on the type of hair (and color of hair) you’re looking to remove. Dark, coarse hair is usually treated with lasers, while white or grey hair is better removed with electrolysis.
Microneedling is rapidly growing in popularity; it’s an in-office procedure that makes use of small needles that create micro-injuries in the skin. This minute wounds tell the skin to begin the repairing process, which leads to the rapid creation of new collagen. The result? Firm, smooth, and rejuvenated skin.
Most women will undergo four to five treatments (spaced four to six weeks apart) in order to see the best results. These will then be followed by top-up sessions once or twice per year. Many patients combine micro-needling with PRP (platelet-rich plasma) or Radio-frequency treatments for further benefits.
5. Ultrasound Technology
Ultrasonic energy quickly heats the tissue beneath the skin and causes it to seize up and shrink. This process is ideal for those who don’t want a surgical face or eyelifts but want a tightening effect on the brows, neck, or chin that will last for up to a year. It’s worth pointing out that this process isn’t a comfortable one, but for its fans, it’s most definitely worth it.
Remember: Your Pre-Perimenopause Lifestyle Is Key
If you’re reading these pointers and you’re currently in your twenties or thirties, then well done: you’ve uncovered some key steps to take that will enormously benefit your skin as you age. Perimenopause can begin up to a decade before the menopause for many women, and the way that you take care of your body and skin is important, even before that process starts. By taking on good habits now, you’ll be reaping the benefits in your forties and fifties, and beyond. A varied and healthy diet that includes plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids and adequate hydration will put you in a far healthier position to reduce skin changes and damage during menopause.
It really goes without saying, but alcohol consumption, sun exposure, and smoking should all be cut down as much as possible. When it comes to skincare, it’s always easier to prevent than to correct, so be sure to look after your skin in your younger years – you’ll thank yourself for it further down the road!