Among all the frustrating symptoms of menopause - hot flashes, irritability, mood swings, and fatigue, to name a few - you may also have to contend with bad skin.
It’s a truth that you might have seen when you first hit puberty: hormones play a huge role in the health and appearance of your skin. And because your body inevitably goes through major hormonal changes when you approach menopause, your skin can absolutely be affected.
This is why you may need to shake up your skincare routine if you’re going through menopause.
Your Skin During And After Menopause
Your reproductive hormones play a big role in your skin health - you might have experienced this when you were going through puberty, or during certain times in your menstrual cycle! As your sexual hormones fluctuate, your skin reacts accordingly, leading to skin issues like acne breakouts.
As you approach menopause, your estrogen levels begin to fluctuate wildly and eventually decline. This leads to irregular periods, but it can also cause breakouts as your estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels change.
Changes in your skin may be even more apparent post-menopause when your estrogen levels are at their lowest.
- Estrogen stimulates the release of collagen, which is the component of your skin that keeps it nice and elastic. So as your estrogen levels decrease, your skin elasticity also decreases, contributing to sagging.
This doesn’t just affect your skin, either - your hair also needs collagen to stay elastic, so women in early and late menopause may start seeing dry, brittle hair.
- It can also mean that you retain less water, so your skin is drier, leading to those dreaded fine lines and wrinkles.
- You might also start seeing age spots, also known as sun spots. Those darker, hyperpigmented areas on your skin are brought on from sun exposure without the right SPF protection - you might not have been able to see them when you were younger, but the changes that come post-menopause can make them visible.
- And you might even see an increase in unwanted facial hair growth! Even though your female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are decreasing, you may still have the same amount of testosterone, which can lead to darker, thicker hair in unwanted places.
What To Expect (And How To Deal)
So there’s a lot of different things that can go wrong when it comes to your hormones and your skin health, but there are also plenty of ways to minimize the effects.
Some common menopausal skin complaints include:
- Sagging: One of the most common complaints among women going through menopause is that their skin is not as tight as it used to be due to the decrease in estrogen and subsequent decrease in collagen.
Collagen supplements can be helpful in this regard, and they also have the added benefit of helping dry, brittle hair recover.
Age spots: Those dark spots are a result of your changing hormones combined with sun damage that happens throughout your life. Make sure that you are wearing a high-SPF sunscreen every time that you go out into the sun to prevent and minimize any further damage.
There are also treatments like chemical peels and laser treatments that you can try to reduce existing age spots, but consult with a dermatologist first: these treatments have to penetrate your top layer of skin, and so are more intense than simple topical treatments.
- Dryness: It’s more important now than ever to have a good skincare routine that includes a thorough cleansing and daily moisturizing to make up for the decrease in natural moisture.
You should also make sure that you’re getting enough hydration by drinking enough water every day.
- Post-menopausal acne: Use a gentle cleanser with salicylic acid to combat post-menopausal acne. If that does not help to minimize your breakouts, you can check in with a dermatologist to determine your next steps.
When it comes to dealing with issues from menopause, the best way to handle them is usually to treat the cause, not the symptoms: hormone fluctuations. Some menopausal women choose to do hormone replacement therapy to replace the lost estrogen and minimize the various effects of decreased estrogen.
However, there are also some natural solutions for balancing hormones that present less of a health risk, like improving your diet and taking hormone-balancing herbs with phytoestrogens.
As you age, your skin changes, but taking good care of it can help. Make sure you use high-SPF sunscreen whenever you’re exposed to the sun, keep your skincare routine consistent, and use products that emphasize moisture - your skin will thank you!