How your skin changes at menopause and the remedies and professional treatment that can help

Julie Lardner explains how hormonal changes can affect us, including thinning skin, blotchiness and hollows under the eyes, with advice on the skincare and professional treatments to seek out

Among the many changes in your body peri-menopause and once you reach menopause, the most disturbing or confusing can be the changes in your skin. 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.

Skin problem: adult acne
Cause: excess testosterone
Solution: medical advice and vitamin A cream

This drop in oestrogen, although barely noticed by you, can lead to a rise in the male hormone testosterone. It once worked in harmony with oestrogen, but now freely roams and can become a dominant hormone, leading in some case to adult acne.

This is not to be mistaken for the pimples of teenage years. Adult acne can often be isolated and inflamed. If this does occur there are steps you can take to minimise the trauma to your skin.

1. Seek out the advice of a medical practitioner with an interest in women’s hormonal health issues.

2. Ask your doctor about the use of a topical vitamin A cream, usually known as Retin A.

3. Be kind to your skin. Choose a gentle, non-foaming cleanser; a moisturiser with essential fatty acids; and serums containing AHAs, BHAs and Vitamin A.

4. Continue to protect your skin diligently from the sun, to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Skin problem: sagging skin and loss of volume
Cause: loss of collagen
Solution: skincare with vitamin C and dermal fillers

Once you get closer to menopause, the symptoms of acne may reduce, making way for a new set of problems. It is not so much that you will experience an onset of new wrinkles overnight, but slowly you may begin to notice a loss of volume in the skin. For many women this is of more concern than the appearance of a wrinkle that simply traces where a smile has been.

This loss of volume can appear around the eyes, cheeks and mouth and it signals a loss of collagen, which gives the skin its strength and structure.

1. Invest in a skincare regimen that includes a high potency and stable vitamin C. 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.

2. Consider dermal fillers. Most fillers these days, when administered by a skilled practitioner, are effective and safe. Most dermal fillers consist of the naturally occurring substance hyaluronic acid which, when injected into specific areas of the face, can provide subtle improvements to plump up the skin where there is a loss of volume.

Skin problems: hyperpigmentation, blotchy skin and uneven skin texture
Cause: hormones affecting pigment production
Solution: sunscreen, vitamin B3 and laser resurfacing

What was once a lovely tan is now becoming blotchy pigmentation. Once again, hormonal deficiencies 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 come out of nowhere. This can be one of the most distressing skin conditions for many women, but there are solutions.

1. First and foremost, wear a well-formulated sunscreen all year round. Look for a sunscreen with moisturising properties and potent antioxidants like green tea, Lascorbic acid (vitamin C) and atocopherols (vitamin E).

2. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) when applied topically in a serum formulation this vitamin will protect the skin from the infrared heat of the sun, which can exacerbate the onset of uneven pigmentation.

3. Fractional laser resurfacing is targeted and specific, and works by penetrating the top layers of the skin with light energy to stimulate formation of new collagen. At the same time it resurfaces the skin to remove unwanted pigment cells, soften wrinkles and smooth out the texture of the skin. If you are prepared for 45 days of social downtime, the outcome can be wonderful. However, results will vary depending on your skin condition, so preparing your skin with cosmeceutical skincare is essential.

Skin problem: bone and fat loss
Cause: decrease in oestrogen
Solution: vitamin D and dermal fillers

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 you can take to slow the process down and minimise the problem.

1. Maintain your vitamin D levels by getting at least ten minutes of sunshine every day.

2. If it’s winter or just not possible to get out in the sunshine, increase the vitamin D through your diet by eating eggs, oily fish, mushrooms and unprocessed cheese.

3. Have your vitamin D checked annually and if you are found to be within the low range of acceptable, or even deficient, your doctor will recommend you incorporate at least 400IU of a vitamin D oral supplement.

4. For 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 just below the eye). For the best possible results this procedure should always be done by a skilled cosmetic doctor.

Menopause is a natural part of life for every woman and by around the age of 45 our bodies begin to shift into peri-menopause. At that age you may not yet notice the subtle changes, but nevertheless it’s a good time to start managing some of the visible signs by seeking out professional and medical advice.

It’s wise to ramp up your health with nutritious wholefoods, choose a great skincare regimen and stick with it, and kick a few bad habits to the kerb like smoking, eating processed foods, and excessive consumption of alcohol. And most of all, foster a positive attitude and embrace your new-found liberty.

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