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Discussing Menopause is back.
Next up in my monthly menopause column? The various skin changes in menopause you might go through, plus which products the experts recommend.
There is a moment that will come to us all. One day you will be innocently shopping for a new winter coat. Suddenly, you catch a glimpse of your mother out of the corner of your eye, do a double-take (as you thought she was 200 miles away) and then realise, to your absolute horror, that it’s you staring back from the mirror.
This is what happened to me this summer. Having felt that I have held things together rather well ageing-wise, I wondered why I was suddenly so wrinkly (No offence intended to mothers, incidentally. You are, by definition, older than us).
It transpires that our perimenopausal and menopausal years are those during which the ageing process is likely to catch up with you. “I often describe ageing spurts,” says award-winning aesthetic doctor, Dr Sophie Shotter. You can, she says, tootle along for months quite happily and then, seemingly overnight, age five years. Menopause is – sorry, everybody – the biggest ageing spurt of them all.
So what’s happening? Well, there are five main ways in which your skin changes in menopause and further, your hormones might affect you according to the experts.
Skin changes in menopause: your guide
1. Collagen loss
Collagen is the protein responsible for our skin’s lovely youthful plumpness. We lose it at a rate of around one per cent annually from our twenties onwards and then there’s a sudden drop.
“In the first five years of menopause we lose 30 per cent of our collagen, which means sagging, loss of volume and wrinkles,” says Dr Shotter.
2. Dry skin
As oestrogen goes down, our skin becomes drier. “Our fibroblast cells, which are responsible for producing the hyaluronic acid that keeps skin looking moisturised, don’t function as well,” explains Dr Shotter.
In addition, the skin barrier, which retains moisture, becomes less robust, and we lose more water through the skin, especially at night.
“You are more prone to pigmentation around this time,” explains leading skin specialist Dr David Jack.
I know that these days, the moment I put my face in the sun, the streaks of pigmentation that developed when I was pregnant instantly reappear.
In addition, Dr Jack says that skin often becomes more sensitive. “Many women find that tried and tested products don’t work as well or they develop a sensitivity to them.”
5. Skin conditions
And finally, you can develop certain skin conditions. “Development of skin issues such as acne and rosacea can be very common due to changes in hormones,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto, author of The Skincare Bible.
As per the American Academy of Dermatology journal, acne affects around a quarter of women aged 40 to 49. She recommends seeing a professional for an accurate diagnosis.
So, when is it time to make a change?
With menopause suddenly being trendy, there’s a raft of skincare ranges for menopausal skin. Choose carefully. Whacking the word ‘menopause’ on a face cream doesn’t necessarily make it more effective.
While the above may sound daunting, there’s plenty you can do. This is, say the experts, a great time to rethink your skincare regime. ‘The basic premise is more hydration, sun protection, Vitamin C and some sort of retinoid – ideally a gentle one,” says Dr Jack.
Emepelle Gift Set Night Cream and Serum – £199
Dr Shotter is a fan of Emepelle‘s designed-for-menopause offerings (Night Cream and Serum). “These contain a molecule that binds to oestrogen receptors. Your skin thinks it’s still high in oestrogen and behaves in the same – youthful – way!’ she explains. They also contain retinol, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid.” Save £111 when buying as a bundle.
No7 Menopause Skincare Nourishing Overnight Cream 50ml – £32.95 | Boots
Less bank-breaking is No7’s new Menopause Skincare range – I like the nourishing overnight cream and can testify to its pleasing efficacy. The products target the visual signs of reduced oestrogen – using ceramides and lipids to strengthen that fragile skin barrier and a soy extract that boosts collagen production. Skin is smoother, firmer and more hydrated. And – as an aside – it all smells lovely.
Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler + Elasticity Night Cream – £28 | Feelunique
Eucerin has upgraded their reasonably priced Hyaluron-Filler + Elasticity range (I like the night cream) which – as you’d expect – contains hyaluronic acid for moisture, as well as their patented ingredient Thiamidiol, which reduces melanin production to help with age spots.
2. Sun protection
Heliocare Pigment Solution Fluid – £39 | Face The Future
Next up? Sun protection (yes, all year round). I love this easy-to-use option from Heliocare.
3. Vitamin C
The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% – £6.40 | Lookfantastic
Finally, Dr Jack advises looking to brands such as The Ordinary for inexpensive retinoids – just be careful to opt for a gentle one, to avoid sensitivity or a breakout.
So, while you might experience skin changes in menopause, fear not – there are plenty of experts (and products) out there to make your journey that little bit more manageable.