Despite the fact that the menopause (the permanent stopping of a women’s period) is a natural stage in life which all females go through, affecting half the population, up until recent years it has remained a stubbornly taboo subject.
Thankfully, the menopause – or ‘the change’ as many refer to – is now openly discussed, with various celebrities such as Emma Thompson, Gillian Anderson and Gwyneth Paltrow talking about their own experiences of it, right from the perimenopause stage (the transition phase to menopause when symptoms begin) to full blown menopause.
Not only does perimenopause mean the start of fluctuating hormones as most are aware will happen, but many will notice how the menopause can affect the skin. Unfortunately, as women begin the menopause, there is a drop in oestrogen which can often play havoc on the skin, causing sensitivity, acne and dryness. Collogen and elastin levels also take a nosedive, making skin thinner, more prone to drying out and sagging.
During both perimenopause and the menopause, in addition to your body not producing as much collagen and elastin, your oil glands aren’t as active which can cause dry skin. In addition to dry skin many will experience skin discoloration, acne and dark eye circles.
It’s not all doom and gloom however - the good news is there are ways to prevent the menopause from having such an impact on your skin – and the great news is that these suggestions will improve your overall health, helping you to feel better in general.
Drinking lots of water goes a long way to maintain skin quality as we age. Staying hydrated will reduce the dehydrating effect of falling oestrogen and can help keep skin looking plump and youthful. Try a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and cut back on caffeine and spicy food which can trigger hot flushes.
Fortunately, nowadays, there are powerful skincare ranges designed specifically for menopausal skin that use key ingredients which attempt to reverse hormonal changes by restoring what the menopause takes away. Living M is a new skincare brand specifically created to target hormonal skin changes caused by perimenopause and menopause. Understanding women don’t necessarily want their 20’s back, but would like to look the best version of themselves regardless of age, there are two products available, the Quench and Soothe Serum (RRP £35) and the Collagen Boost Moisturiser (RRP £45), both designed to nourish perimenopausal and menopausal skin.
As women reach perimenopause and the menopause, skin is more vulnerable to sun damage as it produces less melanin when oestrogen levels drop. It is vital to wear a sun cream with a minimum SPF of 30 to prevent damage to the skin.
Heavy physical activity seems to bring menopause onset forward, whereas light physical activity appears to delay it.* This is a good reason for women to take regular gentle to moderate exercise in the years leading up to the menopause. Keeping active and fit is not only great for muscles and bone health, but it also helps your complexion by giving circulation a much-needed boost. The increase in blood flow and oxygen levels will boost your mood and make your skin brighter.
Incorporating foods with antioxidants such as blueberries, artichokes, red cabbage, raspberries, spinach, beetroot and dark chocolate (the perfect excuse to indulge), will help make your skin stronger from within. Aim for a rainbow of colours in your five a day.
Although you may not see the skin of your 20s again, the skin of your 40s, 50s and beyond can still look amazing if you take time to look after your skin and be prepared for the so called ‘change’.
Women may be aware of the menopause, but many women in their 30s probably don’t realise that perimenopause, the precursor to the menopause is actually not that far off. It can in fact happen as early as your 30s, though most women experience it in their 40s. However, by taking the above tips on board, you can do something about these menopausal skin concerns and learn how to embrace this next chapter of life.