During perimenopause and menopause, our hormones are constantly fluctuating. Estrogen spikes and falls, and eventually, it tapers off almost completely.
These shifts in estrogen cause a whole range of side effects for women, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and loss of libido. But one lesser talked about aspect of menopause is the changes to our skin.
The skin is the largest organ in our body. It protects us from the external environment, allows us to feel and recognize pain, regulates our body temperature, and performs a whole host of other vital functions. Not to mention, it’s the part of us that the rest of the world sees.
So, keeping our skin happy and healthy during menopause is crucial.
In this post, we’ll explore how and why our skin changes during menopause. Plus, we’ll look at the different ways we can take care of our skin, to keep it happy, healthy, and glowing throughout this transitional phase.
Why Does Our Skin Change During Menopause?
During menopause, our estrogen levels plummet. This new lack of estrogen has a knock-on effect on a vital substance called collagen.
Collagen is our body’s most abundant protein, and it forms the building blocks of healthy bones, joints, and skin. It’s what gives the skin its strength and structure while keeping it supple, elastic, and firm.
Estrogen stimulates collagen production. So, unfortunately, less estrogen means less collagen. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, our body’s natural collagen production goes down by a third during the first five years of menopause.
How Does Our Skin Change During Menopause?
A decline in estrogen and collagen can cause several changes to our skin during the menopausal transition, including:
As the body begins producing less collagen, our skin becomes thinner, and wrinkles set in.
Lower levels of this skin-supporting protein also cause a loss of elasticity and firmness. The skin no longer snaps back to its original shape. Instead, it begins to take on a more saggy, crinkled appearance.
Lower estrogen levels also impact the body’s ability to produce natural oils and hold onto water. And so, many women notice their skin is much drier during and after menopause. This also makes it more prone to flaking, sensitivity, and irritation.
Acne is usually associated with our teenage years. But some menopausal women also notice a return of their acne during this transitional time.
As estrogen levels fall, androgen hormones, such as testosterone, can become more dominant. This increases sebum production, leading to blocked pores, inflamed pimples, and oily skin.
Rosacea is characterized by redness, flushing, pimples, and dilated blood vessels. It usually occurs on the face, particularly the cheeks, nose, and forehead.
Rosacea is more common in women than in men, and the condition often begins during menopause. Hormonal shifts during this time can also make existing rosacea worse.
Many women report that hot flashes trigger their rosacea, causing redness and even broken blood vessels.
How to Take Care of Your Skin During and After Menopause
If menopause-related skin changes are getting you down, rest assured that there are plenty of things you can do to minimize and even prevent much of the damage.
1. Drink Water
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your skin at any age. But during menopause, it’s more crucial than ever to keep your fluid levels topped up.
Dehydration dries out our skin and makes wrinkles and sagging much more noticeable. So, before you reach for expensive creams and serums, make sure you’re drinking enough water.
2. Cut Out Sugar
A diet high in sugar and processed foods diminishes the body’s natural levels of collagen. Plus, excess sugar can lead to a whole host of other undesirable side effects, including mood swings, depression, weight gain, inflammation, and disease. So, there’s never been a better time to cut down on the sweet stuff.
3. Eat Collagen-Boosting Foods
Swap sugar for collagen-rich foods that support collagen production. Examples include bone broth, egg whites, chicken, fish, berries, citrus fruits, leafy green, garlic, and peppers.
4. Cut Out Smoking
Smoking is not only bad for your lungs, but it’s bad for your skin too. Tobacco smoke degrades collagen and impairs new collagen formation, leading to premature wrinkles and sagging skin.
5. Wear Sunscreen
Sun protection becomes even more crucial during and after menopause. That’s because the skin produces less melanin as estrogen levels fall. This, combined with thinner skin, makes you much more susceptible to sun damage.
Sun damage is responsible for 80% of all visible aging. UVA and UVB rays cause the collagen in our skin to break down at a much faster rate than usual. So, if wrinkles are a concern for you, make a high-SPF sunscreen a non-negotiable part of your skincare routine.
Dry skin associated with menopause needs extra hydration to keep flaking and irritation at bay. Consider using a product that contains hyaluronic acid, a compound that helps to draw moisture into the skin cells and keeps it there for longer.
7. Adopt a Skincare Routine
A tailor-made skincare routine can help to stave off many of the undesirable effects of menopause-related aging.
Some popular and proven ingredients to look out for include retinol and retin-A, niacinamide, vitamin C, and glycolic acid. Some of these products can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. So, don’t forget to finish with a high-SPF sunscreen and apply it regularly.
To find the perfect skincare routine for your needs, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works by rebalancing your hormones closer to pre-menopause levels. It’s an effective treatment for many menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, mood changes, and low libido. And it can also help to combat skin changes during this transitional time.
But it’s important to note that HRT comes with potentially serious health risks. So, starting this type of treatment isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.
If you’re interested to know if HRT could work for you, talk to your doctor. They can help you weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision.
Changes to the skin, particularly on the face, can cause anxiety and self-esteem issues for many women. Thankfully, there are treatments available that can help to stave off signs of aging, such as wrinkles and sagging skin.
BOTOX, laser resurfacing, and microneedling are all popular choices. If you go down this route, be sure to choose a qualified and experienced practitioner that you can trust.
Many of the skin changes we experience during menopause are permanent. But thankfully, acne isn’t one of them. Acne breakouts due to fluctuating hormones are relatively common during perimenopause. But once you reach menopause and your body adjusts to the changes, this unsightly symptom usually goes away on its own.
In the meantime, there are several things you can do to reduce breakouts.
Cleansing regularly with salicylic acid can help to reduce excess sebum and minimize blocked pores. Some women also find acne-busting success by eating a low-carb diet.
If interventions like these aren’t working for you, it might be time to see a dermatologist. They may prescribe an oral medication called spironolactone, which works from the inside out to block the androgen receptors in the skin.
As we journey through menopause, our bodies go through many different changes. But one of the most noticeable of all is the transformation of our skin.
As estrogen levels fall, this has a knock-on effect on the health and appearance of our skin. But while nobody looks forward to dry skin, wrinkles, rosacea, and acne, it’s important to remember that this is a natural part of life. So we need to practice self-care and self-acceptance during this transformative time.
If you’re struggling with skin changes during menopause, talk to your doctor. Or, better book an appointment with a dermatologist. With their expertise, you can find an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan that works for you.
With the right care and guidance, you can pass the menopausal phase looking and feeling your absolute best.
- The Relationship Between Collagen and Estrogen – Biopelle
- Collagen: What is it and what are its uses? (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Caring for your skin in menopause (aad.org)
- Rosacea and Menopause (news-medical.net)
- 16 ways smoking may affect skin and how to prevent (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Can You Reverse Sun Damage? (webmd.com)
- Salicylic Acid Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information
- Acne Prone? Keto or Low Carb Diets Can Help — Diet Doctor
- The Dermatologist’s Guide to Treating Menopausal Acne (byrdie.com)