Here’s a stat for you: There are currently more than 10 million women in Canada over the age of 40. If you’re one of them, you might feel like your menopausal symptoms—hot flashes, mood swings and irritability, lower libido, and night sweats—are minimized or dismissed. But as more and more women voice their concerns, the conversation around perimenopause and menopause is, thankfully, becoming more common.
While many of my patients in this age group talk about the physical changes they’re experiencing and understand that these are due to “the great change”, they aren’t always aware that skin issues are related to menopause too. I thought I would use this post to shine some light on what can happen to your skin during menopause—and what you can do about it.
Dry, itchy skin
During menopause, estrogen levels fall. This hormone stimulates the production of oils and other substances that hydrate, protect, and moisturize your skin, things like ceramides, sebum, and natural hyaluronic acid. As your estrogen levels decrease, your skin can no longer retain as much moisture. So you might find that your skin feels drier, gets flakier, and feels more irritated. To top it all off, you might start noticing more fine lines and wrinkles.
What you can do
- Use a gentle cleanser instead of soap. Soap can be very drying; those that lather, bubble, or foam can strip away the natural oils on your face.
- Moisturize immediately after you cleanse your face. Beyond that, apply professional moisturizers with hyaluronic acid or glycerin twice a day at a minimum or any time throughout the day when your face feels dry.
Undoubtedly, if you’re a sun lover, you’ll start seeing the effects of their UV exposure: age spots and darker pigmentation. Since estrogen helps in controlling melanin—the pigment that darkens your skin—, a drop in this hormone means that melanin production increases and sun damage becomes more apparent.
What you can do
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 30+ every single day. This can prevent new spots and reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.
- Try Lumecca, an intense pulsed light (IPL) skin rejuvenation technology. The process involves sending intense light into the skin tissue to break up the discoloured and sun-damaged tissue.
Generally, women start going through their menopausal transition starting around the age of 40 and this lasts until their late 50s and early 60s. For the first five years, women lose about 30% of the collagen in their skin. The decline is more gradual after that initial period—about 2% every year for the next 20 years. That means the skin starts to appear saggy as it loses its firmness. You might notice that jowls appear or that you now have permanent wrinkles around your mouth or pouches below your eyes.
What you can do
- Cut out habits that cause collagen levels to decline. This includes sun exposure and smoking.
- Use serums for aging skin. Look for beneficial ingredients like retinoids and Vitamin C.
- Consider dermal fillers to address common age-related volume loss. These will plump up areas like cheeks, chins, jawlines, and temples.
- Try a combination of PRP and microneedling treatments. In tandem, these can stimulate collagen and elastin production, two essential components that keep your skin looking youthful, firm, and smooth.
- Look into treatments that can help contour your jawline. There are many options!
Because perimenopause and menopause symptoms are not one-size-fits-all, your skin might act completely differently. While some women get dry skin, you might experience the opposite: oily skin and acne. Why? Because a drop in estrogen might unbalance your hormones and result in a higher ratio of male hormones. This is what can lead to oilier skin and breakouts.
What you can do
- Keep your pores clear by washing your skin with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid.
- Avoid acne products that dry your skin—these can make matters worse. Note: Treatments designed for teenage acne will be too harsh for your thinner and drier skier so look for gentler products designed for more mature skin.
- Try a professional chemical peel. Research shows that a superficial or light peel can help manage acne and treat acne scars, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.
- If you aren’t able to control your breakouts, see your dermatologist.
Skin changes associated with menopause can be very frustrating but the key is to be adaptable. Change your skin care to match what’s happening with your face and complement it with treatments if you can or feel the need. Your goal should be to retain as much hydration in your skin as possible, stimulate collagen production as best as you can, and maintain a healthy lifestyle to help you thrive overall. Align yourself with a medical-trained aesthetics team that shares your positive approach to menopause. It’s important to work with people who appreciate how maintaining a youthful appearance can also help you feel great!