7 Ways to Deal with Menopausal Skin Changes

If you’re nearing the age of menopause or are already going through it, you may have noticed menopausal skin changes.

Hormonal shifts in the body can affect the skin. If you’re seeing more dryness, breakouts, itchiness, signs of aging, or sensitivity, you’re not alone. A lot of women endure these symptoms.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your skin better manage this period.

What Causes Menopausal Skin Changes?

Hormonal shifts are the main cause of menopausal skin changes. As your periods slow down and stop, the body experiences a significant decline in estrogen levels. Estrogen is the female reproductive hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle, but it does a lot of other things too.

Indeed, estrogen affects the reproductive tract, but also the urinary tract, heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and brain! It has several positive effects, such as protecting the heart and brain from inflammation and disease, improving muscle mass, boosting mood, and keeping the vagina lubricated so sex is enjoyable.

Estrogen also aids in the prevention of skin aging. It helps slow the decrease in collagen, which provides structure to the skin. It also maintains skin moisture, which can help prevent dryness and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

During pre-menopause and menopause, levels of estrogen drop. That’s what causes most of the uncomfortable symptoms, including vaginal dryness, mood changes, night sweats, and hot flashes.

Other Hormones Involved in Menopausal Skin Changes

Progesterone is another female reproductive hormone that decreases during menopause. During the childbearing years, it is involved in pregnancy and also affects menstrual periods. The body gradually stops making progesterone in menopause. This causes symptoms like headaches, mood changes, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. It can also affect the skin.

Progesterone stimulates the production of sebum (skin oil) in the pores, which can help the skin maintain its moisture level. As levels drop, you may notice more dryness and increased visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. Vacillating levels of progesterone, such as which may occur during perimenopause, may also lead to overproduction of sebum, causing increased acne breakouts.

Women have low levels of testosterone, the “male” reproductive hormone. This hormone stimulates sebum production, which can keep the skin moisturized, but may also lead to acne. It also helps tame inflammation in the skin, reducing the risk of acne and redness.

Testosterone naturally declines in both men and women as they age. As levels drop, women may notice increased sensitivity in their skin, or more dryness, redness, and acne.

Stress Hormones Increase Menopausal Skin Changes

As if all this weren’t enough, stress hormones often increase before and during menopause. High cortisol levels can lead to increased inflammation, which exacerbates skin conditions like acne and eczema. The skin may become drier, more sensitive, or develop redness or rashes.

If cortisol levels remain high over a long period, they can break down the skin’s collagen and elastin. This leads to more sagging and bagging and can increase the number of wrinkles you’re seeing in your skin.

Cortisol may also prevent your skin from repairing itself like it usually does. Wounds may take longer to heal, but skin may also thin out while losing firmness.

As to why cortisol levels increase at this time, there are several possible reasons. Scientists think it may be related to changes in abdominal fat, which affects the metabolic system. Low estrogen and progesterone levels can also affect cortisol levels. Before menopause, these hormones have a buffering effect on cortisol and stress in general. As their levels drop, women lose that cushion against stress and cortisol.

You may also feel stressed out because you’re dealing with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. Finally, cortisol levels tend to rise with age, from the late 40s onward.

How to Manage Menopausal Skin Changes

Managing the changes that you may be seeing during perimenopause and menopause takes a whole-body approach. Yes, you need to take care of your skin. But taking care of your entire body and mind will also benefit your skin and overall appearance.

1. Eat Well

What you eat eventually feeds your skin, so you want to be careful to make your meals as nutritious as possible. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, as they contain antioxidants to help neutralize harmful free radicals.

Then include healthy fats in your meals and snacks. These include omega 3 and omega 6 fats, as they help support the skin’s structure while plumping the skin’s appearance. They also protect the outer layer of the skin, preventing water loss, while decreasing inflammation. Good sources include oily fish, seeds, and cold-pressed oils.

Finally, cut back on high-sugar foods. They can worsen skin problems like acne while further upsetting the hormonal balance in the body. If you have redness or rosacea, avoid alcohol and caffeine, as well as spicy foods that can exacerbate flushing.

2. Shed Stress

Make it a point to practice a daily stress-relieving activity to help get those cortisol levels down. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, but there are many options. Choose anything that helps you relax and forget about your problems. Try a hot bath, relaxing massage, journaling, meditating, yoga, or just taking a leisurely walk in the park.

Rescue & Relief Spray for Menopausal Skin

3. Calm Inflammation

If your skin is reacting to menopausal changes with increased acne, redness, and inflammation, make a point to calm that inflammation. Look for products with gentle, soothing ingredients that can help reduce that itchy, inflamed feeling. Get rid of any products you currently have that may be too harsh. Check them against our Ingredients to Avoid.

We highly recommend our CV Skinlabs products, as they are all formulated to help reduce inflammation. Key ingredients like turmeric, Reishi mushroom, aloe, and more work together to help skin cope with any increasing inflammatory reactions.

Keep your Rescue + Relief Spray handy, as you can use it to mist away heat whenever you need to. It has cooling cucumber, water lily, and comfrey to remove heat while helping to support skin healing, and helps reduce swelling that may cause dark spots. It’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores or exacerbate acne breakouts.  Store it in the refrigerator for those nights when you wake up with night sweats or hot flashes.

4. Moisturize More

One of the most common changes that occurs with menopause is dryness. The hormonal changes rob the skin of some of its ability to hold onto moisture, so it’s likely to appear drier than it did before.

Step up your moisturizing treatments, and be sure you’re using a safe product that will not further exacerbate inflammation. We recommend our Calming Moisture and Body Repair Lotion. They’re rich in antioxidants, and both reduce inflammation while deeply moisturizing skin. Plus, you can apply them as often as you want without having to worry about clogging your pores.

5. Unblock Pores

If you’re struggling with menopausal acne, be careful with anti-acne products. Most of these are made for teenage skin and are likely to exacerbate dryness, which may make your acne worse. Concentrate instead on balancing oil production.

Cleanse with a mild cleanser that includes pore-cleaning salicylic, lactic, or another gentle acid, then use a non-alcoholic toner (like our Rescue + Relief Spray). Helpful ingredients include retinol and niacinamide.

Try our Rescue + Relief Spray toner to rebalance skin and soothe any sensitivity, irritation, or redness that may be caused from acids or exfoliants. Try to be patient with your skin—it may take a couple of months to adjust. Keep a routine that includes these ingredients morning and night.

6. Lighten

Melasma and other pigmentation changes can occur during menopause. You may notice more age spots and dark areas, as well as a more irregular skin tone. Try using a vitamin C serum, as it can help balance pigmentation. Other good ingredients include kojic acid, azelaic acid, niacinamide, glycolic acid, and arbutin.

Turmeric is in each of our formulas and is rich in antioxidants that can lighten dark spots. It also has moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that can help with dry skin as well as blemishes.

Our Restorative Skin Balm includes essential fatty acids—like castor oil—and other ingredients containing antioxidants that fight free radicals in the skin. With regular use, brown or dark spots will fade, and even out your skin tone.

7. Protect

As your skin is likely to be more sensitive and prone to hyperpigmentation, sun protection becomes even more important during perimenopause and menopause. Choose an SPF of 30 or higher, preferably in a product that uses only zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, as these are the safest sunscreen ingredients.

Have you noticed menopausal skin changes?

Featured image by Anna Shvets via Pexels.

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