When it comes to women’s health and reproduction, the science is severely lacking. This issue is especially the case when discussing middle-aged and more mature populations. I mean, name a more vilified group in the cosmetic industry than aging women. We’ll wait… Chances are, most readers have come up short, which is why it’s so important to promote research into the various changes that the female body undergoes. Menopause is one such change, and it’s a complex process that affects many areas of a woman's life. It's also a topic we feel strongly about when discussing skin health-related changes and ways to address your new needs. But what exactly is menopause and what can we do to help our body during this time?
What is menopause anyway?
Menopause is the stage where menstruating folks stop menstruating—sounds simple, right? Ovaries cease production of egg cells, which ends the thickening of the endometrial lining, thereby terminating periods. This process may be appealing for those of us who know far too well the trials and tribulations of PMSing and periods 🙋 and it can be a super liberating time for plenty! Menopause does come with its challenges, however. The retirement of our ovaries leads to a significant drop in estrogen production–the sex hormone that keeps our bodies in check. This reduction leads to lower collagen and elastin production, proteins that are often attributed to smoother, younger-looking skin.
Less C and E is challenging because…
Lower levels of our two besties, collagen and elastin, impact quite a few things when it comes to skin health.
Laxity: You will notice that your skin doesn’t hold the way it once did. This can be particularly prominent in the areas of the face that begin to sag and droop over time. Menopause can definitely contribute to these developments. In fact, studies have found that women’s faces display signs of aging much quicker (and sooner) than their male counterparts—how wonderful for us ladies.
Moisture: Menopausal individuals will notice that their skin is a lot drier than it once was and this is due to two primary reasons. The first is that lower estrogen levels are associated with less oil production. This is great news for the girlies who struggled with oily skin for most of their life, but for the dry-skin gals, increased hydration will be necessary. Secondly, low levels of estrogen (and therefore minimized collagen and elastin production) means that skin is no longer able to retain moisture as it did previously. That means moisture content is getting lost and an adjustment in your skincare routine is needed to compensate.
Thinness: Skin thins over time as that chunky reconstructive tissue degenerates. Collagen and elastin help keep our skin bouncy, and without them, we’re prone to thinner, more translucent skin. This means that bruising, dark circles, and blood vessels are more noticeable in those experiencing menopause.
Dullness: Skin not only gets dull in some instances of menopause, but in people of colour, it can be prone to hyperpigmentation and melasma, too. This can be a result of sun exposure over the years, but it can also be described by the body’s natural fluctuations in melanin and hormone production during menopause.
Wrinkles: We talk a lot about wrinkles when discussing collagen and elastin. Fine lines and wrinkles are a natural result of aging, and because menopause generally onsets later in development, it’s hard to tease apart outcomes specific to getting older, and those specific to the drop in estrogen. In any case, there are plenty of ways we can target these concerns via non-surgical skin treatments and skincare support.
Can skincare really help?
Yes, it really can. There are plenty of skincare habits to implement that will address each of the aforementioned issues. And if you're already one of our longtime glow getters, odds are you're ahead of the game! Establishing a core routine that you'll consistently follow is the first order of business. A core routine includes a selection of 3-4 tried-and-true products that cover all of your bases. We're talking about a hydrating cleanser, your preferred moisturizer, your favourite SPF and a booster treatment.
Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room and a hill we will gladly die on: sun protection. If it was important before menopause, it’s certainly important after, especially once the skin is more vulnerable to the elements. For skin sensitive to sunburns, melasma, and hyperpigmentation, sunscreen is a crucial step in your the skincare game. UV rays do not discriminate and unfortunately, skin cancer can form at any age. Ensure your sunscreen has an SPF factor of 30 or higher and don't forget to reapply every 2-3 hours for optimal protection.
Next up is adjusting your routine to tackle the concern of moisture loss. Start off on the right foot by selecting a well-formulated cleanser. Most cleansers on the market aim to reduce oil production–which makes sense for a younger demographic (especially teens experiencing puberty)–but for menopausal people, a different approach is necessary. Select a hydrating cleanser high in glycerin, aloe or a product formulated with non-stripping agents such as our Platinum Cleanser, as these features are game-changers in increasing hydration and boosting the skin’s moisture barrier.
While the skin is still damp, add a pump of Soothe, our hyaluronic-rich "neurobalm" and top it off with your go-to occlusive moisturizer to lock in that hydration and keep your skin looking fresh and plump. We like to reach for Firm for hydrated skin all day and night.
If you're a glow getter who already partakes in the use of a retinoid, then we applaud you. For those just starting to dabble in the world of vitamin A, know that retinols are an exceptional booster in targeting most skincare concerns. They’ll help slow down the development of fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and even adult acne that sometimes results during menopause. Along with adding a retinol to your routine, we'd highly recommend a scoop of Super C in the morning mixed into a dollop of your favourite moisturizer. The boost of antioxidant protection not only aids in UV defence but over time, will contribute to a brighter, more even complexion.
And finally, an honourable mention worth noting is the adjustment to your diet by taking an anti-inflammatory approach to the foods you consume. This involves cutting back on red meats and dairy when possible, and nourishing your body with antioxidants which can be found in lots of produce like blueberries and tomatoes.
Millions of people undergo menopause each year, but we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding the changes and creating science-backed interventions and treatments for them. No matter the symptoms you're experiencing, everybody is different and we hope this guide can help to manage and ease the transition.