Body & Fitness

Menopause and your skin

As well as the mood swings, insomnia and weight-gain women of a certain age have to contend with, the menopause can also play havoc with skin. Deeper wrinkles, puffiness and dryness are just some of the problems exacerbated by hormonal changes during this time.

“During menopause, levels of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone rapidly decline leading to accelerated skin ageing,” says aesthetic surgeon Dr Jonquille Chantrey. “Collagen and elastin levels deplete dramatically, so you get sagging and deep wrinkles.”

“The production of skin-hydrating hyaluronic acid and oil also drops, causing dryness. Plus testosterone becomes more dominant, so some women may suffer from acne and facial hair.”

Experts believe the effects of menopause can be limited, if we act in advance.

“Starting a maintenance programme in your early 30s is the biggest investment you can make for your skin,” says Cannes-based surgeon Hervé Raspaldo, who treats celebrities. ‘You will look younger in your 50s and 60s, and may never need surgery.”

Here, we’ve asked experts for their best tips on keeping your skin looking younger for longer when menopause looms:

Severe dryness

The drop in oestrogen leads to the slowing down of the body’s oil production, resulting in dry, lacklustre skin.

Taking the right nutrients in advance can lessen the impact, explains nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville. ‘In your 30s, start taking omega-3 fish oil supplements,’ she says.

Consultant dermatologist Nisith Sheth adds: “Use richer, ultra-hydrating moisturisers packed with ingredients such as liquid paraffin and urea.”

Applying a cream straight after a bath can counteract the loss of oil from the skin. He also advises patients to replace skin-drying soaps and shower gels with milder alternatives.

Thinning and sagging

Collagen promotes skin thickness and elasticity, but when we reach 25 it begins to deplete by one per cent each year. However, as we enter menopause, this is speeded up and our skin can lose 30 per cent of its collagen in five years, making it thin and lax.

“Creams containing the vitamin A-derivative retinol used from your mid-30s can strengthen skin and stimulate collagen,’ says Dr Sheth.

Experts believe skincare containing plant-based estrogens can also help rebalance hormone levels and boost collagen.

Deep wrinkles

The skin’s ability to repair and replace collagen diminishes as oestrogen levels drop. This is the underlying cause of accentuated wrinkles on areas such as the forehead, eyes and mouth.

“The first dynamic wrinkles become visible in the early 30s and Botox can be used to relax these,’ says Dr Raspaldo.

Fillers will fill them out, while stimulating production of new collagen with repeated treatment, so you  can counteract the deeper wrinkles that develop later.”

Applying the right creams may also help defend the skin from rapid ageing. It is never too late to start using a broad spectrum sunscreen. When applied daily, it can prevent further signs of ageing.

**Facial hair

**As oestrogen levels drop during menopause, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – the key hormone that controls facial hair growth – can increase, leading to the formation of coarse hair on the face, particularly on the chin.

Waxing and threading will remove hair from the root, leaving you fuzz-free for three weeks.

But for a more permanent reduction of facial hair, laser treatment is the answer.

“The removal process on menopausal women takes longer than usual, due to the direction of hair growth on the chin, which shoots straight out rather than at an angle,’ says laser specialist Michaela Barker. ‘Act quickly, because once hairs they turn grey the laser won’t be able to treat them.”

Acne

The oil-producing glands are hormonally driven, and the change in balance of androgens during menopause can send them into overdrive.

“Creams containing antibacterial agents such as benzoyl peroxide should help. Failing that, antibiotic creams or tablets can be prescribed,’ says Dr Sheth.

At least 10 per cent of menopausal women will have an outbreak of adult acne

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