Women know all about how hormonal changes affect their skin. Every month, we have to deal with acne breakouts, enlarged pores, redness, stressed skin and skin that’s just generally problematic. Then, when our hormones calm down again, our skin goes back to normal (we hope).
It seems you just get the hang of dealing with these monthly cycles and how they affect skin when everything changes again. Menopause and the period leading up to menopause (called perimenopause) involves even more hormonal changes, and these can go on for months or even years before they even out again. During that time, the skin goes through several changes that can leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged.
It’s not uncommon during this period, for example, for women to experience acne, age spots, sagging, fine lines and wrinkles, and redness that they never experienced before. Yet the fact that it’s common probably doesn’t make you feel much better. Is there anything you can do to lessen these effects so you can avoid cringing when you look in the mirror?
We have several tips for you below.
1. Soothe Dry Skin
One of the most common changes that occur as we age is that the skin becomes drier than it was before. It may be dryer overall or you may notice the dryness only in certain areas, like on the cheeks and around the eyes.
If you’re noticing this change, it’s time to swap out some of your products. Use a cream cleanser (if you aren’t already), a moisturizing toner (our Rescue + Relief Spray works great), and a quality moisturizer that sinks into the deeper layer of skin to maintain hydration. (We’d recommend our Calming Moisture and Body Repair Lotion.) Be sure to moisturize directly after you get out of the bath or shower—don’t let your skin dry out.
2. Relieve Itch
Dryness can bring on itchy skin, and it’s common for skin to get more itchy as hormone levels change. Exfoliate skin regularly with a scrubby or skin brush, and use a moisturizer with a soothing ingredient like aloe or oatmeal (beta-glucan often comes from oats). These ingredients can soothe the itch and leave the skin more comfortable. (Our products contain both!)
It’s also important to avoid very hot water, as it strips the skin of its natural oils and will leave it drier and itchier.
3. Fade Dark Spots
Dark spots, or age spots, commonly appear during perimenopause and after menopause. Step up your skin protection by using hats, umbrellas, and sunscreen. Exfoliate regularly with gentle fruit acids like salicylic and glycolic.
You may also want to try a lightening treatment with ingredients like kojic acid, licorice root extract, niacinamide, bearberry extract, and azelaic acid. Avoid hydroquinone as it can damage skin over time, leading to premature aging.
4. Treat Acne
You thought you were finished with acne once you left your teen years behind, but you were wrong! Hormonal changes can cause your skin to erupt in pimples and blackheads again, which can be particularly frustrating as an adult.
Choose a cleanser that contains salicylic acid, as it helps to keep pores clear, and choose lotions and serums that are light and will not make your acne worse. Standard acne products that are made for teenagers are probably too drying for you, so use them sparingly to spot-treat and focus on your overall skincare regimen.
Cleanse, tone, and lightly moisturize twice a day, and make sure to keep your fingers away from your face. A single touch of a finger against your cheek can transfer bacteria that will cause a breakout. Avoid pressing your phone against your face as well, and frequently change out your pillowcase and washcloth.
For more tips on treating acne, see our post, “Adult Acne Increasing—How to Get Control of Your Breakouts.”
If you can’t get your acne under control with these methods, talk to your dermatologist for help.
5. Calm Inflammation and Irritation
Because of pH changes, skin can become more sensitive and stressed during this time, reacting to products with redness and inflammation. This can be a surprise if you’ve never experienced sensitivity before, but it’s a common change.
You can adjust by being more careful about the products you use on your skin. Avoid anything with synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals. To do that, buy your products from clean beauty brands that are more conscientious about the ingredients they use. (Like CV Skinlabs!)
Be careful with your makeup too—some of the brands you used in the past may no longer work well with your skin. Look for higher-quality foundations, concealers, blushes, and the like that contain good-for-you ingredients.
To tame the stressed skin, inflammation and redness, look for ingredients like the following:
- Calendula extract
- White willow bark
- Green tea
- Oatmeal and beta-glucan
We’d also suggest using our Rescue + Relief Spray during the day. You can use it on bare skin or over your makeup as a moisturizing refresher, and its anti-inflammatory ingredients will help remove heat from the skin and tame redness and relieve stressed skin.
6. Fade Fine Lines and Wrinkles
During menopause, changes occur more dramatically in the skin. Collagen, the protein that creates the skin’s structure, loses its strength and shape, and the body has a hard time replacing it. Estimates are that the skin can lose up to 30 percent of its collagen during the first five years of menopause. That will create visible changes in your skin.
There are several things you can do to try to counteract these changes:
- Try a collagen supplement: It will give the body more collagen that it may use to repair skin.
- Use a product with peptides: Peptides are short chains of amino acids that help to build proteins like collagen and elastin. Regularly applying them on your skin may help your skin to repair itself, fading the appearance of wrinkles and sagging.
- Use retinols: Retinols are vitamin A derivatives that can boost the amount of collagen in your skin, increasing plumpness and improving skin tone.
7. Erase Facial Hair
As estrogen levels drop, unwanted hair may appear on your jawline, under your chin, or above your upper lip. There are many options for getting rid of this hair. Perhaps the simplest and safest is simply to shave it away. Contrary to the popular myth, this will not make the hair “grow back faster” or thicker. Shaving is a form of exfoliation, so as long as you do it gently, it can even be good for your skin.
Other options include waxing—which may be too harsh for your skin now that it’s sensitive—hair-removing creams, or other tools advertised to remove hair. You can also talk to your dermatologist about laser hair removal, but do be cautious about potential scarring.
It’s All About Changing Your Habits
Don’t worry—perimenopause and menopause don’t have to mean the end of beautiful skin. By simply changing your habits and the products you use, you can still enjoy radiant skin at any age.
How did menopause affect your skin?