I have had a lot of questions recently about how best to care for menopausal skin. It would appear that the information available is limited to either live with it, or alternatively buy a branded cream which will magically transform your skin back into the appearance of your youth! Neither of which are particularly true- or helpful!
It does seem unfair that just as we finish navigating our way through our working lives and childcare, we hit the perimenopause, which for some women precipitates dryness, pigmentation, wrinkles and in some cases even acne.
So what has happened to our skin? Firstly, during the perimenopause our oestrogen levels begin to drop, and later on, when menopause is reached (you are clinically menopausal one year after the date of your last period) your collagen levels may have dropped by up to 30%. This is because oestrogen helps to stimulate the production collagen and elastin, which are what keeps your skin thick, plump and firm, and so when that plumpness and firmness reduces, fine lines and wrinkles begin to develop. Your skin may become thinner and also appear dry and even itchy, or in some cases acne may make an unwelcome appearance as your hormones fluctuate.
So how do you care for, and counteract, the effects on your skin? Accepting of course, that you will never have pre menopausal skin, ever again! Firstly, you can ensure that your diet contains vitamin A in order to help counteract the dryness, as it has been shown that it stimulates the Fibroblast cells which in turn stimulate the production of natural hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid plays an essential role in ensuring that our skin remains hydrated and comfortable, as it holds up to 1000 times its own weight in water, helping our skin to remain hydrated and plump. Omega fatty acids should also be included in your diet, as they are essential for healthy cell membranes and are the cornerstone ingredient when it comes to the management of my dry skin, and in preventing water loss.
You can also purchase skin creams which contain hyaluronic acid, which will hold moisture on the surface of the skin, giving it a more hydrated appearance. Skin products containing the peptides Matrixyl and Dermaxyl will have the added bonus of assisting in the production of more collagen by stimulating the skins cells to produce more..
Collagen and Elastin, which as we saw earlier, gives your skin its plumpness, needs Vitamin A and Vitamin C in order to be produced. Oral supplementation can be considered if your dietary intake is low. Vitamin A regulates the DNA of your skin cells, and Vitamin C is not only essential for the production of collagen and elastin, but it increases vascularity, strengthening your capillaries and reducing redness, which makes your skin look healthier, as well as helping to combat the effects of oxidative stress. A vitamin C supplement which also contains astaxanthin, lycopene and lutein will give added support. Never exceed the recommended doses, and always check with your pharmacist first if you are taking prescribed medication.
Vitamin C in topical products such as creams and makeup, can give a superficial appearance of improvement to the skin, but should not be applied to blemished or acne skin as it may well inflame the condition. Serums and creams containing a high quality Vitamin A/retinol produce a very good result, on the skin, and will minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles due to its exfoliating and stimulating effect on the skin, but always ensure that the Vitamin A/retinol is listed as an ingredient in i.u’s, and not percentages, since as the percentages don’t tell you the strength of the vitamin A solution, only the volume, it is meaningless! Vitamin A /Retinol has enjoyed cult status over the last few years, and there are a lot of products on the market- but remember not all Vitamin A /Retinol products are equal! Furthermore they should always be introduced gradually into your skin care routine, I would recommend starting on alternate days, as retinoid responses (itching and redness) are not uncommon if you go straight onto a 2x daily application. You must ALWAYS use a sunscreen, even in the winter, when using retinol or Vitamin A based products, to avoid burning/pigmentation.
Whilst we cannot do anything about getting older, our way of life will also have an effect on our skin. Dehydration, excess alcohol intake, smoking, consuming excess sugars, failing to protect against UV damage ( not wearing a sunscreen), high levels of stress, and a sedentary lifestyle, will all also contribute to to a reduction in the collagen that we need to keep our skin looking healthy and well.
So in summary, drink lots of water, exercise sensibly, wear a sunscreen when outside, eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, oily fish and nuts, and ensure that you are getting the essential amounts of vitamins and minerals in your diet. Chose skincare products containing vitamins, peptides and hyaluronic acid, but always check the ingredients list. Your skin will thank you!
Advice with Menopausal Skincare in Chippenham
As ever, if you have any questions or need help or advice with menopausal skincare in Chippenham or the surrounding area, feel free to call me on 07494 850582 or get in touch here.