While menopause marks the end of getting menstrual periods each month, the side effects that come with this stage of life are just beginning. Hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, and trouble sleeping are common complaints. But the hormonal changes that occur during menopause affect the skin, too.
The drop in estrogen and progesterone can cause skin to lose collagen and firmness, making it uncomfortably tight.
"This drop in hormone deflates the collagen which diminishes vascular and lymphatic circulation and moisturization," says Dr. Ellen Marmur, Board Certified Dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare. "When estrogen levels decrease, the skin can also become saggy and dull."
Luckily, making a few tweaks in your skincare routine can help minimize the excessive dryness associated with menopausal, along with pre-menopausal skin.
The drop in hormones is an unavoidable part of life, but there are some practices in your skincare routine that could be exacerbating this side effect of menopause. Over-washing your face, central heat and air, cold climates, and even sweating profusely can all cause further dehydration. Other medical conditions can also be a contributing factor.
"While climate and product-related causes can be easily identified and solved, hormonal imbalances can be more difficult to target," Dr. Zenovia, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of an eponymous skincare line, points out.
In short: Look for hydrating treatments that contain collagen-boosting ingredients, along with gentle product formulas to support them, such as a non-stripping cleanser.
Dr. Zenovia recommends the Bakuchoil Hydrating Cleanser because it "thoroughly removes environmental pollutants, excess oil, and makeup while refreshing and moisturizing the skin with yucca root and panthenol."
As for treatments, a water-based serum is ideal for morning because they absorb quicker, while an oil-based formula takes a bit longer, making it ideal for night. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which plumps skin and draws in moisture, and vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports collagen. MMRevive Serum from Dr. Marmur's line, Beauty Pie's Hyaluronic Acid & Lipopeptide Serum, and PCA Skin's C-Quench Antioxidant Serum are a few solid options.
And don't forget moisturizer. Look for a formula that's fragrance-neutral, and contains ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid, all of which will strengthen the skin barrier to seal in moisture and minimize transepidermal water loss.
Finally, don't forget to apply SPF. Dr. Zenovia says as we age, our skin has the reduced ability to handle oxidative damage like sun exposure.
Dr. Marmur recommends EltaMD's UV Clear, a cult-favorite, oil-free sunscreen that wears well under makeup.
"Unfortunately, estrogen levels will decrease, but the skin can still be hydrated and nourished by sticking to a simple, but powerful skincare routine that consists of a gentle cleanser, an amazing serum, and sunscreen," says Dr. Marmur.
The dermatologist recommends in-office resurfacing lasers, such as Sciton Halo and Sciton Diva, because they can help coax the skin's natural rehydration process by promoting better circulation and repair. At home, she suggests a green LED light treatment, which can help boost collagen production.
Skincare products aside, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make that may prevent excessive dryness during menopause, such as cutting smoking and vaping, both of which Dr. Zenovia says is connected to collagen loss and inflammation, and can lead to accelerated aging.
Staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet can also help maintain our skin quality as we age, too.