Ask A Dermatologist: How To Relieve Dry, Flaky Skin
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Ask A Dermatologist: How Do I Care for Menopausal Skin?
Menopause is an important turning point in a woman’s life. Menopause occurs when the function of the ovaries declines and eventually stops, consequently oestrogen levels drop to nearly zero. Although it’s common for people to focus on the negatives associated with menopause, it’s important to remember that there are many positives too. Many of us will be delighted to lose the inconvenience and pain of periods, no more PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and no need for contraception! Many women also find that hormone triggered acne ceases or improves upon reaching menopause. For many of us, this point in our lives is an opportunity to reset the balance, switching focus to our own health and wellbeing.
What impact does the menopause have on my skin?
Menopause can have a big impact on a woman’s skin. So much of the conversation around menopause is focused on reproduction and the end of periods, but the impact on our bodies is wide-ranging. Oestrogen plays an important role in our skin, with oestrogen receptors actually found in the skin.
These are involved in key processes such as skin hydration, wound healing and promoting the building blocks of skin collagen and elastin. When you go through the menopause, the loss of oestrogen can result in increased dryness, itching, impaired wound healing and an accelerated loss of collagen which results in skin thinning, fine lines and wrinkles. HRT, which is a common treatment during menopause can also trigger acne.
On the plus side, the hormonal shifts and the impact on our skin associated with the menstrual cycle should calm down.
How should I change my skincare during the menopause?
Once we reach menopause we should start to adapt our skincare to meet our skin’s changing needs. Richer moisturisers containing ingredients such as glycerin and shea butter can be beneficial to help restore the skin barrier, always being careful to avoid blocked pores.
If you are suffering from dryness, facial oils can also be incorporated into your skincare routine but again be mindful if you are prone to breakouts that some can block pores.
Hyaluronic acid is another good moisturising ingredient to look out for as it functions as a humectant, meaning it draws in water from the environment and the deeper layers of your skin.
There are several active ingredients that you should incorporate into your skincare routine which can help with skin changes during the menopause. The loss of collagen during the menopause contributes to increased appearance of fine lines, so boosting collagen production will be your number one priority.
If you weren’t using them already, now is the time to introduce retinoids. Vitamin A, or retinoids, are the gold-standard topical treatment for fine lines and wrinkles. They accelerate skin cell turnover and increase collagen production and should be an essential part of your menopausal skin routine.
Use them in the evening and pair with an SPF in the day. If you don’t apply SPF daily, your skincare can’t work effectively. Niacinamide is also a fantastic active ingredient to boost collagen production, and alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, help brighten the skin as well as boosting collagen production.
It’s important to use actives cautiously in menopausal skin, as increased dryness and thinning means the skin can be more prone to side effects and irritation. As such, it’s advisable to go slowly and not overdo it with active ingredients, and increase the potency gradually.
This is why Skin + Me prescriptions start on low strengths of powerful active ingredients, only gradually increasing them as tolerance builds. This means you get the benefit of active ingredients while minimising side effects.
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