Can’t quite figure out what is happening with your skin all of a sudden - Could it be Perimenopause?
Experiencing unwanted changes from hormonal fluctuations is nothing new. We’ve all been there. But noticeable skin changes can be more prominent in women since reproductive hormones greatly influence our physiology and well-being.
Perimenopause, the natural transition to menopause, usually starts for women in their 40s. It’s when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen, and menstrual cycles become erratic and irregular. Menopause is later marked by a full year without a menstrual cycle. It comes with much more than a sudden onset of hot flashes - it's also a challenging time for your skin.
Here’s what you need to know:
Estrogen (estradiol) is vital in keeping skin supple, elastic, and smooth. That reduction of estrogen, and the changing ratios of hormones, slows down your skin's oil production, altering your skin microbiome. As the body attempts to adjust to these new hormone levels, your skin will have a reduced ability to retain moisture, causing further problems.
Although every woman’s journey to menopause is different – depending on genetics, existing skin health, and lifestyle – this time is inevitably marked by noticeable skin changes. There is just no set script.
Some women experience:
- Dryness or itchiness from moisture loss.
- Redness, eczema, and sensitivity due to a thinner skin barrier
- Clogged pores or acne-prone skin from the relative increase of testosterone.
- Sagging due to the loss of structural support.
- Hyperpigmentation and discoloration due to increased melanin arising from hormonal imbalance and harmful sun exposure.
Whatever your skin changes may be, it’s likely time to reconsider your trusted skincare routine to best address these inescapable side effects.
How do I best care for my skin during this hormonal transition?
Perimenopause is the time to strengthen your skin barrier, lock in moisture, and focus on replenishing the already depleted collagen stores in the skin.
- Incorporate an oil-based cleanser to gently melt away impurities and buildup from the day without stripping the skin’s natural protective lipids.
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- Opt for a “no-added-fragrance” moisturizer to help retain moisture and prevent unnecessary irritation. This extends to a nourishing eye cream, as the delicate skin around the eyes needs extra care.
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- Look for: Vitamin E, It helps nourish and deeply hydrate the skin. It's also a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental insults.
- Avoid products and fabrics with abrasive textures, harsh perfumes, or chemical dyes, as these can trigger menopause rash.
- Continue to use a gentle exfoliant that contains an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) -the most common hydroxy acids include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid - this help to remove dead skin and unclog pores.
- Consider: You may want to exfoliate less frequently, as to not irritate the skin. Work with your dermatologist to establish the best routine for your changing skin.
- To counteract the collagen loss that occurs with diminishing estrogen levels, use a retinol-based product. As always, consult your dermatologist before starting any new treatments; or, if you notice lower tolerance for your usual retinoid product.
- Pro-tip: Try products rich in naturally-derived retinoids or carotenoids (pro-vitamin A), which help to stimulate collagen production but are very gentle on the skin.
- [point to or picture] The Answer and Recharge002 or Rewind003
- Use sunscreen every day – regardless of the weather. Adding hats and sunglasses to your sun protection regimen provides an additional defense against the sun’s harsh rays.