How To Look After Your Skin During The Menopause With Consultant Dermatologist Dr. Alia Ahmed
With World Menopause Day being around the corner, we thought it was important to discuss how menopause can impact women, as many of you may be entering or going through this journey.
Our Consultant Dermatologist, Dr. Alia Ahmed, is dedicated to providing holistic care to her patients so we thought of who better to speak to about the changes women can expect to their skin during this time and how to best adapt skincare and beauty routines.
How Does Menopause Affect Your Skin?
During this change, women tend to lose around 30% of their collagen in their first five years of menopause. This can mean that our skin begins to look less bright, and line fines and wrinkles can appear more apparent. We asked Dr. Alia Ahmed to give us more information surrounding this common skin concern.
Q: Can you explain a bit about menopause, what is happening to our hormones/collagen, and the impact this has on our skin?
A: “Menopause is a complicated phase that the body goes through, and the resultant changes are due to a combination of factors. The most common skin problems related to menopause are skin dryness, laxity, wrinkling, hot flushes, and night sweats.
These skin changes are thought to be related to a decline in oestrogen, accelerated skin thinning (skin thickness reduces by 1.13% every year), and reduced levels of soluble collagen - studies have shown that women's skin loses about 30% of its collagen during the first five years of menopause and it continues to decrease by 2.1% every year after menopause, lack of structural skin proteins and slow skin turnover and synthesis.
Imbalances in male and female hormones in the body can additionally drive acne, hair loss, or increased facial hair growth.
The Connection Between Dry Skin & Menopause
Another common change that women find whilst going through this change is getting dry skin, or their skin appearing less hydrated.
Q: What makes skin more prone to dryness and itching suddenly?
A: Overall increased skin dryness means that the skin barrier is becoming disrupted, losing natural moisture easily, and struggling to keep hold of hydration. This means dry skin is much more easily irritated and one of the symptoms of this is itching. Lax skin also becomes damaged more easily and is fragile. The skin in menopause can be more sensitive and more likely to feel sensations like itching, crawling, or stinging.
Q: How should we be tweaking our skincare regimes to help soothe and cool menopausal skin? e.g gentle cleansing, regular masks
A: Due to the huge changes women can experience during menopause, it’s important to adapt how we look after ourselves during this time – and the same goes for our beauty and skincare routines too.
For topical skincare, I’d recommend using non-fragranced gentle creamy soap substitutes when washing the skin to keep it hydrated. Gently pat dry your skin after washing and avoid aggressive rubbing of fragile skin. One of my top tips would also be to use emollients liberally to the whole body, including your face and even your heels!
You should also look to include lighter formulations like gels or serums when skin is feeling particularly hot or irritated as they have a cooling effect on the skin – for example, menthol-containing gels or creams can be helpful to cool and soothe skin.
As important as it is to nourish your skin from the outside, it is equally important to think about supporting the skin from within. Due to the accelerated collagen loss that women experience as they age, particularly during menopause, I’d highly recommend using collagen supplements to help support the body’s natural collagen production. Collagen makes up 70% of our skin and is the main structural building block that is responsible for skin elasticity, hydration, and strength.
Revive Collagen has a great range of products that include high doses of ready-to-drink collagen and a variety of added skin ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol plus essential vitamins for beauty and wellbeing including vitamins B6, B12, C & D which both offer antioxidant properties, contribute toward normal collagen formation and work to visibly brighten skin tone. They also offer a vegan collagen alternative - a world-first liquid vegan collagen with clinically proven results on improving collagen density, and skin hydration whilst reducing wrinkles and skin redness.
How To Care For Your Skin During Menopause
As our skin changes, so should our routine. During this natural next step, it’s important that we take care of ourselves, from the outside in. Dr. Alia Ahmed had some great ideas, and top ingredients to look out for when it comes to changing up your skincare regime.
Q: Are there certain ingredients to look out for in skincare during menopause? E.g. retinol, coenzyme Q10, ceramides, collagen, etc - what do these key ingredients do for menopausal skin?
A: Look for ingredients like glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid for hydration and moisture (to avoid feeling greasy consider non-comedogenic formulations for the face). Retinoids and peptides stimulate collagen production and improve skin cell turnover and elasticity. Collagen keeps skin supple, its natural decline with age aggravates skin laxity (or ‘looseness’), which can make fine lines more prominent. Antioxidants are also collagen-stimulating and protect the skin against environmental damage (e.g. coenzyme Q10). All of these activities are worth including in your skincare regimen, but also remember to look for alternative sources (e.g. oral collagen supplements, ‘eating the rainbow’ for antioxidants, staying well hydrated, maintaining a balanced diet).
When looking at oral collagen supplementation, it’s important to look at the collagen source (e.g. marine, bovine), type (hydrolysed, dipeptide, tripeptide), and content (g/d), as well as how you should take it (capsule or liquid form) when making your choice. This is important to determine its efficacy – type 1 hydrolysed marine collagen has been scientifically proven to be the most bioavailable to the body and has 90-95% absorption rates compared to that tablets and powder which have around 30-40% absorption.
Q: Generally, how can you look after and even improve your skin during menopause? E.g. supplements, gentle cleansing, etc
A: See above and:
Focus on self-care, learning about your own skin, and understanding its texture, tone, and needs is very important. Spend some time evaluating your skincare and assessing whether it is meeting your requirements. I always tell clients that their skincare will change all year round, and this is the same for the seasons of life. Prevention is key, as some skin changes are cumulative (e.g. sun damage, which can become more pronounced around or after menopause). My simple tips are the effective use of sunscreen and protective clothing all year round, antioxidants in skincare and diet, supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids and collagen, oral vitamin D, smoking cessation, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle.