We all know the usual culprits of dry skin: lack of water, naturally dry skin and chemicals in our products such as SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) stripping it of our natural oils, but as women, one of the areas we don’t focus on as much when trying to understand the cause(s) of our dry skin is how hormonal changes can play a part in this. Many of us assume that these hormonal changes only cause breakouts but today we’re here to explain the link between perimenopause, menopause and the changing texture of our skin as we reach these stages of our lives…
You might also like to read: Why Give SLS A Bad Name?
HORMONAL CHANGES AND THE LINK TO DRY SKIN
The natural aging process, genetics and environmental changes all impact how we look and how we feel but hormonal changes associated with perimenopause and menopause certainly make a contribution to this too.
What do we mean by perimenopause and menopause hormonal changes?
Perimenopause usually refers to the ten or so years prior to the menopause where the ovaries gradually begin to make less of the hormone Oestrogen and some of the symptoms of the menopause begin. During this stage, hormone production can be rather irregular and in fact, at times more Oestrogen could be present than ever.
Menopause is the point where a woman’s ovaries have stopped producing eggs, she has not menstruated for 12 months or more and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. This is as a result of the production of the hormone Progesterone stopping, Testosterone being half of what it was in your twenties and Oestrogen eventually dropping to a very low level.
Perimenopause and menopause are natural life processes for women, with perimenopause starting as early as 35, and menopause usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55. These can however, happen at an earlier age, so we shouldn’t rule out these hormonal changes when looking into what is causing our dry skin before we reach this age.
How do these hormonal changes impact the skin?
Most women will experience some symptoms of the menopause but the duration and severity can vary massively. All of the common symptoms are associated with a decrease in the body’s production of Oestrogen (which is actually a group of hormones – Oestriol, Oestradiol and Oestrone), so by the time we’ve gone through perimenopause and reach menopause, we can really start to notice changes to our skin.
Oestrogen plays an important role in helping with the pH, radiance, elasticity and hydration of our skin. As the levels of this group of hormones decline, so does oil and collagen production resulting in dryness, loss of elasticity and more visible lines as skin looks thinner. The lack of Oestrogen affects blood flow, preventing nutrients and oxygen from reaching your skin which can lead to it becoming dehydrated, flaky, itchy and irritated.
TOP TIPS FOR TAKING CARE OF DRY SKIN DURING PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE
As a consequence of these hormonal changes, your skincare routine needs to be adapted to reflect what is happening to your face and body. Basic care of your skin gets more important as you get older and it is more important than ever to use products that suit your skin as it changes (even if you’ve been loyal to the same ones for much of your life).
- Learn about the skin microbiome and how to support it. We recently wrote about this here including its ties with dry skin.
- Choose skincare designed to balance pH levels. Probably the most important product we are referring to here is your cleanser but this also applies to your toner (we recommend creating your own natural option), exfoliator and moisturiser. Dry and sensitive skin is as a result of it becoming too alkaline (caused by the lack of Oestrogen to balance pH), which can be exacerbated by the products you are using. A lot of cleansers on the market have an alkaline pH and can be harsh but there are some great alternatives such as the vegan Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil – an oil cleanser made from a blend of oils including rosehip oil, which leaves skin clean and nourished.
You might also like to read: Battling Dry Skin – Could Your Cleanser Be The Culprit?
- Select multi-level hydrating formulas. We naturally produce hyaluronic acid, however as we get older, the production of this also decreases leading to drier skin. Many moisturisers and serums will claim that hyaluronic acid will inject all the moisture our skin needs but the truth is that it can sit on the skin, drawing out moisture rather than hydrating it. We like how products such as The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid are formulated to penetrate and hydrate the skin at multiple depths by offering different weights of the hyaluronic acid molecule. Adding a face oil as the final step seals in moisture and prevents the hyaluronic acid from evaporating from skin, while also nourishing the skin with vitamins and EFAs, and protecting it with antioxidants.
- Start with a few small lifestyle changes. While there are many bigger external and environmental factors which are out of our control such as the pollution we come into contact with each day, we can make small daily changes to promote healthier skin through our lifestyle choices and embracing slower living.
- Establishing a good sleep pattern gives our skin the time it needs to repair and reduces inflammation which is responsible for many skin problems (including sensitivity).
- Regular, gentle exercise can help to boost oxygen and blood flow, which as we know, is reduced as Oestrogen levels decline. This increased circulation helps the skin to appear brighter and more hydrated, removing waste products and giving it the nutrients it needs for an effective microbiome.
- Try more activities which help you to release tension and say no to more things that are likely to make you feel stressed. Meditation, yoga and even gardening are all great ways to practise mindfulness and prevent skin aggravation as a result of feeling worked up and/or anxious.
- Include foods with antioxidants in your diet such as brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants protect against free radicals which weaken elasticity so eating a well-balanced diet full of these and not forgetting, drinking plenty of water will make your skin stronger from the inside out.
- Take shorter, cooler showers from time to time. Hotter showers can dry out the skin further as the cells which make up the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) become damaged, whereas a cooler shower improves circulation and a shorter shower reduces the amount of moisture lost.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR TAKING CARE OF DRY SKIN AS A RESULT OF HORMONAL CHANGES?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below.