You accept that your skin is going to age – but has someone suddenly pressed fast forward?
Your face feels like it’s losing its bounce-back-ability. Wrinkles are more pronounced and your crow’s feet are multiplying but this is no laughing matter.
No, you’ve not woken up on the wrong side of a time tunnel. It’s just another side effect of the change.
What does menopause do to your skin? Well, as your oestrogen levels drop, so do your stores of skin-plumping collagen. This process begins during the perimenopause.
Your skin is 75% collagen so when this vital ingredient starts to disappear so does the fibrous network in your dermis that keeps your skin thick, springy and tight.
So how much does skin thin during the menopause? Studies show that women's skin loses about 30% of its collagen during the first five years. After that, the decline is more gradual with 2% sloping off every year for the next 20 years.
Your skin also gets drier and you naturally lose fatty tissue as you age – so your jawline, cheeks and neck may not be as firm as they used to be. You may also notice more crow’s feet and lines above your upper lip.
It’s cheerful reading isn’t it? If you feel more Dot Cotton than youthful supermodel, try not to lose hope.
There are lots of ways you can perk your skin up and turn back the clock. With the added bonus that this self-care will make you feel better overall too.
MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE
Wrinkles are more obvious when your skin is dry. Find products that pack moisture into your skin and use them consistently.
There are so many moisturisers out there that claim to brighten or tighten, just find the one that suits your skin best. If you’re lost for choice, set up a consultation with a dermatologist or beauty therapist.
Moisturise your face and neck every morning and night using gentle strokes. Massaging your skin can help stimulate collagen production and strengthen muscle memory, so this is a win-win.
And if you don’t already, opt for a creamy cleanser that will hydrate instead of a foam or gel that will strip moisture away. Don’t forget to pop some cream on the back of your hands, as they are aging faster too.
TAKE THREE IMPORTANT STEPS
Step 1: Stop smoking. It narrows the blood vessels in the outer layer of the skin, reducing blood flow and exhausting the skin of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to remain healthy. You also get many more vertical lip lines if you’re constantly drawing on a cigarette.
Step 2: Wear sunscreen. It protects against photoaging: the wrinkling, spotting and loss of elasticity caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation. Enough said.
Step 3: Stay hydrated. Knocking back eight glasses of water a day helps your skin maintain moisture, which increases elasticity. The more elastic your skin, the fewer wrinkles you’ll see.
EAT A RAINBOW
Brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables contain more antioxidants – which can help make your skin stronger from the inside out.
A spectrum of citrus fruits, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and greens will also provide vitamin C. Add these to protein-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, eggs and beans and you’ll have the amino acid nutrients you need to make more collagen. Your very own skin rejuvenation factory.
You could also try skin-boosting supplements, including drinkable collagen.
SORT OUT YOUR STRESS
If you’re stressed off your box, chances are your skin is drier and more sensitive. Being wound up can also set off conditions like psoriasis or menopause-related acne.
It’s also easy to forget to take care of yourself and your skin when you’re frazzled. Look into ways to manage your time, relax more, and let your emotions out by talking or bashing a boxing bag. Yoga, meditation and other stress-reduction techniques will help too.
Exercise doesn’t just help your skin by easing stress. While it’s toning you up and boosting your cardiovascular system, it also peps up your circulation – which begins to flag with age.
The resulting extra oxygen and blood flow can help your skin look brighter and healthier. Perhaps pull your trainers on before you book in for that facial peel?
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
This is a bit of a unique one in that this symptom affects women very differently. For some, it might be they feel wrinklier which knocks their confidence, and for others it might be dryness that’s uncomfortable and irritating.
Talk to her to find out more before considering if any of these tips might help.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
As well as eating a healthy diet containing lots of fruit and veg, we’ve recommended that she invests in a good quality moisturiser, wears sunscreen and takes steps to manage stress, as this can lead to a worsening of skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.
ADJUST THE STRENGTH OF YOUR TOUCH
Affection is obviously an important part of any relationship – friendly or romantic. However if they are suffering from thinning skin, tight hugs or arm squeezes can hurt. Be aware and check in before touching them.
SUGGEST A SUPPLEMENT
Some people find drinkable collagen or skin-boosting supplements help.
Why not gently ask if they have tried anything like that?
ASK THEM WHAT WILL HELP
Ask them exactly what you could do to help. Can you do more round the house if you live together? Dry skin will likely get worse if they are cooking and washing up every night, as will tackling the bathroom without a good pair of Marigolds.
Ask, rather than assume. If you do the latter, you may well find it has the opposite effect to the one you’d like.
Regular exercise could make a huge difference to her skin, and it helps reduce stress.
Combining something you want to do (spend time together) along with something you need to do (exercise) can be a real game changer.
Partnering up to go for a walk, swim or to the gym is also more likely to help you both stay motivated.
STUB OUT SMOKING
Did you know that if you decide to quit together you are almost six times more likely* to kick nicotine than going it alone?
Help them say goodbye to cigarettes forever by ditching the smokes too. You can then keep each other going, avoid temptation and bash those cravings on the nose.
*Research by the Imperial College London
If you’re worried about changes in skin texture, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you: