The menopause, a significant phase in a woman's life, brings about a myriad changes, both internally and externally. As the founder of Apothaka®, I've seen first-hand how these changes can affect the skin, and with World Menopause Day coming up next week, I wanted to share my insights on how to best care for your skin during this transition.
At Apothaka Skincare, we believe in purposeful formulations that support a healthy skin barrier through a "less is more" approach to skincare. The beauty industry often sets unrealistic standards for "perfect" or "flawless" skin. However, our goal is different. We aim to promote healthy, happy skin and healthy ageing through a focus on respecting your skin barrier, making our products suitable for everyone, regardless of age, gender, or skin colour.
The menopause is a natural process which accelerates the ageing of our skin. Even before menopause, various age-related changes are already occurring in our skin. The arrival of menopause further compounds these changes, primarily due to a decline in oestrogen levels which manifests in a number of ways:
Reduced skin hydration: oestrogen plays a vital role in water retention in our body's tissues. Its decline during menopause results in a loss of skin hydration and a decrease in hyaluronic acid, leading to dehydrated skin and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Slower skin cell turnover: oestrogen is responsible for maintaining active epidermal cells, and its reduction during menopause leads to slower cell turnover, causing the skin to look dull, flaky and patchy.
Changes in skin barrier function: ageing results in the gradual reduction of sebum production and skin hydration, increasing susceptibility to irritation and infection. This, in turn, contributes to skin ageing and reduces the skin's healing capacity.
Changes in pore size: the shift in hormones, with the dominance of androgens in the absence of oestrogen, can cause an enlargement of sebaceous glands and changes in skin texture.
How to address these changes
I recommend the following skincare ingredients and practices (most of which are suitable for pretty much all ages!):
Daily sunscreen: protect your skin from UV damage by using a daily sunscreen with robust UVA and UVB protection. Do not rely on SPF in make up – you won’t get the stated level of protection based on the amount of product you’re using
Gentle cleansing: choose a gentle cleanser that respects the skin barrier and avoids over-stripping, but thoroughly removes make up, sunscreen and grime. How you cleanse is just as important as the cleanser you use: take 30-60 seconds to massage the cleanser over your face and rinse thoroughly.
Hydration: give your skin surface hydration with products containing humectant ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, urea, and amino acids.
Retinoids: consider using a retinoid (Vitamin A) to promote healthy ageing. Start with a low concentration and introduce it gradually.
Antioxidants: incorporate a variety of antioxidants, into your routine to provide an extra layer of protection against free radical damage – think of them as the safety net to your sunscreen.
Lifestyle: maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced and varied diet rich in wholefoods and protein alongside healthy fats, regular exercise, sufficient sleep (7-8 hours), and stress management.
Non-invasive aesthetic treatments: one thing I’ve really leant into this last year is complementing my topical skincare routine with aesthetic treatments which stimulate collagen production. As well as regular LED masking, which is great for improving skin hydration and skin softness, I’ve also seen positive effects with a course of microneedling (SkinPen) as well as gentle peels. More recently I started trying microcurrent – although the device ended up being faulty, I noticed my skin really glowed within a week or two of consistent use. This could have been down to the T-sonic massage function, so I think even getting into the habit of facial massage may even be helpful for improving skin radiance. I’m currently trialing an at home radiofrequency device and will report back on this!
HRT: for some women, replacing declining hormones with treatment can have beneficial effects on the skin (and other aspects). I’ve certainly noticed some improvements even with a low dose of an oestrogen patch (which go beyond skin improvements), however I realise it’s not for everyone! In fairness, I started HRT for other symptoms so this was more of a welcome additional effect!
What to avoid:
While these recommendations are important, there are also certain things to avoid:
Over-cleansing: overuse of cleansers or using the wrong cleanser for your skin type can lead to skin barrier disruption. If your skin is dry, try dropping your morning cleanse and simply rinse with water, or use a creamy cleanser.
Sun tanning / sun beds: it goes without saying, avoid sun tanning, as it accelerates skin ageing – most premature ageing is caused by UV damage.
Aggressive products: avoid high concentrations of active ingredients and over-exfoliation. Less is more, particularly for menopausal skin which is naturally more prone to sensitivity.
Product overload: keep your skincare routine simple and avoid using too many products.
Unrealistic expectations: avoid pursuing unrealistic goals of "perfect" skin – forget those photoshopped images of young people advertising “anti-ageing” products. Focus on healthy skin and the natural glow and radiance that comes from this!
Miracle cures: be cautious of products that promise miraculous results, as they often don't deliver!
“Menopausal skincare”: contrary to what some brands will have you believe, there are no magic ingredients that you won’t find in “regular” skincare products if you follow my pointers above. It’s just an opportunity for brands to charge a price premium, taking advantage of women that can be at a vulnerable stage in their lives!
Top Apothaka Products for Menopausal Skin
If you're navigating the challenges of menopausal skin, here are my top picks to support healthy skin:
· Velveteen cloud cleanser: This gentle creamy gel cleanser effectively removes impurities without stripping the skin.
· Barrier support serum: Our serum with 5% niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and synergistic ceramide complex hydrates the skin and supports a healthy skin barrier.
· Barrier defence AOX serum: a comprehensive blend of antioxidants including a gentle Vitamin C derivative, astaxanthin and white tea to help fight free radical damage.
· Skin quenching essence: While not a "must-have" product, it's perfect for those with dehydrated skin. This essence provides a lightweight layer of hydration, containing humectants that mimic the skin's natural moisturising factor. It also features soothing panthenol and cucumber extract to deliver a refreshing burst of hydration. Use it after cleansing and before the barrier support/AOX serum and moisturiser for an extra boost of hydration without any heaviness.
Explore these fantastic skincare products and more at Apothaka to address your specific menopausal skincare needs. We're here to help you along your journey to healthy, happy skin!