Why "menopause skincare" is BS!

Posted by Natasha Dauncey on

You know how I feel about BS marketing, and as menopausal skincare ads keep popping up on my Facebook feed, I shared this post yesterday on World Menopause Day. There is a multitude of symptoms experienced in the menopause / perimenopause, but I'm focusing on the impact on our skin and what topical skincare can achieve.

What happens to the skin during the menopause?
During the menopause, declining oestrogen is responsible for a lot of changes we see in the skin. Oestrogen influences water retention in tissues, so we see reduced hydration in the skin and increased glycation (think of this as "crystallised" collagen). Our natural production of hyaluronic acid also declines leading to a loss of volume & increased degradation in collagen & elastin. Add the loss of fat and bone density as we age and we see an increase in fine lines, wrinkles, skin sagging. Oestrogen is also responsible for keeping basal epidermal cells active so its decline impacts cell renewal and reduces the density of the tissue leading to thinner, less resilient skin, which can be more prone to inflammation, free radical damage and increased sensitivity.

This isn't to paint a gloomy picture but to explain why "menopausal skincare" is BS. Many of these changes can't be tackled with topical skincare alone. Those that can, can be tackled with formulations suitable for a wide range of life stages, not just products with "menopause" plastered on the label. This is just a marketing ploy to get you to part with your cash and I'm incensed that some brands are taking advantage of what can be a difficult period for many of us!

What can I do for menopausal skin?
A lot of things you may already be doing!

🌟 daily sunscreen + antioxidants (like my barrier defence AOX serum) to protect your skin from free radical damage and reduce the risk of sun spots
🌟 gentle cleansing with a cleanser that removes make up/grime without stripping your skin - all my cleansers tick the gentle box and I have something for everyone!
🌟 hydration - whilst you can't directly replenish dermal /epidermal hydration with topical hydrators, you can improve surface hydration through hydrating serums/essences and reduce trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) through more occlusive moisturisers. Humectants (glycerin, urea and other NMFs) as well as occlusives are your friends! Ingredients like niacinamide (in my barrier support serum) can help improve barrier strength/hydration through its impact on ceramide levels in the skin, my skin quenching essence will provide surface hydration whilst my moisturisers will help keep the skin hydrated by reducing TEWL

🌟 targeted cell commmunicating actives which help increase collagen production and regulate skin cell turnover - retinoids (I'm working on one!), particularly tretinoin, but also retinal and retinol are proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This needs to be carefully balanced with the risk of increased sensitivity so go gently with all actives!!

As you can see, there is a wide array of products which tick these boxes, they're not specific to the menopause!

There are also some great treatment options to help support the skin. I've personally found microneedling (with SkinPen), mesotherapy, gentle skin peels, along with regular LED masking at home helpful in improving and maintaining skin quality and health. Find yourself a good aesthetician to complement your at home routine.

Aside from topical treatments, whilst it might not be suitable for everyone, the obvious option is to replace the oestrogen we lose in menopause via HRT, which should help improve skin quality. To this end, I'm interested to see the impact of oestrogen gel on my skin health which I'm just starting. This last year in particular I've noticed my skin feeling more dehydrated and I've also developed intensely itchy rashes on my body which I hadn't connected to the menopause until recently. I'm also starting to take omega 3 supplements to see if they help!

I hope this has helped provide you with some legitimate options for looking after your skin during / leading up to the menopause - I would imagine many of you are doing these things already, which will set you up for managing your skin during this period. If you only take away one thing from this blog post, it's that you must not be swayed by brands selling "menopause skincare" as it's just a marketing ploy aimed at taking advantage of people when they're feeling vulnerable. I'm really pleased to see increased awareness of the menopause amongst the general population and GPs, but sadly this often provides brands with an "opportunity" to cash in :(.

For more information on the menopause, I highly recommend checking out The Menopause Charity and the Balance Menopause app.

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