by Basma Faramawy
Thanks to a lack of discourse and overwhelming media bias, the menopause is a stage of life that many women dread. But the truth is, the menopause is a natural part of ageing caused by a decline in oestrogen and progesterone levels. For most of women, it starts to occur between the ages of 45 and 55, with 51 being the average age in many regions around the world. At any one time, millions upon millions of women are going through this inevitable period of their lives, but the conversations around the physical and mental changes that happen are limited at best.
Disappointing Skincare Truths
On the subject of skincare alone, many women will notice their skin will start to become drier from their mid to late forties. As well as increased dryness, elastin levels will have also dropped significantly since your twenties, meaning you might notice sagging around the areas that naturally hold more fat, i.e., the eyes, neck, and cheeks.
It’s estimated that up to a third of your dermal collagen, AKA the stuff that keeps your skin looking plump and lifted, will be lost in the first five years after menopause, after which time it decreases at a disheartening rate of approximately 2% per year.
Take a look at your social media feeds and the shelves of popular beauty retailers and you’ll see that they’re flooded with products that serve a much younger age bracket. Traditionally products that are specifically formulated to target skin issues during this pivotal time have been few and far between, and the education to support women, teaching them how to treat their skin following these changes is limited.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the influx of older female influencers that are finally feeling liberated enough to take a stand, go against the grain and embrace a more carefree approach to beauty - calling on social media platforms, specifically Instagram, to do it. To cater to this newly vocal sector in the market, beauty brands and skincare gurus such as Caroline Hirons are offering up curated collections of effective products to soothe symptoms and help keep you calm, cool, collected, and most importantly, glowing.
Key Changes and Effective Solutions
Menopause can be divided in to three key phases, each with its own specific concerns. Perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. As perimenopause kicks in, declining ovarian function leads to decreased oestrogen levels, which means you'll begin to notice thinning, sagging, wrinkling, and poor wound healing. Once you hit menopause, there is complete oestrogen deficiency, and the skin changes are much more pronounced. Namely, extreme dryness and dehydration, enlarged pores, age spots, and acne.
So, what changes to skincare should women make as they enter these different stages of menopause?
As these phases begin, you should replace your oil-stripping soap-based cleansers for something gentler and more nourishing like cream cleansers and balms. It’s also recommended that you opt for emollient-rich moisturisers that contain ceramides, glycerine, and ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid.
When it comes to acne, it’s best to steer clear of harsh treatments as the skin is thinner and drier. Use a gentle salicylic acid cleanser to help unclog pores and follow it up with a topical adapalene or retinol cream.
For the fastest and most effective ways to combat fine lines and wrinkles, go for hard-hitting retinoids and collagen-boosting topical vitamin C; but above all, don’t forget the sunscreen. After menopause, skin is more prone to both surface and cellular damage. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or above to safeguard against premature ageing and hyperpigmentation.
While menopause-specific products may not be at the forefront of the skincare market, there are myriad progressive brands shifting the landscape and developing formulas targeted at menopausal women. These target their individual needs with powerhouse ingredients that are proven to work, giving all women the tools, they need to look and feel better in their own skin, embracing ageing on their own terms.
Must-have menopausal products:
If you find your skin is slightly more blemish-prone than it once was, this gentle cleanser has a low concentration of salicylic acid to slough away dead skin and debris and is completely fragrance-free to help improve mild acne without irritating sensitive skin.
When your complexion is feeling particularly parched, this hyaluronic acid-rich serum is like a big, cool drink for your skin. Formulated with a unique blend of pro-vitamin B5, pineapple ceramide and a delicious-sounding lentil, apple and watermelon complex, this ultra-hydrating treatment will help your skin look brighter and plumper with every application.
If it’s time to up the ante in your fight against wrinkles, pigmentation and sagging, this best-selling corrective retinol serum will soften lines and lighten dark spots in as little as two weeks. Use at night to boost your cell rejuvenation and avoid daytime sensitivity.
This velvety, fast-absorbing moisturiser offers up a potent dose of advanced vitamin C which not only brightens your skin, calms surface redness, and boosts collagen production, but also fights skin damage, premature lines, uneven skin tone and even protects skin from the harmful effects of pollution and those pesky free radicals.
Sunscreen can often feel heavy on the skin, but this silky, lightweight formula is a genuine pleasure to use. It’s oil-free to prevent breakouts and contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid to help skin look radiant and healthy. Not to mention, it absorbs beautifully and doesn’t pill under makeup.