Menopause - Skin feels it too!
Menopause is one of the “female-only” phases that society largely tucks away, so the symptoms are not widely talked about. It’s well past time to undo the taboo of talking about uterine functions - we all know someone that will, at one point in their life, experience menopause. Women experience everything from insomnia, depression, vaginal dryness and hot flashes to forgetfulness, headaches and irritability. With so many difficult changes often coinciding with other mid-life issues, this can be a difficult time to navigate. We need the support and understanding of others as well as wisdom from sages who have walked this path before us. We are a community and this is a time stories, solutions, understanding and acceptance is greatly needed.
In 2001 I was writing for several large publications, and I wrote a blog on Sex and Skin. Every single publication refused to print it! I published it on our blog because sex is another topic we need to peel away the taboo from. Twenty years later, talking about sex is a hot topic on blogs, podcasts, magazines and all over social media! With everything from Gwyneth Paldrow’s ‘Smells Like My Vagina’ candle to a whole emerging category of vaginal care in the indie brand movement, we are moving to a place where the discussion of sex is not off limits or risqué anymore. However, menopause has not quite made it to the discussion list - it’s not exactly a sexy topic. Talking about menopause can be such a complicated subject for many people and we need to be open to getting the conversation happening in a meaningful way. Social media shows us the shiny, romanticized side of life, but it can also be a helpful tool in starting these conversations. Exposing yourself and others to difficult subjects like menopause can help normalize them, making the process easier to understand and respond to. When the shock and discomfort of something is removed, we are able to support others and ourselves fully as they experience a change like menopause.
While emotional support from friends and family, as well as medical care, is valuable and needed, skin support and advice is largely overlooked. As women we see and feel the changes in our skin and often chalk it up to aging. We may already be dealing with an array of midlife, premenopausal/menopause changes and the differences in our appearance as we age can be hard to adjust to. Know that this is common, and there are solutions.
Low estrogen levels impact our skin in many ways, one of the first signs being skin dryness. Low estrogen also reduces collagen levels and production which causes skin thinning, increased wrinkles and lines as well as sagging and loss of elasticity. These symptoms can make skin look “tired”, ruddy and lackluster.
Common skin issues:
- Thinning skin
- Lackluster, dull skin
- Sensitive (to both products and fabrics, laundry detergents)
- Easily irate
- Avoid harsh toxic chemicals, fragrance and detergents in your skin care. This is truly the time to get intimate with the ingredient list in your products.
- Protect your skin from the sun. I suggest a wide brimmed hat when out in the sun (my daughters lovingly call me “batty” as my hat is black and they call it “the bat hat”). I suggest this as I have yet to find a face sunscreen that does not either clog pores or cause irritation.
- Get facials more often, or learn how to do facial massage at home. It can help stimulate collagen as well as help to strengthen muscle memory to prevent sagging and wrinkles.
- Eat your way to beautiful skin! Try the beauty diet (an anti-inflammatory diet that reduces or eliminates foods such as gluten, alcohol, white sugar, dairy, and increases foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
- Exercise is even more important as we age
Laugh, love and maintain intimacy
- Wash with soy, almond or coconut milk. Less is more! You can also use a creamy non foaming hydration face cleanser such as our Milky Rich Goat Milk Cleanser. The added fats will help keep your face hydrated.
- Tone with pure green or white tea (anti-oxidant rich), rose water, or a real hydrosol based toner such as our Wild Rose toner. Don’t be fooled by ‘floral waters’, if it has distilled water and essential oils or fragrances, it is not the real thing.
- Use a serum that has hydrating and wrinkle busting active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, essential fatty acids, peptides, vitamin A, retinoids or retinol, vitamin C, niacinamide, squalane or resveratrol.
- Moisturize with a face oil that is formulated for mature skin - your skin needs oils from the neck up to get the proper moisture. These oils have the right molecular structure for increased absorption. Look for a well-rounded face oil that includes ingredients such as such as jojoba, avocado, rose hip, carrot seed, black cumin, raspberry seed and other concentrated, non-pore clogging oils.
- Double up! If your skin is still feeling dehydrated after using your face oil, consider adding a face cream on top of your oil to seal it in. A deep pore cleaning can also increase absorption as congested pores may be preventing your products from permeating.
- Masks are key to maintaining healthy skin. (why?) Rotate between a deep pore cleaner, microbe balancing, and resurfacing masks. Look for powdered masks - they do not need chemicals in formulation like their creamy cousins, they are more concentrated, and when you activate them they are fresh and alive at the peak of potency.
- Exfoliate twice a week with gentle exfoliates such as biodegradable jojoba beads, sunflower or almond meal, quinoa or hemp flour, and lactic acid (found in goat milk, and you guessed it! You can wash with goat milk! Add a little honey and some almond meal and voila!).
- Breakouts can occur during menopause even if you’ve never had a tendency towards any acne, pimples or blackheads. One common mistake is that people treat their entire face with products to combat breakouts. Only treat the area that is breaking out with ‘spot treatments’. I generally suggest avoiding any fragrance or essential oils in skincare, except when they’re used as an active ingredient - in this case, essential oils can be very beneficial when used correctly. Look for spot treatment such as our Zit Zappers, which contain blemish-busting essential oils like tea tree, lavender, and oregano. You can also add a serum that is targeted for reducing breakouts such as our Rebel serum, or try a 1:1 mix of tamanu oil and jojoba oil.
While this can be a confusing and trying time in our lives, it’s also a passage through the gateway to our next phase of womanhood. There is a sense of freedom, wisdom and emotional stability that we earn with age. When as a society we don’t talk about things and embrace them they can feel negative or scary, but as we share our experiences we can see the beauty. Change in any form can be difficult, menopause is a significant change and yet we transform into sages, taking up a new mantle. Age does not diminish our beauty, it simply asks for a new way of caring for ourselves.
To all my sisters - embrace, connect, talk, and rejoice in the new and more powerful you.