Perimenopause and Menopause - A time for self care
How can we best support our skin through changes during menopause?
Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life that occurs when she stops menstruating and reaches the end of her natural reproductive cycle. This stage doesn’t happen overnight, age will vary from person to person but is usually defined when a woman has gone a full 12 months without a menstrual bleed.
The Perimenopause is known as the menopausal transition, and is when a woman can experience irregular cycles of ovulation and menstruation leading up to menopause and continuing until 12 months after her final period. As not all women are regular with their periods, it’s quite common for women not to know they are perimenopausal right away.
The Biology of Menopause
Every woman’s experience is different and they may see a number of changes both hormonal and physical but the biology of these changes remains the same. During menopause women produce significantly reduced levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These three sex hormones play an important role in supporting energy levels, mood, quality of sleep, digestion, bone health, metabolism, hair, nail and not to mention, skin health.
Our adrenal glands (small glands that sit above each kidney) are responsible for making these three important hormones once ovarian production declines. They are also responsible for making our stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. A key reason why women experience a myriad of different and sometimes overwhelming symptoms during perimenopause and menopause is down to the adrenal glands being so ‘worn out’ from stress, exposure to environmental toxins, imbalanced blood sugar levels, lack of sleep and living fast paced lives. This can lead to this small but important gland being unable to make sufficient levels of these sex hormones, and why it is so important to reduce stress where possible and make time for self care - it’s not just being kind to the body but a biological need!
Skin Health and Menopause
Skin health can change considerably during menopause. Common skin side effects include:
- Acne/Breakouts due to declining oestrogen in relation to testosterone leading to an increase in oil production which is a perfect place for P-acnes bacteria to live and flourish.
- Skin dryness due to lower levels of collagen and elastin (the proteins that make the skin soft, plump and glowing)
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort due to low levels of Oestrogen
- Sensitive skin and hot flashes due to hormonal fluctuations
5 Steps to Support Skin Changes During Menopause
Stabilise circadian rhythm
The circadian rhythm is an internal biological clock which initiates and monitors various physiological functions within our bodies. Studies have shown that circadian rhythms can be affected by fluctuating hormone levels(1). Melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep quality can decline during menopause. Melatonin is also a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that plays a role in cellular and skin health(2)..With this in mind;
- Make sleep a priority
- Adopt a consistent sleep schedule
- Reduce blue light exposure from TV, laptops and phones in the evenings as blue light inhibits melatonin secretion. You can also use blue light blocking glasses, such as Bon Charge, or apply blue light minimising software like f.lux to your devices
- Ensure light exposure within 30 minutes of waking. Enjoy your coffee by a window, or even better, outside looking up at the sky.
Make self care a mandatory daily practice
Menopause is a time when self care becomes mandatory. In many ancient traditions menopause is seen as a new beginning, a time to pause, reflect and develop spiritual wisdom. In Maya Tiwani’s book ‘A women's Power to Heal', Vedic tradition celebrates this phase as a time to enter into a space of wholeness, wisdom, intuition, and insight. By making self care mandatory, women may uncover their authentic self and discover that the menopausal years can be an enlightening opportunity to pause and reflect.
- Say no to things that you know will deplete your energy or things you don’t really want to do
- Nourish your body with healthy food and your mind by spending time in nature or doing something you love
- Make time to sit in silence with yourself daily, even if this is 3 minutes
- Gratitude journal: Write down 3 things that you are grateful for daily
- Facial and jaw massage with nourishing skincare products
- Read a good book
- Dance, shake or move your body
Balance blood sugar levels
When we eat an excess of sugar or refined carbohydrates our blood sugar levels rise. This leads to an increase in the release of excess cortisol and adrenaline from our adrenal glands which can impact their ability to produce our sex hormones. This can lead to anxiety, restlessness, inability to focus, inflammation, brain fog and poor sleep. Having your blood sugar levels balanced can be key in supporting menopausal transition.
- Try to include healthy fats and good quality protein at every meal
- Ensure you're eating enough fibre to reduce blood sugar spikes. 1 tsp of freshly ground flaxseed added to breakfast or salads can support the microbiome and act as a phytoestrogen (which supports oestrogen hormones)(3). When blood sugar levels drop due to eating low calories, this causes a release in stress hormones.
- Carry healthy balanced snacks in your bag, such as macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, dark chocolate, and greek yoghurt.
Eat a nutrient dense, diverse anti inflammatory diet
Menopause is a time to deeply nourish your cells with healthy foods and antioxidants.
- Opt for a whole food diet rich in nutrient dense foods.
- Limit processed foods such as cookies, crackers, and confectionery or anything that lists ingredients you do not understand.
- Focus on anti inflammatory foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco), berries, oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados
- Introduce spices and herbs to every meal for their antioxidant properties: Add spices rich in phytochemicals, such as turmeric, curry powder, cumin, nutmeg and cinnamon to dishes. Add herbs rich in polyphenols such as parsley, cilantro, sage, rosemary and thyme to dishes.
- Optimal hydration is key for maintaining bone, muscle and skin integrity during menopause. Add a pinch of himalayan salt or electrolytes such as LMNT or Redmonds salt to 1 litre of filtered water and drink throughout the day.
Prioritise your skincare routine
Adopting a principled skincare routine with antioxidants, anti inflammatory, nourishing and hydrating ingredients can support skin health, integrity and appearance during menopause.
- Set aside some time each morning and evening to give love and attention to your skin. This doesn't need to be any longer than 5-10 minutes to cleanse, treat and hydrate!
- Use hydrating and gently exfoliating cleansers rich in plant based ingredients. Look for glycolic and salicylic acids. Your skin will thank you for this extra attention and love.
- To prevent cellular DNA damage, introduce topical plant-based antioxidants such as quercetin, ECGC, and Resveratrol. Apply polyphenols, sage extract, mushroom extract, Vitamins A, C, E, B5 and Zinc.
- Introduce hydrating ingredients that will help support the skin barrier. Opt for ingredients such as squalane, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera or cucumber extract. This can also be cooling, helping to ease hot flashes.
- 30 seconds of cold water on the facial area at the end of your shower can improve circulation and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the face.
We understand a lot of the ingredients we read on skincare bottles can seem like another language, but that’s why Renude is here! Our Renude Aestheticians will support you along this momentous journey, helping to demystify those complicated ingredients list, select products from a range of brands that are right for you based on your changing skin needs.
If you would like to speak with a Renude aesthetician for skincare support during perimenopause or menopause, take our skin health quiz as a first step to receiving your personal routine.