Caring for your skin after Menopause.
For some women the reality of menopause can be a daunting experience, but for my Mum who is an avid cyclist and exercise enthusiast – the end of shark week interfering with her lifestyle was a relief. Menopause is a natural part of the women’s reproductive cycle, but there are some things you can do to support your body in the process.
What happens to your skin after menopause?
Menopause occurs when the body’s natural reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) are reduced due to the diminishment of ovarian follicles.
Estrogen plays an important role in collagen formation and skin structure, therefore declining estrogen levels associated with menopause contribute to reduced skin elasticity and general dryness. Together with a decrease in sebaceous gland activity, some women can experience intense dryness and itchiness of the skin and mucous membranes.
Another thing that happens with menopause is a reduction in melanocytes which are the cells that produce melanin which causes skin darkening / tanning. This can result in paler skin that is also more susceptible to sun damage.
From the inside out . . .
Looking after your skin during and after menopause involves internal support just as much as topical care. Nutrition is REALLY important. Here are some key pointers that can be easily implemented into your daily life.
Estrogen plays an important role in collagen formation which is necessary for healthy skin and bones. Vitamin C is essential for healthy collagen formation so ensuring optimal levels of vitamin C in the diet will help support collagen. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruit and vegetables and is heat sensitive (i.e. cooking deteriorates the vitamin C levels), so be mindful that you are including some fresh, raw options in your diet. Some of the best sources are berries, citrus, broccoli and capsicum, but you can also include a daily supplement.
Drinking plenty of water and herbal teas (natural and unsweetened) will help keep your skin hydrated and reduce dryness and itchiness. You can also be tactical with the teas you choose such as choosing Sage which helps with hot flushes, Red Clover as an estrogen modulator, Chamomile to help with sleep and bloating, Passionflower for anxiety etc.
Essential Fatty Acids
Including a variety of essential fatty acids as part of your diet is really important, these help keep your skin moisturised and supple whilst providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Using oils like chia, flaxseed, or macadamia oil as a salad dressing topping or on top of muesli are a great way to bring them in as part of you daily life. Try to also include a range of nuts and seeds: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds etc. along with avocadoes, olives.
Phytoestrogens are plant based food sources that exert a mild estrogen effect by binding to estrogen receptors. These plant based estrogens have demonstrated in clinical trials to alleviate some of the symptoms cause by menopause such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and increases levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) which helps the body utilise available estrogen and testosterone. There are four types of phytoestrogens (Lignans, Coumestrol, Phytosterols, Isoflavones) and is the case with all things nutritional – variety is best. The phytoestrogens listed below in the ‘lignans’ columns are utilised by the bacteria in your bowel so require a happy bowel that is fed with fibre and pre-biotics will help ensure optimal absorption.
Wholegrains: buckwheat, rye, millet, oats. Seeds: Linseeds / flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds.
Soy sprouts, alfalfa, red clover, green beans, mung beans, red beans, split peas, cow peas, olives.
Olives, sunflower oil, soy beans, pumpkin kernels.
Soy beans, alfalfa, red clover, parsley, chick peas, mung beans, whole grains.
Avoid foaming cleansers
Foaming cleansers remove your natural skin oils and are also really alkalizing which contributes to skin dryness. Also avoid over-use of soap – whilst soap is necessary for hygiene it is ok to just use it on your “bits” and only all over when really necessary. Our is Purifying Cream Cleanser a gentle creamy cleanser that is pH balanced and removes dirt and makeup without foaming and drying the skin.
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A good moisturiser will help keep you skin hydrated and nourished whilst also protecting it from the elements. The two I would recommend from our range are the Wakame Seaweed based creams featuring Maritech Reverse (wakame seaweed extract) which has demonstrated in clinical trials to increase skin elasticity, reduce collagen breakdown, reduce wrinkle depth and roughness, and restore moisture retention and repair the skin post UV exposure. I recommend our Hydrating Crème and Nourishing Body Lotion.
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Since your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun post-menopause it is important to keep your skin out of direct sun as much as possible. Sunlight and outdoor activities are essential for health and wellbeing so this doesn’t mean drawing the curtains and avoiding the outdoors it just means being sensible about sun exposure. Also since the sun is necessary for activating vitamin D within the skin which then allows for calcium absorption, taking a daily vitamin D capsule is a wise decision to help compensate for this. Using a zinc based SPF 30+ or 50+ is great if you are venturing outdoors but also don a broad brimmed hat and long sleeves are best.
For more info about herbal teas for skin check out my previous blog "Herbal Teas For A Healthy Complexion" or if you are interested in the role of gut bacteria in skin health check out "The Probiotic Glow" blog post.