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How does menopause affect your skin? Loss of firmness, dry skin

How is menopause changing your skin? Just like the body, the transition of menopause – when the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone - impacts your skin.

Pre-menopause, during menopause and in post-menopause: women report a shift in facial structure and in overall firmness. In a short time, the skin’s upper layer thins and becomes visibly more lined. Skin can get drier, sensitive, itchy at times, and menopausal acne can appear too. Here’s why skin aging seems to accelerate in menopause and how best to slow the process back down.

The impact of menopause

Through observation and analysis of the skin changes in thousands of women, Vichy’s experts now understand that the loss of Estrogen is far from the whole story for menopausal skin. During this rollercoaster time, other hormones decline: including DHEA. Full name Dhydroepiandrosterone, science has long established a link between loss of this pre-hormone, produced naturally by the body and skin aging. Going further Vichy identified that as many as 38 skin processes, at the level of the epidermis or the dermis, depend on DHEA, revealing its fundamental role in maintaining skin youth. By the time a women reaches menopause, up to 90% of DHEA in the body has disappeared. Research shows when applied topically, DHEA acts on collagen, epidermal thickness, hydration and sebum production, combating the most noticeable changes women experience in skin at menopause: loss of density and  dryness(1).

Why does skin get dry and itchy in menopause?

It’s this dip in DHEA and Estrogen, that’s behind the dry skin women report in menopause. Skin that’s kept itself naturally moisturized with its own sebum now feels progressively drier, due to this simultaneous drop in lipid and sebum production, cue itchiness. Post-menopausal skin contains up to 57% less of the lipids essential for skin nutrition than pre-menopausal skin. Dermatologists advise adopting a skin routine that compensates for this specific slowdown: “First of all, repair skin’s barrier function, which ensures it is kept properly hydrated,” says Dr. Shannon Humphrey.  Now is the time to upgrade to more nutritive creams for intense nourishment to protect and repair skin barrier function.

How to care for your skin in menopause?

Incorporating actives that mimic  the multiple actions of DHEA in skin will help to turn the fast-forward aging button off at menopause. Look for nutritive actives that can counteract the epidermal thinning and the papyraceous look experienced at menopause. One breakthrough ingredient, ProxylaneTM, stimulates the synthesis of molecules in the epidermis to act on firmness and reduce wrinkles. Ingredients that work on lipid production counteract the decline in sebum production, like Hedione. As at every life stage, dry skin at menopause benefits from dermatology’s benchmark moisture actives - Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerine, to keep dryness and itching at bay.

What is menopausal acne?

While dry skin and loss of firmness are the key bugbears, for some women perimenopause can trigger the acne they said goodbye to in their youth. What are the medical causes of menopausal acne? Estrogen and progesterone play a role in regulating the production of androgens, the male hormones which reduce sebum. So when these female hormones dip, the overproduction of androgens can cause a sebum build-up on the epidermis, an acne trigger. Typically moderate and transitory, targeted skincare can help treat menopausal acne.  Combine a daily cleansing gel with a mask and an exfoliator once or twice weekly – to clear this sebum overload. Switching to a day moisturizer, with SPF as sun can aggravate acne, and night cream formulated for menopausal skin will also help.  If your menopause acne doesn’t go away, visit your dermatologist.

Approach the menopause holistically

Dermatologist Dr Humphrey advises taking a holistic view of menopause and post-menopause. “It’s important to take into account general well-being: physical appearance and healthy skin are only a small component of well-being. A healthy diet, physical exercise, reducing stress, improving quality of life all need to be combined in a complete package to sail through menopause smoothly.”

1. Study DHEAge: Baulieu and al. 2000. Study co-authored by L’Oréal Recherche

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