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The Best Menopause Skin Care + Products for Women Over 50 | As Featured In Woman’s World

Dr. Mona Foad expands upon the insights she shared in her recent Woman’s World feature: The Best Menopause Skin Care + Products for Women Over 50.

The Best Menopause Skin Care + Products for Women Over 50

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life characterized by hormonal changes, particularly a decline in estrogen levels. These hormonal shifts can significantly impact the skin, leading to various changes and potential skin issues. For example, lower estrogen levels can result in decreased production of natural oils (sebum) in the skin, leading to dryness and flakiness. This dryness can make the skin feel tight and more prone to irritation. Decreased estrogen levels can also lead to thinning skin, making it more susceptible to bruising and tearing.

Collagen and elastin production also decrease during menopause, causing the skin to lose its firmness and elasticity, leading to the formation of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin that become more noticeable. Additionally, hormonal fluctuations during menopause can trigger an increase in melanin production that can form age spots, dark patches, and uneven skin tone, particularly on sun-exposed areas. Fluctuations in hormone levels can stimulate the production of sebum, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. For this reason, some women may experience acne or worsening of existing acne during menopause. The skin can also become more sensitive during menopause, reacting more strongly to irritants, allergens, and environmental factors which can contribute to skin redness, itching, and discomfort.

During menopause, women may experience hot flashes with these hormonal shifts.  Hot flashes can cause flushing, whichever tie can lead to persistent redness and rosacea. Making sure to use gentle products to avoid exacerbating this more sensitive skin is important.   

There are changes to the vaginal canal as well.  The vaginal epithelium becomes thinner and more atrophic with less glycogen-rich producing cells.  This leads to more vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, and an altered pH, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of UTIs.   

Does the woman’s pH level of woman’s skin shift around the age of 50?

The pH level of a woman’s skin can shift around the age of 50, particularly during menopause and as a result of hormonal changes. The pH level of the skin refers to its acidity or alkalinity on a scale from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral and healthy being slightly acidic, typically around 4.5 to 5.5. This helps maintain the skin’s protective barrier function and supports the growth of beneficial bacteria while preventing the growth of harmful microbes. However, hormonal changes during menopause can disrupt the skin’s natural pH balance, leading to an increase in skin alkalinity. This shift towards a more alkaline pH can compromise the skin barrier, making it more susceptible to dryness, irritation, and increased sensitivity.

To reduce increased sensitivity and maintain skin health during menopause, women should use mild, fragrance-free cleansers, moisturizers, and other skincare products formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid products containing harsh ingredients such as alcohol, fragrance, and sulfates, which can further irritate sensitive skin. Keeping the skin hydrated and nourished by using a moisturizer helps to restore the skin barrier and prevents moisture loss. Look for products containing hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin. Wearing sunscreen daily is very important to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation, which can exacerbate skin sensitivity and accelerate aging. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply it every two hours, especially when outdoors.

Additionally, using hot water during bathing or washing can strip the skin of its natural oils and exacerbate dryness and sensitivity, so try to avoid doing this and instead use lukewarm water and pat the skin dry gently with a soft towel. I often suggest to my patients to incorporate antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and  E, in the form of serums or creams in their skincare routine to help protect the skin from oxidative stress and inflammation, reducing sensitivity and promoting overall skin health.

Does acne occur if female hormones drop? Can it be treated the same way as teenage acne? 

It is true that fluctuations in female hormones, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels, can contribute to the development or worsening of acne in women, especially during certain phases of life such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. This type of acne, often referred to as hormonal acne, typically manifests as deep, cystic lesions primarily around the chin, jawline, and lower face.

Hormonal fluctuations can stimulate the production of sebum (skin oil) and increase the proliferation of skin cells within the hair follicles, leading to clogged pores and acne breakouts. 

While hormonal acne shares some similarities with teenage acne, it may require different treatment approaches due to hormonal differences and potential sensitivities associated with age. Some treatments commonly used for teenage acne, such as harsh topical medications or oral antibiotics, may not be suitable or recommended for adult women, particularly those experiencing hormonal fluctuations during menopause. 

Instead, treatments for hormonal acne in adult women may focus on addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances and targeting specific factors contributing to acne development. Common treatment options for hormonal acne in women include hormonal therapies where certain hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills) containing estrogen and progestin, can help regulate hormone levels and improve acne in women. Other hormonal treatments, such as spironolactone, may also be prescribed to block the effects of androgens (male hormones) on the skin and reduce oil production. Topical retinoids, such as tretinoin or adapalene, can help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and promote cell turnover, which can be beneficial for hormonal acne, but retinoid use should be balanced with any drying or irritating effect. It may be better to use a retinol as opposed to a prescription tretinoin.  Although retinols may work more slowly than a retinoic acid, they are less irritating

Additionally, topical medications containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or azelaic acid may help reduce acne lesions and prevent new breakouts but these can also be too drying in more mature skin.  Make sure to add these in one at a time to avoid over-drying the skin.

 

What are your recommendations on skin care products as menopause sets in? To target increased dryness and/or more wrinkles, sagging, and age spots?

As menopause sets in and hormonal changes occur, it’s often beneficial to reassess your skin care routine and make adjustments to address specific concerns such as increased dryness, wrinkles, sagging, and age spots. For example, switch to a gentle, hydrating cleanser that effectively removes dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural oils. Look for formulations with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides to help maintain skin hydration. Choose a rich, emollient moisturizer formulated to provide intense hydration and nourishment to dry, mature skin with ingredients such as shea butter, squalane, and jojoba oil to replenish moisture and restore the skin’s barrier function. Incorporate anti-aging serums containing ingredients like retinoids (retinol or prescription-strength retinoids), vitamin C, peptides, and niacinamide to target wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. These ingredients can help stimulate collagen production, improve skin texture, and reduce hyperpigmentation.

Prioritize daily sun protection by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to shield the skin from harmful UV radiation. Sunscreen helps prevent further damage from occurring and minimizes the appearance of age spots and other signs of sun-induced aging. Additionally, use a hydrating and nourishing eye cream to address the delicate skin around the eyes, which is prone to dryness and wrinkles. Look for formulas containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants to hydrate, firm, and brighten the eye area. 

Incorporate gentle exfoliation into your skincare routine to remove dead skin cells, improve skin texture, and enhance product absorption. Opt for chemical exfoliants such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), which are gentler on mature skin compared to physical scrubs. If you are more sensitive, mandelic acid, lactobionic acid, or gluconolactone may be a safer place to start with chemical exfoliants.  Consider using hydrating masks, facial mists, or overnight sleeping masks to provide an extra boost of hydration and nourishment to dry dehydrated skin. Professional skincare treatments such as chemical peels, light and laser-based treatments,  microneedling, and tightening procedures can also help address specific concerns like wrinkles, sagging, and age spots. 

In general, what kinds of skin care ingredients might be best suited for skin during menopause? 

  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Retinol

Some key skincare ingredients that may be particularly well-suited for menopausal skin include hyaluronic acid, retinoids, growth factors or peptides, ceramides, and antioxidants. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that attracts and retains moisture in the skin, helping to hydrate and plump dry, dehydrated skin. It can improve skin elasticity and smoothness, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinoids, including over-the-counter retinol and prescription-strength retinoids like tretinoin, are vitamin A derivatives that promote collagen production, increase skin cell turnover, and improve skin texture. They can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots, while also enhancing skin firmness and elasticity. 

Peptides and growth factors are amino acid chains that can help boost collagen production, improve skin elasticity, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. They support skin repair and renewal processes, promoting a smoother, firmer complexion. Ceramides are lipid molecules that help maintain the skin’s barrier function, preventing moisture loss and protecting against external irritants. They reinforce the skin’s natural barrier, improving hydration and resilience, particularly in dry, mature skin. Antioxidants like vitamin C or E , green tea extract, and resveratrol help neutralize free radicals and protect the skin from oxidative stress and premature aging. They support overall skin health, reduce inflammation, and help to protect the skin from free radical formation that can promote aging.    

 

What skin care products are best for menopause?

I often recommend the following skincare products that can help target menopausal skin concerns like dryness, wrinkles, sagging, and age spots:  I like TNS A+ by SkinMedica because it has to use a growth factor and peptides to prevent the skin’s internal aging.  Growth factors and peptides help to promote collagen production and improve cell-to-cell communication so that the skin acts younger.  

CeraVe Renewing Retinol Serum contains retinol, a form of vitamin A known for its anti-aging properties. Retinol helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots by promoting collagen production and increasing skin cell turnover. CeraVe’s formulation also includes ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to hydrate and nourish the skin, making it suitable for menopausal skin prone to dryness and sensitivity. 

SkinCeuticals Phloretin and SkinMedica’s Lumivive are potent antioxidant serums that help protect the skin from free radical damage, reducing inflammation, and brightening the complexion. Vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis, improves skin texture, and fades hyperpigmentation, making it an excellent choice for addressing multiple signs of aging in menopausal skin. For a moisturizer, I recommend

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, is a hydrating and soothing moisturizer suitable for sensitive, dry, and mature skin. It contains ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin to strengthen the skin barrier, lock in moisture, and alleviate dryness and irritation. This fragrance-free formula is gentle enough for menopausal skin prone to sensitivity and can be used both morning and night to provide long-lasting hydration and comfort.

 

Is there anything to avoid skin care-wise when in menopause?

During menopause, it’s important to be mindful of certain skin care practices and ingredients that may exacerbate common skin concerns or sensitivities associated with hormonal changes. Some things to avoid in your skincare routine when in menopause are harsh cleaners that can strip the skin of its natural oils, and over-exfoliating the skin as this can disrupt the skin barrier and lead to irritation and dryness. Instead, opt for gentle, hydrating cleansers that effectively remove dirt and impurities without compromising the skin barrier or causing further dryness, and limit exfoliation to 1-2 times per week using gentle exfoliants suitable for mature skin.

Additionally, products with fragrances can be irritating to sensitive, menopausal skin, as well as alcohol-based products that can further dry mature skin. Choose fragrance-free or unscented formulations to minimize the risk of skin reactions and avoid skincare products containing high concentrations of alcohol like toners and astringents that can disrupt the skin barrier and exacerbate dryness, leading to increased sensitivity and irritation. Most importantly, sun protection is essential for menopausal skin, as it becomes more susceptible to sun damage and premature aging. Avoid skipping sunscreen, even on cloudy days or during indoor activities, and choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect against UVA and UVB rays.

 

What skincare advice do you have for woman entering menopause or in menapause?

It’s important to keep in mind that hormonal fluctuations during menopause can have a significant impact on the skin, leading to changes in moisture levels, elasticity, and overall texture. I always encourage my patients to be proactive in adjusting their skincare routine to address these changes to help minimize the effects of hormonal imbalances on the skin. Pay attention to lifestyle factors that can influence skin health during menopause, such as diet, hydration, stress levels, and sleep quality. Eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, staying hydrated, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep can all contribute to healthy, radiant skin during menopause. Schedule regular skin checks with a dermatologist to monitor changes in your skin and address any concerns or issues promptly. Early detection and treatment of skin conditions such as skin cancer, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea are essential for maintaining skin health and overall well-being.

Don’t neglect skincare for the rest of your body during menopause. Keep your skin moisturized with body lotions or creams, protect it from sun damage with sunscreen when exposed, and consider incorporating exfoliation and hydration treatments to maintain smooth, healthy-looking skin from head to toe. Most importantly, learn to embrace the natural changes that occur in your skin during menopause as part of the aging process. Focus on nurturing your skin with gentle, effective skincare products and practices, and cultivate self-acceptance and confidence in your appearance at every stage of life.

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