You’d think there was already enough to contend with during perimenopause - sleeplessness, headaches, lethargy, hot flushes and mood swings - without adding skin issues to the mix.
But unfortunately, your skin can take a real battering in the turbulence of hormonal change. The problem is that perimenopause (the time, often many years before the menopause itself, when periods stop) causes oestrogen levels to dip, and that in turn has an effect on the skin barrier function. Our bodies use oestrogen to process collagen, increase water retention and deploy the natural oils needed to keep the stratum corneum supple, hydrated and strong. With less oestrogen in circulation the skin thins and becomes more prone to damage, wrinkles and discolouration.
For many women, perimenopause means that even if they’ve had ‘normal’ skin so far, their forties and fifties bring new allergies and sensitivities; they might experience flare-ups of eczema for the first time, or notice that their skin is sore, dry, itchy and generally more delicate than it’s been previously.
So, this can be a time to take stock, change your skincare routines and give yourself and your skin a little extra care.
Tips for coping with perimenopausal skin:
- Replenish essential fatty acids with EFA-rich oils, both on your skin and in your diet.
- Protect delicate skin in the wind, the cold and the sun, with thicker creams and balms.
- Hydrate yourself, both by drinking water and applying moisturiser regularly through the day.
- Nourish yourself with a good diet, rich in fibre, vitamins and Omega oils.
- Cool down! Bathe in lukewarm water not hot; keep a fan to hand; use skincare containing cooling aloe vera or menthol.
- Change your routine: if your usual shampoo, face cream or soap is now causing irritation, try something gentler.
- Unwind: stress is bad for the skin so take the opportunity now to try new self-care practices, whether that’s yoga, meditation, talking to friends, or better sleep routines.
And remember! This stage will pass. Once menopause has occurred, most of the most miserable symptoms - the itching, the inflammation - generally calm down.