Menopause or “The change” as it is colloquially known will eventually effect you if you are a woman, there is no escaping it! Physiologically, changes begin to happen in the ovaries usually around the late 40’s, finalising when your body says so. The whole out of our control process often lasts from 5-10 years although every women’s story is different.
Once your body reaches your “time” it means that your ovaries have less follicles and those that are left have a lower sensitivity to the pituitary’s stimulation (the pituitary gland is like the boss of the hormones) even if your actual hormone levels are increased. This means the body receives less oestrogen and progesterone causing many changes in the body including in the skin.
These changes we kindly refer to as “ageing” and though the changes we see are personalised depending on our genetics, the lifestyle choices we have made to this point and how we have cared for our skins there are changes we expect to see and feel the older we get.
Sagging jawline, wrinkles and loss of tone
Oestrogens stimulate fat deposits over the female body and as the levels drop these are re-distributed over the tummy, thighs and buttocks. The result is a decrease in the supportive fat below the skin in the face, neck, hands and arms which is experienced as wrinkles and loose skin. This skin is generally difficult to compress. Breast fat is reduced which means breasts are flattened and they sag.
Elastosis; changes in texture and brightness
- This is the term given to the decrease of collagen and elastin in the skin’s dermis. Collagen is a protein and protein synthesis is controlled partly by oestrogen levels and as these reduce so the collagen and elastin break down. This in many women gives the criss-cross look across areas of the face such as the chin causing that area’s skin to look thick, coarse and reddened. Deeper support for our skin is lost and so we see more wrinkles and the jawline sagginess which gives older women that always sad face.
- The other factor which controls the breakdown of collagen is UV exposure and the resilience of the skin to repair itself. UV is the biggest factor in ageing our skin.
Thinning epidermis/Visible Capillaries/dry dehydrated, dull skin
- The growth and maintenance of capillaries in the dermis are also partly under the effects of oestrogen.
- In menopause dermal blood flow is reduced and with it, of course, a reduced amount of nutrients and oxygen to the area. This results in thinning of the epidermis and a slower cell turnover rate, which in turn reduces the barrier function of the epidermis which means you have dryer skin as water loss through the skin is increased. Your skin appears dull because of the build-up of dead cells on the surface of the skin.
- Similar cells line the vagina and urinary tract and so often if the skin is dryer, these areas are too.
During the reproductive years oestrogen stimulates a fluid/sebaceous secretion which has an anti-acne effect. Once the female hormone levels begin to drop our natural testosterone levels are no longer masked by our oestrogen which causes our sebaceous glands to produce a thicker sebum. This gives the skin an oily look and the tendency to breakouts and acne. The increased effects of testosterone also can cause an increase in facial hair.
Melanocytes and pigmentation
- Melanocytes are our natural protective mechanism from UV – especially UVA.
- Yes, you guessed it!! The production of our protective melanocytes are also under the control of oestrogen! The number decreases as Menopause progresses, causing the skin to look lighter but this in turn causes surface pigment, the brown spots, to be more noticeable.
- Oestrogen regulates melanin production keeping it under control so when oestrogen decreases its syntheses increases giving us more pigment, more brown spots on our faces, arms, hands throat and décolletage.
- This decrease in melanocyte protection and melanin synthesis means menopausal skin is far more prone to sun-damage meaning the overall effects of all the changes are heightened; more wrinkles, more loose skin, more thickened, dull skin and more brown spots!
How to combat and slow the signs of a menopausal – ageing skin
- All these changes happen simultaneously. For many women it’s almost like they wake up one morning looking like their mother! It’s a bit of a shock for some.
- However it’s not the end of the world. There are things you can do to slow the process and to simulate and change the skin. You’ll never look 20, or 30 again however you can have a brighter, less lined face with improved tone and texture which looks and feels healthy and actually is!
Principles of a good regime
- You need to de-stress the skin which decreases the inflammation (they go together), increase the blood flow and stimulate cellular repair and renewal allowing water to be retained and the skin to begin to function as it was designed. Of course this begins with you learning to manage your own stress, ensuring you receive sufficient sleep every night and have regular exercise.
- Then look at your diet, increasing your oily fish, your greens and decreasing sugars, alcohol and processed foods.
- Ensure at least 2 litres of water are drunk daily. This can include herbal teas.
- Use a physical sunblock every day – let’s manage those melanocytes and keep the collagen you have now!
- Remove the products with nasty’s in them from your skin care shelf along with any harsh scrubs and products which strip the skin.
- Choose product ranges with delivery systems attached to their ingredients so you know the goodies are reaching the correct area in your skin.
INGREDIENTS TO LOOK FOR:
- ZINC – in daily skin block, and it doubles as an antioxidant
- Growth factors, Peptides & Stem cells – regulate, stimulate and protect the division and production of new cells; yes please for all skins over 40.
- Trioxolane – builds strength, immunity and repairs. great for all skins, but for menopausal skins it lovesdefeating large pores, pigmentation and improving skin texture. Find it in Osmosis MD Rescue serum.
- Vitamin A – if based on stable Retinaldehyde it will be easier for your skin to use. Stimulates, repairs and is essential for the maturing skin.
- Antioxidants – especially Vitamin C which assists in many of the skin’s functions including the stimulation of collagen and elastin.
- Vitamin B for the oily, acne prone skin.
- Cleansers – choose gentle enzyme based ones, including body washes.
- Weekly enzyme mask for some added stimulation and nourishment.
- Makeup should be lighter in weight; primer followed by pressed powder with the addition of some blush and bronzer at times. Ensure you blend it into your throat and décolletage.
In –Clinic treatments during this time are important as they boost your home care and usually contain a higher % of active ingredients to really give your skin the lift it needs.
At the end of the day, how your skin has aged by the time you’ve finished “the change” and how it copes as you go through it, depends on how much you care and how highly you rate having a healthy skin as well as one which has aged as gracefully as possible.
The more you understand, the more control you have, the better and healthier your skin will be!