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Parched, wrinkled and a bit sad. Sounds like a lonesome raisin, but this was what Davina thought her skin looked like during perimenopause. “I love seeing people’s eyes crinkle when they smile, but the wrinkles that were staring back at me in the mirror in the mornings got me down,” she recalls. So she took action – hence the glowing skin we know her for today. If you’ve experienced the same, help is at hand: enter the undisputed queen of skincare, Caroline Hirons. Caroline is a globally qualified advanced aesthetician, has decades of experience in the skincare industry and when it comes to perimenopausal and menopausal skincare, she gets it. Here she explains why your skin is changing, and shares her easy, expert tips on what you can do to make it look and feel great again.
When the oestrogen levels start to fluctuate during perimenopause, it can have a knock-on effect on your skin. The falling oestrogen will affect your skin’s ability to retain ceramides, fatty acids that help the skin lock in moisture.
Everyone’s skin reacts differently – you might have no issues at all, but for many women, perimenopause means being prone to redness and spotty skin. When I turned forty, I developed adult acne out of nowhere. I had what I would call the ‘heavy-duty’ spots that never come to a head and linger like a volcano that just wouldn’t erupt, especially around the chin area.
Because your skin is literally becoming thinner, you’ll also probably notice (and this is the case from perimenopause onwards) that it takes longer for the skin to heal, so if you do get a spot, it’ll take longer to go away. Your skin will be slower to respond because it doesn’t have the same receptors to deal with spots, and this goes for cuts or open wounds, which will probably take longer to heal as well.
Don’t jump on the latest trendy ingredient or start buying a whole load of products aimed at ageing skin. ‘Ageing skin’ is about taking care of wrinkles, but in perimenopause usually the main things you need to address are redness and spots.
Having said that, you don’t want to aggressively treat your whole face by throwing the kitchen sink at it. Please, don’t attack your face! Sometimes when women get spots they start treating their skin like it’s the enemy. Treat the areas where the spots are, but not your whole face.
When I was perimenopausal I switched from a heavier moisturiser to a lighter, water-based one that penetrates the skin more quickly. It felt a lot lighter and more comfortable on the skin.
Look for products with ceramides and peptides. Peptides are amino acids that can help boost dull and dehydrated skin. Both ceramides and peptides are a gentle way to keep your skin barrier in check without being super-aggressive.
As you move into menopause, oestrogen depletes further and your skin starts to lose its tone and elasticity, leading to wrinkles and jowls. If you find your skin has switched from being spotty to feeling tight and dry after cleansing, it might be a sign of oestrogen falling further and that you are heading closer to menopause.
And, to add fuel to the fire, it becomes harder for your skin to retain moisture, so you might find your skin switches from spotty to dry, flaky and itchy and you are left thinking, what the hell is this?
Because hormones are still fluctuating as you enter menopause, you can get the odd zinger of a spot, but in general your skin tends to be drier and more sallow-looking at this stage.
Unless it’s come on prescription from a medical professional, save your money and giave a wide berth to products that promise to stop hot flushes or that will ‘fix’ your menopausal skin.
If your skin is dry and dull-looking, the key thing is getting moisture back in. That doesn’t mean you have to go for a really rich moisturiser (unless your skin is feeling very dry and itchy), as something water-based can work just as well.
Don’t go and spend a fortune on a clay detox mask, do the opposite – look for a hydrating mask. And if you’ve got a big event coming up, a good facial oil can fix a thousand sins very quickly.
Again, look for products with ceramides and peptides. Think gentle and reassuring products that aren’t going to throw your skin into a hissy fit. For daytime, menopausal skin will often respond well to cleansing milks and creams, facial mists and a good moisturiser – and don’t skip a good SPF to protect your skin! The general rule of thumb is that if you can read a book outside in natural light, then you need to use SPF. At night, repeat your daytime routine, without applying the SPF.
I also find that I’m not good with active products anymore, like retinols. My skincare barrier is permanently depleted because of menopause, so it doesn’t like a really strong retinol that I would have been able to tolerate five or ten years ago. The main thing is to listen to your skin and what it can cope with.
Extracted from Davina’s latest book Menopausing, published by HQ, priced £22.
Photo: Mark Hayman
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