The menopause is the toughest challenge your skin will ever face: here are products that will help

Helen Seymour is in peri-menopause, or at least she thinks she is. In her weekly column, we follow her on her journey towards the menopause, learning as she does all about the big M


I have a reoccurring fantasy in which I win a Brown Thomas Trolley Dash. I have one hour, in which I can take anything I want, ANYTHING, shove it in my trolley and keep it.

I have mapped and re-mapped my route several times. It’s one hour and there is not a second to waste. There are many routes, but they all start at the same counter. They open the doors on Grafton Street, they start the clock, and I sprint straight to the Sisely Counter, where I will strip and clear them of their “L’Integral Anti-Ageing Cream Extra Riche.

The “Extra Riche” is an important point to note, because they have a standard anti-ageing cream, which is excellent, but the “Extra Riche” is the baby I want. Yes, I AM on my way to the Chloe handbags, there is MUCH more to go in my trolley, but that Sisely cream is the first thing I grab.

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Dry skin is one of the most common things women experience in menopause. It goes without saying that you have to get the basics right. Water, water, water, ditch the caffeine, don’t smoke, eat plenty of fruit and veg, oily fish, lean protein, legumes, take your supplements and green juice daily. If you don’t get it right from the inside, you are literally just papering cracks on the outside.

Sidebar. Nobody is perfect. I try to maintain a basic version of the above, and when I fall off the wagon (which is normal human behaviour), then that’s the framework I am always trying to come back to. However, no matter how diligent you are, your skin will still need help in menopause.

Main effects of menopause on skin

The menopause years have been recognised as presenting the toughest challenges your skin will ever face. Now more than ever, you need a focused skin care routine, and furthermore, it may be time to change things up, especially if you don’t feel you’re getting the same results from the routine that has always worked well for you. Oestrogen and Progesterone decline in menopause, and from your skin’s point of view the 4 main effects are these:

A decrease in collagen production
Oestrogen stimulates collagen production, maturation and turnover, so when Oestrogen levels fall, there’s a direct effect on collagen, which causes thinning of the skin. After menopause, the skin loses around 30% of its collagen.

Decreased fat under the skin.
Normal levels of Oestrogen promote the storage of fat under the skin so lowered Oestrogen levels mean less fat will be stored there, which explains why the skin tends to sag more as we age.

Decreased Hydration
Oestrogen promotes Hyaluronic Acid production. Hyaluronic Acid helps to increase the water content of the dermis and epidermis layers. Oestrogen reduction leads to loss of water content.

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Increased Pigmentation
Melanin, or pigment, production in the skin is a complex process that’s regulated by hormones. The fluctuation of hormone levels, as well as the changing balance between Oestrogen and Progesterone, disturbs the usual Melanin regulation, and dark spots of excess Melanin can result. These are commonly known as “age spots”.

Two key Beauty Products worth considering as you approach or go through menopause, are “Hyaluronic Acid” and “Vitamin C”.

Hyaluronic Acid is the most versatile macromolecule present in the connective tissues of our bodies. It has a unique ability to bind to water molecules, meaning it attracts moisture and keeps it in your skin, providing a healthy environment for cells to function at their best. The result? More supple skin with a more vibrant, plump appearance.

Vitamin C works hand in hand with Hyaluronic Acid to compensate for lowered Oestrogen levels. It boosts collagen production, diminishes dark spots, and works to brighten a dull, dry complexion. It is commonly sold in serum formulas that are designed to deliver higher concentration of ingredients and more deeply penetrate the skin. Many Serums contain Vitamin C in the form of L-Ascorbic Acid. This is the most potent form of Vitamin C, so it’s best to introduce it slowly, and be sure it doesn’t irritate your skin, before adding it to your routine at higher concentrations (between 10% 20% are common).

Over the course of the coming weeks, I am going to road test some different Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid brands, including a mix of supermarket and leading brands. I’m also going to talk to some Skincare Experts and I’ll let you know how I get on. And … ahem … if anyone from Brown Thomas is reading, please think about a Trolley Dash. Think of the FUN. Think of the PR. Think of ME.

Main photograph: Pexels

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