Going through menopause can be a stressful time, especially because your skin can be fluctuating alongside your hormones. During the menopause, skin undergoes a number of changes which everyone experiences a little differently.
For many people, skin loses tone, elasticity and develops additional fine lines and wrinkles. It may lose its ability to hold onto moisture so can often lack glow and be dry, rough, itchy or flakey. Hormonal changes can also make the skin more sensitive and susceptible to redness and might even trigger blemishes or acne.
The main changes in skin during menopause are caused by fluctuations in a hormone called oestrogen. Oestrogen has been present as a hormone since puberty, fluctuating throughout the month alongside the menstrual cycle. Usually our oestrogen levels peak at around the age of 25, dropping slightly in our 30s and more significantly in our 40s.
As the levels of oestrogen decrease, it begins to impact skin. Skin cells actually have oestrogen receptors and contain oestrogen, therefore fluctuations in oestrogen levels significantly change the way the skin functions.
As oestrogen fades, the skin produces less collagen and elastin. One study found that collagen production decreases 2.1% each year in the 15 years that follow menopause, which means an average of a 30% decrease in collagen between the ages of 50 and 65. During this time, the loss in collagen leaves skin thinner, drier and more wrinkled.
Dwindling oestrogen levels reduce production of hyaluronic acid and ceramides in the skin, molecules which help to retain water and keep your skin’s barrier strong. A key concern associated with menopause is skin dryness, as the skin barrier can struggle to adapt straight away to hormonal changes within the skin. A survey of 3,875 postmenopausal women over 40 showed that 36.2% suffered from dry skin. A lack of ceramides and drier skin can also trigger new sensitivities, so many menopausal or perimenopausal women find their skin is more sensitive than before.
This hormonal imbalance can also change the pH of the skin, impairing its ability to function properly as a barrier. Oestrogen can play a role in the fat distribution of the skin, hence low oestrogen levels subsequently result in sagging skin and skin laxity.
In some people, menopause can cause oilier skin which is prone to breakouts and even adult acne. This can occur even if you have never experienced acne before; sadly it's a myth that spots disappear once you enter your 20s. Changes in oestrogen levels can trigger fluctuations in testosterone, a hormone which controls sebum production. This imbalance can result in thicker sebum, which can contribute to enlarged pores, oilier skin, and even acne. It can also cause an impaired skin barrier, which in turn can exacerbate blemish production.
Key skin changes during the menopause:
- Reduced collagen & elastin production -> Fine lines & wrinkles and less firm skin
- Reduced hyaluronic acid & ceramide production -> Drier skin & an impaired barrier function which may lead to sensitivity
- Imbalanced hormones which may trigger testosterone imbalance -> Potentially oilier skin which is prone to breakouts
Skincare for menopausal/perimenopausal skin
There isn’t a one size-fits-all regime for those going through the menopause as everyone experiences changes to the skin slightly differently.
However, all menopausal skins can benefit from a base of CSA; vitamin C and sunscreen in the morning, followed by vitamin A at night.
Vitamin C and sunscreen come together in the morning to provide a barrier against the external world which may be exacerbating any menopausal skincare concerns such as dryness or sensitivity.
Vitamin C & A are both able to trigger and support collagen production, to help minimise the loss of collagen during menopause. Vitamin A is also able to help support the skin’s natural regeneration processes to ensure thicker, more resilient skin. Fine lines and wrinkles are reduced in appearance, the skin is overall more resilient and youthful-looking, and sensitivities are calmed.
Be aware that vitamin A can have irritation potential when first using it, so start with a low concentration and phase into your skincare routine slowly, particularly if experiencing any menopausal sensitivity.
Add on the following products to help deal with more specific menopausal skin concerns:
If you’re experiencing blemishes & oily skin try Press & Clear
A true innovation within BHA skincare, Press & Clear is a 2% blemish-busting BHA toner which was developed to hold a perfect balance between power and gentleness on the skin. Blemish-prone skin is sensitive skin, and should be treated as such. Our encapsulated, slow-release salicylic acid is delivered within a unique, pH-balanced formula to ensure maximum results and comfort - all in a non-sticky, non-stinging & non-drying formula. 96% of sensitive, blemish-prone skin types found Press & Clear to be gentle on their skin. Skin is left visibly clearer, more clarified and healthier in just 7 days. Clinically proven to support the skin barrier, the skin is left nourished and supported, resilient to future breakouts.
Press & Clear and Crystal Retinal are a perfect match for a clear skin evening regime; salicylic acid and antibacterial retinal (vitamin A) come together to visibly smooth, clarify and decongest the complexion.
Please note if you are experiencing significant menopausal acne, a doctor or dermatologist should be consulted.
If you’re experiencing dryness try Hydr8 B5 Intense & Advanced Night Restore
Hydr8 B5 Intense drenches the skin with much needed water to restore moisture levels, while Advanced Night Restore is overflowing with ceramides which feed the natural skin barrier. This helps to lock in moisture and prevent water loss, keeping the skin visibly plump, bouncy and youthful-looking.
If you’re experiencing fine lines & wrinkles try Liquid Peptides
Jam packed with a 30% peptide cocktail, Liquid Peptides helps to kickstart collagen production in the skin to offset lost collagen through menopause. Fine lines & wrinkles are visibly smoothed, and the appearance of skin is left looking plumped and youthful.
If you’re experiencing sensitivity try Clarity Peptides
A 10% niacinamide infused milk serum packed full of brightening peptides. Niacinamide is able to help support the natural skin barrier by promoting natural ceramide production in the skin, as well as helping to soothe the skin’s surface.
In addition, using gentle cleansers such as Medik8 Gentle Cleanse will minimise any irritation on already sensitised skin, as well as being consistent with sunscreen to ensure skin is protected from the sun which can exacerbate sensitivity.
 D. Reilly, J. Lozano, Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty, Plast Aesth Res, 2021, 8(2), DOI: 10.20517/2347-9264.2020.153
 L. Dunn et al, Does estrogen prevent skin aging? Results from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I), Arch Dermatol, 1997, 133(3), pp 339-42, DOI: 10.1001/archderm.133.3.339.
 J. Scott, The basics of treating menopausal skin, Journal of Aesthetic Nursing, 2021, 10(3), DOI: 10.12968/joan.2021.10.3.94
 N. Khunger et al, Menopausal Acne – Challenges And Solutions, Int Journal of Women’s Health, 2019, 11, pp 555-567, DOI: 10.2147/IJWH.S174292.
 Proven via independent consumer study conducted over 4 weeks on 50 participants with sensitive, blemish-prone skins.