Navigating the waves of change that menopause brings can often feel like uncharted territory, especially when it comes to understanding its impact on your skin. It’s a topic shrouded in whispers and uncertainty. As women approach and journey through menopause, their bodies undergo profound transformations that often manifest most visibly in their skin. The decline in estrogen levels can lead to a host of skin changes, including dryness, reduced elasticity, and a more pronounced appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. These changes can be disconcerting, challenging our notions of beauty and how we care for our skin. But navigating this new phase doesn’t have to be a journey into the unknown. With the right knowledge and tools, you can turn these challenges into opportunities for rejuvenation and self-discovery. Top of FormAhead, Celeste Lee, co-founder of a menopausal skincare brand Caire Beauty helps uncover the truths behind menopause-related skin changes. Caire Beauty helps take the guessing game out of your search for aging midlife skin care products.
What are the most common skin changes women experience during menopause and what hormonal changes cause these?
There are two primary skin aging drivers. External aging which is caused by environmental effects such as UV rays and pollution is a lifelong aging process and over an entire lifetime is the biggest driver of skin aging. Internal aging, by contrast, is caused by within-the-body hormone change and is now understood to be the biggest single driver of skin aging for women in the pre to post menopause transition.
This is because estrogen is a necessary element to fundamental skin cell generation so the less estrogen your body makes, the fewer skin cells are made. Natural hormone decline starts at 30 for both men and women but a woman’s rate of declines doubles at the beginning of perimenopause.
The doubling onset is unique for each woman but is usually between 35 and 45. Typically, in the 30s, women experience drier skin, development of very fine lines around the eyes and mouth. This is due to less collagen and elastin inside the skin structure. In the 40s and 50s the effects of cumulative skin cell decrease become more pronounced; wrinkles, sags and changing volume (structure) is more visible and fixed. Meaning laugh and frown lines don’t bounce back as they did when younger but seem to become permanent. Additionally, skin becomes more sensitive and oftentimes adult acne, redness and rosacea can occur.
How does lifestyle, diet, and genetics influence menopausal skin changes in different women?
Skin aging is complex, but as with all aging processes, it is well understood that genetics combine with environment (external aging) and lifestyle (which impacts both internal & external aging). We all know of that one in thousand woman who seemingly never gets a wrinkle! The vast majority of us didn’t win the genetic lottery though, and most people’s skin will age naturally over time. At Caire Beauty, our philosophy is focused on developing high performance science-proven skincare within a clean, non-toxic, sustainable house. What we mean by that is that whether you are choosing to inject, laser or none of the above, our skincare is designed to build up skin strength and skin building capabilities up safely solo or with the added help of other treatments,
Our philosophy equally encompasses healthy lifestyle habits which include consistent mineral sunscreen usage; diminishing total UV exposure, improving hydration & food type intake, consistent exercise and the usage of low-tech skin ritual tools such as our Rose Quartz Gua Sha or Rollers to destress, detox skin using natural lymphatic pathways.
What skincare routines or products do you recommend for managing common skin issues during menopause?
To manage the effects of fine line and wrinkle formation around the eyes & forehead, we particularly recommend our multiple award-winning Caire Theorem Serum and The Grownup Moisturizer (TGM) which are not only specifically formulated and tested on midlife women (age 35 – 65), the Serum includes a Jasmine Tree Hawthorn plant extract that is proven to diminish undereye circles as well as to diminish eyelid sag. Make sure to pat the Serum in the undereye, eyelid and outer eye for the best application technique. TGM has a patented CeraLipidtm emulsion within that activates upon contact and is designed to improve the quality of the entire Skin barrier which is actually three ‘layers’ deep. Most skin barrier creams and serums only protect the outermost but because CeraLipids are hyperabsorable, they are able to infuse and strengthen the entirety for the barrier.
What is compelling about newer, breakthrough brands such as Augustinus Bader, Dr. Sturm and Caire is the willingness not just to advance ingredient discovery that have signaling powers (peptides and hyaluronic molecular infusions) but that also have futuristic delivery systems that work to get skincare deeper in where they can counteract the effects of internal aging internally.
Because midlife skin is changing so dramatically because of estrogen /progesterone declines, skin sensitivities in the form of acne, rosacea, redness and dry patches happens to more than half of all women between 40 and 60. It’s important to be kind to your skin – to be caring – choose gentle cleansers without sulfates and other detergents. We recommend switching to a hydrating cleansing balm, or double cleansing with an oil cleanser first, followed up by a gentle gel. It is also best to stop using clay-style masks that are over-drying. Use Masks such as Caire’s Triple Lift Molecule Mask that work by infusing nutrition in while also desquamating skin.
Can you discuss the relationship between menopause and skin conditions like acne, rosacea, or increased wrinkling, and their management?
Because midlife perimenopausal skin is changing dramatically, in addition to loss in firmness and elasticity and of course wrinkle formation, skin sensitivities in the form of acne, rosacea, redness and dry patches occurs in more than half of all women between 40 and 60. It’s important to be kind to your skin – to be caring – choose gentle cleansers without sulfates and other detergents. We recommend switching to a hydrating cleansing balm, or double cleansing with an oil cleanser first, followed up by a gentle gel.
In addition to a consistent care regimen: cleanse/tone, serum, moisturizer/ facial oils, mask & natural enzyme exfoliation, how one chooses color cosmetics products is important too. Choosing cosmetics with skincare built in by for example Ilia helps the skin to maintain hydration and radiance.
Traditionally the FDA has only formally ‘approved’ one ingredient for wrinkle reduction, retinoids which are now in a variety of creams. As a result, the dermatological community frequently recommends powerful Retinoids/retinols to all comers. It’s important to advocate for your own skin and consider how retinoids work – they create what the skin interprets as ‘damage’ internally, and by doing so, causes skin to accelerate healing via new collagen formation. It is Caire’s belief that there is more than one route to successful collagen acceleration and a range of products and treatments are perhaps safer or at least more judicious than consistently creating micro-damage to the skin. We highly recommend you work carefully with a dermatologist to manage your pro-aging tools.
What are the latest advancements in treating menopausal skin changes, and how accessible are these treatments?
A huge range of more intensive doctor-office treatments are now becoming available for DIY, at home use. Laser masks with red light or at home micro-needling is being offered in a variety of ways. Microneedling is particularly interesting as the idea is similar to the effect of a Retinoid but faster. In the doctor’s office, super tiny, sterile needles are rolled over skin, creating micro-damage, resulting in accelerated collagen generation. The micro-needling kits for at home use are not allowed to use the deeper needles so generally cannot have the same collagen producing effect.
What a Dermaroller can do is improve product delivery into skin, but it is our recommendation to use at home kits very carefully – a microneedling roller should be sterilized each time, used in super clean environment and of course tested on a patch of skin first. You should never use any of these advanced dermatology-type treatments if you have acne, rosacea or sensitive skin. Apply Caire’s or Dr. Sturm’s hyaluronic acid infused serum after rolling. Also, any microneedling roller head should be replaced frequently, make sure to follow the individual product instructions – we mention this as it is easy to forget! Some of you may remember record players with actual records where the record player stylus would wear out and ruin a record – same problem here.
We believe the judicious use of lasers and injectables under the supervision of an experienced dermatologist can be highly beneficial for skin texture, skin pigmentation issues, collagen generation, and wrinkle reduction. At Caire, we highly recommend finding a dermatologist – not a spa – with a dermatological team who is experienced and receives continuing education in dermatology, and offers a wide variety of current laser treatments at their office. If you are BIPOC, you should be especially careful of who you work with and what treatments you allow.