The changes that occur to skin during menopause run much deeper than the appearance of fine lines and new wrinkles, as I discussed in my last blog post. A combination of events can make the skin hypersensitive, brittle, and prone to a number of inflammatory skin conditions, such as rashes, rosacea, perioral dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and breakouts.
And it can feel like it all happens overnight.
That said, there are plenty of ways to help you feel more comfortable in—and in control of—your skin.
Be gentle and moisturize
Let’s address breakouts first. Non-drying forms of topical antibiotics such as clindamycin, metronidazole, and azithromycin along with retinoids are helpful for managing acne in older skin. The androgen-blocking spironolactone also may help with hair loss in women. And topical sulfur, as prescribed or found in over-the-counter treatments, is great for acne and rosacea.
Menopausal skincare should revolve around three core principles: be gentle, lock moisture in, and prevent moisture loss and further damage. Your daily routine should start with a gentle cleanser that’s also formulated to exfoliate without stripping moisture from the skin.
Women of color could benefit from a cleanser that also includes glycolic acid, which will help trap moisture while exfoliating and brightening dark spots.
Follow that with a retinoid treatment, a good moisturizer, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
If your skin becomes further agitated by any of the above, you might have rosacea or perioral dermatitis. Consult a dermatologist. If they confirm that, they may advise you to stop the retinoid and acne treatments because they can irritate skin. They can also prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to help soothe facial inflammation.
At night, follow your cleanser with spot treatments and then any nourishing serums you find beneficial. Finish your nighttime routine with a moisturizer that includes ceramides, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid.
Embrace a total-body approach
As for the skin below your neck, be mindful of protecting your moisture barrier. Use gentle, fragrance-free body washes. And keep showers short—five to eight minutes—and warm, not hot. Apply conditioner prior to showering as a protective layer before shampooing.
When you dry off, try to leave your skin a little damp, and then seal that moisture in with a wet skin moisturizer.
It’s also a good idea to drink more water and limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Both can dehydrate you, particularly alcohol. Not to mention, if you overindulge, it’ll be that much more difficult to exercise the next day, and you’re going to want to get plenty of exercise. Beyond the benefits to your overall health, exercise also helps keep stress in check. High cortisol levels can be detrimental. They trigger inflammation, acne, and aging.
Menopause sets in motion a bunch of changes that will threaten the moisture barrier and structural integrity of the skin. But there are lots of solutions to make your skin more comfortable and alluring.