I don’t know about you, but I always used to think of the menopause as something that happened to old people. This is very much not the case!
You are considered to have gone through the menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. Prior to this, any changes in your hormones or monthly cycle are more than likely due to the perimenopause.
Signs and symptoms of the perimenopause can start from around the age of 39 and last potentially 10 years. There are also around 34 different symptoms that could be linked to the menopause so it can be hard to pin down what is going on with your body, especially as like I said, you always grow up thinking it is something that is happening to old people!
Menopause and skin
As mentioned above, the perimenopause doesn’t just happen suddenly (unless there is a medical issue at play), it happens over a period of time. The ovaries may stop releasing an egg every month, this can play havoc with our hormones as the release of this egg is what drives the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These hormones not only have an impact on our reproductive systems, but they also have an impact on our mood, memory, concentration, heart health and bone health amongst other things.
Another problem that may arise is that the perimenopause and menopause can also affect our skin. Often women report dry, itchy skin, perhaps prickly itchy skin, a sudden change to oily skin from dry or menopause skin breakouts.
Is itchy skin a sign of the menopause?
Whilst itchy skin is a not a sign of menopause, it is one of the lesser-known symptoms that are linked to perimenopause/menopause. Low levels of estrogen can impact our collagen production and collagen is a protein that gives our skin its plumpness and elasticity. Collagen also decreases as we age. This drop in collagen can affect the condition of your skin. The thickness of your skin, the oil levels and health are all dependent on collagen. If your skin is dry and you are suffering from menopause itchy skin, then it is important to not only look after your skin from the outside, but also from the inside.
As our estrogen levels fall this can also affect our mast cells. Mast cells are white blood cells that are part of our immune system. These mast cells can become more sensitive which may cause skin irritation or a menopause skin rash.
What can I do to support my collagen production?
A balanced and varied diet is a good way to support collagen production and improve overall skin health but there are a few specific nutrients to be aware of.
Vitamin C and Zinc rich foods all play a role in our collagen production. Lycopene found in tomatoes helps to protect the skin from collagen breakdown. The antioxidants found in berries help protect our skin cells from oxidative damage. Proline found in eggs may also support collagen production. Anthocyanidins are water soluble pigments found in foods such as berries, grapes and purple coloured leafy vegetables and are another good secret skin weapon with regards to collagen.
Ensuring we keep our water intake up is also important particularly if you are suffering from itchy and dry skin. Water is our savior when it comes to menopause skin problems!
It is also important to remember the things that can make our skin worse such as smoking and spending too long in the sun. We can’t undo damage already caused in our youth, but we can take steps to ensure we protect ourselves going forward. A good SPF should help protect us from further sun damage. Sugar can also impact our collagen levels and it is worth reducing this if you are suffering with hormones and skin changes.
There are also lots of collagen supplements available on the market. There is limited research at this stage to support the inclusion of these in your diet and concentrating on a whole food diet and plenty of water would probably be more advantageous.
Including Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet will also help with our skin health. Essential fatty acids found in oily fish, avocados, olive oils and flaxseed oil really help protect the skin from drying out and offer antioxidant protection. These antioxidants will also help protect the skin from the free radicals caused by pollution, sun damage and more. Although you should always still wear sunscreen!
I appear to be having a teenage breakout?!
As our hormones start to fluctuate this can lead to higher levels of circulating testosterone. It is this testosterone that can cause menopause skin breakouts. Adult acne can be very upsetting and something you probably thought you had left behind years ago. Again, drinking plenty of water is helpful here and ensuring you support your liver to help eliminate those excess hormones. Good liver supporting foods are plenty of green leafy vegetables, grapefruit, beetroot, berries and coffee (although not too much!). Again, water is your friend particularly when it comes to your hormones and your skin.
Menopause skincare – what’s the best approach?
A good skin care plan is vital. It is important to be aware of the ingredients in your skincare – try and look for more natural products with calming and soothing properties.
Cleanse the day away. Before you go to bed each day it is important to ensure you clean your face properly and remove any makeup and grime that has built up over the day. Leaving your skin clean and fresh will also help avoid any breakouts. With the J’TANICALS Deep Sea Rebalancer, you can cleanse your skin pore-deep without drying it out or making it feel tight. Perfect for dry menopausal skin.
Next, I would recommend a soothing and calming serum or oil. A facial oil containing CBD, for example has powerful soothing and antioxidant properties that help with this. CBD can also help the body regulate its sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance produced by the body’s sebaceous cells and helps protect against dry and flaky skin. The Floral Collagen Magic Face Oil by J’TANICALS is perfect when it comes to skincare for menopause, as its natural ingredients tackle multiple issues at the same time: CBD regulates the sebum production and soothes the skin, bakuchiol addresses hyperpigmentation and squalene keeps your skin moisturized from the inside.
Finally, I would really invest in a good moisturizer. One that protects the skin from the everyday environmental stressors and that really calms and soothes the skin. Again, Hemp is an excellent choice here along with the calming properties of Licorice root extract. The Probiotic Safeguard by J’TANICALS is a great choice for menopausal skin. The added benefit of applying the moisturizer, is that as you massage your skin, this will also stimulate collagen production.
It is also important not to forget exercise. As our hormones fluctuate and our estrogen levels fall this can influence our bone health. Including strength exercises in your exercise plan is one of the best things you can do for supporting your bone health. It is also worth remembering that exercise supports the production of collagen which we now know is extremely important when it comes to our skin health.
We have been conditioned to think of aging as a negative experience, but I really don’t think this is the case. Getting older really is a privilege and taking care of ourselves as we age should be a priority. A good diet, plenty of exercise and a good skin care routine, and resting when we need to, is a really good start of navigating the next stages of our lives and hopefully avoiding or repairing any menopause skin issues.
About the author:
This article was written by our Guest Expert Kirsty Harrison. Kirsty is a Nutritional Therapist specialised in women's health and loves to share her knowledge on how nutrition affects your hormone and skin health. Kirsty believes that a holistic approach to skincare is what truly makes a difference, taking the time to look after our skin from the inside is as important as what skincare we use. The two really do go hand in hand.