Among the many changes women experience when they reach menopause are those affecting the skin. The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is at the top of the list for many women, as are questions about how to manage this challenge the best way possible. Let’s look at what the experts say about skincare during menopause and the surrounding years.
What are fine lines and wrinkles?
Those pesky fine lines and wrinkles are the skin’s response to a variety of factors. Some of those factors include but are not limited to a decline in hormone levels, air pollution, exposure to the sun, smoking, use of harsh skin care products, smiling, nutritional deficiencies, diet, stress, and sleeping positions. Therefore, menopause and postmenopause do play a significant role in the development of lines and wrinkles, but they are not the only culprits.
Why am I experiencing fine lines and wrinkles?
As your estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically, your skin becomes thinner, drier, and slack. Much of this is due to the decline in the protein called collagen. In fact, women lose about 30 percent of the collagen in their skin during the first five years of menopause. Over the next two decades, women lose about 2 percent of their collagen every year.
As collagen disappears, the skin begins to sag and permanent lines appear. Remember how wrinkles used to appear around your mouth only when you smiled or frowned? Now those wrinkles are there all the time. You may notice your pores are larger as your skin loses its firmness.
The decline in beta-estradiol and progesterone during menopause is one cause of the acceleration of aging of the skin. As estrogen levels drop, fat deposits tend to redistribute themselves over the thighs, buttocks, and abdomen, which means there’s a loss of supportive fat below the skin of the neck, face, and arms. This redistribution of fat results in sagging wrinkles.
How can I treat or manage fine lines and wrinkles naturally?
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the severity of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Use sunscreen every day. A broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen is recommended with SPF 30. Be sure to use it whenever you will be outdoors, year-round. This becomes more important with menopause because the melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin) are controlled by estrogens. Melanocytes degenerate as menopause progresses, making it more important to use sunscreen.
- Skip the soap. Instead, use a mild all-natural cleanser. By all means, do not use deodorant bars.
- Moisturize. After bathing and whenever your skin feels dry, apply an all-natural moisturizer with hyaluronic acid.
- Improve your diet. You can boost your collagen production by eating foods rich in certain nutrients. For example, chlorophyll increases the amount of pre-collagen in the skin, which is the precursor to collagen. Dark green vegetables contain chlorophyll. Collagen also requires copper (found in leafy greens, seeds, nuts, oysters), vitamin A (found in apricots, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, sweet potatoes), and vitamin E (in almonds avocadoes, broccoli, sunflower seeds). Zinc (oysters, beans, nuts, pumpkin seeds) slows down the breakdown of collagen cells. Bone broth contains collagen, and be sure to choose organic broth.
- Sleep on your back. When you sleep on your side, you place pressure on your face, and this can promote more lines and wrinkles. We realize changing your sleeping position can be a difficult thing to do, but give it a try.
- Hydrate. Aging skin needs to be hydrated more often. Drink water throughout the day; carry a container of water with you if necessary.
When to see a health provider
If your skin becomes excessively dry or irritated or you experience abnormal itching, redness, or other skin problems, contact your dermatologist.
Hormone changes play a significant role in the skin changes associated with the menopausal years. Changes to some of your lifestyle habits can help keep your skin looking healthy and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.