“The Change” brings with it many changes to a woman’s life, including to her skin. The hormonal fluctuations that accompany perimenopause and later, menopause, contribute to everything from hot flashes and mood shifts to sleep problems and thinner, drier skin. While we can’t help with the first three issues (see your primary care physician for those), we can assist with managing the shifts a woman will begin to notice in her complexion.
What are menopause and perimenopause?
First, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. The ovaries are the body’s main production facility for the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Beyond its role in reproduction, estrogen also impacts the brain, the urinary tract, bones, blood vessels, and more (including skin).
Menopause is the official name of the moment one year after a woman’s last period. After that point in time, the ovaries stop making much of either estrogen or progesterone. But the menopausal transition, called perimenopause, can start way, way before that. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, the menopausal transition most often begins between the ages of 45 and 55 and can last anywhere from seven years up to 14. Its start and duration are influenced by factors such as a person’s race, ethnicity, weight, and age at which the transition begins.
How do menopause and perimenopause impact skin?
You likely already know that hormones play an outsize role in the skin’s appearance, such as the way stress hormones can trigger acne flare-ups. It’s the same story here. Decreasing amounts of estrogen lead to skin that’s drier, thinner, more prone to irritation, and contains less collagen (so it begins to sag). Despite the fact that skin is getting drier, breakouts often crop up — especially during perimenopause, thanks to undulating hormone levels. During perimenopause, women often start to notice signs of prior sun damage, like dark spots and other hyperpigmentation.
What’s the best skincare routine for menopause and perimenopause?
Because there are so many things happening to skin at once during this time, the ideal skincare regimen will address multiple factors simultaneously. For example, retinol both increases collagen production (thus firming skin) and helps prevent breakouts by keeping pores clear. Multitasking ingredients and products will be the most efficient way to manage this complex and ever-shifting time.
Star products: Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum and Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Wrinkle Treatment
Addresses: sagging, fine lines, breakouts, hyperpigmentation, dryness
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a woman’s skin loses about 30 percent of its collagen in the first five years after menopause. After that, collagen levels decrease at a rate of around two percent annually. This opens the door to a lack of skin firmness and more visible fine lines and wrinkles. Thankfully, we have retinol.
Retinol is truly one of the most versatile ingredients in skincare. Time and again, it’s been proven to boost collagen levels, minimize hyperpigmentation, and prevent pimples. One of its only drawbacks is that it can be irritating. For skin in the perimenopausal or menopausal stage that’s already predisposed to sensitivity, this can be a major drawback. However, Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum and Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Wrinkle Treatment are also formulated with bakuchiol and ferulic acid, which both counteract the potentially irritating effects of retinol. Bakuchiol also increases skin’s moisture barrier function, helping to lock hydration into skin. Both products in this dynamic duo also contain rambutan, a collagen-stimulating antioxidant.
Star products: Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serum and Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Dewy Deep Cream
Addresses: sagging, hyperpigmentation, dryness
Vitamin C is the superstar of antioxidants. It prevents free radicals from wreaking havoc on skin in the now, while also working to stimulate collagen synthesis and decrease melanin formation over time (read: skin ends up firmer with fewer dark spots). Not only do Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serum and Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Dewy Deep Cream contain mega amounts of vitamin C, they’re also formulated with lactic acid. One of the beauties of lactic acid is its demonstrated ability to stimulate ceramide production. More ceramides mean skin’s moisture barrier is much stronger, increasing skin hydration overall.
Star product: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peels
Addresses: sagging, breakouts, hyperpigmentation
Skin is now thinner and drier, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to forgo exfoliation. However, now more than ever, you need to be choosy about the method by which you get rid of pore-clogging, skin-dulling dead cells. Manual scrubs will be more likely to inflame already sensitive complexions. Instead, opt for a chemical exfoliant to remove surface cells gently and stimulate collagen production at the same time. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peels come in three strengths, so you can tailor your selection based on your current needs, whether you’re going through a time of increased breakouts (try Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel), heightened sensitivity (reach for Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel), or just want to maintain the status quo (stick with Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel).
Star product: Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro
Addresses: sagging, fine lines, breakouts
Red and blue LEDs have been shown to stimulate collagen production (the red lights) and kill P. acnes bacteria (the blue ones). Three minutes a day of the Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro (which boasts 100 red LEDs and 62 of the blue kind) is another way to give your complexion some additional insurance as you navigate your skin’s changes during perimenopause and menopause.
Star product: Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
Addresses: future sagging and hyperpigmentation
Daily sunscreen application is a non-negotiable. UV exposure destroys collagen, which makes skin both thinner and more likely to look slack and saggy. UV rays also trigger cellular damage that results in hyperpigmentation down the road. Since you know that skin in the perimenopausal and menopausal stages is already inherently going to suffer from decreased collagen and increased hyperpigmentation, why would you undo all the hard work of the rest of your daily skincare routine by not preventing more damage from appearing in the future? But because skin is increasingly sensitive during this time, it’s even more important to select a mineral sunscreen, like Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, as opposed to a chemical formulation. Mineral sunscreens, which sit on the top of skin (instead of absorbing into the tissue) are less likely to cause irritation, compared with their chemical cousins.
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