For those of us who have hit forty five and beyond, we can’t help but notice the changes on our skin. Although these changes happen over time, they seem to show up rather suddenly. We may wake up one morning to discover sun spots that were never there before, or those once fine lines around our eyes now appear deeper. Sometimes we may ask, “Who is that person staring at me in the mirror?”
While aging is an inevitable part of life, we can approach it gracefully. We can accept our age, but at the same time use a pro-active approach which can help us look as vibrant and youthful as possible. When I say youthful, I am not implying that a 50 year old woman becomes obsessed with looking thirty.
As women approach their forties and fifties, they may encounter numerous bodily changes as they go through peri-menopause and menopause. Some women sail through these transitions with ease, but many experience moderate to severe symptoms as a result of hormonal loss and or fluctuations. Weight gain, emotional mood swings, depression, and hot flashes are only a handful of possible symptoms.
These hormonal changes can have a significant impact on our skin. Loss of estrogen can cause dry skin in some women as oils gland produce less oil. Collagen production slows down causing our skin to lose some of its elasticity. Skin may also become more fragile and thinner.
While there is considerable controversy concerning HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), research indicates that HRT may help keep skin younger and more supple looking. However, this is an option that each woman must decide for herself. Some research indicates that naturally derived bio-identical hormones may pose less health risks than synthetic hormones. These hormones are available in a variety of forms, such as transdermal creams, pills, or even patches. However, this is a topic that should be taken seriously and discussed with your health care practitioner. There are many books available which discuss these options.
Whether you opt to take HRT or not, there are several things you can do to help keep your skin as youthful as possible. The following tips can help maintain your skin during menopause and beyond:
1) Products that are naturally based often contain less potentially toxic ingredients which may pose health risks and can cause irritation and dryness. Look for products with natural oils which can help keep skin moist and nourished. Many natural oils contain essential fatty acids which can be great for your skin. Two good ones are almond and macadamia nut oil. However, not all peri-menopausal and menopausal women have dry skin. Listen to your body; select oils which are lighter (such as sesame and jojoba)for oily and combination skin, and more emollient oils for very dry skin. Avocado, evening primrose oil, olive and macadamia nut oils are good options for dry skin.
2) Only use cleansers that are non-drying and detergent free. Detergent cleansers tend to be very alkaline and therefore are very drying. You can opt for a moisturizing gel based cleanser, or if your skin is really dry, look for a naturally based milky cleanser.
3) Use only toners that are alcohol free. Some alcohols are emollient and not drying. Alcohols followed by a number, such as Alcohol SD-40 are drying and should be avoided. Look for naturally based toners which contain botanical extracts and antioxidants which can help keep skin toned, dewy and moist.
4) Exfoliate – It is crucial that dead skin cells are sloughed off with a gentle but effective exfoliating product. AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) products such as glycolic acid, can help skin stay smooth and moist. In addition to glycolic acid, look for natural ingredients that can help brighten skin while diminishing the look of “age” spots. Two excellent choices are Licorice and Bearberry Extract. It is not necessary to use excessively high percentages of glycolic acid with very low pH levels. These products may be too strong, particularly for some sensitive skin types. Look for exfoliants with nourishing and calming ingredients such as aloe vera and chamomile.