Your wisdom and confidence may grow as you get older, but the same isn't true for many of your hormone levels. During menopause, lower levels of estrogen have a big impact on your skin. Less estrogen makes you prone to thinning, sagging, and wrinkling. Fortunately, you can relieve some of the skin-related effects of aging by taking care of your specific skin care needs.
Your Skin and Menopause
Menopause causes many changes to your skin. Your body stops making as much collagen. You lose some fat under your skin and your skin's elasticity drops. That, combined with dryness caused by hormonal changes, can cause sagging -- especially around the neck, jawline, and cheeks -- and fine lines and wrinkles. The lines and wrinkles you get with menopause are often crow's feet and lines above the upper lip.
Cleansing is an important skin care step -- especially as you age. As you get older and your skin gets drier, your skin especially can benefit from extra moisture. The key is using a cleanser that's right for drier skin. So, opt for a creamy formula that hydrates instead of foam or gel cleansers, which can strip moisture away.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
After menopause, your skin gets drier because oil glands aren't as active. Try to give skin more moisture with a heavier cream. Skip long, hot showers and put on moisturizer while your skin is still damp. That helps boost hydration.
You Still Need SPF
Even though skin cancer and wrinkling are caused by the amount of sun you got in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, you still need to protect your skin. Why? Skin may have less natural protection than when you were younger. So look for a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher, and wear it every day.
Minimize Wrinkled Skin
You get wrinkles from too much sun damage over the years, as well as the hormonal changes of menopause. As your hormone levels decrease with age, that can change your skin quality and make wrinkles worse. Wrinkles may be more obvious when your skin is dry, especially as you age. Use moisturizer on your face, jawline and neck every day, and look for skin care products designed to help fight fine lines and sagging and that lead to a brighter appearance overall.
Hit the Spots
Age spots on the face, hands, and chest can look more obvious around menopause. Help prevent them by using sunscreen every day. Already got spots? Fade them with exfoliating products that shed dead skin cells, which can be dull and flaky. Skin-lightening products can help fade spots. Toners can also help even out skin color.
Help Your Hands
The backs of your hands can lose moisture, collagen, and fat during menopause. That can make veins more obvious and skin more wrinkled. Plus, your skin can look see-through and bony. To reduce the look of wrinkles, use moisturizer often on your hands. Protect them from the sun. And wear gloves when doing house or yard work.
Eat Your Antioxidants
Collagen gives your skin its youthful plumpness and keeps your skin tight. As your estrogen levels drop, so does the collagen in your skin. Eating foods with antioxidants may help make your skin stronger from the inside out. Look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables (they get their color from these healthy compounds) and try to eat every color of the spectrum.
Stock Up on Soy
Soy is rich in isoflavones, plant-based compounds that seem to act like estrogen in the body. Isoflavones may help improve age-related changes like thinning skin. Experts believe about 50 mg of isoflavones -- that's like two 8-ounce glasses of soy milk -- a day can help menopausal women in other ways, too.
Look for Balance
Stress can make your skin drier and more sensitive. It can also trigger conditions like psoriasis. And if you're stressed out, you might even forget your skin care routine. Try yoga, meditation, and other stress-reduction techniques to help you relax.
Work It Out
Exercise does more than just tone your muscles. It helps skin in two ways. First, it relieves stress. Exercise also boosts circulation, which begins to slow with age. The extra oxygen and blood flow can help your skin look brighter and healthier.
Bulk Up on Beauty Sleep
Getting enough sleep helps your skin look fresh. Sleep can help prevent dark circles under your eyes, and it also gives the rest of your body a chance to recharge. Lack of sleep can change your hormone levels and metabolism in many of the same ways that aging does. So shoot for a solid 8 to 9 hours of shut-eye every night.
American Academy of Dermatology: "10 Tips: Selecting Age-Fighting Topicals," "Busy moms deserve a hand: Dermatologists offer tips to prevent premature aging of the hands," "Causes of Aging Skin," "Mature Skin," "Stress and Skin."
Leslie Baumann, MD, cosmetic dermatologist, Miami, Fla.
Mary Lupo, MD, dermatologist, New Orleans, La., clinical professor of dermatology, Tulane University School of Medicine.
Mitchell Matez, DO, general surgeon and specialist in alternative and complementary medicine, Boca Raton, Fla.
National Women's Health Network: "Menopause, Hormone Therapy, & Aging Skin – Is There a Connection?"
News release, The University of Chicago.
News release, The University of Delaware.
Marina Peredo, MD, dermatologist, Smithtown, N.Y.
Polito, F. British Journal of Pharmacology, February 2012.
Raine-Fenning, N. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.