“Turn it up, “ my brother yelled.
We were hanging out in my parent’s basement, listening to David Bowie, and generally being “cool”.
I had turned the music down a few decibels on my way to the bathroom.
I could feel a headache coming on. The music was starting to make my head pound.
I rummaged through the medicine cabinet for some aspirin and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
In addition to the headache, two new zits had appeared on my chin.
I cursed my hormones and then yelled back at my brother.
I don’t know about you. I still like Bowie.
And I still curse my hormones. Sometimes. But for different reasons.
Back then, it was surging, unbalanced hormones-too much of one, not enough of the other that caused headaches and breakouts.
These days it’s too little in the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone departments that cause me problems.
Problems might be overstating it. More like age related changes that are completely normal and natural as you enter your menopausal years.
Your skin and hormones
One of the most noticeable changes is in my skin. Hormone production peaks in your late twenties and slowly declines from then on. At the same time, your collagen production starts to go down as well.
What this means to your face is that age related skin changes may start to show up on your face around age 35, but become more noticeable around menopause.
During menopause, the amount of estrogen and progesterone your ovaries makes goes way down. You continue to make testosterone (which you’ve always made in small amounts). That goes down over time too.
(Testosterone doesn’t go down as much at menopause and that’s why you can get those “whiskers” that seem to sprout out of nowhere.)
Because your hormones affect your skin (remember the breakouts you used to get around your period, and possibly still do if you’re perimenopausal?), the lack of them also has an effect.
Here is some of what you can now blame on your hormones:
- Thinner skin
- Drier skin
- More noticeable wrinkles
- Less firm skin
These changes, especially thinner and drier skin are a big concern because they contribute to a weakened skin barrier.
Your skin barrier
The skin barrier refers to the outer layers of skin (the epidermis). It’s what we see when we look in the mirror.
Your skin barrier is crucial to your health. It literally keeps your body together and protects it from invasion from the outside world.
Some of its many jobs include:
- Controlling water balance
- Guarding against invasion by microbes and foreign matter
- Shedding old skin cells
- Maintaining the skin’s elasticity, which lets your skin bounce rather than tear (ouch!)
If your skin barrier is damaged, your skin gets dry and flaky. Water can more easily evaporate across the barrier. Your skin can become inflamed.
Hello, dry, chapped, cracked, flaky, red skin.
Inflammation of the skin can lead to cytokine release, which is associated with systemic inflammation. That means that your whole body can become inflamed when your skin is inflamed!
What’s worse is that systemic inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes.
If you’re surprised that your skin’s condition can have such a negative effect on the rest of your body, remember that skin is your body’s largest organ.
Plus, more sagging and wrinkling
This is part of a natural process, but I don’t think there’s anyone who welcomes spotting a new line on her face.
Is there anything you can do?
You bet or I wouldn’t have brought it up.
There is quite a bit of research showing that hormone replacement therapy can slow a lot of age related changes. The problem is that hormone replacement therapy also has some scary side effects like breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers are also working with using topical estrogen for skin issues, but this research is in its infancy and you won’t be able to get your hands on these therapies for a while. Which is probably a good thing since you want to sure it’s safe.
Remember, 90% of the signs of skin aging are from extrinsic (environmental and life style) causes and only 10% are from intrinsic causes (normal aging processes)
This means you have a tremendous amount of influence on how your skin ages.
And the things you do to keep your skin protected from extrinsic factors also keep your skin healthy as the years fly by.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Your skin as fewer natural defenses as you age so it’s important to keep up the sunscreen
- If you smoke, STOP
- Drink plenty of water
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a diet with lots of fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress
- Develop a good skincare routine with active ingredients that will support your skin and stick to a twice daily routine
What are the most important skin products to use?
I know what you’re thinking.
Sorry to disappoint you. I don’t have the key to the fountain of youth or any magic that will restore your hormones or your skin back to your late 20’s. (And really, would you want to?)
But there are a lot of ingredients that will help your skin look its best and healthiest.
Healthy skin=beautiful skin.
The single most important thing you can do is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. As you produce fewer hormones, your oil glands will produce less of the oil that your skin needs to stay comfortable and soft. A good moisturizer can deliver active ingredients and protect your skin barrier. Studies show that using a moisturizer at least twice a day will protect your outer layers of skin and allow your skin barrier to recover and stabilize.
You need to cleanse for your face twice a day. But you need to use a mild cleanser (no bar soap!) that won’t strip your natural oils from your face.
Retinol can also help keep skin plump and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. There is a lot of research that validates the use of retinol to keep your skin in good shape.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that fights environmental free radicals as well as those made by your own body. Over time, it can make dark spots lighter. It supports brighter, tighter skin too.
Peptides can firm your skin and make it brighter and more bouncy by signaling your own skin to produce more collagen.
Antioxidants, both on your skin and in your diet, help fight free radicals that can cause damage to your cells and make your complexion dull, spotted, and wrinkled.
If sagging or loose skin is bothering you, collagen induction therapy using tools like a dermal roller or gua sha tool can also help.
Don’t forget your hands
Most of us concentrate on our faces and necks when we think about skin care. Don’t forget your hands.
As you approach peri-menopause and menopause the skin on the backs of your hands will very noticeably thin and wrinkle. Sometimes it will look more veiny and almost see through.
Be sure to use your skin products, especially moisturizer on the backs of your hands and protect them from the sun.
I’ve been using vitamin C serum (DewDrops) on my hands for nearly a year and the “liver spots” that were coming up everywhere are nearly gone.
With age comes wisdom, and confidence, and perspective. A lot of good things that outweigh the inevitable changes in my opinion.
Plus, I really don’t miss the days of hormonal moodiness,headaches and breakouts. Or my brother yelling at me.
SunWindSnow products that help:
RainShower- gentle cleanser that doesn’t dry skin
DewDrops- Vitamin C and anti-inflammatory stem cell serum
GloDrops- retinol serum that’s combined with hydrating hyaluronic acid and herbs to support your skin
SnowDrops-Peptide serum to help firm and brighten your skin.
SunUp-Anti-oxidant day cream to seal in moisture and protect you from environmental insults
SunDown-Nutrient and antioxidant rich cocktail to sooth and restore your skin as you sleep
All Weather Defense SPF 30-organic mineral based sunscreen that moisturizes as it protects you from the sun’s UV rays