Our bodies go through hundreds of big and little changes during menopause. While the shifts in sex drive, body temperature, mood and weight tend to take the front seat, there can also be a variety of changes in the skin. “Menopausal skin concerns that accompany and follow menopause include dry and thinning skin, wrinkling and laxity,” says New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD. Estrogen plays a crucial role in retaining moisture and helping to support skin thickness, explains Dr. Peredo. “Post-menopausal women can experience as much as a 30 percent loss in skin collagen in the first five years of menopause,” she adds.
Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD says that any skin care that helps aging skin is beneficial for menopausal skin. For example, sunscreen and moisturizers are a must. We asked dermatologists which ingredients specifically help combat symptoms of menopause that manifest in the skin so you can stock up on products that are chock full of these boosters.
Dr. Waldorf notes that antioxidants are essential to your skin-care regimen as you age “to reduce the inflammatory cascade.” Experts specifically advise using vitamin C on menopausal skin.
It’s not only “one of the most powerful antioxidants in the skin, but vitamin C has also been shown in postmenopausal skin to increase collagen synthesis, stabilize collagen fibers and decrease collagen degradation,” explains Dr. Peredo, who adds that it also brightens skin. Vitamin C also helps protect against free radicals and oxidative stress in the environment while smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, notes Melville, NY dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, MD.
Amping up collagen production is high on the list of goals for menopausal skin, which makes retinol a worthwhile ingredient. “Retinoids are one of the only molecules proven to increase collagen production,” says Dr. Peredo.
Dr. Papantoniou adds that it also helps promote cell turnover. Retinol is one of the most beloved ingredients for reducing signs of aging, so it’s a must in your skin-care routine.
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, boasts a multitude of benefits for those experiencing menopause. Dr. Peredo points out that it helps reduce the redness that can come with hot flashes, and Dr. Papanotinou adds that it could even help combat rosacea and acne. Niacinamide also reduces crepiness, improves skin tone and has a variety of anti-aging properties, says Dr. Papantoniou.
Hydrators are a huge help when it comes to menopausal skin. “Hyaluronic acids are effective hydrators because they attract water,” says Dr. Peredo, adding that they help plump the skin. This ingredient helps boost water levels in the skin, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, explains Dr. Papantoniou.
Methyl estradiolpopranoate (MEP)
MEP is a “non-hormonal estrogen receptor activator that’s been shown to improve facial appearance in estrogen-deficient females,” says Dr. Waldorf. The ingredient can be found in Biopelle’s Empelle line.
It’s an “estrogen-like cosmeceutical active ingredient,” explains Dr. Peredo. “In a 14-week placebo-controlled study, MEP induced statistically significant improvement in skin dryness, laxity, atrophy and dullness as compared to vehicle,” she adds.
For those that need a bit of pigment correction, Dr. Peredo recommends cysteamine. Some people become more prone to melasma during menopause, and this ingredient can help combat that hyperpigmentation.
Alpha hydroxy and polyhydroxy acids
Both alpha hydroxy and polyhydroxy acids are great for menopausal skin, says Dr. Waldorf. These acids help promote “cell turnover and improve transepidermal water loss,” she explains.
According to Dr. Waldorf, C-xylopyranoside is a “Vichy proprietary complex of peptides and hyaluronic acid.” She explains that it’s meant to mimic dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is known to help alleviate some menopause symptoms.
These amino acids help support collagen and elastin, according to Dr. Waldorf. Peptides also help promote cell turnover in a more gentle, hydrating manner than retinol.