Menopause Skin Care — How to Look and Feel Your Best

By Naomi Braun, MPH, MSW • Published 3/1/2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jill Liss, MD

woman smiling and talking about her menopause skin care routine to help her look and feel her best

Getting older is an inevitable part of the human experience. And as you’re probably experiencing, it can come with a lot of physical changes to your body. One of the most visible changes is to your skin. You may have noticed some more fine lines or wrinkles on your face, that your skin seems a bit thinner and less elastic, and that it’s a bit drier and itchier than it used to be. For better or for worse, all these changes are to be expected and can get worse over time. And a significant portion of these changes are genetic, so while you can take great care of skin as you age, some of these changes will happen no matter what.

To begin to figure out how you can feel your best in your own skin and keep it healthy, it’s important to understand skin science.

The science behind aging skin

Your skin, including your facial skin, is composed of several layers. The outer layer is called the epidermis, and the inner layer is called the dermis. The dermis contains:

  • Collagen. A protein that helps to maintain skin volume and moisture
  • Elastin fibers. Another protein that allows the skin to stretch out and then shrink back.

As we age, the production of collagen and elastin decreases, which can lead to skin that feels less firm and elastic. In addition, factors such as excess sun exposure, genetics, and lifestyle choices like smoking can cause skin to change at an even faster rate.

How do wrinkles form?

Wrinkles are another piece of this aging skin puzzle. Certain facial wrinkles, known as dynamic wrinkles, are formed due to repetitive muscle movements, such as smiling or squinting. These movements lead to wrinkle lines developing over time. Static wrinkles, on the other hand, form because of the loss of collagen, elastin, and facial fat, leading to visible creases even when the face is at rest.

What causes loose skin?

Loose skin, sometimes referred to as sagging skin, occurs due to a combination of factors. As you age, your skin starts to lose the subcutaneous fat — the fat that sits just underneath the skin — which provides volume and support. This, along with the loss of collagen and elastin, contributes to your skin starting to fall. Gravity further worsens the situation, causing skin to droop even more.

closeup of a woman's face showing wrinkles near her mouth

Menopause skin changes

Estrogen plays a vital role in overall skin health. There are a significant number of estrogen receptors in your skin. A decline in estrogen impacts cellular growth factors that help your skin stay firm, elastic, and hydrated. In addition, the number of blood vessels in your skin also declines, not allowing as much blood flow and nutrients to get to the skin.

As a result, lower levels of estrogen that happen over the menopause transition, along with the changes that occur during the natural process of aging, can have a big impact on the skin. Here are some of the primary hormone-related skin changes:

Drier and thinner skin

One of the most noticeable primary hormone-related skin changes is dryness and thinning of the skin. As estrogen levels drop, the skin becomes thinner and less capable of retaining moisture, leading to dryness and an increased risk of fine lines and wrinkles. This is also partially caused by the decline in blood flow to the skin. This dry and thin skin can also lead to skin feeling itchy.

Fine lines and wrinkles

With reduced collagen and elastin production as a result of age and lower levels of estrogen during menopause, comes a higher probability of getting wrinkles and fine lines on your skin, especially around your eyes, mouth, and forehead. Additionally, decreased skin elasticity can make these wrinkles more noticeable.

Loss of firmness in skin

Along with subcutaneous fat (the fat right under the skin), estrogen also plays a role in maintaining the firmness of the skin. As subcutaneous fat and skin firmness lessen throughout the aging process and during the menopausal transition respectively, the skin will start to look less firm and supple. This can result in looser skin, especially in areas like the cheeks and neck.

Increased skin sensitivity

Menopausal skin can become more sensitive, prone to redness, and easily irritated. This added sensitivity can make the skin more delicate and react poorly to certain skincare products, or even minor traumas.

Decreased collagen production

Estrogen helps promote the production of collagen, which gives the skin its firmness and structure. When estrogen levels decline, less collagen is produced, causing more static wrinkles and loose skin to form.

a woman manages her menopause skin changes and taking care of her skin during menopause by moisturizing her skin

How to take care of skin during menopause

While there’s nothing you can do to avoid the aging process and the menopausal transition, there are strategies that can help lessen the effects of these natural skin changes and create healthier-looking skin.

  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, that’s effective against both UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays, the solar wavelengths that can damage skin. Also, don’t forget to reapply every couple of hours and cover often-forgotten spots like the back of your hands, the tops of your feet, and your ears.
  • Moisturize your skin with hyaluronic acid or glycerin. These products can be especially helpful to help keep your skin healthy and supple. Petroleum jelly is another good choice since it’s an occlusive moisturizer meaning is seals moisture into the skin.
  • Consider products containing retinoids or peptides, which can help improve skin texture, increase collagen production, and reduce the overall appearance of wrinkles.
  • Focus on healthy lifestyle choices like avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol. Both can cause premature skin aging. Also, eat a balanced diet full of a variety of fruits and vegetables to support skin health.
  • Stay well-hydrated to maintain skin moisture and elasticity. Drink throughout the day when you feel thirsty and focus mostly on water. Carrying a water bottle around is a great way to do this.
  • Cosmetic procedures like dermal fillers, Botox injections, and laser treatments are used to smooth out wrinkles. Nothing stops the aging process of skin, so you’ll most likely need to repeat treatments to maintain benefits over time. Make sure you’re consulting with a board-certified dermatologist before you make any decisions on what treatments to choose.

How to love your skin

It’s hard to ignore all the messages, images, videos, and social pressure that’s out there in the media giving you anti-aging tips and tricks to keep your skin looking young and wrinkle-free. You probably see it and hear it everywhere you go. But, while those messages won’t disappear, how you react to them can change. There are ways to feel good in your current skin and look and feel your best no matter how many wrinkles you’ve earned.

  • Celebrate your wrinkles. Consider how your wrinkles have formed over the years, through repeated movements of your face reacting to the highs and lows of life. Consider yourself lucky to have lived this long and had the opportunity to feel so many emotions.
  • Try on a new look. Instead of focusing on your face, have fun with changing how you express yourself. Try a new hair cut or color, wear new clothes, add some accessories, anything to give your look a boost!
  • Go inward to shine. Put your energy towards improving your physical and emotional health. When you feel better on the inside, the outside can feel better too.
  • Redo your routine. Whether you’ve always worn makeup or are just starting to explore, find out what adjustments you can make to your makeup routine to enhance your beautiful aging face.

You have a lot of options to help manage your menopause skin changes and maintain healthy skin as you age. Knowing the scientific reasons behind wrinkles, sagging skin, and hormonal fluctuations can help you make informed choices about skincare, lifestyle, and possible treatments. It can also help you embrace aging gracefully, and with confidence.

Last Updated 3/4/2024



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