The menopause is a natural, physiological event that happens to all women. And yet, until relatively recently, it was referred to in hushed voices and euphemisms. People talked about ‘the change’, if they mentioned it at all.
Despite there being around 13 million pre-menopausal or menopausal women in the UK, equivalent to a third of the entire female population, a 2021 survey of UK universities reported that some doctors may leave university with no education in menopause.
Women are taking steps to educate themselves about this transitional stage in life. And thanks to initiatives like October’s ‘Menopause Awareness Month’, it is now talked about as a health topic.
Every woman travels through the menopause in her own, unique way. Pre-menopause (or perimenopause) normally starts in the early to mid-40s and can last a few years or more than 10 years. Some sail through, barely noticing any change until their periods stop, while others struggle for years with hot flushes (affecting an estimated 60%-80% of women at some point during menopause), poor sleep, weight gain, low mood, skin breakouts and many other troubles.
And for some, acne is the most surprising symptom of all. Whether they’ve been acne-free for decades or never had it at all, most women don’t expect to struggle with acne as they approach 50.
After the perimenopause, the post-menopausal period is defined as when a full, period-free year has passed.
So what causes Menopausal Acne?
Adult acne is on the rise, reportedly affecting 40% of women. About 26% of pre-menopausal women are affected, and about 15% of women 50+.
The root cause is the same at any age; acne is hormonal. It is a reflection on the skin of what is happening inside the body.
At menopause, the ovaries start producing fewer hormones, such as oestrogens, eventually stopping completely. Oestrogen plays many regulating roles in the body, and this huge drop disrupts the hormone balance, often causing acne.
While the cause is hormonal, acne is a multifactorial skin condition. Other factors are at play too. Poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep all contribute to skin issues like acne, and all are common symptoms of menopause.
And how should you care for Menopausal Acne?
You have a lot more power to control acne than you may think. Even if you are genetically predisposed to acne, you can change the course of how acne develops.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help alleviate some menopausal symptoms and target acne. Bear in mind that sudden and dramatic fluctuations in hormone levels can bring on acne breakouts for the weeks and months after starting HRT.
There are natural solutions too. You can alleviate menopausal symptoms and control acne by adjusting your diet and lifestyle. A plant-based diet that’s rich in phytoestrogens (plant-based compounds that mimic oestrogen in the body) and rich in fibres will make a difference on the symptoms and the skin.
On the skin, the skincare routine should combine acne-targeting with anti-ageing. Too harsh, and you risk causing collateral damage to the skin, creating even more problems.
Here is a simple skincare routine to follow
AVOID double cleansing. Your skin is drier than ever during menopause and stripping the natural oils dries the skin even more. Also avoid harsh ingredients that can damage the skin’s protective lipid layers (sulfates in cleansers for example). If you wear makeup, use a makeup remover first, and then cleanse.
Use a gentle formula like Skin Diligent Triple Action Cleanser. This non-foaming, glycerin-rich cleanser contains Protium heptaphyllum resin, a rare botanical ingredient rich in phytochemicals with a protective and anti-inflammatory action. Gentle yet effective, Triple Action Cleanser quickly helps restore the balance of the skin's microbiome thanks to a pioneering probiotic strain.
Repair and prevent:
If your skin is blemish-prone and you are experiencing occasional spots, apply Skin Diligent Vitamin C Serum-in-oil to slightly damp skin after cleansing, all over the face, neck and décolleté. This is an excellent serum that repairs the skin barrier, nourishes the skin, prevents blemishes and fine lines and hydrates.
If you suffer continuous breakouts, apply the Vitamin C Serum-in-oil, followed by Skin Diligent Multilayer Serum to be applied just on the affected areas. Leave to dry for 1 minute.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate:
Skin Diligent Vitamin C Serum-in-Oil may be enough for your skin as a hydrator. The vitamin C in this serum is in a rare oil form, which is extremely well absorbed by the skin and therefore, effective without irritation. This Serum-in-oil is also amazing because your oil glands are no longer very active, and the risk of damage to the skin barrier is high, which speeds up hydration loss. And you get the benefits of lipids without the greasiness.
However, if your skin needs more hydration, you may need to apply a hydrating cream after Vitamin C Serum-in-Oil or Multilayer Serum, whichever you used last.
A good hydrating cream contains elements of both water and oil. The water elements (humectants) will draw water to the skin’s surface, while the oil elements will lubricate the skin barrier for effective protection and hydration. But avoid rich creams, like traditional night creams, and prioritise the humectants (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, propanediol, urea, etc).
During the menopause, avoid overstimulating the skin with too many actives.
And don’t forget to hydrate those giveaway areas; the neck, chest, and hands.