The skinny on ageing complexions
You don’t need a whole new product category to treat older complexions, says beauty editor Tracey Strange. Good skincare needs to start early
So many factors can affect your skin. It can be knocked around by cold and heat, fall prey to unexplained acne, suffer from stress and lose its lustre because of illness. It’s at the mercy of genetics, lifestyle choices and oscillating hormones. And then there’s menopause. Menopause isn’t great news for the skin. Expect your complexion to become thinner and less elastic (more sagging and wrinkles), and any existing issues – such as rosacea or acne – can be made worse.
But before you spend a fortune on products to combat the change, consider a slight change in attitude.
Women’s experience of meno- pause varies greatly. Some sail through; others aren’t so lucky. Oiliness, dryness, dullness, itchiness and pigmentation are linked to menopause but they’re experienced by women of all ages too. Beauty-counter solutions are the same whether you’re menopausal or not. SKIN TYPE MATTERS The products you need to get you through the change are those best suited to your skin type, not to menopause itself. For example, menopause can cause the skin to feel parched but if yours was oily or acneprone, it’s likely to continue to be. The way to treat it is to keep using products designed for oily skin, applying extra moisturiser (lightweight liquids, gels and serums are best) to combat additional dryness when needed. If your skin is naturally dry, you might want to upgrade to a slightly heavier moisturiser to compensate for the extra dryness. Dry skins of any age benefit from emollient lotions and creams. SLIP SLOP SLAP How menopause affects your skin is greatly influenced by how much sun damage you have accumulated throughout the years. Taking care of your skin when you are young (and always wearing sunscreen) will pay huge dividends in later years. SOY POWER There are many great products containing plant estrogens (or phytoestrogens), such as soy, black cohosh, yam extract and evening primrose oil. But there’s no real evidence that phytoestrogens are especially beneficial for menopausal skin. Soy, however, is a potent antioxidant and antiinflammatory, and is good for your complexion. OUT DAMNED ITCH Estrogen stimulates the production of skin-smoothing collagen and oils. As its level diminishes, itchy skin becomes common. There are many ways to treat this. Eat more fatty acids, avoid piping- hot baths and showers because they strip the skin of natural oils, and moisturise regularly.
Vaseline works well if the budget is seriously depleted. Relief for itchy scalps can be found in products designed for dandruff.