Guest Author - Tammy Elizabeth Southin
Many of the changes your skin goes through during peri-menopause or menopause will bring back memories of those teenage years. You may find yourself dealing with a combination of aging skin and ‘teen aging’ skin. Still dealing with skin breakouts? Noticing new wrinkles creeping around your eyes?
Welcome to the world of adult skin changes during menopause, or your skin’s second adolescence!
Now, as then, your hormones are on high activity and transforming your body in a variety of ways. Being menopausal is just like being a teen; your body does not feel quite ‘right’ or you are no longer comfortable in your own skin. As estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall, your skin reflects all the inner turmoil to the world at large. At the same time, you are likely in one of the busiest times of your life and the last things you need are pimples before an important meeting or wrinkles before that high school reunion.
Within the skin are several sebaceous glands that produce oils. These oils, called sebum, are carried to the skins surface by the glands. During the teen years, you may have had more sebum than your skin could handle resulting in clogged pores and breakouts. All the beauty magazines assured that this is something you would never have to deal with as an adult. So what happened?
During the adult years, your glands are still producing sebum. Normally through a combination of normal skin renewal and your skin care routine, the oils were whisked away before they could clog the pores. But as you age, the skin cell turnover rates slow down, leaving layers of skin cells on the surface. As the hormonal changes affect your sebaceous glands, you might be producing more sebum than recently. The sebum becomes trapped under the layers of dead skin cells on the surface giving you clogged pores and making you more prone to the return of the pimple.
Exfoliating, or removing the accumulating skin layers from the surface, improves the skin cell turnover rate. Using a gentle facial scrub or very gentle cleansing cloth, you will keep dead skin cells from clogging up the pores. An added bonus is that you will reveal the healthier glowing new skin layer underneath the older skin cells that can make your skin dull in appearance. This part of your skin care routine can be done every day or once a week depending on your needs.
But what about all that dry skin? Just when you are fighting breakouts, your skin feels dry and tight. Your skin may have too much oil, but it can lack water at the same time. Applying moisturizer tends to plump up the skin by ensuring moisture is prevented from evaporating too quickly. Without sufficient moisture, the skin tightens and over time leads to fine lines which if left on their own can develop into deeper set wrinkles.
Just as oil and water do not mix when put together, they act in the same manner in the skin. Using products that are designed for younger skins result in stripping the moisture along with the excess oils; conversely, products too rich and heavy will trap excess oils in your sebaceous glands.
For many women in their 30s and 40s, finding a good skin care routine can be frustrating. Many of the products designed to deal with acne are great for younger teen skin but too harsh for older and more delicate skin.
Moisturizers designed for mature or dry skins may be too rich for your skin at this time. Is there a balance in treating skin that cannot make up its mind whether it is young or old?
You can get an idea of your skin’s personality by trying this simple at home test. Wash your face and leave it completely bare. How long is it before you notice the skin feels tight or dry? If after about 20 minutes your skin feels oily or looks shiny, you need to deal with oily skin. If your skin feels dry or tight, you are lacking water and need to retain moisture. While this test is not perfectly conclusive, you can have a better idea of your skin type and your skin’s needs.
Consulting with a skin care professional such as a trusted cosmetologist at the cosmetics counter, an esthetician, or a dermatologist will help you discover your skin’s issues. You can find the right products for your skin type and a routine that is affordable and easy to follow on a daily basis. The more regular the routine, the better your skin will be. Your skin may not always cooperate during menopause, but you can tame the split personality of your skin during round two of adolescence.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You