We might like to think that we’ll be the first person who never sprouts gray hair or develops a wrinkle, but if we’re lucky then we get to go through all those phases of aging with everyone else. Menopause is certainly one of those changes, and it comes with its own set of notable effects that require us to make some adjustments. Today we’re zeroing in on how menopause can impact your complexion, what a menopause skincare routine might look like, and how to lean into menopause self care and education versus sidestepping this important conversation.
When is menopause? It’s natural to wonder what age menopause starts. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), menopausal transition typically begins between ages 45 and 55, and it can take seven to 14 years to transition completely. Perimenopause—which is the period of time before menopause—can set in as soon as your 30s but typically starts in your early 40s.
How Common Are Skin Changes in Menopause?
Skin changes are a common occurrence during menopause, affecting essentially every person who goes through the process. You may start to notice these menopause face changes beginning in perimenopause, but many women don’t experience side effects until menopause itself sets in. Adopting a menopause skincare routine and adjusting it to your new needs can help curb some of the symptoms and better protect your mature skin.
Why is it called menopause? Let's get into the meaning of menopause. The term is actually a combination of two Greek words: Menos means month, and pausis means pause. Menopause is formally diagnosed after you go through one full year without a period.
What Does Menopausal Skin Look Like?
What happens during menopause is that your body slowly stops producing the estrogen hormone. The Cleveland Health Clinic notes that the hormone plays a key role in your sexual health and reproduction but that its decline can also impact other aspects of your body—including your skin.
For example, as estrogen levels continue to decline, people often experience thin skin, dryness, and a visible loss of elasticity that often translates to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Let’s take a closer look at what specific skin changes you can expect with menopause.
- Dryness: One of the earliest skin-related symptoms of menopause is dry skin. According to Harvard Health, your skin starts to produce less sebum and also struggles to retain moisture. This can cause your skin to appear dull and flaky and feel rough.
- Thin Skin: Both aging and menopause can result in collagen loss, which causes thin skin. Signs of collagen loss in your face can include reduced plumpness, more fine lines and wrinkles, and increased laxity.
- Sagging: When collagen and elastin levels decrease, your skin can also start to lose firmness and elasticity, notes the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). This causes a sagging skin effect.
- Hyperpigmentation: Sun damage from your past starts to show itself during menopause (and as an overarching aging skin problem). This can appear as an uneven complexion, dark spots (also known as sun spots or liver spots), and dark patches.
- Breakouts: While you may consider breakouts an issue for teens, the shift in hormones during menopause can actually trigger breakouts. A decrease in estrogen levels paired with consistent testosterone levels is responsible for this, notes Harvard Health.
- Sensitivity: Menopause skin is more sensitive due to an increase in thinness and changing pH levels. The AAD says this can lead to an increase in bruising, irritation, and rashes.
How Can I Improve My Skin’s Appearance During Menopause?
Menopause is a natural process that every woman goes through. While it’s impossible to stop the clock, you can take steps to protect, nourish, and hydrate your skin so you’re still glowing fiercely from your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. Follow these menopause skincare tips—which double as menopause self care moments—for a healthy and gorgeous-looking complexion.
1. Shield Your Skin from the Sun
Whether you’re a newborn or heading into your 90s, sunscreen is a crucial part of your wellness routine. During menopause, skin becomes more thin which makes this step even more important. The AAD recommends applying a 30 SPF daily and reapplying every two hours. Using an SPF foundation such as CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50+ provides extra protection from the sun’s UV rays.
2. Address Existing Sun Damage
Antioxidants and skin-brightening ingredients are real heroes when it comes to combating dark spots and discoloration. That said, make them a regular part of your menopause skincare rotation. Bye Bye Dark Spots Niacinamide Serum features a formula of 4% niacinamide and 1% ethyl vitamin C to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Another excellent product to try is Confidence in Your Beauty Sleep Triple Antioxidant Brightening Serum, A formula of 12% Vitamin C, 1.5% Ferulic Acid, and 0.5% Polydatin helps improve skin radiance and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
3. Choose High-Moisture Products
During and after menopause, skin loses its ability to hold onto water and it also produces less oil than it once did. For that reason, it’s important to switch to products that deliver a bit more moisture than what you might have used in the past.
Try a rich, oil-based cleansing balm such as Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover. After, layer a hyaluronic acid serum and rich moisturizer, such as Confidence in a Cream Anti-Aging Hydrating Moisturizer. It's so good that one Confidence in a Cream is sold every minute in the U.S.!*
4. Reach for the Retinol
While there’s no quick treatment for thin skin, you can take steps to visibly improve your skin’s firmness and discoloration with retinol. Suitable for all skin types, Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream combines both free and encapsulated retinol that starts to reach at least 15 layers into skin's surface in just 1 hour!**
5. Take Advantage of Anti-Aging Ingredients
In addition to retinol, stock your menopause skincare kit with ingredients that go above and beyond for your complexion. For example, research has shown that ceramides help bolster the skin barrier while improving skin hydration. Both Confidence in a Cream Anti-Aging Hydrating Moisturizer and Confidence in Your Beauty Sleep Night Cream are formulated with this skin-loving ingredient.
Peptides are another important anti-aging ingredient to consider. Found in everything from moisturizers to facial serums, peptides can promote the feeling of elasticity and smoothness. The Confidence in an Eye Cream Anti-Aging Peptide Eye Cream formula features a blend of peptides to fight common signs of eye fatigue.
6. Target Breakouts
Hormone fluctuation can lead to some surprise breakouts during menopause. To help target the issue, use a gentle serum formulated with salicylic acid, such as Bye Bye Breakout Salicylic Acid Acne Serum. It's been clinically tested to visibly reduce pimples in three days*** while fading the look of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in 8 weeks.****
For more advice on adapting your skincare routine as you get older, check out Our Favorite Skincare and Beauty Products for Mature Skin.
- “What Is Menopause?” National Institute on Aging, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause.
- “Estrogen: Hormone, Function, Levels & Imbalances.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22353-estrogen.
- “Dealing with the Symptoms of Menopause.” Harvard Health, 9 June 2009, https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/dealing-with-the-symptoms-of-menopause.
- Caring for Your Skin in Menopause. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/anti-aging/skin-care-during-menopause.
- “Why Am I Getting Acne after Menopause?” Harvard Health, 1 May 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/why-am-i-getting-acne-after-menopause.
- Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-sunscreen.
*Source: The NPD Group/U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Skincare Product Layer Unit Sales, January-December 2022. Calculation based on: Total units sold / Total min. in a year (525,600 min.) = how many units sold per minute.
**Demonstrated efficacy at 12 weeks.
***Visible improvement began at Day 3 and improved throughout 8-week clinical study.****Based on an 8-week clinical study.