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Menopause changes your skin—what you should know

Plus how you can prevent and treat signs of aging.

A person examines their skin in a circular makeup mirror. Credit: Getty Images / Vesnaandjic

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Different phases of life bring about new physical changes for the body, and many of those can be witnessed in the skin. This is especially true when the body experiences hormonal shifts during puberty, pregnancy, and—yes—menopause. To learn what skin effects to expect during this later phase of life, we tapped Dr. Farah Moustafa, a Boston-based dermatologist with Tufts Medical Center.

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How does your skin change during menopause?

A person touching their cheek and looking into a mirror.
Credit: Getty Images / Doucefleur

Menopause can cause dryness, discoloration, dullness, or wrinkles.

While going through menopause, you’ll likely see signs of aging on the face that can be exacerbated by sun exposure. This may include dilated blood vessels, brown spots, a sagging appearance, or a ruddy complexion, Moustafa says. “In addition to this, the ability of the skin to retain moisture tends to decrease because we lose ceramides (a type of lipid/fat) produced by our skin to keep moisture in.” This makes it common to experience skin dryness, dullness, or even eczema flare-ups.

Why does menopause affect the skin?

A person looking into a mirror and furrowing their brow.
Credit: Getty Images / fizkes

As your skin loses estrogen, it becomes harder to maintain a plump appearance.

Estrogen is the female reproductive hormone that, among other things, is associated with preventing skin aging, namely keeping skin plump with a protein called collagen. Estrogen gradually decreases during perimenopause (the eight to 10 years before menopause), leading to many seeing a “more rapid acceleration of certain aspects of skin aging, such as dullness of skin, dry skin, thinner skin, and hair loss,” Moustafa says.

What can you do to prevent skin aging during menopause?

A person applies sunscreen to their skin while on the beach.
Credit: Getty Images / Pollyana Ventura

Keep your skin protected with SPF to prevent signs of aging.

While it’s impossible to prevent aging altogether, it’s possible to slow the signs, says Moustafa. To prevent signs of skin aging, the most important tool is sunscreen. “[Sunscreen] helps prevent against collagen loss, free radical damage in the skin, brown spots, wrinkles, dull complexion, and skin cancer,” she says. Beyond that, Moustafa recommends treatments for each type of skin-aging concern that may occur during menopause.

What can you do to treat dry skin during menopause?

On the left: A pump bottle of cleanser. On the right: A pump bottle of moisturizer on a blue background.
Credit: Cerave

Keep your skin moisturized with the Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser and Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

If you’re experiencing dry skin, add skincare products into your routine that claim to be hydrating. In your cleansers or moisturizers, look for ingredients like ceramides that “help restore the skin barrier and the ability to retain moisture and minimize irritation,” Moustafa says.

All Cerave products contain ceramides to maintain moisturized skin and a healthy skin barrier. For a simple routine, pick up the Hydrating Facial Cleanser and Daily Moisturizing Lotion that have lightweight consistencies and contain hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin.

What can you do about red, sensitive skin during menopause?

A hand tipping a small white bottle of serum with product spilling out.
Credit: The Inkey List

Add The Inkey List's Niacinamide Oil Control Serum into your routine to tackle redness in the skin.

To address redness or sensitivity, switch to fragrance-free products with minimal ingredients, suggests Moustafa. You can also add in a product, such as a serum, with niacinamide to reduce redness. If you still don’t see the results you prefer, you can also have a laser procedure done that will “target vessels and diffuse persistent redness,” Moustafa says.

Go with the Niacinamide Oil Control Serum from The Inkey List to reduce redness, blemishes, and excess oil with 10% niacinamide and hydrate the skin with hyaluronic acid. The no-fuss product can be applied to clean skin before moisturizer in the morning and at night.

Get The Inkey list Niacinamide Oil Control Serum from Sephora for $6.99

How can you reduce brown spots brought on by menopause?

On the left: An orange dropper bottle of serum with water all around it. On the right: A small pump bottle of retinol laying on holographic tissue paper.
Credit: TruSkin / LilyAna Naturals

Tackle discoloration with the TruSkin Vitamin C Serum or the LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream.

Tackle brown spots with a vitamin C serum that claims to brighten the skin, a retinoid or retinol that exfoliates to turn skin cells over faster, or visit your dermatologist for an in-office procedure such as lasers that can target and remove these spots.

As a first step, add the TruSkin Vitamin C Serum to your morning routine on clean skin before sunscreen. In addition to vitamin C that tackles discoloration, the serum contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to moisturize the skin. For stronger results, you can also add a retinol into your nighttime routine with the LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream that’ll exfoliate your skin while also acting as a moisturizer, thanks to ingredients like jojoba oil, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid.

What can be done about wrinkles or sagging skin?

On the left: Two tubes of retinoid lay against a pink wall. On the right: A squeeze tube of moisturizer lay with product coming out of it.
Credit: Differin / Paula's Choice

Tackle wrinkles with Differin Gel and plump the skin with the Paula's Choice Replenishing Moisturizer.

To treat wrinkles or skin laxity with over-the-counter products, try a less-strong retinoid such as adapalene 0.1% to help stimulate collagen and elastin by turning skin cells over regularly. You can also try a peptide cream that can provide the similar collagen and elastin results. For an in-office wrinkle treatment, you can receive Botox or hyaluronic acid-based fillers to plump and smooth the lines. A dermatologist can also treat skin elasticity issues in-office with radiofrequency treatments or fillers.

For a strong (yet still available over the counter) retinoid, try Differin Gel that uses adapalene 0.1% to exfoliate the skin and tackle fine lines and wrinkles. If your skin is more sensitive and not quite up for a retinoid, try the Paula’s Choice Replenishing Moisturizer that contains skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and peptides.

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