The last menstrual period is also called menopause. Most women have their last menstrual period between the ages of forty and sixty; the average age is 51 years. In addition to physical complaints such as flushes and sweat attacks, skin changes can also take place. In the West, 75% of women suffer from menopausal symptoms. In Japan, on the other hand, only 10% of them have complaints. Foods such as soy and miso seem to play an important role in reducing menopausal symptoms.
Two hormones play an important role here.
Estrogen is key for normal skin function. It is associated with collagen production, hyaluronic acid, increased skin thickness, improved skin barrier function, maintenance of skin hydration and sebaceous gland activity. There are 3 estrogens: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) (also found in men) and estriol (E3). In menopause, estrone (E1) takes the upper hand, this imbalance can cause complaints. Too much estradiol (E2) can cause acne and the presence of too much estradiol has been linked to breast cancer. So estrogen does a lot and is quite complex.
The other hormone is progesterone. The effect of progesterone on the skin is less clear. It is believed that progesterone plays a role in skin elasticity, sebum production and, like estrogen, also in skin pigmentation. In addition, progesterone has an effect on skin blood flow. Progesterone affects arterial blood vessel tone. It induces relaxation and constriction of vascular smooth muscle in the blood vessels. Estrogen, on the other hand, causes more vasodilation by influencing the endothelium (inner lining of the blood vessels).
Skin changes in menopause
As these two hormones decline during menopause, the functions they perform to maintain skin health and vitality also decline.
Overall, these changes in decreases in sweat, sebum and immune functions cause significant changes in the skin’s surface, including increases in skin acidity (alkaline pH), lipid composition and sebum secretion. These changes also cause possible changes in the skin microbiome. Read more about skin pH, a high pH (alkaline) can cause various skin problems. Finally, the collagen in the skin decreases by 30% in the first 5 years of menopause. A side note here is that it was measured in white women.
A low level of progesterone relative to estrogen leads to higher testosterone production in women. This can lead to postmenopausal acne, but also to brittle, quickly breaking nails, dry skin and what I often see as a dermatologist: hair loss!
The symptoms of a low progesterone level in the blood are: weight gain, carbohydrate cravings, depression, decreased libido, brain fog or “brain fog” (forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, less clear thinking) and sleep disorder.
Aging healthy without hassle is ‘the new beautiful’. You can achieve this with skin care, among other things. As written before, as you age, the skin becomes drier, more skin spots, deep and shallow wrinkles appear and the acidity of your skin increases (more alkaline). External influences can make the skin even more ‘basic’, such as using soap or shower gel, taking a long shower or taking a bath a lot. These strip your skin sebum, skin barrier and your natural acidity.
For (post-)menopausal skin
Restore the skin barrier by means of well-moisturizing creams with the right acidity, pH skin-repairing acidity of around 5. pH skin neutral does little to your acidity. Hyaluronic acid is often contained in a serum and can often be combined with other skin care products, also known as ‘layering’. The advantage is that hyaluronic acid does not stick and is moisturizing (humectant). 1 gram of hyaluronic acid can attract 6 liters of water. In the skin, it ensures that the epidermis (upper horny layer) and not the dermis is hydrated. Read more about dry skin and the different skin moisturizing ingredients.
Stimulation of your skin collagen through cosmetic ingredients, such as retinol (vitamin A). Bakuchiol is relatively unknown to us, but has been used for some time in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Bakuchiol has similar cellular pathways that retinoids also target, such as skin pigment, collagen stimulation. The special thing is that it does not give the retinol side effects, such as flaking, redness and irritation. Bakuchiol is suitable for people with sensitive skin. Other cosmetic ingredients that can contribute to your collagen skin stimulation are vitamin B3 (niacinamide) and peptides.
Pigment spots are also called the new wrinkles. There are various options available against this. The most obvious and simple solution is camouflage. Other options include laser treatment, peels and cosmetic ingredients containing vitamin B3 (niacinamide), arbutin, vitamin C, resveratrol (grape), kojic acid, azelaic acid, aloesin (Aloe Vera) and fruit acids. Read more about pigmentation.
In addition, sun protection remains important to protect your skin collagen and elastic fibers as much as possible and to limit pigmentation spots.
Nutrition and supplements
Soy is one of the key ingredients that causes Japanese women to have fewer menopausal symptoms. Soy and also berries, beer, wine, nuts (walnuts, almonds, linseed) and fruit (apples, cranberries, pomegranate) contain phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens have the same chemical structure as estradiol (E2). The risk of breast and prostate cancer stimulation by consuming phytoestrogens from food has been extensively studied and no evidence has been found so far.
Nutritional supplements, such as omega-3 fish oil, hyaluronic acid supplements for vegans and collagen supplements and collagen-rich soup. Read more about collagen.
Also take care of your intestinal flora; a happy flora also gives better skin. Think of prebiotics and probiotics such as fiber, inulin and increasingly popular fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kefir and natural yogurt.
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Shuster S, Black MM, McVitie E. The influence of age and sex on skin thickness, skin collagen and density. Br J Dermatol. 1975 Dec;93(6):639-43.
Dhaliwal S, Rybak I, Ellis SR, Notay M, Trivedi M, Burney W, Vaughn AR, Nguyen M, Reiter P, Bosanac S, Yan H, Foolad N, Sivamani RK. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. Br J Dermatol. 2019 Feb;180(2):289-296.
Ziaei S, Halaby R. Dietary Isoflavones and Breast Cancer Risk. Medicines (Basel). 2017;4(2):18.
Glazier MG, Bowman MA. A review of the evidence for the use of phytoestrogens as a replacement for traditional estrogen replacement therapy. Arch Intern Med. 2001 May 14;161(9):1161-72
Rajoria S, Suriano R, Parmar PS, et al. 3,3′-diindolylmethane modulates estrogen metabolism in patients with thyroid proliferative disease: a pilot study. Thyroid. 2011;21(3):299-304.
While you are here
More than ever, it is important to consider your mental and physical well-being. To stay in balance. To be able to keep doing what you do while weathering the storms of life. Read more about stay fit