Find out about the menopause skin changes you can expect, how to navigate them & the products that can help in our guide
The hot flashes and mood swings get a lot of attention, but the hormonal changes that come at this milestone can also affect the skin. From itching to acne, we spoke to the experts to find out more about the complexion changes you can expect, what can help and how to build a routine to best suit your skin’s changing needs.
Want to keep skin healthy for longer? We asked dermatologists how to keep your complexion in top condition.
What is the menopause?
"Menopause officially starts one year after your last period due to a decrease in hormones produced by the ovaries,’" explains Dr Kemi Fabusiwa, skin expert, aesthetician and junior doctor and part of the INKEY List Knowledge Collective.
"These changes in hormone levels cause many significant changes to the body including changes to the skin. Usually occurring around the age of 45-55, some women may experience early onset menopause due to certain illnesses, cancer, trauma or for no clear reason."
What happens to skin during menopause & why?
The drop in oestrogen reduces production in collagen and elastin levels and may lead to skin changes that you might not be expecting. "The skin is much more sun-sensitive," explains Dr Fabusiwa. "This increases the prevalence of sun spots and hyperpigmentation, which become much more visible on thinner skin."
Can skin become itchy? "The skin is often much drier during menopause as there is a decrease in hyaluronic acid and natural moisturising factors on the epidermis of the skin," says Dr Fabusiwa. "With increased dryness, the skin may also become rougher and, with natural moisturising factors becoming depleted, this can cause skin to become itchy and irritated, particularly if women continue to use the same ingredients that they were using pre-menopause."
You may notice other changes in skin condition and that it may become less firm. "Levels of collagen and elastin decrease significantly during the menopause," explains Dr Fabusiwa. "These are essential for structure, support and elasticity of the skin. A lack of these connective tissues leads to wrinkles, sagging skin and jowls."
Being aware of these changes and tweaking your skincare accordingly is key to keeping skin looking and feeling its best.
Why does the menopause cause breakouts?
It’s a commonly searched question. "The fluctuations in hormone levels can lead to a recurrence of the kind of acne you might associate with adolescence," explains Dr Fabusiwa. If you have mild acne, pop in store for a chat with a Boots pharmacist about medicines to treat it. If these options don’t work or if you have moderate or severe acne, see your GP.
You may also want to book in with the Boots Online Doctor Acne Treatment Service. Seek help towards brighter skin days by simply completing the quick online consultation, which will be reviewed by an expert clinician*.
Do you need a ‘skintervention’? Read our guide for decluttering your skincare routine.
Why does the menopause cause age spots & skin discolouration?
"Ultraviolet radiation from the sun triggers the skin to produce pigment called 'sun-induced skin pigmentation'," explains Dr. Fabusiwa. "It’s always recommended to improve sun awareness during this time and focus on reapplying broad-spectrum SPF." Shop our full range of top sunscreens here.
Skin cancer and pre-cancerous skin growths become more common if you’ve spent ample time in the sun without sun protection.
How should you change your skincare routine after menopause?
"This is a time to avoid harsh scrubs, exfoliants and very hot shower waters," says Dr Fabusiwa. "It’s important to be diligent about sun protection and wear a high sun protection factor sun cream," she adds. "It’s especially important to reapply it throughout the day and follow other safe-sun practices.
"Using humectants and emollients such as hyaluronic acid, urea and ceramides daily can help to hydrate the skin's barrier, while thicker creams and lotions can help to prevent transepidermal water loss. It’s also an important time to pick up ingredients that can help to improve the visible signs of ageing such as retinol and gentle exfoliating acids such as lactic acid."
When & how to use retinol during menopause
"Retinol is a great ingredient to help reduce the visible signs of ageing," says Dr Fabusiwa. ‘It’s best to start with a low strength 'entry-level' retinol and increase concentration as your skin’s tolerance increases.
"It’s also a good idea to start off using retinol twice a week and increase to daily usage. This helps your skin to adjust to the side effects."
These side effects can include irritated, red and flaky skin meaning dry skin and sensitive skin types should be more cautious. Everyone should apply SPF without fail.
How to build your skincare regimen
"Start off with a gentle, hydrating cleanser to prevent stripping the skin and then further hydrate with a hyaluronic acid serum," advises Dr Fabusiwa. ‘This is a good time to incorporate ingredients such as retinol into your skincare routine to help reduce the appearance of some of the signs of ageing and pigmentation.
"After cleansing gently, hydrating and treating the skin, it’s important to moisturise the skin’s barrier with a barrier-boosting day or night cream. The last daytime step should always be SPF."
No7 is changing the face of menopause
Formulated by skincare experts, alongside 7,000 menopausal women, to help you feel in control of your skin during this hormonal shift, the new No7 Menopausal Skincare Range targets the six visual signs including firmness and dullness.
Comprising a serum, night cream, day cream, eye concentrate and refreshing facial mist, the range takes you from day to night seamlessly.
Our pick of the best menopausal skincare at Boots
We ask our skincare experts for their top skincare ingredients to look out for, and the buys to fill your basket with, to compile an enhanced skincare routine for menopausal skin.
3 of our best cleansers for menopausal skin
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Starter Kit (£17)
• Size: 100ml
• Recyclable tube made using 55% recycled materials
Reveal more radiant skin in just seven days with this deep cleansing balm and gentle exfoliating cloth. Enriched with sustainably sourced cocoa butter to moisturise and rosemary, chamomile and eucalyptus to help purify and soothe, this richly indulgent cream removes the most stubborn of make-up and daily debris.
3 of the best serums for menopausal skin
No7 Menopause Skincare Instant Radiance Serum (£32.95)
• Size: 30ml
With a domed metal applicator to instantly cool hot skin, this vitamin-enriched serum has been formulated to improve the appearance of collagen-depleted skin and increase radiance and firmness thanks to a blend of hydrating hyaluronic acid, collagen peptide technology, nourishing lipids and ceramides and soy isoflavones.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum (£60)
• Size: 30ml
Containing glycerin to increase hydration and squalane to seal in that moisture, this rich serum is a great way to keep menopausal skin feeling luxuriously quenched. The ideal base for make-up, it helps skin look smoother and more radiant.
3 of the best day creams for menopausal skin
No7 Menopause Skincare Protect & Hydrate Day Cream SPF30 (£32.95)
• Size: 50ml
Lowering oestrogen levels during the menopause can make you prone to thinning, sensitive skin that’s more susceptible to environmental damage from sunlight and pollution. With moisturising camellia oil, bisabolol and niacinamide, this broad-spectrum SPF30 moisturiser delivers long-lasting hydration as it protects.
Eucerin Anti-Pigment Day Cream SPF30 (£25)
• Size: 50ml
If you’re struggling with sun damage, this product contains thiamidol, which aims to help reduce the appearance of dark patches and hyperpigmentation. Then, UVA and UVB SPF30 sun protection helps prevent them from appearing in the future. The result? More even-looking skin.
3 of our best night creams for menopausal skin
No7 Menopause Skincare Nourishing Overnight Cream (£32.95)
• Size: 50ml
Disrupted sleeping patterns caused by the menopause impact natural cell renewal and repair processes which peak overnight. With lipid-replenishing technology to help balance skin, a hydrating complex to lock in moisture and collagen peptide technology, this zero-compromise formula is brilliant for supporting skin’s overnight repair.
Vichy Neovadiol Rose Platinum Night Cream (£32)
• Size: 50ml
Made with mature skin in mind, beeswax and minerals help menopausal skin feel instantly nourished. It works overnight to help restore radiance and lock in moisture with sleep lines appearing reduced and skin feeling smoother and firmer, with a healthy, rosy glow.
The Inkey List Omega Water Cream Moisturizer (£9.99)
• Size: 50ml
A simple, yet effective combination of an omega fatty acid complex, glycerin, betaine and niacinamide, massage a pea-sized amount into the face and neck after your serum and the refreshing gel immediately moisturises without oiliness. The perfect balance for those looking for lightweight hydration.
3 of our best eye creams for menopausal skin
Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Eye Cream SPF15 (£26.50)
• Size: 15ml
• Suitable for use with contact lenses
• SPF15 & UVA protection
This pick uses a unique blend of hyaluronic acid and glycine saponin to help protect the delicate skin of the eye area. It visibly plumps wrinkles and smooths outer skin layers, while the hyaluronic acid helps keep skin hydrated.
No7 Menopause Skincare Firm & Bright Eye Concentrate (£24.95)
• Size: 15ml
With a metal tri-roller ball applicator to give hot and tired eyes a pep they could be lacking due to menopausal sleep, this brand new formula contains peptides to reduce the appearance of wrinkles in the eye area, soy isoflavones to counteract the visual effects of collagen loss and bio signal lipids to help restore moisture, radiance and firmness to tired eyes.