For those of us who have hit forty five and beyond, we can't help but notice the changes on our skin. Although these changes happen over time, they seem to show up rather suddenly. We may wake up one morning to discover sun spots that were never there before, or those once fine lines around our eyes now appear deeper. Sometimes we may ask, "Who is that person staring at me in the mirror?"
While aging is an inevitable part of life, we can approach it gracefully. We can accept our age, but at the same time use a pro-active approach which can help us look as vibrant and youthful as possible. When I say youthful, I am not implying that a 50 year old woman becomes obsessed with looking 30.
As women approach their forties and fifties, they may encounter numerous bodily changes as they go through peri-menopause and menopause. Some women sail through these transitions with ease, but many experience moderate to severe symptoms as a result of hormonal loss and or fluctuations. Weight gain, emotional mood swings, depression, and hot flashes are just a short list of common symptoms.
These hormonal changes can have a significant impact on our skin. Loss of estrogen can cause dry skin in some women as oils gland produce less oil. Collagen production slows down causing our skin to lose some of its elasticity. Skin may also become more fragile and thinner. While there is considerable controversy concerning HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), research indicates that HRT may help keep skin younger and more supple looking. However, each woman must make her own decision regarding this option. Some research indicates that naturally derived bio-identical hormones may pose less health risks than synthetic hormones. These hormones are available in a variety of forms, such as transdermal creams, pills, or even patches. However, this is a topic that should be taken seriously and discussed with your health care practitioner. There are many books available which discuss these options. Whether you opt to take HRT or not, there are several things you can do to help keep your skin as youthful as possible.
The following tips can help maintain your skin during menopause and beyond. 1) Products that are naturally based often contain less potentially toxic ingredients which may pose health risks and can cause irritation and dryness. Look for products with natural oils which can help keep skin moist and nourished. Many natural oils contain essential fatty acids which can be great for your skin. Two good ones are almond and macadamia nut oil However, not all peri-menopausal and menopausal women have dry skin. Listen to your body; choose lighter oils (such as jojoba and sesame) for oily and combination skin, and somewhat heavier oils for very dry skin. Avocado, evening primrose oil, olive and macadamia nut oils are good options for dry skin.
2) Only use cleansers that are non-drying and detergent free. Detergent cleansers tend to be very alkaline and therefore are very drying. You can opt for a moisturizing gel based cleanser, or if your skin is really dry, look for a naturally based milky cleanser.
3) Use only toners that are alcohol free. Some alcohols are emollient and not drying. Alcohols followed by a number, such as Alcohol SD-40 are drying and should be avoided. Look for naturally based toners which contain botanical extracts and antioxidants which can help keep skin toned, dewy and moist.
4) Exfoliate - It is crucial that dead skin cells be sloughed off with a gentle but effective exfoliating product. AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) products such as glycolic acid can help skin stay smooth and moist. It is not necessary to use excessively high percentages with very low pH levels. These products may be too strong, particularly for some sensitive skin types. Look for exfoliants with nourishing and calming ingredients such as aloe vera and chamomile. Licorice and bearberry extracts can also provide skin brightening properties, and may help to fade age spots.
5) Use high quality anti-aging products - choose a well formulated skin cream that has both antioxidants as well as great hydrating properties. Hyaluronic acid can significantly boost moisture levels. Look for antioxidants such as R-Lipoic Acid, Green Tea, stabilized Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Grape Seed extract, etc. They can all help neutralize free radicals. A high quality skin cream does not need to cost $100.00 or more. The entire La Vie Celeste skin care range is great for peri-menopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal skin.
6) Always use a good sun block with a minimum of SPF 15 to prevent photo aging. However, because sun block may prevent optimal absorption of vitamin D (sunlight is a good source of vitamin D), make sure you get enough vitamin D on a daily basis. Several types of fish are high in vitamin D. However, if you cannot get enough in your diet, supplementation may offer a good option. Look for a sun block without toxic chemicals. A non-nano based sun block which uses zinc or titanium oxide is a good choice. There are some on the market that do not leave a thick white caste on the skin. Of course there are others things we can implement in addition to natural skin care which can help ease menopausal symptoms while providing benefits for our skin.
Exercise is critical for women over 45, particularly weight bearing exercise. Exercise helps increase circulation while delivering vital nutrients to skin cells. It can also release stress which can ease depression and anxiety. And because exercise may help mediate male hormones, it may help to control acne breakouts. Research now shows that short burst interval training (for a total of 12 minutes per week) may be more beneficial than continuous aerobic activity which must be done for 30 minutes or more. Short burst stepping is one form of sprint training. Just Google, "short burst stepping," for more information. Drinking a minimum of 6 glasses of water per day can also keep skin hydrated. It is also helpful for weight loss. Due to hormonal fluctuations, some menopausal women put on an average of 10-20 pounds during this transition.
Peri-menopause and menopause can be a challenging time of life. But, it can also be a time of empowerment and personal growth. And having healthy, glowing skin can only make it better.