In this article, Sonia Bainbridge, Natural Beauty & Wellness Expert & Co-Founder of Raw Beauty Lab, creators of the original 100% natural ‘drink for your skin’, Vegan Collagen, shares her advice & tips for supercharging your health during this sometimes radical shift in your body and skin.
One of the biggest culprits behind sudden dry, wrinkled or sagging skin is an acceleration in collagen loss, as estrogen levels begin to drop. Collagen is the essence that keeps your skin plump, elastic and dewy. A twenty-year-old’s skin is full of collagen, which is why their complexion looks so youthful and plumped. However, as you get older, *you’ll lose about 1% of your collagen each year, which is why wrinkles or crepey skin gradually begin to appear.
However, during menopause, as estrogen levels begin to drop off, this process is accelerated, and you can generally expect to *lose around 30% of your collagen supplies in the first five years of menopause alone. This means you’re beginning to lose your facial scaffolding (which keeps skin looking taught) but also means your skin is more likely to become more dry and wrinkled as you start to lose the collagen fibre, which contains around 70% water.
During perimenopause, which typically starts in a woman’s 40s and can last up to 7-10 years, your skin can also go through significant changes. Your ovaries gradually start making less estrogen overall, and hormone levels can fluctuate dramatically, leading to oily skin or breakouts.
The good news is there is much you can do to help replenish collagen levels and stave off wrinkles and skin dryness through a combination of topical skincare as well as nutritional intervention.
Introducing a low molecular weight hyaluronic acid serum to your skincare routine can help replenish dwindling moisture levels from collagen loss. It can also help skin appear plumper and taunt as the hyaluronic acid attracts water molecules, giving your skin a significant youthful boost. If possible, aim to use a serum that includes Omega 3, 6 and 9, which can help support the skin barrier and boost moisture levels.
A moisturiser containing peptides can help support the skin barrier and improve elasticity. The extra moisture boost can also lessen the appearance of wrinkles, which are typically more pronounced when skin is dry. Boost skin moisture and radiance with a DIY face mask of yoghurt, honey and avocado.
Yoghurt contains lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, that dissolves dead skin cells. This gentle exfoliation helps create a natural glow, prevent breakouts, and diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Avocado delivers skin-moisturising vitamin E, and honey is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
A retinol product is a must for anyone over the age of 40. Retinol helps promote skin turnover and encourage a younger, fresher appearance. However, these products can be pretty drying and also cause skin irritation. I would recommend applying every other day until your skin adjusts. For particularly sensitive skin, you can try retinol’s cousin, bakuchiol, which is gentler on the skin and will still help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
A suncream with a high SPF (50+) can also help prevent further collagen loss. Your skin produces less melanin when your oestrogen levels drop during menopause, making your complexion more vulnerable to sun damage. UV rays are one of the most significant contributors to collagen degradation outside of menopause, so protect your skin all year round from damaging UV rays.
Remember that age-old saying, “you are what you eat”? Nutrition has a significant impact on your skin and also how your body reacts to menopause symptoms. In a *one-year-long study in over 17,000 menopausal women, those eating more vegetables, fruit, fibre, and soy experienced a 19% reduction in hot flushes compared to the control group. In addition, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables can help boost collagen production naturally and even help to tighten skin.
Chia seeds, rich in skin-loving omega-3s, can also help protect the skin’s barrier layer to keep skin looking dewy and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Include the berry camu camu, one of the richest sources of vitamin C known to man to support collagen production and your immune system.
I also recommend staying clear of alcohol and sugar as much as possible, as these both destroy and damage collagen fibres and can also exacerbate menopausal symptoms.
Some women experience hair loss and thinning hair during menopause, as we continue to lose estrogen, which promotes hair growth and density. Onions have been shown to help stimulate hair growth and may even help keep grey hair at bay.
A study by Bradford University in the UK found that onion juice helped deliver nutrients to hair follicles and encouraged hair growth. Onions also contain an antioxidant called catalase that helps reduce hydrogen peroxide at the hair roots. This is also thought to keep the hair from turning grey.
If you are suffering from night sweats, you will be dehydrated and this can impact the look and texture of your skin. Drinking plenty of water during waking hours, throughout the day can help replenish fluid loss. Night sweats can be aggravated by fluctuating sugar levels as well as hormones so watch your diet. Foods that are rich in natural plant estrogens, known as phytoestrogens, can also help regulate your body’s estrogen levels. Incorporating flaxseeds and flaxseed oil into your diet may help with symptoms with these very high in phytoestrogen.
During the menopause many women experience a lack of confidence, self-doubt and anxiety. Your changing body and hormones can play havoc with your self-worth so it’s important to invest in yourself and look after your mind and body. Whether it’s meditation, taking up a new interest or just booking some ‘me time’ out of your busy life to do something for yourself, self-care is the best care.
Whatever stage you are at during your menopause journey it’s important to reach out for help and support if required. You’re not alone in this experience and sharing this major life transition. with partners, family, friends and support groups will bring about reassurance and comfort during this time of change.
Sonia Bainbridge is a former Miss Australia runner up, business academic and Co-Founder of Raw Beauty Lab, an Independent British Ethical Beauty Brand & the company behind the beauty industry award-winning beauty supplement, Vegan Collagen. The media regularly call upon Sonia for her tips and advice across the beauty and wellness spectrum, embracing her knowledge on how to eat your way to beautiful skin and natural beauty hacks. Sonia also holds a major in pharmacology, which further adds to her credentials in commenting on beauty ingredients & their effects. As featured in Metro, Evening Standard, The Telegraph, Vegan Life, Women’s Health, The Independent & many more.