Change is inevitable, and all things in life temporal, but does that really mean these are negative occurrences? No. That is just how we have been taught – whether it be the media, the perfectly photo-shopped and weirdly-pulled actresses (come on, they look crazy!) – to think about ourselves. It is actually possible to mature healthfully and in fact, beautifully! Is it possible to evolve into our true selves and embrace our character and the experiences that show on our radiant faces, bodies, hearts, and stubbornly-wise minds?
But, it is important to treat and maintain the most radiant skin and strongest bodies we can! That starts with identifying skin issues and rescuing clients out of any “crisis” they may be in, working on the underlying causes of skin problems, and ensuring the skin comes back into a state of balance. Then, and only then, can we get into a regimen of active daily care, continuing to promote that harmony and adding any amplification products to support our client’s best selves or prevent unhealthy or early signs of aging.
The most common skin crises during menopause are dryness, rough patches, itching and redness. Rosacea growing in numbers each year, as well as adult acne. Of course our greatest concerns – wrinkles and fine lines, reduced skin elasticity, and sagging – are very real as well. As fatty deposits under the first layers of skin go away, the skin’s ability to rebuild elastin and collagen slows. Smoothness is replaced by a sort of bumpy roughness, and hair pops up where no hair was before! As they say, growing older is not for the faint of heart! But it can truly be that time where we come into our own… At least I and many of my contemporaries, who have chosen lives of challenge and not so much of safety, have found themselves. It is a wonder to witness beautiful, radiant women evolve to be fearless and not afraid to touch and be touched.
Menopause, Perimenopause and Premature Menopause
Menopause usually begins around age 45 and can last up to age 60, although many more women are now experiencing early menopause at stunningly early ages of 33 to37, just like many preteens are beginning puberty at the age of 10 to 12. Could this be the reproductive toxins, synthetics, plasticizers, and plethora of other such nonsense in foods and skin care? Of course! Therefore, doing what we can to reduce our toxic load is a very good starting place when we think about our client’s overall health.
When a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, menstruation ends and many bodily changes begin, which can often make us feel (and appear) crazy! Changes include altering sleep patterns, fluctuating menstruation cycles, mood swings, and estrogen reduction. Also, the suppleness women are used to seeing in their skin disappears. Bring on the hot flashes along with sweats, which makes it a little confusing to have dry, itchy skin (and this is the most common, most profound complaint in menopause). But our client’s testosterone production levels reduce as well, making sexual overtures unwanted at times, and leave feelings of being unwomanly for some time… This is yet another fun situation to deal with for any woman, much less any couple! Mood swings (caused by hormonal imbalance, as well as exhaustion), fluctuations in weight along with bloating, and joint pain are all in the mix too.
Perimenopause, the early stages of menopause, is when the fun begins. This is where symptoms begin to occur – we begin to see changes in the menstrual cycles and we begin to feel profound, yet here and there, changes leading into menopause, both physically and physiologically. Like being pregnant or having a health crisis for example, this can be a time when we learn the most and make big changes in lifestyle for the better, externally and internally. “Knowing your beauty” here is so important, and taking on your own healthcare, education, and sense of self. Focusing on the overall health, including mental, physical, stress management and other emotional aspects will help make life seem like a woman’s own and less like the “will of the gods.”
Skin Issues: Treatment, Prevention, and Maintenance
When choosing a skin care product for menopausal skin, start by looking at the ingredients. I believe ingredients to look for should include: anti-inflammatories (like natural salicylic acid), calming colloidal oat, and nourishing oils that most closely match the skin’s own sebum (this is so they balance the overall chemistry and do not clog and overproduce or dry out the skin). On the science side, look for hard core naturals that do not produce the VSA (volatile synthetic irritating inflammatory) response, but produce refined, real ingredients like resveratrol and other antioxidants like vitamin C, green tea, and powerful retinoids from botanicals. Also, clients should choose makeup that is not going to undo all the good being done! It is harder with makeup as performance does matter. It is important to stick to natural oxides and micas, especially with the foundation, tinted moisturizer, and concealer. They will not cause cancers and or hurt the body in the long run. Make sure your client washes them off at the end of each day because they are sunscreens meant to physically block the sun and environmental aggressors. They will clog the pores if left on the skin.
The key to treating any skin issue is looking at it from a whole person view, not just a superficial one, and treating the overall cause of the challenge, which can include systemic immunity issues, oil and bacterial production imbalances and allergies. This is a time when women’s systems are thrown completely out of whack. Hormones affect literally everything we do, so looking at underlying cause and effect is key.
Vitamin D is essential and even more necessary the darker the skin tone… and the only way to get the right kind of vitamin D is from the sun – early morning or late afternoon sun. So please, do not buy into the claim of needing to apply sunscreen every time you step into a sun’s ray! Clients should get 10 to 20 minutes of healthy doses of sun every day if possible. They will feel great, look great and their body will be strong and healthy. That chronic fatique will somehow disappear too! At the beach? There are other ways to protect the skin from the sun. Ultraviolet protective (long-sleeved is good too) shirts, pants, and swimwear are everywhere now. Wide brim hats and sunglasses also provide great protection.
Internally, clients should beef up their immune system with whole food vitamins – at least a good one every day, a probiotic, some good DHEA, CoQ10, resveratrol, and some fish oil is a start to a great “mature year” supplement cabinet, but the best medicine of all is daily exercise and positivity.
Of course, things happen that clients are not too happy about as they age, like redness, brown spots, acne scars, and other issues. And, there are dermabrasions, laser treatments, oxygen facials, and all sorts of things that can be done, (including yoga, good food, indulging yourself, sleeping, and meditation – which I find the best!) for all these little annoyances… But no one is perfect. Clients should do what makes them actually feel good, and quelch the dark thoughts with a hammer!
While skin care during menopause can change as quickly as the weather, having plans in place for care during each season is a step in the right direction toward being prepared for all the changes that come during menopause. Winter skin is often dry, itchy, and flaky. Worrying about menopausal dryness during this season is understandable. Clients can stay moisturized by using exfoliates and richer balms and salves. Protecting the hands and face from the elements are essential. During spring, when weather is warming up, oily skin can begin. Clients should begin trying a facial oil here rather than the typical heavier cream. In the fall, skin will begin to get dry again, so staying well-hydrated is key. During every season, staying well-hydrated internally will not only help keep skin healthy, but it will help keep the whole body processing and reducing toxins, which will inevitably affect the skin.
Diet, Rest, and Bathing
Other steps for self-care during menopause include eating a healthy diet full of organics, non-GMOs, healthy fats, essential oils and omega 3s found in fish, nuts, seeds, and eggs. A reduction in eating carbohydrates can be beneficial if replaced with fresh fruits, vegetables, and foods high in vitamins and minerals. If a client drinks a lot of water, actually increasing their salt intake may be necessary for energy. Smoking can have adverse effects on client’s health, as we know, but smoking can also accelerate the effects of menopause earlier than for non-smokers. Smoking also attributes to faster collagen decline (you know what “smoker’s mouth” looks like right?) and can have ill-effects, especially when the body is trying to adjust through many other changes. Quitting smoking is imperative to reduce toxic chemicals running through the bloodstream that will damage collagen skin cells, and quitting can help return oxygen back to cells.
Resting, especially between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. is especially essential to promote enhancement of cell growth. These hours are also known as the peak times for rest because during this time the body produces the most melatonin, a natural sleep enhancement hormone which assists in regulating circadian rhythm sleep patterns. It is important to bed in bed by 9 p.m. to allow the body time to relax into a restful slumber and be asleep by 10 p.m. Melatonin also decreases as a person ages, so getting rest at the proper times can be beneficial to health and to cell regeneration.
Inform clients that taking cooler showers or baths will help prevent their skin from drying out. Using Epsom salt in the bath can help detoxify and de-stress. Encourage them to add some clay to pull out the toxins from their body. Exfoliation of the skin to remove dead and dry skin cells is an absolute necessity for radiant skin, and it increases oxygen levels as well. Applying toner, serum, and correct facial oil or cream while the skin is damp (after bathing) is important to retain moisture and also helps boost collagen production.
Every person is different and menopausal symptoms and steps for skin care will differ from person to person. It is crucial to understand that what is put into the body is equally as important as what is put onto the body.
Mostly, all women should enjoy this time; it is actually a woman’s prime of life. We are living longer and looking fabulous longer than ever before! The most important thing in the world is how a client feels about themselves and how they feel inside their own body, and the great thing is, there is so much more to do!
Suki Kramer is the founder, formulator, and president of suki® skincare, strong safe solutions for your skin problems and sensitivities™, and is a progressive, independent natural skin care pioneer committed to challenging beauty industry assumptions and advocating for women’s empowerment. Kramer uses writing as a platform for her advocacy, informing others about ingredients, label reading, and how to question authority. Her line offers 100 percent pure, toxin-free treatments utilizing patented TLC technology™, clinically proven to target underlying causes of problem skin without the caustic side effects of VSAs. Her brand’s core philosophy, know your beauty®, reflects this commitment to integrity, authenticity, and ethics.