My hair fell out, I got acne and my cheeks disappeared when I went through the menopause – but here’s how to conquer it

My hair fell out, I got acne and my cheeks disappeared when I went through the menopause – but here’s how to conquer it

October 6, 2021

FROM itchiness to sagging cheeks and spots, we reveal how your skin can be affected and how to combat the changes.

Today, our beauty panel tell their stories while we share beauty products to help.

‘NO ONE SAID FACE WOULD DEFLATE’

INFLUENCER Tracey McAlpine, 51, from Hampstead, North West London, says:

"Menopause created changes in my skin that I wasn’t expecting. I hit perimenopause in my mid-thirties and my menopause began at 46.

"No one told me my face would deflate and lose volume – especially my cheeks. They went from pillowy and round to disappearing under my cheekbones, never to be seen again.

"It’s because of the dramatic drop in collagen. A good collagen supplement, such as Colnatur Complex with Turmeric, £28.99, colnature.co.uk, as well as microcurrent and radio frequency gadgets like the Foreo Bear, £279, feelunique.co.uk, have helped stop my face looking any older than it is.

"Menopause also has a habit of drying up everything, especially your skin. I had to up my game with better serums and moisturisers, especially ones with hyaluronic acid to lock in the moisture such as Indeed Me-No–pause Cooling Mist £19.99, lookfantastic.com.

"The texture and tone of my skin also changed – it wasn’t as smooth or springy and had lost its glow. Clever highlighters and serum foundations helped to brighten up my skin – I love Ariane Poole Ultimate Face Tint, £29, arianepool.com.

"Dullness and pigmentation were other symptoms that hit me – I had never really dealt with either before. My regime had gone from stripped back and simple to feeding my skin vitamin C and glycolic acid.

"I also hadn’t realised when I was younger that menopause doesn’t just start and stop. It continues and so do the effects on your skin. It’s an uphill battle as you get older to keep your skin looking healthy but thankfully there are now lots of products out there to help."

‘I had brain fog and lost hair’

Make-up artist Ruby Hammer, 59, from Maida Vale, West London, says:
"My menopause journey began when I turned 50. Back then there was not as much open advice, so I felt very confused.

"I was in the process of mourning my late mum and as a result, my hair went grey overnight and my periods completely stopped. I suffered from all the classic symptoms you’d expect, from night sweats and hot flushes to brain fog and feelings of panic and anxiety.

"My memory was shot. I would often lock myself out of the house with nothing but flip flops on in the middle of winter.

"On top of this, my hair started falling out, my nails turned dry and brittle and the skin above my cheeks turned thin and crepey.

"Meanwhile, on my chin only I had full-blown acne. When I went to my GP I was prescribed Prozac and not advised on taking HRT at all.

"I bumbled along trying to get sleep where I could, exploring herbal remedies, extra magnesium, Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, hair supplements, CBD and prebiotics.

"It wasn’t until this year that I started taking HRT, almost a decade after the menopause had first started. I now have to evaluate whether it is worth continuing or, as I’ve managed the journey so far, continuing without. In the meantime, I had to be extra careful with cleansing to keep my changing skin settled.

"I used clarifying masks such as Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Pads, £15, asos.com, plus gentle exfoliators on my chin as well as ramping up the hydration on my cheeks and under the eyes. I also started to incorporate more omega-high foods in my diet."

THE 3 AIMS OF OUR CAMPAIGN

  • Make HRT free for all women on the NHS.
  • Ensure every workplace has a menopause policy that supports staff.
  • Get men and women talking more openly about the menopause to shatter the taboo.

QUICK BRUISING

OESTROGEN plays an important role in healing wounds, particularly reducing inflammation.

Ageing also results in the capillaries becoming more fragile, so it is easier to get purple bruising on your face and other areas of the body.
Use vitamin C daily to minimise the visible effects.

SAGGING CHEEKS

COLLAGEN is the key protein for healthy joints, skin elasticity and plumpness. Levels of it drop by 30 per cent during the first five years of menopause, decreasing a further two per cent year on year.

As it slumps, our skin droops with it. Dr Ferhat Uddin, menopause expert and founder of Liberty Health Clinics in central London, says: “Eat foods rich in phytoestrogens. For example, sesame seeds, garlic or peaches, and collagen-rich bone broth to boost skin.”

PIGMENTAION

AS the skin becomes thinner due to a lack of oestrogen, hyperpigmentation can become more of an issue. Chronic sun exposure, tanning and sunburns from the past can mean there is lots of melanin in your skin.

With thinner skin, pigmentation is more visible. Try a caffeinated product to reduce pigmentation.

ACNE

INCREASED inflammation, fluctuating hormone levels and a compromised skin barrier all lead to one thing . . . spots. So, it’s no surprise 25 per cent of women in their forties suffer with acne.

Introduce a multi-tasking retinol to reduce breakouts by sloughing away dead skin before it causes a blockage. To combat active pimples, skincare expert Caroline Hirons recommends the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, £5.99, feelunique.com.

HAIR ON CHIN

WE all have facial hair but oestrogen keeps the strands softer and lighter. Testosterone causes thicker, coarser hairs and as female hormone levels fall, levels of male hormones might not.

Dr Shirin Lakhani of Kent-based Elite Aesthetics says: “Laser treatment is a safe and effective way of removing unwanted hair. It kills hair follicles and makes the hair less coarse and dense.”

ITCHINESS

ONE of the lesser-known symptoms that still attracts 1,600 monthly searches on Google is itching.

As oestrogen declines during the perimenopause, which often starts in your forties, your face and body moisture levels also reduce, resulting in itchiness, bumps and rashes. Try cream to ease the redness.

MUSCLE LOSS

AS you reach perimenopause, that youthful plumpness begins to deflate.
Loss of muscle tone is due to decreased oestrogen, which normally increases fat and muscle mass.

Strengthen muscles with daily facial exercises for 30 minutes. Check out @FaceGym videos on Instagram for guidance.

DRY AND DULL SKIN

Changes to hormones can impact the overall health of our skin barrier, which keeps moisture levels in check. This, coupled with PH imbalances caused by reduced oestrogen, can lead to extra dryness and increased sensitivity.

Amp up your hydration with thick, emollient creams. A weekly mask can boost levels further.

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