Hormonal effects on skin aren’t reserved for the teen years or certain times of the month. When we enter perimenopause and menopause—a transition that can begin in one’s 30s but typically starts in the 40s—estrogen levels decrease, which can have a major impact on skin, from its ability to maintain hydration to its bounciness and radiance.
“When estrogen levels drop, it can cause changes that we often aren’t prepared for,” says dermatologist Dr. Sarv Zand, MD. The good news: In recent years the subject of menopause has become less taboo, and solutions have come along with that. “Destigmatizing menopause and having access to products that serve us during this time of transition is really empowering,” says Dr. Zand. Actress Naomi Watts’ new skincare and vaginal-wellness brand, Stripes, is one example of this. Watts has spoken transparently about her experience of going into early menopause in her 30s, and the brand’s products are specifically designed to address estrogen-depleted skin.
Whether menopause is in your future or you’re currently navigating it, you deserve to know exactly what to expect. Below, read up on six common skin changes, then find the solutions that may work for you.
1. Less Bright-and-Bouncy Skin
“Estrogen [facilitates] collagen production and is a driver for skin plumpness,” says Dr. Zand. “When its levels drop, our skin is thinner and can look more dull and wrinkled.”
If you’re not yet experiencing estrogen loss, a collagen-supportive skincare routine with retinoids and sunscreen can help assuage thinning and dullness once menopause arrives. But if this is a transition you’re already experiencing, look to products designed to help retain collagen, such as Stripes The Power Move Ectoine Hydrating & Plumping Facial Serum, which features an innovative ingredient called ectoine.
“I call ectoine ‘protectoine’ because it protects proteins like collagen,” says Dr. Zand. “We did a test where we heated egg whites in test tubes, and the tube that also contained ectoine stayed uncooked longer.” The compound is derived from bacteria that survive in harsh environments like the desert, and its properties help prevent damage in hot situations—sounds about right!
2. Drier Skin Than You’ve Ever Had Before
When paired with squalane, ectoine can also help hydrate dry skin. And estrogen’s integral role in maintaining moisture and keeping the skin barrier healthy means that when its levels start to drop, products with moisturizing, barrier-boosting ingredients become key.
“Ectoine helps cells function better and plumps them up,” says Jessica Kizovski, a chemist and product development manager for Stripes. Squalane, another a key ingredient in the brand’s formulas, “has been shown to improve hydration, smoothness, and barrier health, as well as boost the benefits of ectoine,” Kizovski says.
Another hydration-maintaining trick Dr. Zand recommends is to cleanse your face in the evenings only, rather than twice a day. In the morning, just refresh your skin with lukewarm water.
3. More Sensitivity to Products and the Environment
“Skin becomes more sensitive overall [when estrogen levels drop],” says Dr. Zand. This might mean you should revamp your skincare routine to include products that are more simplified and protective, and less aggressive.
Look for clean, well-studied ingredients that boost skin resilience and don’t damage the moisture barrier. Stripes Resting Clean Face Ectoine Nourishing & Calming Face Wash, for example, can break down makeup, oil, and dirt without stripping and drying out skin.
4. Faster Aging of Hands and Feet
“Before it shows in the face, I often have patients who notice menopausal skin changes in their hands and feet,” says Dr. Zand, who explains that this is likely because these areas don’t get as much circulation.
For daily neck-to-toe skincare, try Stripes The Full Monty Squalane Hydrating Vitamin C Body Oil, which contains deeply hydrating ingredients like squalane, as well as antioxidants for improved radiance. And why not enjoy yourself while you apply it with a relaxing self-massage? “Menopause is a time to enjoy our bodies and focus on looking inward and loving ourselves,” says Dr. Zand.
5. An Acne Comeback
“For some, an estrogen drop can cause acne as the body becomes slightly more androgen-prone,” says Dr. Zand. “Surprising bouts can be intermittent. This tends to settle as hormones stabilize toward the end of menopause, but in the meantime, it can be very frustrating.”
If your skin isn’t too sensitized, your doctor can guide you to a retinoid prescription that will stimulate skin-cell turnover and prevent the buildup of dead skin cells that can lead to pimples. Regardless, your skin will still need hydration to prevent overdrying and maintain that healthy barrier. Stripes Dew As I Do Ectoine + Vitamin C Brightening & Hydrating Cream was formulated specifically to work with any skin type, so it can moisturize without contributing to breakouts. A perfect balance.
6. And, Yes, Those Infamous Hot Flashes
While the origin of a hot flash begins internally, and lifestyle changes can help reduce the frequency and intensity, you can also help calm and comfort flushed skin from the outside. A favorite is Stripes The Cool Factor Ectoine Cooling & Calming Face Mist, which uses edelweiss-flower extract and antioxidants to cool and reduce discomfort, plus ectoine and squalane to hydrate. “I love this mist because it’s both cooling and extremely hydrating,” says Dr. Zand.
Discover More Tips, Products, and Community
To learn more about perimenopause and menopause, consider joining Stripes’ The Hot Spot community, created just for those experiencing perimenopause and menopause.