Do You Need To Add Menopause-Specific Products To Your Beauty Routine?

The answer may surprise you.
Beauty
Written by Elise Minton Tabin
11.17.2021
Do You Need To Add Menopause-Specific Products To Your Beauty Routine?insta_photos/Shutterstock

The average woman experiencing menopause in the United States is 51 years old, and the fifties is also the prime decade when many common signs of aging become evident. Coincidence? Not quite. A lot happens to the body during menopause, which is the natural transition when a woman no longer produces the female hormones progesterone and estrogen nor experiences her period. These significant hormone changes lead to extreme dryness (from head to toe), weight gain, hot flashes, and even breakouts, among other things.

Recently, more beauty brands are catering to this delicate and transitional type of skin with menopause-specific products that run the gamut of hair, skin, and pretty much everything else imaginable. But are these formulations actually any different than what’s already on the market, and is it worth adding them to your skincare, hair care, and wellness routines? We investigate.

Menopause & Your Skin

Menopause is a time when many naturally occurring phenomena — like collagen production, cell turnover, and moisture retention — slow down and, in turn, significantly affect the skin's appearance, says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York City. In menopausal and post-menopausal skin, it's also important to understand that the functions of the skin, such as the ability to retain water and skin thickness, are diminished, notes Beth Goldstein, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Chapel Hill, NC.

As a result, skin laxity and dryness — plus, the side effects that come with them — are two of the most skin concerns women face during menopause:

Skin Laxity

Collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid production levels also take a steep dip during menopause, resulting in less protein support and a diminished ability to retain moisture. In simple terms, that equates to thinner lips, more fine lines, and sagging in areas where the skin is delicate (think: the eyes, neck, and décolleté). “The jawline and lower face tend to show sagging first due to facial fat pad migration and the effects of collagen loss and gravity over time,” Dr. Engelman says. Skin laxity is also a byproduct of a decrease in collagen, which — yes, you guessed it — is directly correlated to lowered estrogen levels.

A combination of in-office treatments and at-home skincare (more on latter below) can help to counteract some of these concerns. Angela Lamb, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NYC, favors “a good laser resurfacing because that helps you — that's how I like to put it! — and Sculptra® because it also stimulates your collagen.” Laser skin resurfacing can address many visible signs of aging, while Sculptra® is a biostimulatory injectables that jumpstarts the very processes that are slowing down.

Skin Dryness

Many women in the throes of menopause also complain of incessantly dry or dehydrated skin. “The loss in cell regeneration, caused by ongoing estrogen loss, leads to a loss in thickness and hydration,” says Dr. Goldstein. In addition, the body starts to produce less hyaluronic acid than it did in years past, which affects the skin's ability to moisturize itself and hold onto moisture naturally.

Dry skin is pretty standard in menopausal women, as are the side effects that come with it, like roughness, crepiness, wrinkling, and a dull, lackluster complexion. “Since the body is no longer producing enough collagen, retaining as much moisture, or shedding and renewing skin cells at the same rate, the skin shows more prominent signs of aging in the form of dryness, wrinkles, and sagging,” Dr. Engelman explains.

Also to blame for the perpetually dryness? The sebaceous glands, which are responsible for sebum (a.k.a. oil) production. Like everything else in the skin and body, they become less active with age and contribute to dryness. “Particularly with the increased dryness, the ‘TLC’ given to the skin will be in the form of richer moisturizers and more frequent moisturizers,” Dr. Lamb says. Another must-have: Use a humidifier for healthier, more hydrated skin. “So many external factors dry out the skin, yet running a no-mist humidifier indoors and while you sleep, like the Canopy Humidifier, helps prevent water loss and improve skin’s health, hydration, and elasticity,” Dr. Engelman shares. This is especially true for “those with mature or menopausal skin,” she adds.

We wouldn’t blame you for assuming that the decreased oil production would mean the end of acne, but alas, that’s not always the case. Hormonal breakouts along the chin and jawline are likely during menopause due to the ever-changing hormone levels. “Unfortunately, some of my patients do experience more chin-line acne,” Dr. Lamb says.

Changes to Your Crowning Glory

It’s not just the skin that experiences major menopause-related changes. The hair does, too, often taking shape in the form of thin, limp, and lifeless locks. “At menopause, hair thinning occurs at a faster rate,” Dr. Engelman states. But that’s not all. “Once women begin to notice visible hair thinning, they have already lost about 50 percent of their hair density,” she adds.

Although it doesn’t actually happen this way, the hair seems to transform overnight from healthy, shiny, long, and voluminous strands to lackluster, brittle tresses that experience high volume shedding. This hair loss is due to hormonal changes that affect how long the hair follicle stays in the growing or anagen phase. While the hormonal changes are inevitable, there are supplements, shampoos, and more that can help keep the hair looking fuller and thicker longer — just ask these celebrity hairstylists.

If you’ve ever felt like there is a relationship between the state of your hair and nails, menopause isn’t much different. “It’s also common for the nails to become more brittle and porous, too,” Dr. Lamb says.

A New Category Is Born

“During menopause, it’s important to supplement the processes that the body is no longer performing itself to avoid exacerbating signs of aging and suffering from dry, flaking skin,” Dr. Engelman says. The way you handle and treat the skin, body, and hair (and all of its age-related effects!) are different in the fifties than at 40 or 35 or 25 for obvious reasons — the skin is not the same as it once was.

Due to all this special attention and care the skin requires as it enters and embarks on the cycle of menopause was enough of an impetus for female founders and beauty brands to take notice and realize that menopausal skin is underserved. For all these reasons and more, a new breed of beauty and skincare products that cater specifically to the needs of women during menopause is making its way to the forefront.

Enter: menopausal beauty.

Up until just a few years ago, menopause was the redheaded stepchild of the beauty industry — a forgotten phase of the skin’s health cycle that craves and deserves extra special care. “Menopause is a pivotal phase during which the body goes through a lot of changes, including the skin and hair,” Dr. Engelman says. “It only affects women, and it lasts for a relatively short amount of time (about four years), which may be why beauty brands and the industry gave so little attention to it until recently.”

With thousands upon thousands of women searching for the holy grail of products specific to their beauty needs during this period, brands started to take notice. As the industry continues to grow and more emphasis falls on specific milestone-like events, cycles, and phases of the skin and hair, new categories continue to emerge to serve the underserved better. “I like to call aging ‘maturity,’” Dr. Lamb shares. “As women are working longer and want to be seen for the full aspects of humanity they contribute to society, we should embrace our maturity and be the best versions of our mature selves as possible.” That maturity comes in the form of products made specifically for this point in life.

Normalizing the Conversation

Talk of 'rebranding' and 'normalizing' menopause started a few years ago with actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop lifestyle brand. Since then, the category has only gone in the up direction, and, today, menopause beauty shows no signs of slowing down, which is a good thing. “There is more skincare for menopause because companies are finally figuring out that there so many women are going into perimenopause every day,” says Lorrie King, co-founder of Caire Beauty, a line of “skincare for grown up skin.”

Nearly 7,000 women per day encounter their first bouts of perimenopausal symptoms, which begin up to a decade before menopause officially sets in and range from irregular periods, mood swings, and hot flashes to tiredness, vaginal dryness, weight fluctuations, and more. “Most anti-aging skincare isn’t designed to address these major internal losses that you can see and feel,” King adds.

Brands like Pause Well-Aging are breaking barriers and making the phenomenon of menopausal beauty more mainstream than ever. When Rochelle Weitzner launched the line, she set out to create an entirely new category in beauty — and did just that, although gaining traction was not easy. Weitzner says the industry met her with resistance: potential channel partners said menopause was a medical condition that couldn't be discussed, and editors declared they didn’t write about menopause because they didn't want their readers to feel bad about themselves.

There was even push back from Google saying that the brand violates their health-in-personalized-advertising policy. But Weitzner held to her passion and mission and accomplished a significant hurdle garnering national retail partnerships and continual coverage in prominent publications. Her brand convinced national retailer Lord & Taylor to create a menopause category in their beauty division, a relatively big feat.

The Purpose of the Products

Here's the kicker: For as much good as menopause-specific beauty is doing in so far as giving voice to a demographic that has long gone unheard, your skin, hair, and body can survive without these specifically branded products as long as your skincare and beauty routine is deliberate. It all comes down to what’s inside the formulation — the actives, their concentration, potential irritants, and moisturizing agents.

As Dr. Goldstein explains, the ingredients you have tolerated for years may now be irritating, and moisturizers that once did the trick no longer give plumpness or a smoothing effect. As such, it may be time to break up with some of your beloved products that have seen better days with your skin. Ingredients and products to scale back on (or avoid entirely, especially if the skin cannot tolerate them) include:

  • Aggressive hydroxy acids (AHAs, BHAs, PHAs)
  • Skin-stripping toners
  • Anything that makes the skin feel tight, itchy, or sensitized

Dr. Lamb stresses the importance of being very intentional about serums and more powerful treatments to ward off fine lines and age spots.

Sure, menopausal beauty hones in on the skin's delicate needs during this up-and-down period, but it also caters to the needs and wants of women in this age group in terms of messaging and ethos. Perhaps you can get similar — if not the same results — with products that worked well for you in your forties or earlier. But, as Dr. Engelman says, the goal in singular: “It's all about focusing on the skin's primary needs: hydration and moisture retention, volume replenishment, strengthening of the skin barrier, and improving collagen levels and cell turnover.”

The Best Products for Women During Menopause

Now that you have a better sense of what happens to the skin and hair during menopause, it’s time to explore some the best brands and products catering specifically to women in this phase of life:

The Mega Moisturizing Mask: Faace Menopause Faace Mask

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It's a fact that menopausal skin is seriously dry — we're talking parched to the point that it feels like, on some days, there's no hope. And that's where this super hydrating mask comes in. It’s packed with good-for-your-skin, moisture-rich ingredients, like rose water, carrot seed, rosehip, and pomegranate oils, that flood the skin with nourishing hydration while safeguarding against breakouts. $39, wearefaace.com

Keep Your Cool: Womaness Gone in a Hot Flash

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Cute name aside, this mist is every menopausal woman's dream. Hot flashes don't stand a chance against this soothing, floral-scented spray, which contains calming and cooling essential oils to refresh and cool the skin on contact. You’ll want to keep one at home and one in your purse. $17, womaness.com

For a Firming Effect: Pause Well-Aging Fascia Stimulating Tool

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Hormonal changes affect the skin in various ways, like a loss of collagen. With less collagen in the skin, it's bound to take on a dry, dull, saggy appearance, but this hand-held tool helps stimulate fibroblasts and spark collagen production. The net-net: You can regain that healthy glow from the privacy of your own home. $115, pausewellaging.com

Like a Drink of Water for Thirsty Skin: Caire Beauty Theorem Serum Boost

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Recognizing that pre- and post-menopause are essential times to reconsider your skincare routine, Caire Beauty takes a scientific and holistic approach to skin health. Case in point: this silky serum, which delivers multiple weights of hyaluronic acid for much-needed moisture and mimics the skin-positive effects of estrogen that include regeneration and water retention. $56, clairebeauty.com

For Fuller-Looking Strands: Better Not Younger Lift Me Up

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Hair that falls flat at the root and lacks volume comes with the territory during menopause. But rather than living with a do-nothing ‘do, spritz this lightweight volumizer and watch as your mane instantly regains body. Nourishing ingredients like ceramides, biotin, and niacinamide promote scalp health and create thickness without drying out hair. $34, sephora.com

Plump It Up: PRAI Beauty Prime Time Meno-Soothe Serum

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Serums that feel good on the skin are one thing, but serums that chill the complexion when it feels like it’s as-hot-as-lava are, like, next-level magic for menopausal skin. This rollerball gel utilizes a specialized ingredient that cools the skin while simultaneously delivering hydration and skin-plumping peptides. In addition, a bevy of moisturizers and humectants helps limit the drying effects of menopause. $60, praibeauty.com

To Get Back in Balance: Dr. Janine Mahon Menopause Hormonal Balance

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This tonic contains a blend of holistic herbs that support the symptoms of hormonal changes, including sleeplessness, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, dry skin, and the emotional mood swings that come with menopause. $48, drjaninemahon.com

The Does-it-All Balm: Rosebud Woman Honor Everyday Balm

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This all-natural conditioning, moisturizing, and replenishing balm is a must-have for dry, sensitive, and compromised skin. Suitable for skin during both menopause and pregnancy, apply this white meadowfoam-, chamomile-, and bisabolol-rich formula from head-to-toe. Literally, all patches of dry skin are fair game — including more sensitive areas like the inner and outer labia. $90, thedetoxmarket.com

Put a Patch on It: The Good Patch Hot Flash

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Patches and masks are all the rage these days, and these plant-based stick-ons are a cute yet discreet way to keep calm, cool, and collected on every level. These vegan patches last up to 12 hours and release a steady dose of premium hemp extract, black cohosh, capsaicin, black pepper, and more to make hot flashes that much more tolerable. $4, thegoodpatch.com

Grow Back What You’ve Lost: Nutrafol Women’s Balance

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Make this daily supplement part of your hair care routine if thinning hair and hair loss are concerns. It features hormone-supportive ingredients like maca, saw palmetto, and astaxanthin that are beneficial for fragile menopausal hair to improve hair growth and thickness. $88, nutrafol.com

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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ELISE MINTON TABINis a freelance writer for AEDIT.

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