Through my own experiences of navigating and adjusting to skin changes as a result of Peri/Menopause and Estrogen Deficiency I've developed the 7 Signs Skin Foundation Framework to help guide our ingredient selection and formulation design.
When it comes to skin specifically, Estrogen is essential for collagen synthesis, hyaluronic acid synthesis, elasticity, hydration, skin thickness, a healthy skin barrier and healing and repairing itself.
It also helps skin protect itself against internal and external stressors like inflammation, oxidative stress and free radicals (the intrinsic and extrinsic ageing factors mentioned earlier).
When our Estrogen levels start to decline we start to experience an overall Estrogen deficiency in our bodies that affect many of our biochemical functions, including our skin health, vitality and appearance. This is referred to as Estrogen Deficient Skin (EDS).
Every product we create is being guided by the 7 Signs Skin Foundation Framework to ensure we deliver solutions that address these particular concerns within a targeted, streamlined skincare routine that's easy to manage and sustain.
Loose skin, visible sagging and loss of firmness as a result of collagen loss and reduced collagen synthesis are probably some of the most physically obvious changes we experience in our skin and appearance.
Collagen and elastin are likened to the internal scaffold in our skin that keeps everything together, firm and plumped up.
Fine lines and wrinkles become more pronounced while lines between the eyes (eleven lines),nasolabial folds and lines around the eyes and mouth deepen, with sagging around the jawline (jowls), as well as the more pronounced lines and wrinkles in the neck and décolletage.
Less Estrogen means less Collagen, and if I knew how precious my own collagen is I would’ve done a lot more to protect it as much I possibly could since my twenties, or teens even.
There’s obviously no way to stop this process and it will happen at different ages, stages and rates for all of us, but taking charge of protecting and preserving the collagen you have, and where possible to stimulate collagen synthesis as much as you can will help slow it down at least.
You may feel as if every bit of sun damage you’ve ever had suddenly appears one day, or that any hyperpigmentation you may have is showing up darker in colour. This is absolutely what it’s been feeling like to me, and it’s still happening.
One day my complexion was fairly smooth and even - and then within a very short space of time I had a lot of pigmentation, fairly sudden redness, rougher texture and larger pores, especially in the t-zone. Of course the fact that I grew up and lived in South Africa until my early twenties and didn’t take sunscreen nearly serious enough until my late thirties has a lot to do with this, but the way it all just came to the surface has been very noticeable and significant.
I’ve also had a number of tiny shallow veins showing close to the surface which could indicate micro-circulation issues.
Many women who experience melasma during earlier hormonal changes, ie. pregnancy can see this increase, or get darker.
Our complexion can also start to look quite dull and as if it’s lost that natural, youthful glow.
You may notice that your skin takes longer to heal from cuts, bruises or breakouts.Estrogen deficiency plays a role in the skin becoming thinner, and therefore more fragile - and it takes longer to heal.
It affects the skin barrier’s ability to regenerate itself and to form lipids. It can also increase sensitivity. For many this could be their first ever experience of skin sensitivity (it has been for me), for others it could increase and exacerbate existing sensitivities.
If you want to read more about your protecting and caring for your skin barrier, just click on the link below:
Estrogen plays an important role in protective antioxidant effects and overall homeostasis, but due to Estrogen loss and decline this protective function is affected to a great extent.
It means the skin is less able to defend and protect itself against internal and external stressors (free radicals and oxidative stress) and biochemical triggers like Glycation (see below) that can manifest as skin ageing.
Weakening of blood vessels and a decrease in blood circulation in the skin (microcirculation) can also lead to reduced circulation which in turn can contribute to diminished removal of metabolic waste products, and also contribute to slower cell turnover.
You may be dealing with dry skin as a skin concern in any case, but an increase, or first experiences of dry skin is often one of the first signs of EDS.
The same as with our collagen synthesis, Estrogen also plays a key role in Hyaluronic Acid (HA) synthesis in our bodies, but through these menopausal hormonal shifts our natural HA production declines and this contributes to overall drier skin.
HA is a glycosaminoglycan that is known for its moisture-retaining quality, making it responsible for skin plumpness and refining fine lines and wrinkles.
Skin can also start to feel extremely itchy at times.
I don’t think any of us expect to be dealing with acne as adults (I certainly didn’t), especially in our 40s and 50s, but for many this is a reality.
All other factors aside it could be that while estrogen levels decline there could be a rise in testosterone. As testosterone levels rise, the skin's sebaceous glands go into overdrive, producing excess sebum that can block pores and potentially cause menopausal acne.
Technically this isn’t a particular skin concern, but I’m including this here because when it comes to our skin, the way we view ourselves, and especially our own beauty is so intimate, close and personal.
There’s literally not another soul on this earth like you, and that is just so wonderful and beautiful - that we get to experience your beauty in all its uniqueness.
But I also know that many of us have a universal experience in struggling with what we see reflecting back at us at times. The thoughts we think and the words we use to describe ourselves when we look in the mirror may not always be the kindest.
I’ll be honest and say that there are moments that I’m finding these physical changes harder than I could have anticipated. But I’m also learning to be softer, and kinder to myself - and in the process embrace more and more this chapter and my life.