How to manage skin changes during perimenopause and menopause, according to an expert

In partnership with Vichy

A side illustration of a woman
(Image credit: Future)

One of the most difficult aspects of the perimenopause and menopause is just how unpredictable the symptoms can be. Some women suffer from hot flushes or experience difficulties with anxiety or depression due to menopause, while others have trouble sleeping or experience skin changes

Dr Mary Sommerlad, consultant dermatologist at Vichy, says that women tend to start experiencing skin changes during perimenopause and the menopause because of “changes in our hormones”. As we age, the body gradually produces less estrogen – and estrogen is key for skin health, collagen and elastin – which means your skin may become thinner, drier, and looser than before. According to studies on estrogen, estrogen deficiency following menopause results in “atrophic skin changes and acceleration of skin ageing”.

“The most common changes to our skin during the perimenopause and menopause,” says Dr Sommerlad “are drying of the skin, increased sensitivity to the skin, textural changes, fine lines and wrinkles, a redding of the skin and acne, or excessive hair.”

Fortunately, there are several ways that you can lessen the effects of these hormonal changes and ensure your skin stays in top condition. Here, then, are Dr Sommerlad’s top tips for managing menopausal skin…

How to manage skin changes during the menopause and perimenopause

1. Keep your skincare regime simple

“The number one suggestion I have for perimenopausal or menopausal skin is to stick to a simple skincare routine and focus on consistency, rather than quantity,” says Dr Sommerlad. 

Menopausal skin can be easily irritated, which is why Dr Sommerlad suggests using fewer – but effective – products. She also recommends opting for a skincare routine that targets your particular menopausal issues; “focus on hydrating and soothing the skin,” she says, and choose “products that contain restoring and soothing properties, such as Niacinamide”. 

2. Use a moisturiser with hyaluronic acid

“We know that most people going through the perimenopause and menopause experience drying of their skin,” explains Dr Sommerlad. “Therefore it’s really important to look for moisturisers and serums that hydrate and lock in moisture.

For drier, itchier and flakier skin, she recommends using moisturisers with hyaluronic acid. “It has an amazing quality of drawing water into the skin and locking water into the skin, so the skin then remains well hydrated, giving it a plumper experience. Plumper skin is smoother and looks more radiant,” she says.

Why hyaluronic acid? “It’s a good ingredient that doesn’t cause irritation, it plays well with active ingredients but it’s also very safe to use if you have a sensitivity or are prone to dry skin,” she adds. 

3. Look at your diet

“We cannot underestimate how important our diet is when it comes to coping with the transition of menopause and perimenopause,” says Dr Sommerlad. “There is lots of evidence out there that suggests having a diet high in fibre and rich in antioxidants has huge health benefits.”

Dr Sommerlad suggests looking for lots of plant-based foods that are minimally processed and full of colour; “These are our antioxidants, we put them on our skin but also need to eat them in order to maximise our health benefits,” she says. “Alcohol and caffeine can really accelerate the ageing process, and caffeine can act as a diuretic, losing water and giving your skin a dull appearance.”

4. Think about trying HRT

Many women use HRT – hormone replacement therapy – to manage common symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes. HRT boosts estrogen or testosterone for people whose levels are too low and has been shown to increase moisture, elasticity and skin thickness – but while some women taking HRT report skin improvements, many studies that look at the effect of HRT on ageing skin say more research is needed.

“It's really important that when you start HRT that you do it in collaboration with health care professionals, such as a doctor who has experience in combining the right levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone,” advises Dr Sommerlad. “If you are experiencing symptoms such as excessive hair, blemishes and breakouts you want to ensure your HRT contains the right combination of hormones that won’t cause any more symptoms.” 

5. Consider in-clinic treatments

The decline in collagen and elastin production usually means that skin can look less firm and we begin to notice the appearance of lines and wrinkles. “A big thing that we notice when we are transitioning through the perimenopause is a loss of volume in the upper half of the face,” says Dr Sommerlad. “There are injectable treatments that can help restore that volume – usually in the form of hyaluronic acid-based fillers or botulinum-based injectables that can help smooth out lines.”

But it’s worth doing your research first, she warns. “If you are going for an injectable in-clinic treatment, make sure you speak to someone who is familiar with dealing with your skin type and someone who gives you what you want from an injectable experience.” 

Discover Vichy Neovadiol Skincare for Perimenopause & Menopause at Boots and your local pharmacy. For symptom guidance and support speak to your GP or pharmacist. 

Alice Barraclough
Alice is a contributing lifestyle journalist with over seven years of industry experience and has worked for the likes of The Telegraph, The Independent, Women's Health, Stylist, Glamour, Grazia, Glorious Sport and more. Specialising in health and fitness, Alice covers everything from the latest product launches to interviewing some of the most inspiring female sports stars of our time.