Anti-Aging Skin Care for After Menopause
By Cynthia Bailey MD.
Anti-aging skin care after menopause is really important for helping fight skin aging and thinning. This is the time when you want to be certain that you are using the most effective ingredients that are formulated into trusted products that work.
I'm a dermatologist who went through menopause almost 20 years ago and I know how important our skin care routine is at this point in our life. - Dr. Cynthia Bailey
You want to approach your anti-aging skin care routine from every angle possible after menopause; now, more than any other time in your life, your skin care routine is essential for keeping your skin healthy, strong and youthful skin. I know this both personally and professionally! The picture here is me at 62, almost 20 years after menopause. Yep, I went through it early and I know what that means for the uphill battle I face against aging skin.
I created my Ageless Rejuvenation Kit to give us the absolute essential skin care ingredients to fight menopausal, perimenopausal and pre-perimenopausal skin changes - it's a fully compatible facial skin care routine that leaves nothing to chance. These are the key products in the skin care routine I've used for years for my own skin.
My Ultra-Fast Triple Action Body Skin Care Kit does the same for the body. Add sun protection to the body routine and you're set. All of my postmenopausal body/arm/leg/hand skin depend on this to fight crepey, thin and dry skin.
Your skin changes dramatically after menopause and your skin care should too. Discover the best way to care for your peri and postmenopausal aging skin to keep it healthy and attractive.
A woman’s hormones help support youthful skin. After menopause, your skin starts to change. It’s not your imagination!
Compared to your skin before menopause, your postmenopausal skin starts to show:
- Atrophic withering and crepey skin
- Slackness (especially on your forearms and face)
- Progressive dryness and scaliness
You will also notice that fine wrinkles and crinkles will deepen into courser wrinkles after menopause.
Postmenopausal skin may also become fragile, tearing and bruising more easily. It is also drier and more prone to dry skin eczema conditions.
As if menopausal skin changes were not enough, most of us “women of this certain age” can add intrinsic aging (the passing of years) and sun damage to the list of reasons why our skin is becoming thin, wrinkled, dry and fragile. It’s a perfect storm. Luckily, the skin care remedies are similar for all three causes.
Why does your skin change after menopause?
You are probably wondering what, exactly, is happening to your skin after menopause? Scientific studies have demonstrated the following structural changes that happen in your skin after menopause.
Decrease in skin cell renewal. As the top layer of your skin, called the epidermis, flattens and thins, the skin cells in this layer don’t renew themselves as rapidly. The cells are called keratinocytes, they have receptors for estrogen meaning they notice when estrogen levels go down.
- The epidermis and stratum corneum hold less water. The structural components of these two outer skin layers change in a way that leads to increased Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) compared to before menopause. This results in your skin easily becomes scaly, rough, and dry looking.
- Collagen reduction. The second layer of your skin, called the dermis, loses as much as 30% of your dermal collagen within the first five years after menopause. This is followed by a slower loss of about 2% per year over the next 20 years. The important collagen producing cells in the dermis are called fibroblasts and they also have receptors for estrogen.
- Water abatement. In the dermis, important water-binding substances, called dermal glycosaminoglycans, (including hyaluronic acid) are decreased leading to crepey skin changes.
- Oxidative stress. Oxidative damage in your skin is accelerated after menopause, causing greater damage to skin structures such as cells, collagen, and elastin. This damage is beyond the normal amount that occurs from sun damage and natural aging.
- Skin fragility. Skin becomes more prone to tearing and injury after menopause because the attachments weaken between epidermal keratinocytes and between the skin layers of the epidermis to dermis and dermis to subcutaneous fat layers.
What products and skin care practices work best to reverse the skin changes of menopause?
There are six different ways your skin care products and routines can reverse and slow the changes of menopause on your skin. You want them all working to keep your skin strong and youthful.
- Build collagen in the dermis, the second living skin layer. This is really important. Look for products with professional formulations of retinoids, like retinol and prescription tretinoin (Retin A), glycolic acid products, and vitamin C products.
- Rebuild the living epidermal cell layer of your skin. This can be done by retinoids, which can help strengthen your skin.
- Stimulate your skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid. Look for products with over 10% glycolic acid formulated to an acid pH.
- Rejuvenate the appearance of the outer dead cells in your stratum corneum skin layer. This will brighten your skin and give it a more youthful glow. Products with glycolic acid, retinoids, and BHAs like salicylic acid will do this.
- Slow skin aging. Professional antioxidant products and zinc oxide broad spectrum sunscreens can help slow the effects of aging.
- Hydrate and avoid drying products so skin stays moist. Because post-menopausal skin is often also older skin, it is more prone to dryness. Use only sensitive skin cleansers and deeply hydrating moisturizers to keep skin from drying out and looking crinkled, wrinkled and dull.
How do you build a skin care routine that works to slow menopausal skin changes?
First, you need to know that effective skin care involves 4 essential steps of Complete Skin Care:
These are the steps in a Dr. Bailey Complete Skin Care Routine™. I’m going to cover my skin care recommendations in this same order to help you build an effective routine to care for your own skin after menopause. These are the products I use for my patients and for my own very post-menopausal skin. Remember that I've covered all the most important aspects of this with my Ageless Rejuvenation Facial Skin Care Kit and my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Kits. The details below will help you if you want to add additional products or use ones that you already have at home.
What does a dermatologist use on her own facial skin after menopause?
I take care of my facial skin by following a morning and evening skin care routine. It's important!
Dermatologist-Recommended Morning Skin Care Routine After Menopause
CLEANSE with a gentle cleanser such as Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser in my Ageless Rejuvenation Kit. I do a second cleanse step with my Naturally Hydrating Pore Minimizing Toner. My skin loves this cleanse combo and I call it my Skin Cleanse Zen.
Twice a week I use a physical exfoliation scrub to brighten my complexion. In the shower I gently massage my Bamboo and Clay Exfoliation Scrub over my entire face and rinse well. I follow up with my Toner. I also love my Triple Action Exfoliating Cleanser formulated with salicylic acid, glycolic acid and eco-friendly exfoliating beads. It's in the Body Smoothing Kit and is a great brightening cleanser for the face as well as the body. This exfoliating cleanser also helps prevent clogged pores. As of my 2020 update, I use the Triple Action Cleanser in the morning and my Extremely Gentle Cleanser at night. I always follow with my Toner.
CORRECT menopause skin issues. This is really important. Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy helps load skin antioxidant reserve to fight free radical damage. Remember that menopause causes an increase in oxidative skin damage?? You fight that by loading skin with antioxidants and green tea antioxidants are the best in my opinion. This Green Tea products also contains resveratrol which is a phytoestrogen and antioxidant from grapes. Phytoestrogens can help fight skin changes after menopause. Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy comes in my Ageless Rejuvenation Kit.
I also use my Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum to fight atrophic withering and crepey skin with high-tech fractionated hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA and glycerin. This is just the right formulation to give crepey postmenopausal skin a dewy, plump and youthful appearance. I apply both the Instantly Luminous and Green Tea every day and I never travel without them.
A vitamin C serum could be used instead of these products. Vitamin C does not play well with other products and age-fighting ingredients because it is easily inactivated. You can layer it over the Green Tea and under the Daily Moisturizing Face Cream. Know that as an antioxidant, vitamin C has staying power in your skin and adding it into your routine several times a week may be sufficient to reap the benefits.
Glycolic Acid Anti-Aging Face Cream is in my Ageless Rejuvenation Kit because it plays a key role in reversing the skin changes of menopause and perimenopause.
This particular AHA cream provides professional strength AHA therapy to stimulate dermal collagen renewal, hyaluronic acid skin synthesis and to brighten the outer skin epidermal layer. Weaker products won't work. - Dr. B
You can use Glycolic Acid Cream in the morning and it doubles as your moisturizer. Alternatively, you can use it at night on top of Retinol to get a two-fer for fighting menopause skin 'issues'. I love glycolic acid and if your complexion is tolerant to the acidic pH of AHAs it's a great age-fighting ingredient.
Advanced Corrective Eye Cream delivers the right concentration of brightening and collagen renewal ingredients to the delicate eye area. I apply it every morning and love it.
HYDRATE your skin to help keep your skin barrier strength healthy and able to prevent water loss. I use my Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Dry to Normal Skin and it's in my Ageless Rejuvenation Kit.
PROTECT your precious facial skin with broad spectrum mineral zinc oxide-based sunscreen. I wear one daily! I use my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted SPF 50+ Sunscreen or my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen topped with my Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 30 Refresh Powder Sunscreen every day.
How do I decide which sunscreen to use? My Powder has over 3.2% iron oxide to protect from visible light that can play a role in darkening age spots. My Spray Sunscreen is moderately water resistant to help stay put when I sweat. Matte Tinted is an excellent makeup primer and has tinting to hide minor complexion flaws.
Dermatologist-Recommended Evening Skin Care Routine After Menopause
CLEANSE your skin to remove the day's product, oil, dirt, debris and pollution before applying your night routine products. Take time to do a really good evening cleansing of your facial skin. If you have a Sonic Skin Cleansing Brush system this is the perfect time to use it.
If I have applied an oil based product to my skin I may do an oil cleanse with grape seed oil and a warm washcloth before using my Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser. Otherwise I wash off makeup and everything with just my cleanser and warm water. I do a second cleansing with my cleanser and Clarisonic Brush to deeply clean my pores and prepare my skin to maximally absorb my evening products. I always apply my Naturally Hydrating Pore Minimizing Toner with a cotton pad at night to get my skin really clean and because my skin loves it.
CORRECT the signs of skin aging after menopause with a powerful combination of age-fighting professional products. Bedtime is the best time for intensive treatment.
Your bedtime skin care products after menopause should include:
antioxidant replenishing products,
- ingredients that stimulate collagen renewal,
- ingredients that plump and firm crepey skin, and
- others that fight pigment problems like age spots!
That's a lot to accomplish and I like to use the most powerful products my complexion will tolerate. My Ageless Rejuvenation Skin Care Routine does all this while you sleep!
The top night treatment choices to fight facial skin aging after menopause include:
- A retinoid such as retinol or prescription tretinoin (Retin A)
- Glycolic acid
- Antioxidants such as green tea
- Hyaluronic Acid
I apply Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum first (loaded with fractionated hyaluronic acid that plumps and also helps carry other ingredients deeper into the skin) and apply my other active ingredient products on top.
I alternate my Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream (which is included in my Ageless Rejuvenation Kit and also contains concentrated green tea antioxidants that help fight skin-damaging free radicals) with tretinoin (Retin A). The Retinol is easier for my skin to tolerate and so I often apply it 4 times a week topped with Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Cream (also in the Kit). I apply the tretinoin just 3 times a week. There is almost always a retinoid on my face when I sleep.
That said, if my face is irritated or my rosacea and seborrhea are threatening to spoil my complexion then I just apply Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy under my moisturizer and face oil.
If your skin can tolerate glycolic acid then your night routine is a great time to apply it. You can top a retinoid with a glycolic acid product such as my Glycolic Acid Anti-Aging Face Cream. Because most AHA/glycolic acid products are creams the product will probably also give sufficient hydration and you may not need an additional moisturizer. Be sure that your glycolic acid product has a free acid content of 10% or higher glycolic acid because less than that does not stimulate collagen renewal.
HYDRATE every night. Use your time in bed to boost your skin's recovery from any moisture and lipids that have been lost during the day's exposure to the elements.I use my Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Dry to Normal Skin and I boost the lipid content using a few drops of the healing botanical oils in my Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil.
- The sea buckthorn in this therapeutic face oil supports the barrier weakness secondary to my rosacea and seborrhea.
- The cypress extract fights skin yeast.
- The borage oil is one of the best sources of the essential fatty acid gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) proven to have strong anti-inflammatory benefits.
I made the Omega Oil for those of us post-menopausal gals that struggle with dry, sensitive or seborrhea prone skin. My complexion loves it and desperately needs it to help control my rosacea and seborrhea. It also helps me to succeed with retinoids now that I am post menopause.
Oily complexions may prefer an oil free moisturizer such as my Daily Face Cream for Oily to Normal skin (I give you the option of the two Daily Face Cream options in the Kit.)
If you are using a glycolic acid or retinoid product with a hydrating base then that base may provide sufficient moisturizing function.
Dermatologist's Tips for Creating a Skin Care Routine to Fight the Problems of Menopause if You Have Sensitive Facial Skin
The skin care routine I just described is intense. Sensitive complexions may need to use less of a vitamin C, glycolic acid and/or retinoid. Start low and go slow! I typically start my patients on a low concentration product and with just one of these powerful ingredients to “train” their skin. Once their complexion has gained compatibility with that product, we add the second, and then slowly the third. At the first sign of irritation or sensitivity, we stop all of these powerful products and allow the skin to rest for several days or weeks. We then resume with less frequent application of one of these three products. Slowly, as tolerated, we work in the other two. Note that prescription tretinoin usage must be supervised by the prescribing physician.
Trending ingredients that I didn't mention to fight the complexion problems of menopause.
If you love one of these you may wonder why I didn't mention it. It's because I went for the highest 'return on investment' (ROI) products. Other well-loved ingredients include:
Niacinamide (it can brighten skin somewhat but I have a number of patients that struggle with redness and skin sensitivity from it. My Eye Cream contains the right amount for the eye area to reduce under eye circles).
- Azelaic acid (it can help with acne, rosacea inflammation and pigment problems but a number of my patients find it irritating at therapeutic concentrations.)
- Hydroquinone and botanical skin lighteners. These are very beneficial if your complexion suffers from pigment problems such as age spots. I typically have my patients apply them after the toner and before applying other products. My Pigment Fading Pads are ideal.
- Antioxidants like Coenzyme Q10 are in many of my Kit products. Green Tea is by far the best skin antioxidant but I add others because we can never have enough antioxidants ON and IN our skin.
- Squalane, ceramides, sodium PCA and other nice skin hydrating ingredients are also in my Kit products and the products I've mentioned here. They play a nice supporting role to fight the structural and physiological skin changes associated with menopause, perimenopause and pre-menopause as estrogen levels decrease.
What is the best post menopause skin care for crepey, thin, dry, withering skin on the rest of the body?
It's really important!
Skin Expert's Tips for the Best Body Skin Care for Women After Menopause
Time is of the essence when it comes to fighting crepey skin and skin thinning after menopause. Many of the ingredients I mentioned for your face don't really work well on your body. My patients and I have tried them all! The only real standout is glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid is the best ingredient to fight the changes of menopause on your arm, leg and body skin because it:
- stimulates your skin to make its own hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate and plump your skin,
- fights dryness and flaking to hydrate and polish your skin into a youthful luster,
- buffs-off and softens barnacles and crusty age spots (seborrheic keratosis) so that they are less crusty,
- lightens the flat brown age spots (solar lentigines).
And, the sooner you start glycolic acid on your body, arm and leg skin the better!!
To maintain and rejuvenate non-facial body skin after menopause, follow these skin care tips:
Use powerful products such as my Ultra-fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Kit at least twice a week according to the instructions. This routine involves applying a strong glycolic acid body lotion after physically exfoliating your skin in the shower.
Crepey skin - be gone! It WORKS! As I rounded into my late 30's I noticed that my body skin was suddenly getting crepey. Parts of my body skin were getting drier and drier, and one day, under my arms, there was suddenly a saggy accumulation of skin. The crepe. No bueno. Watching Dr. Bailey on social media, I learned that glycolic lotion could fix the crepe. (I started using it and) the crepe was gone! Dr. Bailey's Glycolic Acid 15% body lotion applies PERFECTLY! The Triple action exfoliating cleanser doubles as my facial cleaner of choice. I heartily recommend this product for anyone over the age of 35. Shoot, I wish I had known about this in my early 30's because I'd have the skin of a babe if I had been using it preventatively. But as it is, I'll count my blessing and keep using this product religiously, because IT WORKS! Lori on Apr 25, 2019
- Always apply rich moisturizer after every other bath or shower. I use my Natural Lotion when I'm not using the Glycolic Acid Body Lotion.
- Keep the sun off of your skin! It causes more wrinkles, crinkles, crepey skin, brown age spots, skin thinning and hastens the changes of menopause. Just don't do it - UV is not our skin's friend after menopause.
- Cover as much of your skin with sun blocking clothing during the day.
- Use broad spectrum zinc oxide sunscreen on all uncovered skin (like me in that photo above!)
I'm a pro at this - both professionally and personally. Find the products I depend on here.
Fighting the skin changes of menopause takes a lot of work.
Know that all of the changes I just listed actually start happening when a woman is in her 30s! Yes, it's true. Our estrogen levels start to decline in our 30s and these changes start then. The average age that a woman goes through menopause in the US is 51, with a range of 45-55 - but our estrogen levels start to decline in our 30s! Our skin cells notice!! It means that we really want to get serious about fending off collagen loss and the structural skin changes of menopause as early as possible.
I am updating this article in 2021 at the age of 63. I'm a personal menopause skin care pro! I entered perimenopause at 40, completed menopause at 45 and then had a second go of it at 55 when my tubes and ovaries were surgically removed thanks to breast cancer and the BRCA gene. That lead to another round of hot flashes and other fun menopause symptoms. I called it 'Menopause 2 - the sequel'.
Yes, after menopause, nature really is conspiring for our skin to be thin, withered, dry and wrinkled. Once our female hormones are dwindling our skin feels the change. You are not imaging it when you look in the mirror. I know that we need to embrace age and gracefully welcome it, but that includes taking good care of our skin.
After menopause, it's important to keep our skin moist, soft and strong. The routines I just described will do that. They will also help keep our skin pretty as we age. They may seem overwhelming, especially if you are starting from the very beginning and coming from a low-maintenance skin care routine.
Realize that after menopause you are not just working to improve your skin’s appearance. You are working to make your skin stronger and less fragile. Your skin care routine can help you to have healthier skin as you age. - Dr. B
Start slowly and step into the process progressively if that’s more comfortable. Know that once you have incorporated a skin care routine like this into your daily self-care, it will seem as easy as brushing your teeth, filing your nails, combing your hair and taking a shower.
My Ageless Rejuvenation Facial Skin Care Kit and Ultra-Fast Triple Action Body Smoothing Kit are what I depend on to fight the skin changes of menopause. I created them for my patients and I and they work beautifully to keep our skin healthy and strong.
Miracle kit - keeping me young!
This kit has all of my favorite products in it! I'm in my late 30s and now it feels like anytime I skimp on my skin care, or get lazy, I see the wrinkles deepen and my skin gets crepey, and I age a couple of years! So I don't have the skin from my 20s anymore...But with this kit I see and feel immediate results, instantly years younger!
I love that with these products I can bring back that dewy, radiant glow! The gentle facial cleanser is delicious to use - feels like it cleanses fully without being harsh. I love the green tea; my skin just laps that up and feels instantly more moist and less wrinkly. The glycolic face cream and retinol I know are made with great ingredients, truly effective, so I can feel really good about using them and knowing they're making a difference and reducing wrinkles/aging. And you can't live without the sheer strength daily sunscreen - goes on so deliciously smooth, and non-oily. Best all around kit for anti-aging and skin rejuvenation! - Claire on Sep 23, 2021
I'm well past menopause and I know that skin care is an important part of our self-care as we age. I hope you found this information helpful for making decisions about your own skin care options.
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Please remember, the information presented on Dr. Bailey Skin Care’s Blog and web site, and any related links, is provided for general information and educational purposes only and are the opinions of Dr. Cynthia Bailey. Consult with your physician or health care provider for any specific medical conditions or concerns that you have. (This also applies to patients in her medical practice; the information here is not a substitute for, or an extension of, the medical care she provides for you.) Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here.