One of the best books about perimenopause we’ve ever read wasn’t some non-fiction self-help manual or anything like that. It was in fact How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson, a story of a woman completely shaken by her physical changes, career breakdown and marital crisis. The book is romantic and hilariously funny, but we also found in it a very precise and detailed description of perimenopause. Kate, the main character of the book, notices various subtle changes in her body: stubborn fat, morning puffiness, fatigue, sudden emotional outbursts. She isn’t up for a fitness session even though the male instructor is very attractive. She looks tired, she feels tired, and she certainly was not expecting any of that at such a young age – she is only 49 after all! Only 8 years ago she felt completely different, it is so unfair! Actually, Kate had been relatively lucky not to experience any of these symptoms even earlier, because women can enter perimenopause or menopausal transition at different ages: some would notice the change as early as mid-30s!
The average age to start perimenopause in the UK is 51.
What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?
The key difference between the two is the stability of oestrogen. The level of oestrogen, key female hormone, is low but stable in menopause. Perimenopause, however, is a roller coaster of rising and falling oestrogen levels. Subsequently menstrual cycles can become longer or shorter, and a woman may experience some menopause-like symptoms, such as disturbed sleep, night sweats or hot flushes. The skin may suddenly become dry or oily, very sensitive, flaky or prone to acne.
How does the skin change?
The skin changes in a variety of unexpected ways! One day it looks fine and the next you wake up with a nice scattering of pimples all over your face. And yet the next day the skin can be dry and taut, the day after that — shiny with excess sebum once again. The key characteristic of perimenopausal skin is high sensitivity and a tendency to inflammation, which leads to hyperpigmentation. This is also the time when rosacea can manifest in women who are genetically preconditioned to have it. The risk of UV damage is also higher and the skin doesn’t recover quite so efficiently anymore. Sensitive skin is without a doubt the key aesthetic problem in perimenopause.
First thing to do is change the approach to cleansing. No more harsh aggressive solutions! Choose some microbiome-friendly calming cleanser, such as our Net-Apax Prebiotic Cleansing Mask SLS-free and enriched with prebiotic Bioecolia and Silver Mallow extract known for its anti-inflammatory action. Look for a prebiotic moisturiser too as your skin microbiome needs a lot of help to remain rich and healthy. Sunscreen is another important element of skin care.
The skin in perimenopause is extra sensitive to UV and requires a strong 50+ SPF daily when the sun is out. Everything else is best treated on the case by case basis, after all we are all unique. For women suffering from perimenopausal acne I recommend gentle prebiotic therapy, such as our own Eu-Seb range.
If you experience redness, discomfort, flushes, I strongly recommend the latest scientific beauty trend — skin neurotherapy, using ingredients beneficial not just for the skin, but also for the nervous system. This is the concept we rely upon in our latest innovative product, Red-Apax Concentrate instantly calming the skin and conquering redness with Northern truffle extract and other sensitivity-friendly neuro-targeted ingredients.
Dry and taut skin can be softened and nourished with rich and restorative anti-ageing solution like Meder Beauty Vita-Long Oil, a delicate blend of 10 organic oils enriched with antioxidants and epigenetically active natural molecules to slow down the ageing process and help adapt to hormonal changes.
Should we switch up our skincare?
If your habitual routine doesn’t bring enough comfort anymore, then yes change is unavoidable. The skin is changing and the skincare should follow. Skincare for sensitive skin, capillary strengthening ingredients (resveratrol, escin, caffeine, niacinamide, vitamin C, green tea extract), peptides, prebiotics and probiotics are most beneficial.
How much do our collagen levels drop in perimenopause compared to menopause?
This is a difficult thing to measure. We lose approximately 30% of skin collagen in the first 5 years of menopause, but exactly how much we lose in perimenopause is unclear and varies widely from woman to woman. Besides, skin elasticity is not defined solely by the number of the fibres, but their quality too. With age, collagen changes from so-called young types to senescent fibres, which are less strong and resistant. This change contributes massively to the loss of skin elasticity, gravity-related changes and wrinkles.
What can we do about that?
The key factors are diet, exercise and lifestyle. Age well is a concept we subscribe to and it includes various aspects of life, skin care being just one of them.
How to Age Well
Exercise! Yoga, tai chi and pilates help lower stress level, weight training keeps the skin and muscles underneath it strong and firm.
Eat healthy. Vegetables and fruit, healthy sources of protein, grains and legumes, nuts, seeds and berries are all good for your body.
Avoid stress. Peace of mind makes you look relaxed, so meditation, mindfulness, support of friends and family come before skincare to be honest.
Take care of yourself. We always recommend creating a comfortable and enjoyable beauty routine at home – 3 minutes every morning, 5 minutes at night and maybe half an hour on weekends. Think of it as self-care time. Use quality skincare, choose well, learn a bit of self massage, put on some music and enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it. Taking care of yourself is not selfish!