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Like it or not, your skin is changing—and you might not care for the skin you're in.
What's happening to my skin?
Exit estrogen. And with it, collagen—that scaffold of sorts responsible for holding your skin taut (it's estimated that skin loses 1/3 of its collagen within five years of menopause).
Enter lower elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles, dry and slack skin.
But don't despair. Instead of averting your glance every time you pass a mirror or muttering, "Oh, I'll just live with it," under your breath, here are some ways to deal with the skin changes that come with menopause.
Note: There is not one product that can treat all signs of skin aging, which can run the gamut from lines and wrinkles to dark spots and discoloration. The American Academy of Dermatology advises you focus on one concern and choose a product that specifically targets that concern. Using too many anti-aging products can cause irritation and make you look older, they say. And it often can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes you have to try a few products to find the one that works best with your skin.
Here are some basics to get started:
Makeup, impurities in the environment, sweating and just plain living attaches things to your skin that you'd rather not hang onto at the end of a day. To clear them away, wash your face every night, but be careful not to use anything too harsh (or to scrub too hard), since aging skin is more delicate and fragile. Consider a product that's creamy and gentle, fragrance-free and recommended by many dermatologists, like this one from Cetaphil. It's safe for all types of skin—even a baby's—and moisturizes without clogging your pores.
Tip: Rinse with lukewarm water and pat—don't rub—dry.
First and foremost, remember that the sun—not just age—is a leading contributor to lines and wrinkles and many other skin woes. (But you probably already know that, right? Now's the time to really put your knowledge to the test.) Before you venture out, apply your sunscreen every day—even if it's cloudy out. That's because damaging UV rays can, and do, penetrate clouds.
(Now is a good time to put some fashion accessories—like sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats—to practical use, and let them have a hand in protecting your face from the sun, too.)
Tip: When choosing a sunscreen, look for one that is broad spectrum, water resistant and SPF 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours while you're outdoors.
Maybe you never needed a moisturizer before now because your oil glands were enough, or perhaps the moisturizer you've been using is no longer doing the job. It's not unusual to notice that your skin is dry, or dryer than normal. Because moisture helps trap water in our skin, a moisturizer is a good way to help plump up your skin.
With all the choices out there, you might want to try this one by Paula's Choice , which soothes with omega fatty acids, passion fruit and guava extracts to give you a lightweight, whipped delight that seals in hydration.
Good to Know: Choose a product formulated for your skin type. If it's oily, pick one for oily skin; if it's sensitive, look for the words "sensitive skin" on the label.
Nourish dry skin on your bod, too.
Have you taken a look at your arms and legs lately and noticed that they're dry and scaly? Banish that alligator with this super-rich, creamy new product from Rodan and Fields. If their Active Hydration Body Replenish were a food, it might be whipped cream—fantastically decadent, rich, fluffy and totally delightful, without any sticky residue (or calories!)
Tip: It's best to apply any moisturizer to slightly damp skin, since that helps to lock in the moisture.
Treat wrinkles while you sleep.
"Retinoids" is the umbrella term for products that contain retinols, topical vitamin A-based drugs that help improve your skin's texture by increasing the skin's production of collagen. They can also unclog pores, reduce fine lines and speed skin cell turnover. (If you have sensitive skin, a prescription product, like retin-A, may be too irritating. Instead, look for an over-the-counter product containing a retinol, which is a gentler formulation than prescription retinoid.) One to try: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream, which contains retinol plus flower and algae extracts.
Good to know: You need to be patient and give the product time to work; most take at least six weeks to show results. Because they can be irritating, start with applying every other day and work up slowly.
For your eyes only.
The skin around your eyes can get mighty dry, too. Use an eye cream (tap, don't rub!) that contains a retinol or retinaldehyde (a milder form of vitamin A) or any other ingredient that can soothe, hydrate, calm and brighten the delicate skin. DEJ Eye Cream, whose ingredients include sunflower seed oil, cucumber fruit water and a proprietary blend of peptides, goes to work on the fine lines and wrinkles around your peepers.
For a more wallet-friendly version, try Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream, which contains retinol and hyaluronic acid.
Our lips are prone to dryness, too, especially around the lip lines, where collagen loss lets those little vertical fine lines and wrinkles settle. Don't forget that you need to both nourish and protect them from the sun.
This product by freshSugar has hyaluronic "filling spheres" to enhance lip volume, plus ingredients like sugar (to naturally help prevent moisture loss) and fennel extract, which claims to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
For protection, use a balm with SPF every day, like this one from Nivea, which goes on smooth and easy without leaving a cakey residue.
Remember that good skin is not only about products you use. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting adequate hydration and enough sleep and exercise is important for your skin health and appearance, too. It's never too late to benefit!