Egads! My skin is dry like the Sahara!?

Honestly, how prepared were you for all the changes that you’d go through when you started the journey into menopause?!?! Me…well, my mother had a hysterectomy before I even had my first period so I was clueless!  I knew about hot flashes and night sweats, although when they hit me over 10 years ago and I literally felt I was drowning some nights, more knowledge would have been useful.  But, another sign of this aging process that I wasn’t ready for was how much my skin would change! Dry like the Sahara! 

The culprit is falling estrogen levels that affect the health of your skin and hair. According to the North American Menopause Society, collagen loss begins early but is most rapid in the first few years of menopause, leading to dry, flaky skin and lackluster hair.  One of the functions of estrogen is to keep things hydrated, plump and youthful-looking. When estrogen levels drop during menopause, the skin gets more wrinkled and dry, and in some women, it can even be itchy. Remember those oil glands that wreaked havoc with your face during your teenage years? Well, the reverse happens after menopause and those oil glands in the skin shrink and less is secreted.

If this sounds like you, read on for 10 quick beauty boosts for dry skin and hair.

Dial 911 for dry skin

Cleansing still remains important in our menopause years but just a different take on the types of cleansers used. Opt for a cleanser that is right for drier skin. Look for a creamy formula that hydrates instead foam or gel cleansers, which can strip moisture away. Skip long, hot showers and put on moisturizer while your skin is still damp as that helps boost hydration. Skin has less natural protection as we age so make sure to wear a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher for protection.

Baby your complexion.

You’re not going crazy when you approach any beauty and personal care products counter or aisle. It’s estimated that globally, the beauty and personal care products industry will reach a market size of $716.6 billion by 2025. Skin products containing vitamins A and C can improve skin due to their antioxidant effects. Creams with collagen (a naturally-occurring substance that keeps skin firm) may help keep skin youthful-looking. For severely dry skin, look for moisturizers with lactic acid or urea.

Soothe your scalp.

If dry scalp is a problem, consider using shampoos that contain zinc or selenium, ingredients that help reduce dandruff. Deep conditioning may also boost dry hair. Limiting how often you shampoo, use a blow dryer and other damaging heat appliances may help. If you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, treat your hair to a protective leave-in condition with zinc oxide and wear a hat; both help your hair retain moisture.

Help your hands

Our hands are workhorses throughout our lives. During menopause the backs of your hands can lose moisture, collagen and fat which makes veins more obvious and skin more wrinkled.  In summer, wear sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. In winter, make sure you wear gloves as the dry winter air can rob your hands of even more moisture. To reduce the look of wrinkles, use moisturizer on your hands often and wear gloves when doing house or yard work.

Have your thyroid checked

At the most basic level, thyroid hormone is responsible for coordinating energy, growth and metabolism in your body. Skin and hair cells are sensitive to signals from the thyroid hormone. Some research indicates that estrogen levels might affect thyroid function and lead to thyroid disorders. One thyroid disorder linked to dry skin and thinning hair (think menopause here!) can be hypothyroidism.

Eat your antioxidants

Once medical causes for dry hair and skin have been ruled out, take a look at your diet and consider how food and supplements may help. Eating foods with antioxidants may help your skin become stronger from the inside out. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables (eating the color spectrum) and possibly supplements approved by your doctor may give your body the boost needed to get your hair and skin back on track.

Extinguish the fire…

Smoking that is. Tobacco use also reduces estrogen levels in a woman’s body, so quitting smoking may have a positive effect.  Smoking potentially can cause even lower estrogen levels than not smoking and again leads to drier skin, losing elasticity and giving your skin a grayish tone.

Find balance

Stress can make your skin drier and more sensitive so go the extra mile for your skin and hair by relaxing.  Be sure to schedule YOU time every day to unwind or get that workout in.  Exercise can give you the 1-2-3 punch by toning muscles, relieving stress and boosting circulation, which begins to slow with age. Yoga, tai chi, meditation and other stress-reduction techniques are great to relieve stress and can also help your estrogen and thyroid levels.

Drink up

One of the easiest, painless and inexpensive lifestyle changes you can make (whether menopausal or not) is to drink more water. As our bodies age, we don’t retain moisture as well – yep, that estrogen thing again. In youth, we are 60-70% water while after menopause may be only 55% water.  In addition to staying hydrated for our skin, water also is important for our brain to function. That brain fog, confusion, fatigue might not only be symptoms of menopause but dehydration of your brain. With 80% of the brain’s content made up of water, hydration is important to keep for all the chemical reactions that happen in the brain – including energy production.  Not enough water, not enough energy.

Bulk up on beauty sleep

We often joke about getting our ‘beauty rest’ and it’s really NOT a joke! Getting enough sleep helps your skin look fresh and prevent dark circles under your eyes. Also it’s a time for our body to recharge. Lack of sleep can change your hormone levels and metabolism in many of the same ways that aging does. I give you permission to shoot for your beauty rest of a solid 7-9 hours every night.

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