When I was younger, the skin on my face was always slick with oil. And as only an adolescent girl can do, I let it get me down. Each time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I’d recoil at that shiny reflection looking back at me. Of course, now, being in this so-called midlife, I wish there had been a voice of reason to calm me.
If there had been, it might have said something like this: Be grateful for all that oil! You’ll miss it one day.
But alas, there was no such voice. Instead, my youthful indignation—however misplaced—made me shun that sebum, creating an aggressive arsenal of anti-oil measures: I rubbed, I scrubbed, I wiped, I swiped. But to no avail. The oil resurfaced quickly, and I, feeling defeated, only became more determined to do what I could to overcome my body’s natural tendencies. (Where was that voice when I needed it? Voice to Sheryl: "You can’t control everything, you know.")
And now all these years later, I miss that free supply of oil. I also suspect that I damaged my skin in all my tiresome efforts to eradicate that oil (just like I damaged my skin, as so many others of the boomer generation did, by using—horrors!—sun reflectors).
Menopause sure has a way of getting back at you. Years later, that shift in hormones took care of the excess oil and moisture on my face—and my arms, legs, feet and hands (and nether-regions, too).
Learn more: The Beginner’s Guide to Menopause.
What’s menopause got to do with it?
Here’s what: What estrogen gives—collagen and oils—it taketh away. So, as menopause approaches and causes a decline in estrogen, you get dry, itchy skin. This decrease in moisture can begin with perimenopause, the years before menopause sets in.
Not only is your skin’s moisture production diminished, but so is your skin’s ability to hold on to, or retain, whatever moisture it has.
Next up? A body full of dryness—your face, your elbows, knees, feet, nails and many other areas.
Some best ways to tackle that dryness?
Your diet. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are those that your body can’t produce on its own. But your body, including your skin, needs these to stay nourished and hydrated, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, and in canola oil, walnuts, soybeans, ground flaxseed and fortified eggs. Balance it out with other healthy fats from omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in seeds, nuts, grains, vegetable oils, avocado and green, leafy veggies.
Always use sunscreen. While it won’t replace the skin’s moisture, it will help protect it and keep it healthy (and help stave off future sun damage and wrinkling!). There are so many great ones out there; I personally love this one from Roche-Posay.
Avoid hot showers and baths. It’s best to use warm, rather than hot, water, which can pull moisture from your skin and dry it out. Try to limit your time in the water, too. If you see the tips of your fingers and toes looking wrinkled, you’ve been in for too long. Tip: If you’re a fan of baths (I am!), these relaxing and healing Epsom salts by Dr. Teal can add back moisture with nourishing avocado. Epsom salts also help to soothe sore muscles and offer stress relief. And who can’t use that?
Apply moisturizer while skin is still damp. Doing this will help trap the moisture that exists in your skin. I love the lavender fragrance of this one by Aveeno, which is super-creamy and comforting.
When toweling off, be gentle with your skin, and pat, rather than rub it dry. Our skin becomes thinner and more fragile with age and is thus more prone to irritation. A towel like this, made with microfiber, is gentle on your skin.
Consider a moisturizing mask. Facial masks are all the rage, and they’re a great way to deliver nourishing and soothing ingredients to your skin. Allure magazine offers some great picks for under $20. I recently fell in love with this one, from beauty brand Chaleur.
Add some moisture back into the air. Wintertime can suck the humidity out of the air. Add it back with something like this, which looks pretty while it dispenses not just cool humidity, but lovely essential oils, too.
This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.
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