Natural remedies for dry skin in menopause — that work!
By Dr. Mary James, ND
Estrogen doesn’t just occupy itself with female fertility. It’s a powerful hormone
with many jobs. One of its other vital functions is stimulating collagen and oil
production in the skin — helping skin cells stay plump, moisturized and youthful-looking.
In menopause, estrogen levels
fluctuate and eventually drop overall. This begins to slow sebum production and
accelerate collagen loss in your skin. The result can be skin that’s dry, flaky
— and even itchy. These losses also thin the skin and disrupt its natural barrier
against the outside world, making it more susceptible to water loss, inflammation
But here’s some good news. Turning dry skin into smoother, fresher-looking skin
is completely doable during menopause. All it takes are some simple steps!
5 ways to get your glow back — naturally
1. Give your collagen levels a nutritious boost:
Collagen is a protein manufactured by the body that provides structure and elasticity
to skin. You can help your body make more collagen by eating foods rich in vitamin
C and sulfur — two building-blocks of collagen. Foods high in vitamin C include
red peppers, strawberries, guava, kale and citrus. For sulfur-rich foods, try broccoli,
cauliflower, arugula and garlic. Bone broth is a direct source of collagen, which
is available commercially or can be made at home by simmering bones on the stove.
2. Replenish your “inner oil well”: Take a
good omega-3 supplement that includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). EPA offers
special benefits to skin by regulating oil production and blocking enzymes that
diminish collagen levels. Because it’s an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent,
EPA also helps repair and protect damaged skin. Good dietary sources of EPA include
oily fish like wild-caught salmon. Another oil your skin will love is gamma-linolenic
acid (GLA). Sources include borage oil and black currant seed oil.
3. Skip the chemicals in skin care products: Many
bath soaps, skin lotions and other skin care products contain chemical ingredients
that remove natural oils and dry out your skin. Prime skin irritants to avoid include
sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), the chemical compound that makes soaps and shampoos
foamy, and triclosan, a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps and deodorants.
Also steer clear of synthetic dyes and preservatives. Look for skin care products
that cut out these synthetic chemicals and use natural, skin-friendly ingredients
such as shea butter or coconut oil.
4. Keep your skin hydrated: Drink adequate water
over the course of the day, but also avoid the dehydrating effect of frequent hot
baths or showers. After cleansing your skin, apply moisturizer immediately while
your skin is still moist, as this will help lock in extra moisture.
5. Ditch the itch: For instant relief from itchy
skin, add a scoop of oatmeal to your bath. Oatmeal contains soothing plant chemicals
called avenanthramides (derived from the name for the oat plant: Avena sativa)
that help reduce itchiness and inflammation. Lactic acid in milk is another dry
skin soother. Cover an itchy patch of skin with a cloth soaked in milk and see if
it offers some relief. (Leave it on for about 5 minutes.)
6. Check your thyroid: Many women develop problems
with their thyroid in menopause, but symptoms of low thyroid — like dry, dull skin
— can be easy to miss because they overlap with menopause symptoms. If you are feeling
fatigued, sluggish, and cold all the time, and have noticed not only changes in
your skin but also in your fingernails (i.e., brittle nails) and hair (thinning
and brittle hair), it’s time to check your thyroid function.
7. Support your overall health: To a large degree,
our skin reflects our internal health. A diet loaded with fast foods and sweets
will impact your skin, as will inflammation, accumulation of toxins, chronic sleep
deficits, and excessive stress. Nutrition matters! Your vitamin D level, for example, correlates directly with your
skin’s ability to stay hydrated . Attend to your overall health, and your skin will
Bonus tips! Taking care of your hormones during menopause
makes a big difference in how you experience this time of transition. Being in any
kind of state of hormonal imbalance can make menopause symptoms that much worse.
Are you experiencing hot flashes? Gaining weight? Feeling irritable all the time?
AND your skin is dry?
These are all signs that you probably have an imbalance (typically involving estrogen)
that could use some added support to correct. Here’s the truth — when you address
what’s happening on the inside during menopause, you will like what you see on the
outside a lot more.