The menopause causes a dramatic drop in the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and this decline can have major effects on your skin and hair.
Women generally experience a decline in their youthful appearance during this phase of life and the drop in hormones are to blame but don’t panic, our expert nutritionists explain how changes to your diet and supplements can minimise the effects.
How menopause affects skin & hair
Menopause can play havoc with our skin and hair. The drop in oestrogen causes a decline in your production of collagen which can result in saggy skin. As well as being the main structural component of our skin, collagen is also essential for our healthy blood vessels which supports the transportation of essential nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles for healthy hair growth. As a result, a decline in collagen affects the growth and strength of your hair and the health of your scalp and can lead to hair thinning.
Learn more about how collagen works in 'The truth about collagen'.
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As oestrogen levels drop, so does the fat under our skin which can further contribute towards the appearance of wrinkles. In addition, when women go through menopause they can experience a loss of hydration in the skin due to the decline in oestrogen. Dry skin appears less plump and has a duller complexion, increasing the appearance of ageing.
The perimenopause can begin up to 10 years before menopause and is when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and is the period until menopause. The average age women begin to experience menopausal symptoms is 47 and is generally during perimenopause.
Learn more in 'How do I know if I'm starting menopause?'.
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As women approach the menopause they will notice several changes to their skin and hair. Hair thickness may start to decrease in the years before menopause and the skin may start to lose its plumpness. These changes are due to decreasing levels of oestrogen and progesterone.
As your body gets closer to the cessation of menstruation, and the year that follows your last menstrual period which is the start of menopause, may be the toughest for your skin and hair. Not only does the skin become even drier, thinner and slacker, the growth of your hair slows down. You can also find you experience more facial hair growth.
Unfortunately the growth and health of our skin and hair can continue to drop from post-menopause onwards. Wrinkling can become more obvious and hair thinning can get worse.
But don't worry, there are solutions that can help!
Minimising hair thinning and skin changes
Diet plays a huge role in the health of skin and hair during menopause. Adding phytoestrogens (plant-based oestrogens) to your diet from certain foods including nuts, seeds, beans and fruit can help to replace some of the oestrogen lost during menopause.
Avocados are also recommended for plant-based healthy fats, learn more about the best and worst foods during the menopause and perimenopause.
Having the right healthy fats and omega 3 fatty acids to support skin health is also a major factor in skin quality and moisturisation of the skin. Ensuring you have a wide variety of foods and optimal nutrition intake supports the foundations of skin health and collagen, as well as blood flow and nutrient delivery to the skin and hair cells, helping them to stay healthy. Include the following foods in your diet as much as possible:
Flax seeds are great for menopausal women in four ways.
- They contain phytoestrogens which help to replace the declining oestrogen during the perimenopause.
- They contain omega 3 fats which keep your skin cells hydrated and flexible.
- The omega 3 fats in flax seeds are anti-inflammatory and help to calm skin reactions, redness and blemishes.
- Omega 3 fats also improve the skins cells sensitivity to other female hormones which supports youthful skin and fuller hair.
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Soya beans can be enjoyed in many forms including tempeh, tofu and immature edamame soya beans. Soya beans have a very high content of isoflavones, which come under the category of phytoestrogens and have an effect on oestrogen levels in the body which supports your skin and hair. Learn more about the proven health benefits of soya.
Sesame seeds are great for adding into many healthy recipes and due to their phytoestrogen content, research has shown they have a positive affect on the oestrogen levels of menopausal women.
Cauliflower and broccoli
Not only are cauliflower and broccoli great for our overall health, they also contain a type of phytoestrogen called 'secoisolariciresinol' (a tough word to say!) which helps to balance oestrogen levels in our body.
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Supplements for hair and skin during menopause
There are some essential nutrients needed in higher levels during menopause, and some herbs are particularly useful for menopausal women to help regulate hormones and improve hair strength and skin health.
Vitamin B6 particularly is helpful for hormone balance – especially for managing the increased ratio of testosterone women see during menopause, so if you're taking a supplement for menopause, make sure it contains Vitamin B6 in a high quality, bioavailable form.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for our bodies through our life that helps to control hydration of the skin. It is also needed during menopause as it works with Vitamin B6 for hormone balance. Discover how to tell if you might be deficient in magnesium.
Wild yam contains a phytosterol (a plant sterol) called 'diosgenin' which is known as a phytoestrogen. This means Wild Yam has a similar affect on the body as oestrogen and supports healthier skin and stronger hair.
Maca is the root of a plant which acclaimed for helping relieve menopausal symptoms. Research suggests that maca root can help to balance hormones and relieve symptoms of hut flushes and night sweats, and help with issues arising due to hormonal imbalances that create problems with skin and hair during menopause.
Vitamin C is essential for the maintenance of collagen in the skin. Supplementing with Vitamin C provides additional support for struggling skin, as well as additional protection from environmental damage and oxidative stress on the skin.
What else can help manage skin and hair during menopause?
Although not a natural solution, some women can find HRT useful for managing skin and hair changes during menopause. Discuss the pros and cons of HRT with your GP if it is something you would like to consider.
Learn about the mental health affects of menopause
Skin care routines
It is especially important to find the right skin care routine for your skin. Skin can become more sensitive during the menopause phase and require more moisturisation. Try to find natural skin care products as standard products contain chemicals which can disrupt hormone balance.
Hair care routines
Try to gently massage your scalp regularly. This stimulates blood flow and a better supply of nutrients to the hair follicles. Opt for vegan friendly skincare such as Dr Organic's aloe vera shampoo. Also consider using a caffeine shampoo with your hair dresser as these may help to stimulate more hair growth.
Shop our range of vegan vitamins, supplements and probiotics here.
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