I noticed very early on that my hands and skin became very dry no matter how much moisture I piled on.
I quickly learnt that the fall in the body’s estrogen levels affects the quality of your hair and skin. As the levels drop, the skin gets wrinkly and for some women (like me) the skin also becomes itchy. That is because the oil glands present in the skin shrink during the menopause and less oil is secreted leaving our skin feeling dry. As your oestrogen levels drop, your collagen production also slows down. Collagen is essential for keeping skin firm and youthful. As collagen levels fall, you may start to notice as I did that your skin feels drier, tired and less youthful-looking.
My Top Tips
Hydrate your skin
We have to nourish our skin from the inside out and the best way to do that is to drink more water. None of us drink enough! Two thirds of our bodies consist of water and for women the recommended intake is 1.6 litres a day or just under three pints. The more hydrated you are, the less dry and itchy your skin will feel. I also like to use over-the-counter skin creams rich in vitamin A or C due to their antioxidant properties as well as taking a marine collagen supplement. Marine collagen can be quite expensive and so I would also recommend a good omega oil to stop you feeling dry from the inside. I always carry hand moisturisers and face cream with me and apply them daily as even make up can feel uncomfortable some days.
For severe dry skin, try using a moisturising cream enriched with lactic acid or urea to leave your skin feeling smoother and more hydrated. I have also found that zinc-oxide leave-in conditioner helps with dry hair. An underactive thyroid is also contributor to dry skin and hair. I would recommend speaking to your GP, a chemist or a health food shop for more options in order to find something that works for your skin and symptoms.
Focus on fatty acids
Fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acids, are incredibly important to add in your diet for dry skin, since it helps produce your skin’s oil barrier, which in turn helps hydrate your skin. Omega-3s can be found in salmon, walnuts, sardines, soy, and flaxseeds!
Moisturising isn’t enough! Adding a layer of sun protection to your skincare routine will help keep your skin healthy and happy. We sometimes can be tempted to skip sunscreen during winter or cloudy days, but as long as it’s daytime, the sun’s UV rays can still damage your skin!
Avoid steaming hot showers
After a long, long day of work, you might want nothing more than an equally long hot shower. But be careful: hot water can be very harsh on your skin and dry it out, since you’re stripping your skin of its natural oils. Instead, stick with warmer and shorter showers.
Scrub only when necessary and with gentle soap
On the topic of showers and natural oils, it’s generally advised that if you suffer from dry and itchy skin, you should avoid scrubbing and washing areas of the body that don’t usually get dirty (like your back or your arms). Instead, use soap only on areas that really need cleaning, like feet and underarms, so you can preserve your natural oils. And when you are using soap, be sure to use gentle, moisturising soap, instead of scented or antibacterial soaps that tend to be harsh.