What's on your skin?

Rethinking skincare in the menopause


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


08 June 2015

The impact of your skincare routine

I had a really interesting email from a lovely lady the other day and I thought I would share it with you, as it brought up a very important point.

She had started to make her own body and face creams and had suddenly realised that after using them on herself for 3 weeks, she hadn’t had any hot flushes. She wondered if this was anything to do with changing over from conventional creams to natural ones. And the answer is YES!

So, why?

Firstly:

In the menopause, the changing hormones can put tremendous pressure on your body, generally making you much more sensitive to everything. Many women going through the menopause find that their skin changes and can become thinner and more sensitive, which means that you could end up absorbing more chemicals through your skin.

Secondly:

Shifting hormone levels can also stress the liver, making it less able to deal with toxins that we absorb through our food, water, what we put on our skin and the air that we breathe. We know that a stressed liver can contribute to many menopausal symptoms.

Now, the creams that you buy for your body and your makeup, shampoos etc., contain a whole raft of chemicals including Parabens, Coal Tar, DEA/TEA/MEA, fragrance/perfume, mineral oil, Phthalates, Aluminium, Petroleum, Silicone-derived emollients, Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS), talc, Toluene and Triclosan, to name but a few.

Between them, these chemicals can cause disruption to your hormones, mimic oestrogen, trigger allergies and skin rashes, block the skin pores, act as a barrier to keep moisture in the skin (this barrier also stops the skin from breathing properly, interfering with temperature control and triggering flushes), cause premature ageing and act like an antibiotic!

Many of these products are also used in domestic cleaning products, washing powders/fabric conditioners, engine oils, pesticides, engine degreasers and cooking utensils!!!

These chemicals are known to be absorbed through the skin and although these have all been passed as ‘safe’, no studies have been done on how all these would react being used together, and what would happen if you used them everyday, year upon year. On top of that, each one of us is an individual and our own metabolism may handle or not handle all these chemicals differently.

Just think how many products you use everyday. Let’s take a quick look from getting up to going to bed:

Shower gel/soap, shampoo and conditioner, hair sprays/gels, body moisturiser, antiperspirants, face creams, hand creams, makeup, perfume, toothpaste, hand washes/soap all day, makeup remover, bubble bath/bath salts and night creams. Add to this the fact that your clothes have been washed in washing powders and fabric conditioners and the residue from these will be next to your skin all day and night (bed linen and night clothes).

So it is no wonder that your poor old liver (which has the tough job of breaking down and eliminating toxins) gets overwhelmed with all the work it has to do in the menopause. This stress can be a contributory factor in symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, skin rashes/itchy skin/spots, digestive problems such as bloating or constipation, joint pains and headaches.

So what can you do?

Firstly, don’t panic and suddenly throw everything out. Do a little research on the products you are using to see which chemicals are in them and go from there. To get a comprehensive list and lots of great advice see www.ewg.org. The EWG’s Skin Deep mobile app is great as it allows you to scan the barcode of a skincare product to find out information about the ingredients and chemicals it contains.

Make a gradual change to using more natural and organic products and see how you get on. You could also try a gentle detox to help your liver – take a look at my blog post on detoxing to find out how it can help your menopause. Using antiperspirants could also be a contributory factor to many menopause symptoms including body flushes/sweats, heat surges, skin rashes and much more, so choosing natural deodorants are a better option as they don’t block your pores but are very effective for killing off the bacteria that cause odour.

Fresh herb solutions

Natural creams with fresh herb extracts can be a good addition to your skin care regime. Itchy skin can be an irritating symptom of the menopause which often responds well to soothing Neem Cream. This skin calmer can help soothe irritated, itchy, red, sore and sensitive skin. It can also be used for dry, very dry and eczema prone skin and it’s even a great cream to have around in the summer to soothe insect bites and sunburn.

For younger looking and brighter skin, the rich and nourishing formula of Comfrey Cream is perfect for giving tired, weak, dull skin a replenishing boost and it can even help reduce the appearance of those annoying fine lines and wrinkles. It can be used both as a day and a night face cream and I also find it particularly good as a hand and nail cream, which I use every night before bed.

How do you take care of your skin? Do you find your skin more sensitive now than ever before?

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