Reclaim Your Glow
Cheryl Kramer Kaye
Apr. 27, 2022
Dullness is not your destiny after the cold months. We illuminate.
Having a summer glow is a thing: a little kiss from the sun (or preferably, a bottle of self-tanner) to warm up your skin tone, a sweet smattering of freckles, your skin a little dewy from a dip in the water or a run on the sand.
A post-winter glow? Not a thing. No one talks about your radiator radiance or wind chill factor freshness. And if you’re in menopause, be it peri, the pause, or post, your dipping estrogen levels make post-winter skin even more dreary.
“Estrogen is a wonderful hormone for helping to keep the skin plump, well hydrated, and radiant,” says David E. Bank, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist in Mt. Kisco. “As estrogen levels fall, those benefits begin to wane. Between the cold winter outside, the heat inside, and the drop in estrogen, you're going to see more dryness, more sensitivity, redness, flaking, and itching. Skin isn’t just drier, but also duller, less radiant.” Well, crap.
How to overcome low estrogen and get glowing skin
Here's the plan: We’re going to make a post-winter, or let's call it Spring, glow a thing, even with estrogen messing with our moisture. The two keys to success are maintaining your skin’s natural barrier—the outermost layer which keeps irritants out and moisture in—and loading on lots of luxurious hydrators. With the wise counsel of Dr. Bank and with Boston-based dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD, FAAD, we’ve created a simple, 3-step skincare guide that replaces lost moisture at every stage of the day.
Morning Menopause Skin Routine
Rise and shine! Time to shake out those pillow wrinkles and consider switching to silk pillowcases which are less likely to crease your face and which won’t leech moisture away from your skin like cotton does. Try Defenage Mulberrry Silk Pillowcases.
Step 1: Wash
Your skin is producing less oil overnight so you may not need a true cleanse; a few splashes of water to remove your overnight lotions may do the trick. If you want to really wash, “choose a creamy cleanser to limit stripping of the skin’s protective barrier,” says Hirsch. Try derm fave CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, with ceramides, a key component of your skin barrier.
Step 2: Treat and Hydrate
Busy mornings call for multitasking skincare, so choose a moisturizer infused with multiple, but gentle, actives. Phenology Daily Glow Facial Cream has a light, whipped consistency and a totally luxe feel. It’s been scientifically formulated to revive dry, tired skin with moisturizing hyaluronic acid, calming CBD, and proprietary blends that replenish the protective barrier, block the formation of cortisol to combat collagen loss, reduce the appearance of fine lines, improve elasticity, and provide deep hydration, giving you a smooth, more-luminous look.
Step 3: Protect
This isn’t the time to slack off on sunscreen! UVA rays (the ones that cause wrinkles and skin cancer) are just as present as during the summer. Either find an SPF that’s pre-mixed into your moisturizer or adds a layer of hydration unto itself. EltaMD UV Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, contains squalene, an ingredient that sits on the top of your skin and prevents moisture from escaping.
Mid-day Menopause Skin Routine
No matter where your day takes you (To the office? To the gym? From the couch to the kitchen?), your skin is going to get thirsty.
Step 1: Drink water
“One of the problems with the estrogen drop is that you lose some of the skin's ability to trap and retain water,” says Dr. Bank. “So, you may have to take more water in to help keep the skin hydrated, because it's going to be lost to the atmosphere.”
Step 2: Replenish
You’ll always want to have a hand cream on... you know. The skin on our bodies isn’t somehow impervious to the effects of estrogen. Plus, we’re washing our hands all the damn time, and most hand soaps deplete our skin barrier. Build back better with Juara Coconut Illipe Hand and Nail Balm, which feels and smells so good that applying it won’t ever seem like a chore.
Step 3: Mist
It’s not always so easy to reapply your face cream in the middle of the day. A mist won’t mess up your makeup if you’re wearing any—au contraire, it’ll make it look fresh again. Choose one with hyaluronic acid, a humectant that attracts water, locking in moisture, like Phenology Cool Mist. The portable spray does double duty to cool and refresh flushed skin instantly to ease a hot flash, so if you’re heading out, toss it in your bag for quick access.
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In-Shower Menopause Skin Routine
That steamy shower that feels so relaxing is actually a major contributor to dry skin. “Hot showers have a net drying effect on the skin by injuring the skin barrier,” says Bank. “And if you don’t apply moisturizer immediately after your shower, while the skin is still damp, even more moisture will escape.” You may be feeling lukewarm about tepid showers, but they’ll save your skin.
Step 1: Wash
We’re generally all for yummy-smelling body wash, but “fragrance is the number one cause of contact allergies and irritation,” says Bank. If your skin is at all itchy, go fragrance-free. Try Odele Ultra Sensitive Body Wash, which is so gentle that it’s approved by the National Eczema Association (NEA).
Step 2: Moisturize
As Dr. Bank says, you want to apply your moisturizer immediately after you shower to lock it in. Here’s a body moisturizer you can apply while your skin is still wet: Curel Hydra Therapy Itch Defense Wet Skin Moisturizer. Another NEA-approved product, it penetrates immediately, so you can towel off right after you apply it.
Step 3: Moisturize again
If your body skin can’t seem to get enough moisture, layer on a body oil, which feels super-luxurious and gets us to that glow state. Treat yourself to Augustinus Bader The Body Oil, with high-tech active TFC8 that improves the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks, and hyperpigmentation while it seals in moisture with olive and argan oils, vitamin E, and squalane.
Before-Bed Menopause Skin Routine
Your skin does its best repair work while you sleep. Here are the products that will help you glow in the dark.
Step 1: Wash
Nighttime cleansing is non-negotiable: You need to remove the makeup, dirt, and pollutants from your face before you hit the sheets. Get rid of the gunk with a non-foaming cleanser that you can remove either with water or a tissue, if your skin is feeling raw. Try Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser.
Step 2: Treat
You have to walk a fine line, here: An ingredient that’s active enough to reveal your radiance can be too harsh for post-winter- and menopause-sensitized skin. “You might want to reduce the frequency of retinoid/retinol application, or swap an acid like glycolic for one that’s more gentle, like lactic acid,” says Hirsch. If you’re a retinol user (and after 40, we all should be!) try Obagi Clinical Retinol 0.5 Resurfacing Cream, which has a gradual release mechanism for the retinol, and is formulated with chamomile and green and white tea extracts to minimize irritation. Start by using it every other night and build up to daily use if your skin can handle it. For AHA lovers, try Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel, which uses lactic, malic, and willow bark extract to gently slough off dulling surface cells.
Step 3: Hydrate
If your skin is feeling red or sensitive, skip the treatment step and cut straight to the comforting deep moisturize and wrinkle protection of Phenology Daily Glow Facial Cream.