Tips For Midlife Dry Skin Issues
Many women at menopause suffer from dry skin problems. I've tried everything including the most expensive and promising creams by Lancome, Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder -- even a cream called --- "Very Emollient Cream" by Clinique. The bottom line with moisturizers is that they CAN'T ADD MOISTURE to your skin. What they do is KEEP IN the moisture that's already there and my question becomes, if it's not already there, what's to keep in?
The bottom line is to drink lots of water! Also, keep oil in your diet.
Some of my favorite products for cleansing and moisturizing have water as their #1 ingredient -- they are aqueous products. Aqueous simply means that it's made from, or by means of, water. Water is the most important moisture we need in our bodies, not just applied externally. That's why drinking as much water as possible is the most helpful thing you can do for your skin externally and your body's organs internally. If you look at many skin preparations, water is listed almost at the top of the list of ingredients.
You can also start adding oil to your diet. During the menopausal years, our bodies become depleted of oils. You can take a Tbsp of any of the "good" oils, such as canola, safflower, sunflower, olive and swallow it, add it to your salad, or cook with it. Don't be afraid of oils. This is not the time of life to deprive yourself of oil in your diet. Go to the recommendations page and read about Omega-3 oils and flaxseed oil and how important they are -- not only to your heart and general health, but for your skin.
Aquafor is an excellent product for dry skin -- probably good because its #1 ingredient is petrolatum, aka vaseline. The only negative about petrolatum products is obvious - they can feel greasy. If you use a petrolatum-based cream, separate a tissue and use 1/2 to gently blot the skin. An excellent product for dry, patchy areas - that you can carry in your purse and apply any time and there's no greasy residue is Lubriderm's Advanced Therapy Creamy Lotion for Extra Dry Skin. It's inexpensive and lubricates nicely. Lubriderm makes excellent products for dry skin. There's also Moisturel for hands and body. I don't use any of these for the entire face, but just certain dry, scaly, patchy areas. Another excellent cream is Cetaphil.
Look for products containing at least one of these ingredients fairly high on the list: petrolatum, water, lanolin, and/or mineral oil. Another excellent product for very dry skin is Eucerin. Their original moisturizing cream or their dry skin therapy plus intensive repair cream.
A REALLY IMPORTANT TIP: After cleaning your face, leave a little of the water on your skin -- and then apply the moisturizer while your skin is still damp.
I wash my face with an Aqueous Cream, which I found in England. What I like about an aqueous cleanser is that I can rinse it off with water and it still leaves my skin feeling dewy and clean. Many women don't care for cleansing creams because they feel greasy even after you tissue off the remaining residue. There are cleansing creams you can either tissue or wash off. One of them is Adrienne Arpel's Signature Club A's various Meltdown creams. However, there are many good cleansing creams available. There are other aqueous cleansers, such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
During perimenopause, I developed dry skin on both sides of my nose, under my eyebrows and on my chin. What I've found helps more than anything else is regularly using an exfoliant to peel away the layers of dry, dead skin. I regularly use a gentle Buf-Puff around those dry areas. A product helpful for these areas, and for anti-aging, is called Olay's Regenerist cream or lotion. You'll pay almost $20.00 for it in a retail store. I bought 3 bottles for under $30.00 on Ebay. I, personally, prefer the creamy lotion to the cream.
Among my favorite products for skin are those by Adrienne Arpel. She's been around for many years and is one of the nation's leading skin experts. In fact, I remember having a skin analysis done by HER at Macy's years ago. She used to appear at the various department stores demonstrating her products. I've never seen a savvier businesswoman in my life. Her skin products are the only thing I've ever bought from Home Shopping Network on cable TV. They also they have a Web site. Her products are called "Signature Club A" by Adriene Arpel under HSN. I especially like her Five Essentials Face Cream with Retinol and Alpha Hydroxy and her Advanced Formula - Five Essentials Face Cream with Vinoplex and Grape Polyphenols. At the top of each container of cream is an eye formula as well. I also use her Alpha Hydroxy and Retinol Soft Scrub with Vanilla Bean, which is also an exfoliant. It's an excellent exfoliant containing little microbeads that clean away dry/dead skin.
Another good exfoliant is Neutrogena's New Deep Clean Gentle Scrub. It does a nice job exfoliating and the beads are large and powerful (unlike Olay's exfoliant). I realize you can fill your house with thousands of these products until you find the best ones, which is why I'm sharing the names of those I've found that work best.
For dry and normal skin, after using a good cleanser, you should use a toner -- even if the dryness is around the mouth. A toner will set the ph of your skin back to the proper balance and make it more receptive to the moisturizer you're going to apply and at midlife, women really need a good skin moisturizer.
You can also use an exfoliant on your hands. They're great for making your hands look less dry and, therefore, younger. Take a look at your hands right now. See the small dry lines and how much older they look then they did a few years ago? That's aging. Exfoliants can work wonders. I use Olay's Regenerist Cream on my hands and forearms every day.
I've also used Lancome creams for years. I started 25 years ago with Progres Cream, which is no longer available. Now that I'm in my 50's, an excellent Lancome moisturizer is called Renergie - Double Performance Treatment, Anti-wrinkle and Firming Cream. Your skin feels incredibly dewy and soft. If you purchase it in a department store, such as Macy's, Bloomingdale's or Nordstrom, the cost for a 1.7 oz. jar is approximately $70.00. I've purchased it on Ebay for less than half the retail cost.
It's important to alternate skin care products and shampoos periodically since our skin and hair have a tendency to become immune to them after a while, and they lose their effectiveness. I recommend alternating the products you use. Also, avoid any shampoo that says "detergent" on it.
For severely dry skin and chapped lips, someone recommended a product called Bag Balm. Believe it or not, Bag Balm is primarily used to keep a cow's udders moist. While doing some research on the product, I was astonished at how many people used it on their skin. When I've developed severely chapped lips that haven't been helped by the traditional Chap Stick or Blistex, Bag Balm has worked.
Needless to say, continual and/or severe dry skin problems should be looked at by a dermatologist. Dry skin can also come from various medications, from not enough water and/or lubrication in the body and, of course, from low estrogen levels. If skin problems persist, or are aggravated by the use of OTC preparations and creams, see a dermatologist. Dry, patchy, scaly skin could be indicative of any number of health issues including anxiety (yes, anxiety can cause dry skin), allergies, eczema, psoriasis, seborrhea, rosacea and many other skin disorders for which there are numerous OTC and prescription creams.
Important Tips for Midlife/Menopausal Skin:
- Drink plenty of water (at least 5 - 8 oz. glasses a day)
- Incorporate *healthy oils* into your diet
- Cleanse your skin morning and night
- Avoid soaps, especially deodorant soaps
- Apply moisturizer morning and night
- Avoid too much sun exposure
- Wear sunscreen with at least an SPF25 whenever possible
- Try to avoid stress
- Other options for skin improvement: Revival Soy Protein / Isoflavones
and natural, plant-derived bioidentical hormones.