Locations:
Search IconSearch
February 18, 2021/Living Healthy/Women's Health

Here’s How Menopause Affects Your Skin and Hair

Tips on how to cope with dry skin and hair

person looking in the mirror while touching their face

They don’t call menopause “the change” for nothing. This time of life, which begins 12 months after a woman’s last period, triggers changes throughout her body. You may welcome some of these changes — no more PMS! — but others may not be as enjoyable.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Take, for instance, the way skin and hair may change after menopause. Dermatologist Kiyanna Williams, MD, discusses how your skin and hair might look different after your periods are done — and what you can do about it.

How estrogen affects hair and skin

If you’re seeing changes in your hair and skin post-menopause, you can usually blame rapidly declining levels of the hormone estrogen.

“Estrogen promotes water retention and plumpness in the skin,” Dr. Williams says. “When estrogen drops, you lose some of the molecules that help keep the skin moisturized. Estrogen also contributes to hair growth and fullness. Without it, your hair may become thinner.”

Common menopause skin and hair changes

These are the most common changes people can expect in their skin and hair post-menopause.

Sagging and loss of plumpness

Collagen is a protein that holds the body’s tissues together. And when estrogen drops, your skin’s collagen production decreases, too. Loss of collagen means the skin loses its youthful volume and tightness.

To combat this problem, many people take collagen supplements or eat high-collagen foods like bone broth. But the jury is still out on this strategy. “We don’t have enough controlled studies to prove that consuming collagen will help post-menopausal skin,” Dr. Williams says.

Don’t give up, though. You can help fight collagen loss at home with a simple facial massage. Dr. Williams recommends taking your favorite moisturizer or facial oil and giving yourself a facial rubdown each night. “The massaging motion stimulates your skin’s collagen production,” she says.

Advertisement

Dryness, flakiness and itching

You can usually manage post-menopause skin dryness with a good home care routine. Dr. Williams recommends:

  • Cleanse skin gently: Even if your skin is dry, cleanse your skin each day to remove makeup and daily grime. But don’t use a foaming cleanser unless your face is oily. “Use a non-foaming, gentle cleanser designed for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Williams.
  • Moisturize daily: After menopause, many women need to up their moisture game. “Moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid help hold in water, keeping skin supple,” Dr. Williams says. Serums and creams with antioxidants may also help. “Antioxidants like vitamin C fight off free radicals that contribute to aging.”
  • Avoid irritating ingredients: You don’t want to make skin troubles worse with ingredients that aggravate your skin. Avoid products with fragrance, colors and alcohol (usually listed as SD alcohol or denatured alcohol). “If it smells or looks pretty, it’s probably not good for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Williams. “Go for bland, colorless products with little to no scent.”
  • Take warm, not hot, showers: Keep showers short and not too hot. Hot showers strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving it parched. And moisturize immediately after you towel off. Skin can absorb ingredients better when it’s still damp.

If you see redness or rashes, see your doctor. A dermatologist can rule out issues like eczema, rosacea or allergic reactions and help you find a solution.

Dark spots

Those pesky dark marks, sometimes called age spots, often appear after menopause and they’re hard to treat at home.

Advertisement

“Dark spots may not always respond to over-the-counter creams,” says Dr. Williams. “There are several prescription creams that can help such as tretinoin which is a prescription-strength retinoid. If that’s not enough, in-office facial peels or laser treatments can fade individual spots and enhance the overall brightness and youthful appearance of the skin. Ask your dermatologist about these options.”

Unwanted facial hair

As hormones shift, you may notice hair on the upper lip or chin. If you want it gone, the tried-and-true methods of tweezing, waxing, hair removal creams and threading will get rid of it — until it grows back.

Electrolysis is a permanent hair removal solution. It destroys the growth cells in hair follicles, so they can’t grow back. Most people need several appointments to get results. If you decide to go this route, choose a licensed electrologist or ask your doctor for a recommendation.

Laser hair removal can get rid of unwanted facial hair — but there’s a caveat. “The laser targets melanin, which gives hair and skin its color,” says Dr. Williams. “Laser treatment only works on dark hair. If your unwanted hair is light, the laser won’t work.”

Post-menopause acne breakouts

Unfortunately, menopause doesn’t mean the end of pimples. Some women get acne throughout their lives while others get more acne when estrogen levels drop after menopause.

If you notice post-menopause breakouts, don’t slam them with the strongest acne product you can find. Many of the acne products on store shelves are too harsh and drying for adults. Try a gentle cleanser that contains salicylic acid. If over-the-counter products aren’t working, see your dermatologist for a prescription solution.

Hair loss and thinning

Estrogen promotes hair growth, density and fullness. During menopause, people may notice their hair is thinning, less full or shedding more.

“Treat your scalp like fertilizer that you want to optimize for hair growth,” says Dr. Williams. “If your scalp is dry, use gentle, moisturizing shampoos and wash it less frequently. If your scalp is oily, however, you may want to shampoo every day. This varies from person to person.”

And older adults are more likely to experience androgenic alopecia, often called male or female-pattern baldness. It can cause overall thinning or bald spots. Over-the-counter products with the ingredient minoxidil can help.

Finally, if you notice any of these signs, see your dermatologist:

  • Distinct circle-shaped bald spots on the scalp.
  • Hair loss that occurs with itching, burning or pain.
  • Pimple-like bumps on the hairline.
  • Hair coming out in clumps.
  • Rash.

Advertisement

Sun protection is a must

No matter what your skin challenges are, sunscreen is your friend. Slather it on every day, all year round. Sun protection can ward off signs of aging and prevent skin cancer.

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher. Choose one you like so you’ll be more likely to apply it every morning. If you’re going to be outside, reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

“The sun’s rays age your skin and increase the risk of skin cancer,” Dr. Williams says. “Even in the winter, UV rays penetrate the clouds.”

Take care of you

We may not like what time and hormone changes do to our skin and hair. But you have the power to maximize your well-being. Eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, don’t smoke and see your doctor regularly. If you make good health a priority, you’ll feel — and look — your best.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person in towel standing in bathroom, with milk pticher on edge of bathtub
June 13, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Take the Plunge: 4 Reasons To Try a Milk Bath

Adding a little milk to your bath can leave your skin smooth, silky and refreshed

Older person applying skin cream to their face
June 7, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Benefits of Ferulic Acid as Part of Your Skin Care Routine

Ferulic acid can help make other antioxidant products more powerful

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
June 4, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Smiling person under sunny blue sky, holding tube of sunscreen, applying to face
May 24, 2024/Primary Care
The Difference Between Mineral and Chemical Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens have a heavier texture to create a physical barrier, while chemical sunscreens are lighter and use a chemical reaction to prevent UV damage

Person holding jar of moisturizer, with moisturizer on fingers
May 15, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
7 Tips for Treating Dry Skin on Your Face

Deal with dry skin by preserving your skin’s moisture, using moisturizing products and taking preventive action

female examining neck wrinkles
April 29, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Neck Wrinkles? Here’s What Can Help

Give the delicate skin on your neck some TLC by wearing sunscreen every day and trying a retinoid or topical antioxidant

Acrylic nails being filed by manicurist
April 24, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Are Acrylic Nails Bad for Your Nails and Skin?

Before your next manicure, weigh the reward against the risk of infection, irritated skin and damaged nails

Fingers with globs of petroleum jelly above container
April 18, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Slugging: Does This Skin Care Trend Work?

Go ahead and get goopy to help boost hydration and repair damaged skin

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad