Menopausal moisturisers are a comforting thought. But does that mean you should change your regular cream? – asks Vicci Bentley.
If you’re the other side of 55, you’ll have been here. Your skin feels fractious and tight, but if you slap on a richer cream, you’ll be glowing like Rudolph in the rut. Ten years on and my skin increasingly throws one – something that’s hard to get used to since for most of my life, it’s been tough as old boots.
Nothing quite prepares you for how fast your face changes once oestrogen leaves the house. Dermatologists call it the ‘age cascade’ when everything seems to head south. Within five years post-menopause, collagen production falls by 30-35% and skin loses around 50% of thickness. If flatter cheeks, a wobbly jawline and scrawny neck aren’t enough, a whopping 57% loss of lipids means a thinner, leaky surface barrier that hemorrhages moisture. Lucky then, there’s an army of so-called ‘menopause creams’ to fix the damage.
When this advanced skincare category made its debut some 15 years ago, I was sceptical. Over-rich and over-priced, were they merely cashing in on the misery? The way they banged on about ‘comfort’ made them sound like old slippers, not the pertly plumping message I wanted to hear. Now I’m truly in the zone, comfort appeals increasingly. One of the side-effects of thinner skin is increased sensitivity and having recently reacted to a cream with glycolic acid, I’m playing it safe.
AHA-intolerance is by no means a given for mature skins, but you’re less likely to find such aggressive exfoliators in 50+ creams. What you will find are omega-rich oils (and these days, they’re light, not greasy) to strengthen a porous barrier and minimise sensitivity; hyaluronic acid (skins natural moisturiser) and plant oestrogens such as soy to boost flagging collagen and help fade pigmentation blotches too. I’ve been trialling Nurture Replenish and am impressed with the Collagen Boosting Serum, £14.95 (great price!) which seems oily at first, but settles gently to matte. Mix it with Instant Skin Perfector, £12.95, which blurs wrinkles and pores and you’ve a fabulously smooth base for makeup.
Despite sounding like a damage pay-out for age-related mugging, Vichy Neovadiol Compensating Complex Advanced Replenishing Complex, £29.75 is a fresh-feeling gel-cream that won’t leave skin looking sweaty. Should you need a moisture top-up (on cheeks and neck, say) the Neovadiol Replenishing Care creams, £26.50 come in Normal to Combination and Dry Skin options – a welcome acknowledgement that not all oestrogen-poor skins need rich day creams.
The time to slather it on is at night, especially now the central heating’s full on. I rarely get to the bottom of a pot (so many creams to test, so little skin), but I scraped every last bit out of Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream, £73. Loved that melt-in-the-skin texture and the way my face looked normal, not crumpled in the morning.
So am I a meno-cream convert? Well, sort of. I’m delighted mature skin’s on the radar but to be honest, I’ve tried ranges with other agendas and loved them, too (hyaluronic acid-based ones are particularly refreshing – I’ll post about these, later). Just because skin’s over-50 doesn’t mean it conforms strictly to type – as ever, there are nuances and it’s how a cream makes you feel that counts. But if it’s comfort you’re after, meno-ranges are a great place to look….