How does Menopause impact the skin?

How does menopause impact the skin?

Written by Dr. Dalibor Mijaljica BSC, PhD.

older woman cleansing face

While the thought of menopause may seem worrying or scary to some, it is something that every woman will eventually have to experience as a natural part of life. With the right advice, and an idea of what to expect, every woman can feel prepared to manage their symptoms head on so that the effect on their day to day is minimised. As our literal outer barrier and the thing that we have on show every hour of the day, our skin is usually the first area of the body to show signs of ageing, and this can apply to menopause too. As we age, our skin goes through a number of changes, and may become more fragile, drier and wrinkly. When it comes to menopause, changes to a woman’s skin can often lead to decreased skin hydration and a weakened skin barrier function, potentially giving rise to problematic skin.

Skin changes

How does my skin changes during menopause?

Some of the skin changes seen in women during menopause include natural ageing (due to the passage of time), photoageing (due to repeated exposure to sunlight) and environmental factors such as pollution, all of which are not unique to menopause exclusively. 

What does tend to be unique to menopause is skin changes brought about by hormonal deficiency, for example lower levels of estrogen. Hormonal ageing is thought to bring about several structural changes in the skin, such as decreased water and collagen content, loss of elasticity, decreased sebum (oil) production and visible changes such as wrinkling1-8.

Below we will have a look at some of these effects, and outline some tips to help you manage them.

Visibly, the main effects of menopause on the skin tend to be dryness and wrinkling or loss of elasticity, especially in exposed areas such as the face, neck, and hands.

Dr. Dalibor Mijaljica

Collagen changes

Impact of menopause on collagen levels

Collagen is an important part of the skin as it helps to bind water and maintain proper water content in the skin, keeping it moisturised9. It also helps to keep skin firm and elastic. Healthy skin is made up of a variety of collagen types: from type I, which amounts to about 80% of the total collagen content of the skin and is responsible for strength, to type III, which is about 15% of the total collagen content and is responsible for elasticity7,10,11.

During menopause, decreases in estrogen levels leads to a reduction in type I and type III collagen, and also a decrease in skin thickness compared with non-menopausal women7,10,11. As much as 30% of skin collagen (both types I and III) is lost in the first 5 years after menopause2. Lower estrogen levels has also been associated with decreased skin water content and overall hydration2. This means that post-menopausal skin is not only drier, but can also be significantly weaker and less elastic.

Sebum changes

Impact of menopause on sebum levels

Sebum is an oily substance produced in specialised glands found in the skin, and forms a protective coating on the skin’s surface responsible for hydration, protection from harsh environmental conditions and potentially harmful pathogens12,13. Similar to the effects on collagen above, clinical studies have shown that lower estrogen levels also correlate with decreased sebum production in postmenopausal women2.

Skin management

How do I offset the effects of Menopause on my skin? 

Visibly, the main effects of menopause on the skin tend to be dryness and wrinkling or loss of elasticity, especially in exposed areas such as the face, neck, and hands6.

Luckily, there are a number of topical moisturisers and other skin care products that can help to minimise or manage the main effects for menopausal skin8. Moisturisers can help to improve the appearance of dry or fragile skin by boosting hydration and supporting normal barrier function. Moisturisers come in many different formats: try a light lotion or cream first thing in the morning, and a more occlusive ointment before bed to help keep your skin hydrated. Remember that you can never use too much moisturiser! Other products such as high SPF (50+) sunscreens can help to offset other factors that can compound the effects of menopause, such as sun exposure.

If you are concerned about the effects of menopause on your skin, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may suggest options like systemic estrogen replacement therapy7,8, taking collagen supplements8 and the use of moisturisers14.


  • During menopause the skin undergoes many changes 
  • These changes can cause dryness, loss of elasticity and the appearance of wrinkles.
  • The use of moisturisers can help to improve the skin’s moisture, barrier function and smoothness.

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