Perimenopause: Your guide to the best skincare, supplements and nutrition

·9-min read
Photo credit: Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty
Photo credit: Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty

October is Menopause Awareness Month but many women still aren't aware that from your 40s onwards, the menstrual cycle and hormone balance can begin to change even as you approach the menopause, in what is known as perimenopause.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Gaby Logan and Michelle Obama have all spoken about their experiences with perimenopause with Gillian Anderson, telling People magazine that perimenopause and menopause should be treated as a rite of passage. “How wonderful would it be if we could get to a place where we are able to have these conversations openly and without shame. Admit, freely, that this is what’s going on. So we don’t feel like we’re going mad.”

Women's health expert, Maisie Hill, explains in her new book Perimenopause Power: Navigating Your Hormones: "Perimenopause is likely to start in your forties, but for some it will begin in your thirties. It can last as little as two years or as long as 12, and if more of us were aware of the subtleties of the transition, we'd recognise the hallmark signs of our hormones shifting far sooner and actually be able to do something about it."

Understanding the changes that are going on within your body can really help to work out how best to support it, alongside the right skincare, diet and supplements.

Five tips to support you through perimenopause

1: Look after bone health

The reduction in oestrogen levels that occurs around the time of menopause results in increased bone density loss leading to poorer, less robust bone structure and potential bone weakness, according to the mineral experts, Wassen. Bone health is hugely important as we age, so make sure you are getting enough of the right nutrients needed for normal, healthy bones, including calcium, vitamin D and magnesium.

It is well known that to include plenty of calcium in your diet, to eat a modest amount of dairy products, preferably organic ones, as well as dark, green leafy vegetables. Since the pandemic the new advice from Public Health England is that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D, especially in autumn and winter.

Finally consider taking a supplement with a significant amount of magnesium, this plays a significant part in the maintenance of normal bones. For women over 50, consuming at least 1200mg of Calcium and 20µg of Vitamin D a day, help to reduce the loss of bone mineral.

2: Skin, hair and nails need extra attention

Oestrogen depletion throughout menopause has been linked to atrophic skin changes and acceleration of skin aging. This skin aging, due to lowered oestrogen can cause the skin to appear thinner containing less collagen, decreasing elasticity, potentially increasing the appearance of wrinkles and dryness.

Consider taking a supplement with at least 100% NRV of vitamin C, which plays an important role in the formation of collagen. Collagen is a vital structural component for the normal function of skin and cartilage. Zinc is also crucial for the maintenance of normal hair, skin and nails. Both Vitamin C and Zinc also play an important role in keeping the immune system in working order.

3: Support your hormone balance

Vitamin B6 is crucial for the maintenance of normal hormonal activity and found in foods including chicken, soya beans, oats and bananas. Taking B vitamins in a B complex is a good idea. Vitamins B6, B12 and Folic Acid all support normal homocysteine metabolism. Homocysteine is a chemical found in the body naturally and the relationship between high homocysteine and age-related cognitive function and heart health is a subject of much research.

4: Essential fats

It is important that the body is nourished with omega 3 and 6 fats at this life stage, which are found in nuts, seeds and oily fish. Consuming a daily amount of 250mg the omega 3 fats Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) helps support normal heart function. In addition to making sure that you eat enough fish, increase your intake of essential fats by making small changes to your food choices. A great start is to replace cheese, milk and butter with alternatives e.g. tahini spread, hummus, a flaxseed oil for dipping and add seed oils to salad dressings.

5: Choose a supplement for this life stage

Wassen Magnesium-OK contains a combination of six important minerals including Magnesium which contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and normal psychological function, plus chromium which helps keep blood glucose levels normal.

You could also try Gabby Logan's supplement of choice, Solgar's Menoprime, which is a unique combination of two clinically studied botanical extracts, Saffron (affron®) and Siberian Rhubarb (Err-731®) offering non-hormonal, botanical support for mature women.

6: Reduce inflammatory Foods where possible

"Certain foods provoke an inflammatory response in the body which can then put the body into a state of stress. Gluten and grains are inflammatory foods, so try and avoid them or reduce them if possible," says nutritionist Pauline Cox, advisor to Wiley's Finest. "Gluten is the protein found in wheat, it is an indigestible protein that can often irritate the delicate gut lining and can cause inflammatory reactions such as aches and pains in the joints, headaches, anxiety and other symptoms of systemic inflammation. High sugar and high-carbohydrate foods increase the inflammatory cascade," Pauline adds.

Your perimenopause survival kit


Exercise can help with many of the symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, and painful muscles and joints, Personal Trainer and mum to three Kate Rowe-Ham told Prima. Kate went through her own perimenopausal journey and found that fitness helped her enormously.

"I want every woman to know that when you hit forty it really is the beginning not just because someone is saying life begins at 40 but because actually now is the time when you can look back and see that everything you have done has got you to this place, it’s got you to this place where you can feel confident and embrace who you are."

Resistance Training

Bone density can be reduced during and after the menopause thanks to a decline in oestrogen, however, resistance training can help counteract this.

Personal trainer and head of Wellness at Puresport, Lucy Gornall, explains that incorporating weighted movements into your week can help lower the risk of osteoporosis, as well as boosting muscle mass. "More muscle mass also means a faster metabolism, helping to counteract any perimenopausal weight gain,’ says Lucy.

Photo credit: SrdjanPav - Getty Images
Photo credit: SrdjanPav - Getty Images

This doesn’t mean lifting super heavy weight day in day out though. Opt for two to three sessions a week, working through five to six full body moves, two to three times, with a set of dumbbells. Youtube is a haven for good, simple movements that can be done in the comfort of your own home.


High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

"Whilst this efficient, fat burning , heart pumping, can do anywhere workout is brilliant, it’s important to make sure you feel up for the intensity. Perimenopausal symptoms can leave us feeling tired, if we overdo it, we can find ourselves susceptible to injury and joint pain. Be sure to lower the intensity if needed," advises Kate.

Try low impact steady state (LISS) cardio for something a bit gentler on the bones and the adrenals. LISS can help improve blood flow, reduced stress, lower risk of heart disease, and improved brain function.


Stay hydrated

Perimenopause can cause many hormonal fluctuations, which can then cause a wide range of symptoms from hot flashes, to dull and sensitive skin and scalp hair loss.

The decline in oestrogen associated with menopause leads to decreased collagen levels - some studies estimate that 30% of collagen is lost in the five years following menopause, Dermatologist Dr Cristina Psomadakis told us.

"There is also loss of elasticity, skin thickness and water content. Understanding the changes that take place help us focus on skincare that can address these problems. For loss of collagen for example, a product with retinol can be helpful. Finally, there is evidence that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help the skin, so it is important to discuss this with a doctor."

For sensitive skin that is dry, try Aveeno Calm + Restore gel moisturiser which is soothing, feels refreshing and great against hot flushes, and is great at replenishing the skin barrier.

Remember, there are not any rules about specific skincare ingredients to avoid during the perimenopause as everyone’s skin will respond slightly differently.

Incorporate Vitamin C into your skincare

Most dermatologists would recommend incorporating vitamin C serum into your skincare routine when you’re experiencing the perimenopause. The dermatological benefits of this powerful ingredient include environmental defence and protection from free radicals. collagen support and hyperpigmentation reduction.

"By supporting the body’s production of collagen, vitamin C improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as skin texture,” Clinical Educator for AlumierMD, Victoria Hiscock told us.

Our body cannot make collagen without vitamin C, so it’s a must-have ingredient for anyone looking to boost or safeguard their collagen levels. Vitamin C boosts hydration long-term, so this is considered to essential by skincare experts because of the link between the drop of oestrogen and lack of skin hydration during the menopause.

"Combining vitamins C and B3 (niacinamide), which helps to boost ceramides in the skin will further support the skin’s barrier to reduce dryness, dehydration and even sensitivity. Try Alumier's Everactive C&E™ ­+ Peptide which features a unique cap containing 15% L-ascorbic acid in its crystallised form.

Tinted Sunscreen

Sunscreen is your strongest weapon against sun damage, pigmentation, premature ageing and of course, cancer. So make sure to defend yourself every day, come rain or shine.

"Make the ritual a bit more pleasurable by using a product that will enhance and add some radiance to your complexion," leading celebrity makeup artist Sophie Tilley told us.

"I love Sarah Chapman's Skinesis ‘Skin Insurance’ which has a subtle tint giving you a sun-kissed glow whilst offering full spectrum protection (UVA & UVB rays be gone). It also works wonders with its skin blurring properties and ingredients like multivitamins and bioactive complexes. Available in SPF30 or 50…go for the 50."

Keep your cool

You may feel uncomfortable with the various symptoms that come with menopausal skin. Sophie also highly recommends this handy stick for an anytime hit of cooling and hydrating loveliness. Milk Makeup’s ‘Cooling Water’ is a roll-up blue stick that you can apply anywhere on the face, or body (it’s colourless on the skin, fret not!).

Refreshing with a generous hit of caffeine, this now cult beauty product will perk you up at any time of the day. Your cells will be energised, circulation boosted and your complexion fresh. Who needs an iced-latte?!

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