Experiencing the menopause - an exclusive Q&A with Tara O'Rourke.

Midlife can be a challenging time for women, especially as the menopause begins and you start to experience changes in your hormones, body and of course, your skin. We sat down with Dr. Hauschka Esthetician & Brand Trainer, Wellness Mentor & Yoga Guide, Tara O’Rouke to discuss these changes and get expert advice on how to best support your skin through this stage of life.

How does menopause affect our skin? What signs should we look out for?

Oestrogen maintains collagen and elastin in the skin and in conjunction with a healthy diet and good skin care routine creates vibrant skin. It is a fact that as we reach menopause, the body is naturally declining in oestrogen levels, skin becomes thinner, drier with fine lines and wrinkles particularly around eye area, lips and décolleté as these areas have thinner skin. Change in the ratio of oestrogen to testosterone can also increase skin breakouts for some women. On the flipside, in our younger years where there had been an over production of oil from the sebaceous glands causing inflammation and breakouts, now there is balance and harmony with sebum and moisture strengthening the skin.

It is important to note the requirements of mature skin are fundamentally different to those of young skin. We have changed and our skin has changed. We cannot turn back time, but we can stimulate the skin to tighten, regenerate and retain its precious moisture with the right products. Elisabeth Sigmund, co-founder of Dr. Hauschka skin care referred to ‘inner and outer beauty’, as how we treat our skin and how we are in the world. On a practical level, we can bring an inner cleanse and care as well as outer using products, where inner and outer beauty meet, a relationship is formed. The result is a beautiful radiant skin and human being. It is not about looking younger, it is about looking and feeling better in your skin. And yes, even into our mid-life and beyond, we feel this authentically without the need for external gratification or ‘likes’, we in ourselves are beautiful.  

Your skin is the largest organ of the body changing and moving with you throughout your life, protecting you from the elements, regulating your temperature, absorbing, and eliminating and is the mediator between your internal and external environment. For skin that is prematurely ageing, we can treat with products rich in antioxidant and targeted botanicals as well as precious waxes, minerals, and essential oils from nature. It is important to source products which are underpinned by research and proven for their efficacy in treating menopausal skin.

For signs of the menopause phase in life impacting your skin: look out for skin that has lost some of its former moisture and elasticity, skin that is thinning, dry and possibly redness in the cheeks because of visible blood vessels and menopause induced age spots.

What changes do we need to make in our skin care routine during the menopause? What about after the menopause?

When we are going through this phase of menopause, we must consider what is changing and how our skin responding to the change. The number one biggest area to consider is how we are cleansing the skin. There is both a physical and an energetic shedding of skin, and this requires a more considered cleansing routine or ritual. Dr. Hauschka skin care is adapted for different stages in our lives and expert in treating menopausal and mature skin with targeted botanicals and ingredients. A mature skin has a different requirement now, hormone levels are changing and so is our skin. Pay particular attention to how you cleanse your skin each evening, begin with an initial cleanse with the Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk, this is a soft milk like cleanser with balancing anthyllis, jojoba and almond oil to effectively removes make up, dirt particles and effects of pollution, allergens, pollen from our skin. Ensure to include the eyelids, eyebrows and around the eye sockets in your cleanse, the eyes can retain heat as a result of our day on computer/phone. When we bring a sense of cool and calm to our eyes and head, we too begin to feel calmer.

Second cleanse, use the Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream, a best-seller in the range with a creamy sweet almond meal, chamomile, apricot kernel oil and calendula. This gentle exfoliant encourages the shedding of dead skin cells whilst protecting the uppermost layer of the epidermis, this layer is protecting you from pathogens, pollution and energetically is your barrier, not rigid but a breathing barrier full of life. Disruption in this layer using harsh cleansers will cause irritation and heightened sensitivity in an already sensitised skin because of hormonal change. It is important to respect and train the skin using this gentle exfoliant to shed skin as we invite the cell turnover and renewal.

Bring ritual to your cleansing once per week with the addition of Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Clay Mask, rich in loess clay and nasturtium, this is a deep pore cleanse and visibly reduces redness in the cheeks and encourages moisture to the surface following removal. Top tip: following cleansing, finish with a splash of cool water, it provides a workout for the skin!

What key ingredients/products would you recommend that help with menopausal skin concerns?

Think of the botanicals and ingredients like an orchestra, they have their sections and together they produce a symphony.  In younger years, there is a desired symphony in rhythm with your skin, targeting skin conditions with excess oil, dryness, spots, inflammation and other imbalances. Your skin has tiny receptors and with carefully selected ingredients these open up and receive. Every now and then our skin will require additional support, a drum beat with more gusto or the harmonising violin. As we move to mid-life and menopause in particular, our symphony must change, the composition is dramatically different. We are now playing to a quieter, shedding phase in our lives, letting go and stepping into regeneration and renewal.

The effective and proven botanicals in Dr. Hauschka's Regenerating range are selected for mature skin and menopausal skin. This range is a symphony of antioxidant red clover and acerola berries, rich and plumping raspberry seed oil with shea butter protect and support natural skin regeneration. Jojoba and avocado oils replenish and smooth the skin, treating fine lines and wrinkles. Kalanchoe and marshmallow balance moisture and promote skin resilience. Macadamia nut oil and argan oil are intensively hydrating, protective and smoothing while supporting moisture balance.

There is also an excellent monthly treatment during menopause in the Dr. Hauschka range, the Intensive Treatment for Menopausal Skin is specialised care for skin during this time of change. Formulated for skin that has lost its natural balance and requires focused care.  This treatment is used for one month, day and night post cleansing and before applying moisturiser. It balances hormonally related skin changes while supporting your skin’s natural processes of renewal. The appearance of redness and spots is diminished for a calm, even complexion. Consisting of daisy and rose with gemstones argentite, ruby powder, and black cohosh to revitalise dull, lifeless skin and reduce the appearance of redness and irregular pigmentation. Skin cells are renewed every 28 days. Mirroring this same regenerative cycle, Intensive Treatment for Menopausal Skin should be used as skin care for 28 days.

What key ingredients/products would you recommend avoiding that contributes to menopausal skin issues?

Avoid harsh, abrasive cleansers (including microdermabrasion, glycolic peels), they do the most harm and damage to the skin over time. Omit products with synthetic fragrances, colours and dyes as the skin cannot tolerate these, particularly during menopause as the skin is thinner, more sensitive and requires nurturing care with gentle and effective cleansing with a boost of hydration. Harsh treatments do not work with the rhythm of the skin and are counterproductive, in the long-term causing the skin to age prematurely. Seek expert advice, look for certified organic products as these botanicals and ingredients have a genuine affinity with the skin. The efficacy of high-grade organic skin care is far greater during menopause than synthetic based products.

Dr. Hauschka Skin Care is certified organic and tested for tolerability during this time in life.

Are there any lifestyle changes that we need to make to help manage and/or prevent menopausal skin concerns? If so, what are they?

I have worked in the wellness sector for over twenty years, I have treated thousands of women and their skin, and I am in menopause phase myself. From treating and speaking to women combined with my qualifications in holistic therapies, yoga, mindfulness, homeopathy and coaching I can see there must be an integrative health approach in treating the skin at this time in life.

We are not merely treating symptoms of menopause; we are treating a unique and individual woman. For some women this can be a difficult and challenging time as we are pressured to keep on going as though we are still in our 30’s with that yang energy, why? Because our culture and society has been set up this way. Thankfully this is changing and there is more awareness and a shift in understanding the yin energy, i.e., it is ok to be present and slow down when we need to and when our own body is signalling this to us on every level. This is a time of life where our heart is inviting us to be receptive and listen to the years of wisdom we have accumulated, the whisper or possibly the roar where conscious changes is now needed.

Practices such as restorative yoga or walking in nature, resting in awareness free from sensory distractions, this allows for time for spaciousness. If you are struggling in the direction to now take; seeking out a qualified life-wellness coach or mentor to support you in the next phase in life, you have so much to share with the world whether it is through your creativity or your time, that is the beauty of the unfolding.

How are practices like these related to the skin and menopause? When we slow down, we become more aware, when we build strength slowly we become more resilient, we find the switch to the relaxation response and as a result we make better decisions, choose our relationships well and begin to look at how and where we place our energy, remembering it has to begin with me, there is no energy to give if your tank is in reserve. When you are in your flow and feeling that aliveness, your skin will look more youthful, brighter, and oxygenated with a new life-force.

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Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Balm – facial cleanser with a refreshing gel-to-milk texture Cleansing Balm 75 ml
light gel-to-milk cleanser to thoroughly clean, refresh and care for the skin
Dr. Hauschka Regenerating Day Cream Refines and leaves skin feeling smooth Regenerating Day Cream 40 ml
may help firm, tone and minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles 
Dr. Hauschka Regenerating Eye Cream: softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles Regenerating Eye Cream 15 ml
softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream - a revitalising cleanser for all skin conditions Cleansing Cream 50 ml
refines, revitalizes and deeply cleanses
Eye Serum for mature skin: Dr. Hauschka Regenerating Intensive Eye Serum Regenerating Intensive Night Serum 30 ml
helps tone and firm mature skin, offers a radiant complexion