Remember puberty, when we suddenly woke up one morning with a face slicked with grease and breakouts that didn’t seem to stop for like five years? It was the worst. As most of us learned the hard way at some point between the ages of 10 and 17, the hormone-skin connection is no joke, and that’s a lesson that keeps on expressing itself, up until menopause.
Menopause—which hits most women at some point between the ages of 45 and 55 (though some symptoms can start as early as your 30s)—is associated with changing hormone levels in your body, particularly estrogen. While many of us are familiar with the common side effects, like hot flashes and an MIA period, the shift can also have a pretty major impact on skin.
Namely, it dries it the hell out—or it does the exact opposite of what happened during puberty. According to a 2013 study, post-menopausal estrogen deficiency results in a lackadaisical complexion and more rapid aging. Similarly, a separate set of researchers found that women experienced a 30 percent loss of collagen in the first five years after entering menopause, which shows up as skin that isn’t as tight as it used to be.
Traditionally, doctors have solved for this by recommending that patients try estrogen pills and patches to help even things out. But in addition to adding estrogen into your skin, that also introduces estrogen into the rest of your body, which may not quite be something you’re looking to do. “You can put estrogen on the skin, and you can also take it internally—you can take hormone replacement therapy, which are pills or patches. But with that, estrogen is getting absorbed systemically, with potential side effects,” says Dr. Diane Berson, an NYC-based dermatologist who works with Emepelle, the first ever cosmeceuticals brand to treat estrogen deficient skin without estrogen.