Your Changing Skin ~
Every season of the year is imbued with its own special beauty and wisdom. The same is true of the seasons of our life. Just as there are four seasons in the year, there are four periods in one’s life, each one consisting of 21 years.
The first 21-year period is the Spring of one’s life. This is the most active growth period. The Summer of one’s life occurs between the ages of 21 and 42 years. Just as the height of the sun’s light and heat occurs during the summer, this period is one’s prime. The Autumn of one’s life comes between 42 and 63 years of age. It is during this time when the body’s regenerative capacity slows down.
Within each season of life “life-forces” are called upon to assist us with change. As we move from one “season” to the next, some of the “life-forces” connected with the work of bodily systems/ organs are liberated to become available for use in another way. With respect to the reproductive organs, The forces belonging to the uterus and ovaries are reflective of certain cosmic forces; I.e., those of creativity, selflessness and being active. During menopause, these forces are freed up and made available for use by one’s consciousness; women lose their physical reproductive capacity while gaining renewed warmth of heart and sparkling creativity.
Why and How Does Our Skin Change During Menopause?
The skin is metabolically teaming with life. As we age, the reproductive rate of the skin slows down considerably. Blood vessels decrease in both number and size, reducing the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the skin, thus affecting skin color. The sebaceous (oil) glands tend to become larger and decrease their secretions, resulting in a greater tendency toward dryness and pruritis (itching).
Women in their 40s and 50s experience a decrease in collagen and elastin production. Collagen provides the structure and cohesion of the skin. Elastin provides resiliency, giving our skin its ability to bounce back. The decrease in production means that the skin is less able to undergo quick stress recovery and the ability to “snap” back into shape.
Estrogen keeps skin metabolically active, soft, supple and well-hydrated. Before menopause, most estrogen is produced by the ovaries, the rest by the adrenals and fatty tissue. Ovaries also produce testosterone. After menopause, estrogen is produced by fat and the adrenals. In most women the amount of estrogen decreases by half or two-thirds. Testosterone decreases slightly; thus the proportion between estrogen and testosterone changes. Reduced estrogen levels cause a decrease in the thickness and suppleness of the skin. The comparatively higher levels of testosterone can create more facial hair and increase the size of the pores. Testosterone can alter the balance of fatty acids in the sebum causing the sebum to become more sticky and lead to clogged pores or the return of acne.
Cosmeceuticals – Too Good To Be True?
We are overwhelmed by messages that tell us how to fight the natural aging process. Holistic perspectives can become clouded as women search for the high-tech prescription that will turn back the ever-ticking biological clock.
The first line of Dr. Nicholas Perricone’s best selling book “The Wrinkle Cure” states: “Wrinkled, sagging skin is not the inevitable result of growing older. It is a disease, and you can fight it.” Baby boomers have heard this battle cry and have run to the nearest cosmetics counter demanding high-performance, multi-functional products that deliver fast results – victory in the war against aging. Cosmeceuticals promise this victory.
The term ‘cosmeceutical’ was coined for skin care products that promise benefits beyond basic hygiene. Cosmeceuticals imply a fusion of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals that target the symptoms of aging skin, claiming to alter the skin’s appearance, reflecting a symptomatic, short-term perspective that promises instant results. The trouble is this approach fosters a dependence on external, often costly measures and may have negative side effects. Witness the incredible popularity of Retinol and alpha hydroxy acids still appearing in anti-aging products despite the known drawbacks: increased sensitivity and susceptibility to sun damage, plus research now reveals long-term, harmful effects of chronically degrading the epidermis.
Making Peace With Your Changing Skin
The skin is a complex, multi-functional organ that deserves respectful care if it is to afford us health and beauty for the long term. There are several things we can do to maintain a youthful look, while contributing to our overall health.
Foods and Supplements: fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that have been clinically proven to help prevent and heal sun damage to the skin. Since antioxidants work in concert with each other, the greater the variety of fruits and vegetables you eat, the better. They are also rich in fiber and, please, make sure that you are getting enough of it (nothing shows up on the skin faster than a chronic constipation!). Add 1/8 cup of ground flaxseed to your food regimen each day. In addition to 11-plus grams of fiber, this amount of flaxseed is loaded with skin-beautifying omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens. Fish, especially salmon (wild caught only), sardines and swordfish, are rich in the omega-3 fats also, which are important for building healthy cell membranes everywhere in the body. Eggs, preferably fertile. Do not overcook; ideally, yolk should be runny. Herbs and spices, especially cumin, basil, oregano, rosemary (one tablespoon of fresh oregano has the same antioxydant activity as one apple), yogurt (organic, whole-milk yogurt is best), plenty of water and good quality tea (Hampstead Estate Teas offers excellent quality biodynamic teas).
Supplementation with Antioxidants
Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin C, vitamin E, proanthocyanidins (from pine bark or grape pips), and alpha-lipoic acid are particularly important for healthy skin.
Skin Care Products
Wonderfully effective, alive and truly full of blessings (for us and for our planet) are skin care products manufactured by Weleda and Dr. Haushka. They offer a natural, holistic alternative to the use of cosmeceuticals.
How to Have the Best Skin Ever
During and after menopause, the natural ability of the skin to exfoliate slows down, and with less estrogen and more testosterone pores may become quite clogged. Proper intensive, yet not damaging exfoliation, done with herbal steam and aromatherapy compressing, is very important at this time. Regular Dr.Hauschka Classic Facials are especially recommended as valuable support for the changing skin. The Lymph Stimulation that one receives during a facial is particularly beneficial in assisting the skin to rid itself of the metabolic wastes, thus strengthening elastic fibers in connective tissues and encouraging harmonious functioning. Lymph stimulation also promotes cleansing in all body systems and supports immune health. And, of course, the benefit of a quiet time, set apart for oneself in a peaceful and nurturing space, is also worth the praise.
Last, but not least, whenever possible let the early morning sunrays shine on your face for 10-15 minute, while you are not wearing sunscreen or sunglasses.
From a holistic standpoint we understand that skin care is not just what we put on our skin, but how we take care of ourselves in all ways. Wholesome nutrition, enough sleep, regular exercise, good chemical-free skin care regimen, fresh air and the right attitude can help put our best face forward.
Being alive, authentic and aware in the present moment is a powerful cosmetic!
Irina Segal is a co-founder of
The Healing Rose Holistic Spa, located in
West Los Angeles and Woodland Hills
And a certified Dr.Hauschka Esthetician
*reprinted from the winter 2005 issue of LILIPOH magazine: http://www.lilipoh.com