Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor. Just when we peak in confidence, she sends us thinning hair, brown spots and extra pounds. Thanks MN, too, for unstable hormones, reduced estrogen and MIA collagen. But we can handle a few speed bumps. Start by thinking of menopause as an opportunity to find a new and better way to look rather than trying to hang on to the old plan. No matter where you are in the menopause cycle — peri, meno or post, here’s how to move forward and reset your looks.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Amazon; Ulta Beauty
1. Use a collagen-boosting night cream
Estrogen and its sidekick collagen used to be our BFFs. Unfortunately, as estrogen and collagen levels drop with menopause, so does the bouncy juicy look of our eyes, neck and face. Here’s why. Collagen along with elastin make up the “scaffolding” that support our skin. A reduction of production causes skin to collapse and sag. So now what? Choose a night cream (because evening is when our skin does its best repair work) with collagen-boosting ingredients like peptides, retinol and/or its plant alternative bakuchiol. Of course, support ingredients like AHAs, ceramides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants will be in the mix, too, for hydration, brightness and soothing, but it’s that simple. Try Womaness Overnight Magic Facial Treatment with Bakuchiol ($22, target.com) or Pause Well-Aging Collagen Boosting Moisturizer ($72, amazon.com) — both menopause-specific brands, or L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Pressed Night Cream with Retinol ($37, ulta.com), and give yourself three months of consistent use to see real results.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (2); Target
2. Make over your makeup
A little makeup tweak can improve sticky menopause-related beauty issues like sparse brows, gum recession and veiny hands in minutes. Try a tinted brow gel like Benefit Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel ($24, ulta.com) to fill in, plump and groom wiry multitone brows (this one comes in 10 shades) and lift your peepers. Try a deeper “neutral” lipstick like Essence This is Nude Lipstick in Real or any other of the 20 shades ($2, ulta.com). Going a shade or two richer than your gums and lips makes receding gums less noticeable (like estrogen, we lose gum tissue!). Last, trade your pale neutral polish for a brighter, trendier shade like Essie Limited Edition Fall 2021 Nail Polish Collection in High Voltage Vinyl ($11, target.com) to draw attention away from veiny, spotted hands.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Ulta Beauty
3. Prepare for hot flashes
During a hot flash you can feel your body temperature rise like a rocket. This can happen day or night, and for some women continues for years after menopause. While spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine are said to be triggers that exacerbate things, who can resist a pepperoni pizza, pumpkin latte or margarita now and then? Keep a facial mist like St. Ives Hydrating Face Mist in Lavender ($6, target.com) or Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender ($12, ulta.com) chilling in the fridge, bedside and on your desk. Or if you are very “flashy” and doing a real makeup look, try a hydrating makeup setting spray like Neutrogena Radiant Makeup Setting Spray with Peptides ($16, target.com) along with waterproof mascara to prevent a meltdown.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Dermstore; Sephora
4. Stay on top of sun protection
No kidding around. Thinner menopausal skin (including your dry neck and hands) is vulnerable and prone to increased skin woes from age spots to skin cancer. Don’t let the combination of bleak gray skies and weak sun fool you into skipping the daily SPF 30+. UVA aging rays (the ones that break down collagen) have a dronelike ability to find you — even through car windows, working from home in front of a window and at outdoor dining tables with heaters. Apply a hydrating, nongreasy sunscreen like Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen SPF 30 ($20, target.com) or Saie Sunvisor Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 35 ($34, sephora.com) under makeup, or a touch-up powder like Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 30 ($69, dermstore.com) for spontaneous outdoor activities. Remember to include all exposed areas — including your chest — if wearing a V-neck.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Sephora (2)
5. Add a little oil
Matte oil-free everything? Not anymore. You don’t need glitter, diamonds and sequins for extra radiance. A facial oil that’s rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids — like Cocokind Chia Facial Oil ($15, target.com), The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil ($8, sephora.com) or Tarte Maracuja Oil ($48, sephora.com) — is another story. Not only does a glowy finish look healthier, but you’ll also be nourishing dull, dry skin as well. In some cases of extremely dry skin, face oil can replace moisturizer. However, most women benefit from a drop or two of oil patted sparingly over their moisturizer — so worth a try.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Sephora
6. Let a hyaluronic serum plump up wrinkles
Using hyaluronic acid serum is like reupholstering your face. Hyaluronic acid is a super ingredient for attracting and holding moisture in the skin, and it restores a fresher, dewier and more plumped-up look to creases and lines. In fact, it can hold more than 1,000 times its own weight in water. Layering a serum like L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($28, target.com), Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($22, target.com) or The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum ($8, sephora.com) under your moisturizer enhances its hydrating benefits and adds another level of moisture to your skin. Serums have a higher concentration of the star ingredient — in this case it’s hyaluronic acid. Thanks to smaller molecules, serums can deliver their special ingredients more deeply into the skin. And oh yes, you’ll still need that moisturizer.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty; Target (2)
7. Deal with facial hair
As the hair on our heads and bodies diminishes, the stray hairs on our chin and upper lip increase. Let’s be honest, if it weren't for our magnifying mirrors (which we do need to apply our eye makeup), most of us wouldn’t even notice them. Simple tweezing, waxing, threading and depilatories are fine and last until the hair grows back. For hairier situations, electrolysis and lasers can permanently destroy the hair follicles but require a licensed electrolysis or a board-certified dermatologist. And a cautionary note: Laser hair removal does not work on white or light facial hair and is tricky on women with darker skin tones. Downy cheeks — aka peach fuzz on our face (which only you notice, trust me on this) — can be solved by simply buffing face makeup with a damp sponge or using a setting spray (see tip number 3). Do yourself a favor and skip trendy dermaplaning and its less-fancy partner “face shaving.” Both techniques are dangerous to sensitive, mature skin. And here’s the big thing — downy hair is naturally soft. Shave and it grows back darker, stiff and bristly. No thanks!
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PHOTO BY: Toni Anne Barson/WireImage; Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
8. Color and cut thin hair to improve it
While some of us do blow off menopause with a smile, others feel compelled to buy a trunkload of minoxidil and some hair extensions ASAP. But the best solution is to thicken your hair physically and visually with hair color. Start with a volume-boosting chop. Sorry, but long, thin hair emphasizes everything from facial sag to wrinkles. Your hair’s job now is to enhance your face, so let the movement, layers or bangs in a lob, shag or bob do that. Add some balayage highlights, too. These hand-painted streaks use a mix of tone-on-tone colors to trick your hair into appearing fuller, more luminous and healthier while blending in gray. Even if you’re totally gray, highlights can add a thicker, more luminous look to compensate for thinning and dulling color.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (2); Target
9. Treat your body to butters and balms
Menopause is a head-to-toe deal. Lightweight body lotions and gels with their higher water content were fine yesterday, but not for our drier, itchier and more sensitive skin. Rich creams — like Weleda Skin Food Body Butter ($19, ulta.com) and Soap & Glory Call of Fruity No Woman No Dry Hydrating Body Butter ($15, ulta.com), infused with ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter and argan oil — are a better fit to replenish moisture and seal the skin’s barrier layer … the better to avoid moisture loss. As estrogen decreases during and after menopause, your body skin may feel easily irritated and more responsive to changes in temperature. Those with super-sensitive skin may benefit from a fragrance-free balm like Eucerin Radiance Restore Oil Balm ($12, target.com) rather than a scented treatment. Try to avoid long hot showers and baths in favor of briefer or warmer ones, and apply your balm or butter to blotted, damp skin straight from the shower or tub for better absorption.
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PHOTO BY: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Hudson River Park; Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Lifetime; Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic
10. Do an ear lobe and earring makeover
Your ear lobes (and nose) continue to grow, and menopause is when it all becomes noticeable. The combo of hearing aids, long floppy ear lobes and stretched-out piercings is a never a good idea — it’s too much going on in a small area! Switching from heavy dangling earrings to lighter ones or clip-on earrings is one obvious solution (and one that many celebs choose). Also, consider getting stretched or torn lobes repaired by a plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist. (You’ll need eight weeks to heal before repiercing.) Or let your doctor plump up thin droopy lobes with a shot of filler.
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PHOTO BY: Nordstrom; Amazon
11. Accept and applaud your menopausal face and body
Don’t get trapped in self-criticism. Feeling invisible is one of the other lousy psychological side effects of menopause for many women. Instead of black 24/7, wear colors that say, “Look at me!” Color-charging your wardrobe now — especially your tops, scarves and jackets — warms up your skin, hair and attitude. Try red for a stimulating recharge, white to rejuvenate your face in seconds (even without makeup), and pink or coral for a blushlike brightening effect.
Video: Skin Care Tips for People 50 and Over
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.