Ageing is a privilege (think: wisdom, experience and self-assuredness) but the changes to skin, hair and hormones that come with it often feel less so.
Drier skin, thinning hair, reduced oil production... the side effects of menopause are many, and unfortunately there’s no avoiding them.
But despite it being a normal part of life (the average onset of menopause is 52 in New Zealand), for too long “the change” has been a subject shrouded in shame and secrecy.
"Menopause is something that every woman will go through it's how our bodies naturally and perfectly function. The narrative that it is shameful or wrong has got to go," says Beatrice Thorne, general manager of Eve Wellness.
“Due to this narrative, menopause isn’t spoken about and most women embark on this journey with very little knowledge about what’s happening, and no support. This fuels a lot of fear as all most of us have heard are horror stories.”
Thankfully, the taboos around menopause are lifting, echoed by the openness of Gen Z to embrace transparency around female-centric topics like periods and pregnancy.
Menopause is commonly referred to as an overarching concept, but in reality, it’s a three-part phase: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.
Perimenopause can begin four to five years before menopause, when estrogen and progesterone levels start to decline and the body prepares to stop ovulating; menopause is the year-long period when menstruation ceases; and post-menopause includes all the years beyond menopause, where the body readjusts to its new lower levels of progesterone and estrogen.
Below, Ashleigh Cometti recruits the help of six beauty and wellness experts for their tips on how best to navigate this inevitable change with ease.
In your 40s: Perimenopause
“Perimenopause can feel like a bit of an in-between time,” Beatrice explains. “While you’ll still be having periods, they will change in regularity and duration until the stop completely. During this time, you may also start noticing changes in your body such as weight gain, mood changes, impaired sleep, hot flashes, night sweats, drier skin and a lower libido all of which are natural signs of hormonal decline.”
Changes in the skin during the peri-menopausal phase mirror the decline of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, explains The Face Place founder Dr Catherine Stone.
In some cases, this manifests in the form of adult acne, increased sensitivity and skin dryness. “Skin starts to become thinner and less plump, as less collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) such as hyaluronic acid are produced by the fibroblasts (skin cells),” Dr Stone says.
Look out for products and treatments to stimulate your skin cells, promote collagen production and lock in hydration.
Try Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, $141, a deeply penetrating night serum which offers 72-hour hydration thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid.
Murad Hydrodynamic Ultimate Moisture, $144, is a rich night cream which retains moisture and encourages skin barrier repair overnight; while Shiseido Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream, $189, strengthens skin and delivers a visibly lifted appearance.
In the clinic, Dr Stone recommends LED light treatments such as Healite to stimulate the fibroblasts and production of GAGs to glean plumper, healthier, more glowing skin.
Or consider Caci’s Fractional C02 Laser Treatment, which helps reverse the effects of sun damage and scarring, while tightening slackened skin to refine the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
“Saskia has great skin and cheekbones so I did very little,” laughs makeup artist Shirley Simpson of this fresh beauty look.
Regardless of age, Shirley stresses the importance of prepping the skin for makeup application with the right skincare she loves Aleph Serum/Primer, $69, a multi-purpose product which preps and hydrates in one step.
Shirley worked in light layers using Aleph Concealer/Foundation in the shade #2, $60, before dusting over Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in the shade Diffused Light, $81, for a fresh and subtle glow. "A creamy cheek contour works well for freshness without looking too powdery," Shirley says.
Taupe, bronze and beige shades are universally flattering, and here Shirley used a coffee-coloured eyeliner pencil in the form of Mecca Max Eye Max Eyeliner Pencil in the shade Brown Eyed Girl, $16, on her upper and lower lash line and smudged it with a small eyeshadow brush for a soft, contoured finish.
The effects of ageing impact hair too, and are caused by genetic, biochemical and hormonal changes to the hair follicle, as well as environmental wear and tear to the hair strand itself.
Proper haircare and in-salon treatments can help slow this process, restoring hair’s condition and sealing the hair cuticle to defend against external aggressors.
For our shoot, creative director of Buoy Salon & Spa in Wellington Michael Beel used an organic, paraben-free New Zealand haircare range called Lust to style Saskia's naturally curly hair to perfection.
He applied Lust Curling Cream, $35, to encourage the natural texture and bounce of Saskia's hair. "It doesn't go sticky or weight hair down. It really encourages shine and helps put moisturise back in the hair at an age that the body and hair start needing it," Michael says.
The influx of peri-menopausal supplements designed with these hormonal changes in mind include the likes of Eve Period Pal, $59, which helps maintain balanced hormones going into peri-menopause for a smoother transition. It's said to do so with its mix of vitex, gingko biloba, iodine, zinc and ashwagandha.
Our collagen stores deplete as we age, so consider incorporating a collagen powder like The Beauty Chef Deep Collagen 90g, $54, into your daily routine to build them back up. Alongside sustainably sourced marine collagen peptides, this supercharged powder also contains digestive aids to help detoxify the body, and launches on June 28.
Where diet is concerned, Beatrice recommends incorporating anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger, healthy fats like avocados and fatty fish, and fermented foods like sauerkraut to help the body ease more smoothly into menopause.
In your 50s: Menopause
It’s a myth that menopause has to be an awful experience, Beatrice says, instead think of it as a rite of passage a beginning of a new era in life.
“There’s no getting around the fact that menopause is a big transition for the body to go through, so it’s no surprise that there are a few bumps along the way. However, it’s also possible to minimise those bumps and have a smoother ride if you understand what’s happening and how to support your body through it,” she says.
The dip in sex hormones can impact our circadian rhythm and stress response, resulting in sleep issues, hot flashes and mood changes for some people. Thankfully, this will regulate over time, but managing your sleep hygiene and stress levels in the interim will help ease the transition.
During menopause, skin can become noticeably thinner and less elastic, with a slightly ‘doughy’ look, Dr Stone says. Fine lines may develop around highly active facial muscles like the eyes and mouth, causing crow’s feet or the unfortunately named, ‘cat’s bum lips’.
“The loss of estrogen results in redistribution of the supporting fat pads of the face, accelerating significant volume loss that is the hallmark of facial ageing such as sagging,” Dr Stone says. “Often volume loss, thinning skin and muscle overactivity can make women look more tired, sad or angry.”
But there are things you can do to help address crepey skin around the eyes and neck with treatments like platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP), which involves injecting the healing parts of your own blood back into skin. Along a similar vein is Profhilo, a relatively new bio-revitalisation treatment that can treat slackened skin on the neck, chest, face and hands.
Cosmetic injectables may seem scary, but a trusted skin professional will be able to advise you on the most natural-looking outcome that helps enhance your best features.
If you’re open to fillers, Dr Stone recommends hyaluronic filler through the cheeks, jawline and chin area to reduce sagging and jowling, while non-lifting filler Volite works to stimulate skin cells around the mouth, thickening the skin and softening lines.
Decreased estrogen levels can leave skin feeling drier and more sensitive, and may need more nourishment in the form of oils, ceramides and barrier protection products, Beatrice says. “Estrogen has a close relationship with the skin and, prior to menopause, plays a role in skin hydration, barrier function, collagen and hyaluronic acid production,” she explains.
Genaissance de La Mer The Eye and Expression Cream, $690, targets the areas of face that show expression (like the aforementioned eye and lip area), to soften the look of dark circles, puffiness and fine lines.
Slather on Trilogy Age-Proof Overnight Mask, $50, which aims to firm, nourish and hydrate skin while you slumber, thanks to super-ingredient L22 (a botanical extract which helps to restore the skin's lipid profile to what it was at age 22).
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is also an option if symptoms are significant, Dr Stone says, but this is best discussed with your GP.
Shirley stuck to her guns with a simple and clean makeup look that showed off B's natural beauty. After using the same Aleph Serum/Primer, $69, and Aleph Concealer/Foundation, $60, as before, Shirley created a light contour on cheeks using Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour, $57, for extra definition.
"I didn't want to go too pretty or made up, so I worked in a bit of simple contouring around the eyes with mid-toned browns which I softly buffed in with a fluffy brush," Shirley says. Think Tarte Maneater Eyeshadow Palette, $51.
If thinning hair and a more visible scalp is getting you down, reach for products that promise to thicken and volumise to disguise its effects.
Revitalash's Volume Enhancing Foam, $239, utilises BioPeptin Complex, the same hair growth technology as its original Revitalash Eyelash Conditioner, to address the needs of fine and thinning hair.
For our shoot, Michael applied L'Oreal Professionel Techni Art Depolish, $35, to B's dry hair. "This gives short hair a slightly matte feel to it. It's great for hair that is super fine, as too much shine can make hair look thinner," he says, adding he gave B's hair a slight tussle for a more modern finish.
Herbal supplements like BePure's MenoCalm, $69, helps support the menopause phase using a blend of ashwagandha, black cohosh, sage, choline and chromium. Other helpful supplements to incorporate into your daily routine include those high in vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and collagen.
When it comes to food, Beatrice says generally speaking menopausal women do well on a carbohydrate-appropriate and higher protein diet. Remember this does vary to person to person, so discuss any dietary changes with a trusted professional or your GP.
In your 60s: Post menopause
As our estrogen levels reduce, this hormone can no longer work its magic on our mood, metabolism, bone density and muscle growth.
Keep spirits high by finding joy in other ways, says Dr Stone: stay socially connected, practice daily gratitude and meditation, prioritise daily movement, and nourish your body with foods that support brain health and help prevent osteoporosis.
“Osteoporosis becomes a concern for post-menopausal women,” Beatrice says. “Some women can lose up to 20 per cent of their bone density during the five to seven years after menopause, so focusing on maintaining density should be a priority.”
Following menopause, skin doesn’t bounce back in the same way it used to, Dr Stone explains, meaning you’re more likely to have deeper lines and thinner skin. “The skin develops a different texture as there is less collagen, elastic and GAGs,” she says.
Primary skin concerns at this age include a lack of hydration and moisture retention, explains Linda Sharrem, a skincare educator Caci. She advises coupling simple, hydrating and gentle skincare with a more intensive in-clinic treatment like Fractional C02 Laser once or twice per year for improvements and maintenance.
“Last but not least, at all ages, make sure to use an SPF daily to protect your skin and prevent any further environmental damage not to mention maintain the hard-earned results from your treatments and skincare,” she says.
Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum Complexion Correcting, $101, combats age-related dark spots and prevents them from reappearing using viniferine, an ingredient said to be 62 times more efficacious than vitamin C at brightening the complexion.
In some cases, facial hair can become more apparent, so consider IPL, laser or electrolysis treatments to remove it entirely or lessen its appearance.
To create Gayleen’s radiant and bronzed makeup look, Shirley followed the same prep steps as before but this time buffed the foundation into the skin with a foundation brush for a natural yet polished look.
Next came Aleph Prep/Finish Powder, $69, around hot spots of the face (think around the sides of the nose) as well as under eyes to set creamy textures. "The Aleph Powder is great because it's very fine and not overly powdery," Shirley explains.
Gayleen's sharp cheekbones popped when carved out with Aleph's Cheek/Lip Tint in the shade Grounded, $55, followed by a pop of Tom Ford Cheek Colour in the shade 01 Frantic Pink, $108, on the apples of her cheeks.
"I softly contoured around the eyes with a bunch of warm, neutral brown tones from my Hourglass Graphik Eyeshadow Palette [$98] and topped it off with a light application of Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara [$49]," Shirley says.
It’s hard to determine exactly what turns her grey (biological processes, oxidative stress) but ultimately a person’s hair colour will change when melanin (the pigment which gives hair and skin its colour) stops being produced.
Model Gayleen makes a strong case for going grey gracefully, with her luscious locks being the envy of many during our photo shoot.
"With hair this beautiful and thick, I applied Kerastase Chronologiste Thermique Cream, $58, a heat protector designed specifically for aged hair to help encourage shine and suppleness of grey hair," Michael says. "That whole range by Kerastase is amazing for grey hair and is my go-to for older clients wanting shine, moisture and more flexibility in their hair."
Another product said to restore shine to greying hair is the Chloe Zara Hair Perfume Oil, $90, which is formulated with cacay seed oil, which is rich in vitamins A and E and retinol. "Recently touted as the new 'miracle' oil in skin and haircare, cacay seed oil helps retain thickness, shine and health in ageing hair," Chloe says, adding the signs of ageing hair vary from greying and thinning to texture and dryness, all of which can change hair's fundamental needs.
If osteoporosis is a concern, regularly engaging in resistance training and weight lifting can also help to strengthen bones Beatrice says, as can supplements containing vitamin D, vitamin K2 and magnesium.
“Restorative activities like walking and yoga are also recommended during this time to help with relaxation and stress reduction,” she says.
MitoQ supplements can be taken at any age, however they seem particularly apt for post-menopausal women. MitoQ Skin Support Complex, $146, is formulated with MitoQ's patented cellular optimising ingredient mitoquinol, said to target cell stress and optimise their energy production, alongside marine collagen and hyaluronic acid to nourish, hydrate and rejuvenate skin.
In your 70s: The new normal
Adjusting to your new normal can take time, and there’s no magic number which can tell you exactly how long post-menopausal symptoms take to fade or go away completely but be reassured that they will.
It sounds simple, but Dr Stone says the formula to promoting skin health in your 70s is simple exercise, eat mindfully, get enough sleep and reduce your stress.
No matter your age, it’s paramount to incorporate high-quality skin nutrients and topical skincare into your daily beauty regime, she adds.
“These include vitamin A and vitamin C serums, antioxidant creams and gels and sunscreen. There are many types available out there. Your skin needs change as skin ages, so it is best to have a professional skin therapist hold your hand throughout the journey for best results.”
Kate Somerville Kx Actives Squalane + Hyaluronic Serum, $166, is a hydrating and plumping serum formulated with antioxidants and hard-hitting hydrators for a more luminous and supple visage.
U Beauty Resurfacing Compound, $165, brightens dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles minus the irritation that often comes with fast-working skin brighteners like retinol. If you're looking to cut back products in your beauty arsenal, this one is said to replace six products in a typical skincare routine.
A non-surgical treatment option said to reactive slackened muscles and creating a more sculpted, lifted appearance is buccal massage a technique favoured by the Duchess of Sussex herself.
It's available at Skinography, and founder Kate Michelmore travelled to Los Angeles to undergo her training in this unique massage technique, one that involves manually manipulating the bones and muscles in the face.
“The skin area is very delicate in this age group, so avoid using harsh eyeliners. Instead, I used a firm angled brush and a mid-tone brown eyeshadow to gently line the eye, then smudged it out gently with a softer brush the blur the edges,” Shirley says.
Perfect sensitive eyes with a gentle, non-irritating mascara like Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara, $49.
Shirley used a lipstick brush to apply a brighter pink shade to lips [try Dior Rouge Dior Couture Finish Refillable Lipstick, $66], but kept the edges soft to prevent the look from appearing too harsh.
“Here’s a tip: avoid applying too much powder when you’re this age, as it makes the face look cakey and falls into lines. Just a dab of pressed translucent powder is best,” she says.
If you fall into this age bracket and have super fine hair like Trish, seek out products to give hair volume and hold, like the L'Oreal Professionel Tecni.Art Volume Lift Root Lift Spray Mousse, $35, Michael used to blow-dry Trish's hair with.
“It has a super fine nozzle applicator that directs the product right to the roots (where it’s needed) without weighing the hair down,” he says.
Michael applied a spritz of heat protectant in the form of Kerastase Chronologiste Thermique to help protect ends. Avoid using too much hairspray it can weigh fine hair down too much and too much alcohol (a main component of hairspray) can dry hair out even more, Michael says.
As with in your 60s, using proper supplementation is important, along with a healthy diet, regular exercise and living a social life.
Photographer / Hone Hernandez. Beauty editor / Ashleigh Cometti. Models / Saskia Lesser, B, Gayleen Hamilton and Trish Clapham from Silver Fox Management. Hairstylist / Michael Beel for L’Oreal Professionel and Dyson. Makeup artist / Shirley Simpson for Aleph Beauty. Stylist / Annabel Dickson. With thanks to Martha’s Furnishing Fabrics