It’s a fact of life that when it comes to ageing, men have the upper hand. Almost as soon as women hit their late twenties their oestrogen (the ‘feminizing’ hormone responsible for peak fertility, glossy hair and plumped-up glowing skin) and collagen production take a serious dive and the tell-tale signs of age; fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of skin tone start to creep in. We spoke with obstetrician and gynaecologist Rebecca Booth, M.D. and co-founder of anti-ageing skincare brand VENeffect to find out how we can outwit the declining effects of oestrogen and master the art of living our best lives.
What is Hormonal Ageing?
There are many factors that take their toll on skin. Sun exposure, free-radical damage, and even our genetic makeup all contribute to the rate at which the condition of our skin declines, but did you know that shifts and changes in our hormones throughout the month, and as we get older, also have an ageing effect on our skin? “Hormonal ageing is triggered by declining effects of oestrogen,” explains Rebecca. “Oestrogen is responsible for enhancing every aspect of femininity and has positive effects on skin and collagen, but as we age, the influence of oestrogen reduces and our skin suffers from a loss of collagen, elasticity, and moisture content and results in fine lines, wrinkles, and lack of skin tone.” This type of ageing is universal for all skin types and ethnicities, and affects all women from their late twenties onwards.
What Does It Look Like?
There are significant levels of oestrogen receptors in the skin on the face, the second highest in fact to the skin on any other part of the body and so the signs of hormonal ageing are particularly noticeable here, and the areas that suffer most are our eyes, mouth and neck.
The skin around the eye area is particularly thin and as oestrogen levels decrease, collagen and elastin fibres become weaker, which means crow’s feet – deep creases at the outer corners of our eyes – begin to form. It’s hardly surprising that our eyes are prone to fine lines and wrinkles considering that we are constantly lifting and moving them to express and animate.
Mouths are another part of our face that we use a lot and constantly stretching and contorting the skin around our lips causes laughter or smile lines. As we age our lips lose their plumpness and definition and you may start to notice that lipsticks begin to bleed and feather as a result.
In order to give us the flexibility and range of movement that we need, the skin around our necks is loose but as collagen production becomes less our skin loses its elasticity and the skin in this area can appear to sag or droop. The texture of this skin changes too, and the loss of elasticity makes it appear crepey.
How Can We Support Our Skin?
When your oestrogen levels dip throughout your cycle, or as you begin to notice signs of ageing, there are things you can do to support your hormonal imbalance and boost your glow.
Rebecca suggests avoiding white ‘comfort’ foods, such as bread, potatoes, pasta and rice as they stimulate insulin surges that have been shown to cause acne and hormonal breakouts. Instead, try to incorporate foods high in oestrogen-like polyphenols and antioxidants such as berries, dark chocolate and the odd glass of red wine to help restore skin’s healthy glow.
Look for skincare containing phytoestrogens – plant-derived oestrogens that increase skin’s production of collagen as well as boost hyaluronic acid – the dewy substance that gives skin its youthful glow. VENeffect’s anti-ageing skincare features an exclusive blend of phytoestrogens to help preserve and restore skin’s youthful glow, we love the Anti-Aging Eye Treatment for improving the elasticity around the delicate undereye area, the Anti-Aging Lip Treatment, which works to plump and hydrate lips but can also be applied around the outside of lips to target laughter lines and the Firming Neck & Décolleté Crème, which helps to combat loss of definition and improve skin texture and tone. Products featuring antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, encourage the skin to build collagen and so work to tighten and firm, giving an all-round more radiant complexion. Retinol is another key ingredient to look out for; famed for its anti-ageing properties, retinol encourages cell turnover, as well as stimulating collagen and elastin production.
UV damage is one of biggest contenders when it comes to ageing, Rebecca suggests always wearing an SPF of at least factor 30, and so do we!
Embrace Your Venus Week
Although the gradual decline of oestrogen is responsible for these not so appealing changes to our skin, don’t despair just yet. There is a window of five to seven days each month, when the feel-good hormone is actually at its height. Rebecca refers to this period as the ‘Venus Week’ and describes how, during this period of time, women may notice that they look and feel better about themselves – their hair is glossier, their skin glows and they are able to respond better to the world around them. Instead of seeing hormonal changes as a negative, Rebecca encourages us to make the most of this opportunity and embrace our peak vitality and beauty. So, the next time you receive a compliment on how great you skin looks, or feel like you’ve smashed a target at work, it may well be that you’re riding the wonderful, oestrogen-high wave that is in fact, your Venus Week.