I feel another soapbox rant coming on. On the train to London I read a left-behind Daily Mail. ‘Fight the Change’ cried the headline of Life and Style section. For those suffering from dry skin caused by the menopause, new products promise to turn back the clocks.
‘Fortunately,’ said the article, ‘skinscare companies realise there’s a market for high-tech products targeted specifically at postmenopausal skin.
It went on to list the best products to combat our droop demeanours – the most expensive being a cool £69 for 50mls. These creams and lotions claim to do everything from invigorating collagen production (a protein found in our skin and connective tissues, which loses elasticity from sun damage as well as the ageing process) and creating what I can only imagine must be flying buttresses to support our sagging skin cells, to plumping up the skin with hormonal supplements.
Hmm, I wonder what these hormonal supplements are made from.
It’s true that as we go through the menopause, our skin begins to dry and to thicken. This is caused by oestrogen hormone levels falling as we cease to be fertile. But you really don’t have to sell into this anti-ageing hype, or feed the slot machine that goes ‘ca-ching’ every time you buy one of these elixirs, without hope of ever winning the I-will-now-look-young-for-ever-and-ever jackpot.
Here’s some natural, simple and much, much cheaper things you can do for yourself:
- Use a moisturiser that contains Vitamin A and E (or add Vitamin E oil to your existing moisturiser).
- Rub castor oil on your skin to reduce itching.
- Give yourself a nourishing face mask every week (I highly recommend Mudd: Original Mask).
- Drink loads of water and herbal teas.
- Use natural or hypoallergenic soaps.
- Eat well! That means plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Cook with olive oil. (I rub olive oil into my hair every couple of weeks. It lifts the grey and makes it shine)
- Exercise regularly. Anything from a brisk daily walk to dancing, running, going to the gym – as long you don’t damage yourself.
- Take up yoga and/or palates as part of your exercise routine. These increase mobility and flexibility, as well as oiling the joints – much needed as we grow older.
- To prevent sun pigmentations on your face, stay out of the sun, or wear a hat.
Hardly rocket science – and that will be £69 please.
As many wise women I interviewed for Sex, Meaning and the Menopause said, staying youthful is about what’s going on inside us. It’s about healthily engaging with our life, our families and the wider world. It also about working at something that give us meaning and purpose, so we feel proud of who we are becoming as older women, and how we are able to express gratitude for what we have in the moment.
Slapping on menopausal creams and potions, however high-tech, won’t do that for us. It’s worth remembering that the most brilliant doctors and scientists – even Pomona Sprout, head of Herbology at Hogwarts and Horace Slughorn, the long-serving Potions teacher – cannot stop or even hinder the ageing process.
So, I suggest, stay as natural as you can, and spend the money you save by treating yourself to something that enhances your life, like learning something new, or settling down on the sofa with that novel you’ve been wanting to read, or even going on a damn good holiday – wearing a sunhat of course.
Finally, before I clamber off my soapbox, I wish newspapers would stop pushing us to Fight the Change, or promoting the fallacy that those ticking clocks can be turned back. It would be much more supportive if headlines were along the lines of, ‘Support Yourself During The Change,’ or ‘How To Be Proud Of Becoming An Older Woman,’ and even better, ‘How Not To Get Ripped Off By Cosmetic Companies Making A Mint Out Of The Menopause. ‘
But of course that doesn’t attract advertisers or feed the coffers.