woman having a hot flash

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about menopause. Estrogens have a profound influence on skin. Their depletion as we go through menopause triggers a series of changes that can be confusing and frustrating. I am increasingly thinking that standard anti-aging approaches are not going to crack menopausal aging and I am researching ways we can be more targeted with our skincare choices. This is very much a work in progress, but in my search for the ultimate serums for menopausal skin, I am at least figuring out what some of the key actives should be.

Phytoestrogenic isoflavones

There is evidence that diets with high levels of phytoestrogenic isoflavones are associated with a low incidence of menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis. A good example is soy protein and this does crop up in skin care products every now and then. It is in Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion Oil-Free Moisturizer ($58 in the shop), and E’shee Cellular Repairing Night Cream ($289 in the shop).

Even more interesting is red clover, which contain high levels of isoflavones. I found a study on rats that were induced to have menopausal effects and given red clover extract with 11% isoflavones. The epidermis of these rats remained normal, with uniform thickness and collagen actually increased (source). The bad news is that I hard time finding serums with red clover that looked convincing.

One exception is by Velvet Skincare, a brand that formulates with an interesting mix of botanicals and peptides. There is a serum that has red clover and some algae extracts that I’ll mention later. I was also very intrigued by GlymedPlus and its Menopause Corrective Skin Serum+ with 1.7% synthetic progesterone and red clover. I also noted that Murad addresses hormonally aging skin with Intensive Age-Diffusing Serum, which has red clover and a few other interesting ingredients that put it above the usual department store mediocrity. Skin 2 Skin has a promising looking serum with soy, red clover and a peptide against sagging skin

Algae and seaweed

Marine extracts have the potential to be hugely important in anti-aging. One symptom of hormonally aging skin is dryness, so extreme that it leaves skin washed out, drawn and fragile. Some kinds of seaweeds (e.g. laminaria digitata) contain polysaccharide alginic acid, which locks moisture in the skin. I found a brightening serum by Repechage that has a laminaria digitata “complex.” Ulva lactuca is a green seaweed that is known and sea lettuce and it is source of aosine, an enzyme that neutralizes the elastase responsible for breaking down elastin in the skin.

Red algae is a good source of glycans, which increase the production of collagen by aiding intra-cellular communication and delivering vitamins and minerals for cellular health.

Although marine actives are supposedly a big beauty trend, it isn’t easy to find good formulas. A recent discovery is Moana Skincare from New Zealand, using high concentrations of red seaweed marine glycans throughout its range with 95% in the Moana Night Repair Serum. Another reason to be interested in the Velvet Skincare product that I stumbled across is that it has three types of seaweed extract as well as the red clover.

Pentapeptides and copper peptides

When all is said and done, it comes down to collagen production and pentapeptides and copper peptides excel. Although there isn’t much independent research, there’s a strong track record in the field for the pentapeptides marketed as Matrixyl and Matrixyl 3000

Benir Beauty BV-9 Platinum Provectus Super Serum ($195 in the shop) checks quite a few boxes with seaweed extract, pentapeptide-18 and Matrixyl 3000. Soleil Toujours Broad Spectrum Moisturizer SPF 20 ($55 in the shop) has myristoyl pentapeptide-11. Medik8 Firewall ($145 in the shop) has Matrixyl 3000 and copper peptides. And for the more budget conscious, I am currently testing a Matrixyl 3000 serum that is $35 by ASDM Beverly Hills.