PAULA JOYE: Pregnancy, menopause and dealing with cranky hormonal skin.

This is an edited extract from 'The Glow Up', by Paula Joye. 

Somewhere between Baby Number One and Baby Number Two, my skin was out of control. I developed a strip of adult acne on both my cheeks and some gnarly pedestrian pimples on my chin.            

I was incredibly tired and stressed from lack of any work/life balance and my hormones were fluctuating back and forth like the swing I was pushing my daughters on in the park. And because this skin status was driven by my hormones, it felt a whole lot more dramatic than it really was. I sought help from a dermatologist, swapped out some products, cleared up my skin and survived. But there were tears and tantrums along the way. In my head, my skin was ruined.     

But that’s hormones ... they impact your mood, your mind and your skin. Often all at the same time. And often with a box of tissues and some hot chips.

There are watershed moments in your life when hormones will take your skin on a real joy ride. Sometimes it’s a trip to glow town, but mostly, hormones are irrational and abandon you and the car at Skin Row. (My first and last skin pun.)

When hormones strike, it can be confusing and terrifying, but there are some things you can do to tackle their effects on your poor old skin.

Video via Youtube.                    

Hashtag pregnancy.                            

While puberty comes for us all, the hormonal roller-coaster ride of pregnancy and fertility treatments like IVF are exclusive to women (and people assigned female at birth).

Both can have a significant impact on your skin. The way it feels and the way it looks. All pregnancies differ, but some of the most common skin changes include:

  • Stretch marks. As the skin stretches to accommodate the growing fetus, it can lead to the formation of stretch marks on the abdomen, thighs and breasts.
  • Acne. Hormonal surges can lead to increased sebum production, which can cause acne and breakouts.
  • Dark spots. Pregnancy hormones can cause an increase in melanin production, leading to dark spots on the face, also known as melasma or ‘pregnancy mask’.
  • Dry, itchy skin. As the skin stretches, it can become dry, tight and itchy.
  • Spider veins. Hormonal shifts may cause the blood vessels to dilate, leading to the appearance of spider veins on the skin.

Things that can help:

  • Step away from vitamin A. You must not use any kind of vitamin A during conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding, as studies have shown high levels of this ingredient may harm the fetus.
  • Watch your temperature. While pregnant, you’re running a couple of degrees hotter all the time. So be careful about exposure to extreme temperatures that may put your skin barrier under further strain and vulnerability.
  • Lean into serums that nurture. This is not the time for products experimentation. Any changes in your skin are much more likely due to hormones, not ingredients. So, stick to healing and hydrating ingredients and try lots of lovely facial oils and mists – stuff that makes you feel good. A pregnancy skincare range I love is Brillo Beauty.
  • Breakout control. Speak to your doctor first, but most will allow use of a spot treatment provided it doesn’t contain vitamin A.
  • Drink water. This will help everything at a cellular level. You’re drinking for two at the moment.

Image: Instagram/@paulajoye.

Hashtag perimenopause and menopause.                             

This period of your life is a fresh hell.

We don’t talk about it nearly enough. When this hormone cycle hits, ageing becomes brutally apparent. In the mirror.


Some of the most common and significant skin shifts during perimenopause and menopause include:

  • Dry skin. As oestrogen levels decrease, the skin may become drier and thinner, and it can’t hold water like it used to. Dry skin feels tight and itchy, and looks parched and dull.
  • Wrinkles and fine lines. As estrogen levels dip, collagen and elastin depletes and this combines with thinning skin to really exacerbate the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Hot flashes. Hot flashes and night sweats can cause the skin to become flushed and irritated. Consequently, you may experience breakouts and sweat rashes on your chest and back.
  • Dark spots. The decrease in estrogen levels can also lead to an increase in melanin production, increasing the likelihood of dark spots on the face, hands and chest.
  • Acne. Menopause is the opposite of puberty, but it delivers similar symptoms. Some women may experience breakouts or even adult acne because of hormonal flares.

Things that can help:

  • Antioxidants. If you haven’t already been using a serum in your skincare routine, there’s no sidestepping it anymore. You need to invest in a vitamin C and a niacinamide antioxidant serum. Rotate between them.
  • Retinoids. This is the time to work on your tolerance to vitamin A. It will help resurface and support estrogen-depleted skin like no other ingredient can.
  • Hyaluronic acid. Your skin can’t retain hydration like it used to. So you will need the help of hyaluronic acid. It can be in your moisturiser, a serum, a mist, facial oil... Just incorporate it somewhere in your routine, to help draw moisture into your skin and keep it there.
  • Hormone therapy. Discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of HRT (hormone replacement therapy), which can help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause by rebalancing your hormones. This rebalancing can in turn help your skin.

 The Glow Up, by Paula Joye (Simon & Schuster), RRP $35, is available now.

Image: Supplied

Feature Image: Instagram @paulajoye

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