When you hit menopause, your body goes through major changes. It may be a normal stage of life, but nobody said it was fun. There are sudden and steep drops in hormones, notably estrogen and progesterone. These sex hormones play several critical roles in our bodies, including a pretty big one in our skin. See, when people hit menopause, they experience a 30% drop in collagen. That's in comparison to the steady 1% per year decline in collagen we see typically.
What accounts for this drop, and what can you do about it? Well, let's dive in.
How menopause affects collagen production.
Hormones influence our skin cells in ways big and small. One of the bigger ways? Collagen production.
"Estrogen is key for the normal functioning of the skin as well as the blood vessels, hair follicles, oil glands, and our pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. It is associated with collagen production, increased skin thickness, increased hyaluronic acid production, improved skin barrier function, maintaining skin hydration, reduced sebaceous (oil) gland activity, and improved healing. It also plays a role in modulating inflammation," board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D., previously told us about menopause's effect on the skin. "The bottom line is that there are changes in skin tone, texture, and pigmentation showing up as a dull complexion, skin sagging, wrinkles, thinning hair, and more prominent 'age spots.'"
You can see how the major drop in estrogen can account for the major drop in collagen. Not only does your natural production of this hormone decline, but since much less of it is there to help support a healthy inflammatory response at the cellular level, that can further degrade otherwise healthy collagen cells.
How can you encourage natural collagen production?
If you are looking for ways to support your skin's natural collagen levels, collagen supplements are a great place to start.* Collagen supplements contain hydrolyzed collagen peptides that are able to be absorbed by the body.* Once absorbed, they then travel to your skin's fibroblasts, or the part of the cell that actually creates more collagen and elastin.* These peptides support and encourage healthy fibroblasts: Healthy fibroblasts lead to enhanced natural collagen production—ideally helping your skin offset some of the loss that comes during this time (the menopausal collagen gap, if you will).*
mindbodygreen's beauty & gut collagen+ also contains other actives that can help skin look and feel its best at any stage of your life.* The powder contains various antioxidants—like vitamins C and E, SGS, and curcumin—that neutralize free radical damage, combat oxidative stress, and help skin appear more vibrant.* Not only that, but it can also contains hyaluronic acid, which can help enhance skin hydration (dryness is a notorious facet of menopause).*
Adding collagen supplements can help your body produce collagen and elastin naturally.* These skin-critical proteins are inherent in skin's elasticity and smoothness. You may also consider finding a smart collagen supplement that has added benefits, like antioxidants, to help keep your skin healthy as you age.*
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.