All Change


Debra Brock meets beauty therapist and creator of 001 Skincare, Ada Ooi, to talk skincare in menopause.

DB: I’m in my late forties now and definitely seeing some changes in my skin and hair. What changes can I expect to see as I get closer to menopause?

AO: I work with a lot of clients who are either going through the menopause or who are post-menopausal. You can expect to see your skin get drier, due to decreasing levels of oestrogen. If you think of your skin being like a mattress covered in fish scales, the scales will raise and flake off if your skin is dry. This allows pollutants in and water to evaporate, so your skin can become dryer and more sensitive. There’s also a thinning of the skin, which can lead to increased fragility and things like rosacea.

Many women going through menopause are juggling a lot – work, family – and this creates further stress which messes up our hormones, which can lead to other symptoms like hormonal acne, due to increased sebum secretion. This is the point where facials need to come in – people read now that you shouldn’t squeeze spots, but good extraction done by a professional is really helpful.

DB: So if someone comes to you with dry skin, what do you recommend?

AO: I would recommend something to replenish moisture loss; products containing hyaluronic acid are useful. Oil is also very important – it’s all about the oil / water balance. Oil will help retain water in the skin. Oestrogen helps your skin to maintain collagen and elastin, and keep melanin at the right levels. As our levels of oestrogen fall during menopause, we need to use ingredients like peptides that have cell communicating properties that can help produce collagen.

It’s also worth carrying a mist, like our Rose mist (Rosa Damascena Essence, £28 for 30ml) in your bag too, for when your skin feels tight.

DB: Do you see people who are over compensating and throwing everything at their skin?

AO: Yes, definitely. You need to introduce just one product at a time. Change things gradually, and pick the things that are most important to target your problem. You need to take a twin approach: target the problem, but strengthen the barrier underneath at the same time. For example, I see women with menopausal acne who think they need to swap to oil free formulas like the ones teenagers would use, but actually it’s the other way round – you need to regulate your oil by using oil.

DB: So in terms of a skincare regime, what sort of steps should people be including?

AO: Cleansing has to be done very well, but with a non abrasive cleanser. Unless you are around a lot of pollutants, I wouldn’t recommend cleansing brushes. They can over exfoliate your skin and create sensitivity. If you’re going to use one, use it as an exfoliation treatment, not a daily cleanser. Use a mild cleanser that suits your skin, maybe with a gentle chemical exfoliant like lactic acid that will also act as an humectant to hold on to moisture. Massage your cleanser in gently, then rinse off with warm water followed by cool water. Try and avoid rubbing and friction as much as possible and then leave it.

If you need more exfoliation (for example, for acne), you can use a BHA acid locally, but I wouldn’t recommend this daily, at least to start with. Try alternate days, then if that’s working, you could look to increase it. If you’re using acids, you have to use an SPF as well – in fact, you should use one regardless, but it’s especially important if you’re using acids.

The next thing is toner. This is a really important step – it helps hold the moisture in and rebalances the skin’s pH level after cleansing. We’re talking about a modern, hydrating toner here, not the alcohol astringent toners that people used to use as an extra cleanser. You need to apply then pat the toner in – if you just leave it to dry, it will evaporate and pull extra moisture out of the skin with it.

Then serum – use this to target particular issues with your skin, keep it quite single minded. It’s to treat problems. If you’ve got very dry skin get something with hyaluronic acid and marine algae, that should do the job. If you’ve got lines, due to thinning of the skin, try something with peptides and collagen in. I have some reservations with retinol which is often found in serums – it can be irritating, so needs careful supervision.

Finally moisturiser – if your skin is very dry you can use an oil-serum, or mix an oil with moisturiser. Look for as much plant oils as possible in your moisturiser, things like borage oil and evening primrose oil.

DB: So if someone’s shopping for skincare, where should they focus their budget?

AO: There’s two scenarios. If you’ve got a big problem to solve, go with a serum to target that problem. If you don’t have a particular problem, spend money on a moisturiser, especially on your night moisturiser.

If your skin is fragile, try and stick to one brand if you can. Different brands use different bases and preservatives and by mixing brands you can be introducing a lot of different things onto your skin. If you can’t afford to buy everything from one brand, I’d almost suggest skipping a step.

DB: You’ve mentioned the importance of facials. How should someone choose a facialist?

AO: The brand the facialist is using is important – you need to find a brand which offers products that will support the type of facial you want and suit your skin. You need to talk to the therapist about the steps in the facial, and see if they will create a bespoke version for you. They need to really listen and be prepared to adapt. Some facials, for example, use physical exfoliants and I would just ask the facialist to skip that step.

DB: What trends do you see in the industry?

AO: Generally there’s a huge focus on skincare now. There’s greater emphasis on having products that you can mix to suit your needs on any day. We’re seeing lots of things coming from Japan and Korea, like essences and sheet masks.

DB: What are your hopes for the future for your brand?

AO: I want people to be more passionate about skin. I hope that skincare becomes a vehicle to help people understand more about science generally, and in particular the science of skincare.


001 Skincare is available from Fortnum & Mason and John Bell & Croyden in London and online at  Facials are available at Fortnum & Mason.

Ada’s Youtube channel is here 



Debra Brock

Debra Brock is co-founder of and a contributing writer.

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