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Breast cancer treatments put me into early menopause — 13 products my skin can't survive without

I was put into chemical menopause at 41 after breast cancer treatments — here are 13 products that helped restore my skin.

blonde woman breast cancer survivor uses these beauty products for menopause, early menopause, best products for menopause, Breast cancer treatments put me into early menopause and these are the products my skin can't survive without (Photos via Sarah DiMuro).
Breast cancer treatments put me into early menopause and these are the products my skin can't survive without (Photos via Sarah DiMuro).

When I was diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, I was prepared to do whatever it took to prevent it from coming back. In my case, that meant cutting off its energy supply: estrogen. Through a monthly injection into my abdomen, I was put into chemical menopause at 41.

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The hot flashes and joint pain were manageable, but the toll the estrogen depletion took on my skin was another story. I now understood why some women turned to hormone replacement therapy when they became menopausal. Obviously, that was not an option for me — but I had to do something.

The products I had relied on pre-menopause no longer kept my skin hydrated and my favourite makeup sat differently — a less-than-flattering difference. I needed to take my beauty regime up several notches and find products that would support the new dry, itchy skin I was now in. Cancer had taken so much from me — my fertility, my breasts — but I was not about to let it get the upper hand when it came to taking care of my skin.

How does menopause affect the skin?

One of the first questions I asked my oncologist when she recommended putting me into menopause was the effects it would have on my skin. She assured me that everyone's skin ages differently and that maintaining a proper diet and exercise routine would benefit my overall skin health.

While I love my oncologist and appreciated her reassurance, the facts don't lie — women's skin loses around 30 per cent of its collagen during the first five years of menopause. That loss of collagen gives mature skin its saggy, less-than-firm look and feel.

Coupled with the dry skin caused by estrogen depletion, menopausal women face a future full of skin changes and challenges.

Best skincare for mature and menopausal skin

I did some research and a lot of shopping to find the right products for my new mature skincare needs. Below, I've rounded up 13 products that suit and restore my menopausal skin, several of which I never leave home without.

If I had one product to take with me on a desert island, this would be it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many cleansers I tried before finding one that left my skin feeling hydrated while still removing makeup. The fragrance-free formula feels so soothing on my skin, and I actually look forward to washing my face. It removes what needs to be removed and leaves behind the natural skin emollients. 

It's all about the hyaluronic acid and ceramides that keep your skin refreshed and glowing. I just wish I had found CeraVe years ago — even my teenage skin would have enjoyed it.

$18 at Amazon

This affordable lotion is magic and a life-saver for my skin. I have never known an all-over lotion that doesn’t make me break out or irritate my skin. My elbows get incredibly dry and putting this only before I go to bed makes all the difference. 

Whenever I travel, I always pack a full-size bottle in my suitcase, and I am ready for whatever climate I am travelling to. And for under 25 dollars for a value-sized container, you can't go wrong! This Amazon's Choice bestseller is a fantastic head-to-toe formula that will provide all skin types with much-needed hydration and soothing relief from dry skin.

$20 at Amazon

I am very fair-skinned and have had a skin cancer scare or two, so leaving the house sans SPF is not an option. This lotion is great by itself or under makeup and doesn’t leave a cakey white residue. I also apply some to the tops of my hands, which gives them some added protection and moisture. At 20 dollars for a 3oz bottle, it’s not cheap, but a little goes a long way.

$20 at Amazon

There is nothing "ordinary" about this hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary. Hyaluronic acid is a magical mixture — my face feels naked when I don't use it. I love the way it feels on my skin, and I can see it plumping up my complexion first-hand. Plus, it's incredibly affordable. 

$12 at The Ordinary

I don’t care how tired I am, I always put something around my eye area before falling asleep. The few nights I have skipped, I get up the next day looking haggard. I also have sensitive eyes and have found that some eye creams can be irritating or too fragrant, this one has a mild scent that doesn’t cause my eyes to water — so yay! It can be a little pricey, but it goes on sale, and I always stock up.

$50 at Amazon

Between my medications and the hand-washing that comes with having two young children, my hands are incredibly cracked, and thus, I need a lotion that can absorb into my skin. I love the way this product feels on my hands and feet. I have tried dozens of lotions, and this is the only one that provides relief to my rough soles. There's a reason why Kamill is Germany's best-selling hand cream. It gets the job done, it isn't greasy, and it smells great.

$8 at Amazon

The skin on my lips has taken a beating since my diagnosis, so it's important to always keep lip balm on hand. I love wearing fun lipstick, and with the Covergirl tinted balm, I can be playful while still keeping my pout pretty. All the colours are worth trying, but right now, I am all about the "Life is Pink" shade. 

$8 at Amazon

I feel like there was life before IT Cosmetics and then life after. It has been such a great addition to my leave-the-house ritual. My dull skin gets a healthy boost of hydration, and all those little sunspots and marks are concealed with the added protection of SPF. And it's SPF 50! The skin gets so much more delicate as we go into menopause, and having a strong SPF is critical. 

The cream also comes in a slew of shades, so if you want a more bronzed look during those summer months like I do, you can have it. Also, its anti-aging compounds are perfect for a menopausal gal like me. I don't think I have ever owned a product that worked so hard for my skin in so many different ways.

$64 at Sephora

I am all about a multitasking product, and this one does that and then some. My skin has become much less elastic since starting menopause and needs constant nourishment and hydration. When I apply this serum before bed, I just put on my facial lotion and some Cover Girl tinted lip balm the next morning and am ready to tackle the day.

$39 at Chatters

The most challenging area of my skin to treat has been my hands. With the constant hand washing coupled with the medications that I take to deplete my estrogen supply, I have the rough hands of a much older person. If I don't use these masks at least once a week, the skin on my hands cracks, and I am in big trouble. 

It says to leave the gloves on for 10 minutes, but I always keep them on for much longer. In fact, as I'm writing this, I am wearing a pair. As a mom with two little kids, I try and fit in little moments of self-care any way I can.

$4 at Amazon

My mother-in-law put me on L'Occitane's Strengthening Shea Nail and Cuticle Oil, and I've been hooked ever since. While it's not the most affordable product on this list, it's a must-have in my beauty arsenal. 

I tend to apply more than is necessary, rubbing the excess into my hands. I've tried other cuticle oils, and they work OK, but this blend is by far the best and lasts regardless of how often I wash my hands. This "Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner" is a luxury this tired mama doesn't ever want to live without.

$27 at Sephora

I'm a side and stomach sleeper, and since using this 100 per cent pure silk pillowcase, I wake up with fewer lines on my face and less frizz in my hair. Do I travel with it even when just going overnight? Yes, yes, I do. It's not exactly a bargain, but it makes my skin so happy.

$27 at Amazon

My skin's lack of elasticity and firmness has been a significant side effect of menopause, so adding this collagen peptide powder to my morning coffee has become a daily ritual. It's tasteless and dissolves in warm liquids, and in general, I've noticed less joint pain since using it. 

$45 at Amazon

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