It seemed that moment I started taking Tamoxifen, that most places on my body became pudgier, but my face became gaunt and lined. This is just another one of those menopausal symptoms that seem to come on faster and more dramatically for those on Tamoxifen.
Estrogen plays a key role in maintaining youthful skin. It prevents a decrease in collagen in the skin and increases moisture in the skin by promoting the production of “goo” molecules, such as hyaluronan. Taking Tamoxifen means that collagen and other plump-making molecules are depleted. Young skin is plump skin and lack of collagen and moisture make for old skin.
So what can a girl do?
The sun is the single thing that has the greatest impact on our skin. Japanese women know this, and shade themselves at the first sign of warm weather. The department stores are full of parasols in the spring, as well as long arm covers.
Not a bad idea, but most western women would think that’s a little odd, so sunscreen should be our best friend.
Preventing collagen loss is the most important factor, but it may be possible to restore some of the lost collagen and “goo” molecules. Retinol, beloved of the beauty industry because it has actually been shown to improve skin texture and elasticity, is known to promote collagen production. Collagen creams, on the other hand, do no good at all because collagen is too big to penetrate the skin.
Hyaluronan is another molecule found throughout the body that plays a role in tissue structure and lubrication and which becomes scarce in the absence of estrogen. Its claim to fame is that it can imbibe a huge amount of water. Put some hyaluronan over your moisturiser and it will draw water from the air and bind it to your face, plumping out your skin.
I used to be the type who would slap some moisturiser on my face after a shower and count on my body to look after the rest. Now I’m one of those ladies who dutifully washes her face twice a day and follows a “regime”.
If you’re interested, the retinol cream I buy is relatively inexpensive from iHerb. It takes some time for your face to become accustomed to it, and I mix it 50:50 with Cetaphil cream and slather it on every night. Don’t forget the sunscreen the next day, because your skin becomes even more sensitive to sunlight after retinol.
And the hyaluronan is super cheap at $2.80 from Daiso. I plop a tiny squirt on top of my moisturiser. Putting it under my moisturiser seems to pull the water out of my skin, which is not at all the desired result.