S1 Episode 1 - Abigail James: How to Menopause-Proof Your Skin


Morven: In Episode 2 we talk about all things menopause skincare and how this links back to hormones. The truth is menopause for many women can feel like a hormonal roller coaster, often for years and years, and the skin can be a sure sign that things are changing. As we age and enter perimenopause, our skin tends to lose its sparkle. So we're delighted to introduce today's guest who is a renowned skin care expert, Abigail James, known as the Queen of Skin.

In this episode, Abigail talks us through her 20 years experience as an award-winning esthetician, skincare and wellbeing expert, author, trained yogi and mother. In this pro-age episode, we'll talk about the changes in our skin, how to nourish it, and how to continue to do so through this life stage. We're going to discuss all the stuff that you want to know about looking and feeling sensational with all the juicy tips on skincare and looking as young as we feel.


On what is most noticeable about aging skin and restorative methods:

Abigail: Loss of firmness is possibly on 99% of women's tick lists. For the best results for fighting loss of firmness in the face, you do need technology machinery that is going to stimulate collagen production that's going to tighten collagen fibers. There are also certain machines that can do a little bit of fat reduction, as well as tightening the collagen fibers.

So there are the two in clinic treatments that you could have, they're not something you can just buy at home. 

Radiofrequency is basically putting heat into the dermis to tighten collagen fibers. We're targeting about 40 degrees. And at that point, we get a stimulation of collagen production and a tightening. With repeated treatments, even people who were saying their eyes are just becoming a little bit more saggy, it can just brighten and open up the eye area by working on the skin and the tissue. 

A more profound lifting is with HIFU - High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. It’s dropping about 60 degrees heat into the skin. And if 60 was on the surface, it would burn. So the technology gets in past the surface further down. And with that, you get a more profound tightening lifting. And that's where you can get fat reduction for the heavy neck and the heavy jowl area.

On taking a holistic approach to skin care:

Abigail: The internals are a huge factor, as well as genetics. We can't fight the genetics. But we've got the intrinsic and the extrinsic factors of aging, some of them we're born with. And the others are what we do to ourselves in our lives. The nutrition and the lifestyle are the ones that we're doing to ourselves, but we have control over what we can do to better our health and our skin. 


On taking supplements and diet:

Abigail: I am a fan of supplements. I am a strong believer that we don't necessarily get all of the nutrients we need from our diet. I think the way farming happens and the role of materials, it's not as nutrient dense. And then maybe it's been in the fridge in the supermarket for however many days or, and in plastic packaging stuff. So yes, it would be amazing if we could get everything that we need from our diets. But I think sometimes we need extra support. 


On her perimenopause journey; entering perimenopause, brain fog and HRT 

Abigail: I started menopause early. And since my childbearing years, I have had gynae problems, which is not uncommon. I was even told I had polycystic ovaries and I struggled conceiving but I've gone on to have three children. 

I suppose I was in my late 30s when my periods dramatically started changing again. They were getting really heavy and a lot more frequent. Which at the time, you don't equate to even being close to perimenopause.

With brain fog, you just began to question your own sanity. Whether you're getting dementia. My mother died of dementia, so in our family, that's something quite close to our hearts. I was told that an early menopause can be connected to early onset dementia. 

Morven: There's research now about the way that your receptors in your brain work when there's a lack of estrogen and that's why one of the things that doctors are doing is recommending that women go on HRT to sort of stave off dementia, because dementia does affect more women than men and they're starting to make that link.

Abigail: I would have personally chosen not to do HRT. However, I'm on HRT, and for me and my family connection to dementia, I will stay on it. That is the one thing it has done, it has definitely brought my brain back good as well.  

On the factors involved with aging skin and skincare solutions that help: 

Abigail: I see your homecare skincare as a complete routine. I'm pretty sure you've heard of retinol retinoids - they are touted as like the Holy Grail of skincare ingredients. It's only one form of ingredient that is speeding your skin cell turnover, which is fundamentally what a retinoid does, whether it's a high street, or whether it's a prescription tretinoin from a derm, it's only speeding the cell turnover. Yes, it can support a little bit with pigmentation, but it won't get rid of pigmentation. It's not protecting you from the sun. It's not stimulating lots of other things. So that's one aspect. You need your vitamin C's as a mega antioxidant, it can be slightly brightening. 

If I was going to choose one ingredient over the other, I go with vitamin C. I use minimal retinoids on my own skin. I've learned over the years that you need that complexity of ingredients. You might as I think most of us have as we age, the pigment changes on the surface of the skin become more visible. So you might need ingredients like Kojic acid, licorice root, or tyrosinase inhibitors, which will help switch off the over pigmentation. 

You might need peptides which are essential for stimulating collagen production. You might need or you will need your hydrators, your ceramides and your hyaluronic acids. You do need to cleanse the skin. You do benefit from some mild acids, some AHA's or some BHA's if you're breaking out. 

So there's not one holy grail of an ingredient. And for the ideal skincare routine. You need to see it as if you've got all of those ingredients on your plate as you would the food you're eating. You know you need your carbs, your oils, your proteins, your vitamins and minerals. It's the same with the skincare and that's where building a routine is essential. 


Abigail’s number one piece of advice for readers to take away:

Abigail: I would invest in your serums. See, serums can hold active ingredients that you can't necessarily hold in the percentages in your other skincare. So if you have a concern; rosacea, spots, wrinkles, whatever pigmentation, it's your serum, that he's going to be packing the punch for the results.

But some skincare brands are worth the investment. There's a lot more science that goes into some of them, so I'm not suggesting you need to spend a fortune, but in some cases, particularly serums, if I was going to invest, that's where I put the investment in.