Let’s talk about Menopause: spa brand breaks the taboo
The legendary Gloria Steinem mused in her piece If Men Could Menstruate that “menopause would be celebrated as a positive event, the symbol that men had accumulated enough years of cyclical wisdom to need no more.” Sadly, menopause is still something of a taboo, even though 13 million women are currently going through or in menopause – that’s one fifth of the entire population.
Those of us at Spa Spy HQ who have accumulated plenty of wisdom rejoiced when UK skincare company Natural Spa Factory brought out a new treatment targeted at menopausal women.
Pause: Me is part of their I Am Woman collection, designed to celebrate women at all life stages; periods, pregnancy and menopause. Essential oils and botanical ingredients are used to soothe, balance and restore calm. The treatment includes the application of an iced collagen sheet mask to cool hot flushed skin.
NSF are about to launch it in partner spas across the UK, but unable to wait, I tried the Resurrection Moisturising Collagen Face Mask for Dry Skin (pack of three £29). It comes in a silver foil package, rather like posh coffee: the top rips off easily, and inside you will find a rather gooey, white cloth face mask. Following the instructions, I hooked the mask over my ears, then did the same with the chin straps -- so far, so Michael Myers.
It was indeed pleasantly cooling. I relaxed for 20 minutes, then simply unhooked the straps and dropped it in the bin, rubbing in the remaining gel. My skin looked plump, smooth and lifted. I did this before bed, but the next one I am saving to use before I go out: it’s the perfect pre-college reunion face-lift. Tip: if you are looking to alleviate hot flushes, stick the mask in the freezer for half an hour before application.
I was also drawn to the Illuminate Moisturiser to Nourish Normal to Combination Skin (50ml £25). Thanks to hormonal fluctuations, my peri-menopausal skin has become more prone to break-outs, which my usual anti-aging products seem to aggravate. This is a light moisturising cream with rice bran and jojoba oils, which even out skin tone including blemishes and… wait for it… age spots. It smells like a rather delicious muesli, is delivered non-messily from a black pump-action bottle. I noticed straight away that it really had lightened age spots I have just near my hair-line. My skin looked and felt nourished without being shiny and there were no teenage spots – the perfect everyday moisturiser for when your skin needs good maintenance rather than dramatic plumping.
Our bodies are so in need of a little TLC at this time of life, and the Seaweed Body Oil (50ml £15) is packed with rejuvenating nutrients. Evening Primrose oil is full of omega 3 fatty acids which help reduce the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis, Rosehip restores the skin’s elasticity, while Raspberry seed oil is said to reduce the destruction of collagen. I used it as a body oil, the scent warming and autumnal. My skin felt rehydrated and not too oily. You can also use it on your face or add it to your bath. Tip: it goes a lot further if you apply it after a shower to damp skin.
I personally prefer their Calming Body Oil, which has relaxing chamomile too. When we go through menopause, levels of oestrogen begin to drop, and oestrogen regulates the stress hormone cortisol. A relaxing spa day can be hugely beneficial if you are feeling menopausal, although you need to make sure that the spa you are booked into isn’t too hot and crowded – make sure it has cool, calm spaces, ideally a spa garden. If you have booked a treatment, tell them in advance that you are ‘heat sensitive’ and therefore want your massage bed unheated, the room cool.
Verdict: Some may feel it is gimmicky, but I think NSF have started a useful and valuable conversation around menopause. I like the way they have paid tribute to menopausal symptoms, rather than despairing of them, and found playful solutions, such as putting the face mask in the freezer.
If customers and spas are willing to engage with similar openness, and to celebrate this time of life rather than pretend it’s not happening, it could be really empowering for a lot of women. Simply naming it will help ease a lot of symptoms: there’s nothing more shaming than trying to hide a hot-flush!
As Greer noted in her book on menopause, The Change, “Women over fifty already form one of the largest groups in the population structure of the western world.” Women over 50 also form a large percentage of spa goers: we want to see the M-word on every spa menu going forward.