About Me –
Hormones & My Journey to Ethical Skincare
“It wasn’t until I began to experience skin changes during menopause that I realised how important my skin was to me. I began to understand that it was a window into my wellbeing; when it was healthy and glowing, so too was my soul.”
Hello, I’m Franchine, and I am delighted you’re here discovering more about my Wonder Balm and how it came to be as a result of my skin changes during menopause.
I never imagined this story would lead me to develop my own ethical skincare brand. When I started to experience hormonal imbalances I initially worried that something more sinister was happening to me. Consequently, by the time I reached 50yrs I was convinced I was dealing with an undiagnosed health condition, due to the ever-growing list of symptoms.
Little did I know it was to be the catalyst that led me to develop and launch my very own skincare brand. But more on that later…
At the time, I had neither the self-awareness nor the support of a system to recognise that what was happening was perfectly normal. It could be managed. Instead, I suffered years of physical and emotional upheaval.
Two things happened that changed the course of my well-being and my life:
- First of all, a nasty and persistent rash developed suddenly across the lower half of my face
- Then I found a Gynaecologist who recognised my symptoms and accurately diagnosed them
So, I was now on a path towards a whole new way of thinking, living and being. And it was largely thanks to my skin.
Skincare Growing Up
My sister and I grew up watching our mum maintain a very simple daily skincare routine.
She had two products – a cleanser and a moisturiser – and that was it. Our mum was a good role model in terms of a no-fuss, simplistic approach to her skin. It is something I inherited and also passed onto my own two daughters.
As I became older I would experiment with skincare, trying to find the right regime for me. I would always gravitate towards ethical skincare and more natural products. The fewer chemicals and artificial additives the better.
It’s true, however, that I never really gave my skin too much thought. It was reliable in its normal-to-dry way; it could handle a light layering of daily make-up; it was good to me.
Until, suddenly, one day it wasn’t.
The Facial Rash
One of the symptoms of the hormonal changes I was experiencing really bothered me. An aggressive, scaly, red and hot rash had erupted on my face overnight.
It travelled from the base of my nose all around my mouth, over my lower face and down to my chin. No matter what I tried to treat it with it would not go away.
Consequently, I was prescribed treatments. I went to experts in all manner of fields, but nothing worked. Make-up wouldn’t hide it. Although the rash came from nowhere, other symptoms had been escalating for months, at an alarming rate.
My body had been enduring so much. As a result, it reached its tipping point. My skin was making that message loud and clear.
Perimenopause in my 40’s – My Symptoms
As it transpired, I began to experience perimenopause in my 40’s. I just had no idea that’s what it was. Looking back I describe it as PMT multiplied by one hundred. By the time I reached 50yrs my body and well-being felt completely under attack because of the hormonal imbalances.
My periods could last up to ten weeks, but it was the health anxiety and emotional lows that were the most challenging.
It all became so overwhelming that I applied for extended sick leave from work. At home, I entered a phase of “very low productivity”. In my early 40s, I was diagnosed with a form of chronic fatigue syndrome. Many previously-settled symptoms returned. There just wasn’t any energy.
At Last – an Accurate Gynaecological Diagnosis
Eventually, I was referred by a private GP me to a Gynaecologist.
During the session, I talked to the gynae about symptoms that had started as far back as 7 years, that at the time had seemed unconnected to hormones. Then I braced myself for the bad news.
“You’re not experiencing anything I haven’t already seen many times before. I know what is happening to you. There is no over-the-counter cure. Everything you are describing is absolutely normal. Welcome to menopause!” she said.
The relief was my initial feeling, at last, it was starting to make sense! Someone was telling me that these physical and emotional problems were not at all abnormal.
And so my thoughts turned immediately towards a holistic path back to better physical and mental health, to help my body through this transition, called menopause.
Hormones, my 50’s and Stress
When my periods stopped it was the end of a life phase that had required so much of my energy, raising children, studying and creating a career. However, ironically it often happens when the modern-day woman is dealing with so much on her plate.
This was every bit the case for me.
● My job was stressful. I was a disability officer supporting people with mental ill-health and/or physical disabilities.
● My children were leaving home to marry and start their own families and needed my support.
● My parents were ageing and their previously good health was deteriorating, which often meant support with doctors and appointments.
Life wasn’t moving into an easier phase; it was dialling up and it needed me to be 100%.
There was no space to sit back and take care of me.
Dealing with Hormonal Imbalances
The Gynaecologist initially placed me on a light Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) short-term, in order to give my body some respite from the severe symptoms I had been experiencing. Then I sought the expertise of a Nutritionist; my aim was to take a holistic approach to menopause by addressing my diet, lifestyle and to identify other areas in my life that needed attention.
I joined a female online forum, which I call a “lifesaver”. It was invaluable to be able to access a pool of women who were all at different life stages and ages but had vast experience of hormonal imbalance symptoms and treatments they had tried that had/had not worked well.
There was always someone who knew exactly what I was going through. They were on hand to share their experience and offer their guidance or suggestions. I realised that my lifestyle needed a complete overhaul if I wanted better outcomes for myself.
I had always gravitated towards nature and ethical skincare products but increasingly, during this peak of symptoms, I felt an urge to simplify life as much as I could. This extended to my food, lifestyle and even my skincare. And this is where we return to the angry facial rash.
Hormones and Skin Symptoms
The rash wouldn’t go away. No matter what I tried it either remained the same or became more irritated.
I was prescribed typical medication, but it persisted. My GP and pharmacist told me that it resembled adult rosacea and could be quite common in women of my age who were experiencing hormonal highs and lows. I tried to hide it with make-up, but it was too angry and too prominent.
It got me thinking.
I had dabbled in creating my own skin creams when I was younger, particularly during pregnancy, when I was very interested in ‘clean’ products. I also trained as a reflexologist (although I only practised on my family). Perhaps I could make better than I could buy or have been prescribed…?
Creating My Own Ethical Skincare Solution
Already empowered with a strong knowledge of essential oils and plants, I began to research more deeply.
I chose a range of organic essential oils, known for their skin healing benefits, as well as solid ingredients that had for centuries been used to treat and heal the skin, in many different cultures. Over a matter of months, I trialled many combinations. Eventually, I was confident in the perfect mix for my skin. Within weeks the rash on my face had completely disappeared!
In just a matter of weeks, I began to receive compliments about my skin. Furthermore, family members started asking for balm samples. Friends soon also began to ask, and it wasn’t long thereafter that friends of friends started to place orders.
It got me thinking; this is a Wonder Balm (link to BUY page) for my skin, but it is having a positive impact on many others as well…
A Serendipitous Email
Balm awareness and interest really started to gather momentum. Out of the blue, I received an email offering grants or guidance to women with new business ideas.
It stopped me in my tracks.
What if my Wonder Balm could become something positive for those beyond my social and family circles? What if it could be an opportunity to help others that experienced similar skin problems as me such as dry itchy, severely dehydrated, and sometimes breakouts – in my 40’s? What if I could access many more people than my own social circles that cared about single-use plastic or ludicrous elaborate skincare regimes? And so I applied, and the rest is history.
Caring for Our Skin Starts with Our Mindset
For me, truly caring for my skin started when I began to change my mindset.
The rash on my face was a horrendous physical symptom of menopause. However, it forced me to realise that self-care is not in a beauty jar. It’s in all the little choices I make every day to ensure I am being kind to myself through ensuring I limit my exposure to concoctions of chemicals that can have devasting effects on my body.
Until that point, if I were honest with myself, my skincare regime was mostly about a desire to hold back time. But my symptoms drove me to look closer at the damage many of these products were causing.
Now I know that my skin radiates good health. I don’t have to conceal anything with a layer of make-up; my skin glows because I care it by choosing not to smother it in moisturisers or cleansers that are filled with chemicals which can harm me and upset the delicate balance of hormones. I understand now that self-care is about making informed choices that nourish me. All of our suppliers of raw ingredients are certified organic – but I sought out those that had values which aligned with mine; those that strive for equality, a cleaner planet and a circular economy.
As a result, I am responsible for creating my very own ethical skincare brand, which I now share with the world.
To find out more about the Franchine Young Wonder Balm, visit here.