Hannah Betts: Your guide to being a (menopausal) sleeping beauty

Hannah Betts’s Better…not younger: Your guide to being a (menopausal) sleeping beauty

  • Hannah Betts shares advice for overcoming sleepless nights in midlife
  • UK-based beauty columnist reveals a selection of her morning-after must haves
  • Also picks Kiko Smart Nail Lacquer as this week’s cosmetic craving

The beauty world is still reeling from last week’s revelation that post-menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have younger-looking complexions than those who abstain.

Scientists at Manchester University claim HRT users have greater levels of elastic fibres in their skin and better levels of waxy moisturising substances called lipids, which maintain the waterproof nature of skin as a barrier.

But, wait — are we really reeling? I’m surprised by the surprise.

Isn’t it logical that youthful fertility hormones will make women look younger and more fertile, bolstering our facial buoyancy in the same way they do our bones?

More shocking was the revelation that only 10 per cent of post-menopausal women are taking HRT, after the number of users plummeted in the wake of studies 20 years ago suggesting it increased the risk of breast cancer.

Hannah Betts shares her expert advice for overcoming sleepless nights in midlife and key products in her skincare routine (file image)

These studies were so flawed even I could see the holes. As a result — despite my mother having died relatively young of a hormonal cancer — I take HRT for peri-menopausal purposes.

If you can’t take HRT for whatever reason, seek out skincare with ceramides, a form of lipid naturally found within the skin that can be topped up as we start to lose it.

Budget brand CeraVe has ceramides at its core (from £4.80, Boots). Or try Elizabeth Arden — first to use the ingredient and boasting it everywhere from its Advanced Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum (from £43, elizabetharden.co.uk) to its slap and sunscreens.

About 20 years ago, the head of a global beauty conglomerate asked me what his company was missing. I suggested hormonal face care, pointing out that there is never a moment when a woman is not hormonal. It’s a shame I’m not a red-hot (flush) entrepreneur because everyone and their dog has since got in on the act.

Thus far, I am yet to be impressed by menopause-specific ranges. Instead, I prefer to cherry-pick products that target specific symptoms of hormonal flux.

Currently, in mid-August, this means sleepless summer nights due to my lunatic PMT insomnia. If you’re a sufferer, too, have a magnesium-infused bath (either bath flakes, or I like to use BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Body Spray, £7.79, Amazon). Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s Valium’, helping to quiet the nervous system, and something we all tend to run low on.

Next, you need melatonin and a mask. After a lifetime’s disordered sleep, melatonin has been the discovery of my not-so young life: a naturally occurring, sleep-inducing hormone which many middle-aged women are deficient in. Get yourself a private prescription, or buy it online and knock back 3mg before bed.

When I say ‘mask’, I’m not talking any old one, but the Drowsy Silk Sleep Mask (£49.50, drowsysleepco.com). An adjustable wrap-around-the-head affair, this cult creation blocks out light, muffles noise, cushions eyes and won’t mark skin.

Hannah (pictured) uses Neom’s Scent to Sleep Perfect Night’s Sleep Face Oil and Ren’s Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, ahead of a hot summer night 

I used my midnight blue version on a long-haul trip and slept six hours on the way out (during the day!) and eight on the return (by night). Trying is believing.

For pillow sprays, head straight for Drowsy Sleep’s Sleep S.O.S. Essential Oil Blend (£15.85, drowsysleepco.com). It’s supposed to be deployed in a burner, but I drop it into the tub and on my bedding until I’m drunk on cedarwood, lavender, ylang ylang and vetiver. For waking in the middle of the night crises, This Works’ Deep Sleep Breathe In rollerball (£18, thisworks.com) is a comfort. A cooling spritz will also be a relief, but not one that jerks you into consciousness. Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender (£12, libertylondon.com) is a 4am winner.

Skincare-wise, don’t have truck with anything too rich or chemically active, or you’ll wake up a spotty, scarlet mess.

Ahead of a long, hot summer night, I’ll do an exfoliating tone with Ren’s Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic (£15, renskin care.com). Then I’ll slather on Neom’s divinely fragrant, vitamin-rich Scent to Sleep Perfect Night’s Sleep Face Oil (£42, neomorganics.com).

For already sufficiently oily complexions, opt for Dermalogica’s simple, satisfying, lavender-scented Sound Sleep Cocoon Transformative Night Gel-Cream (£75, dermalogica.co.uk).

And, remember: tomorrow is another (unslept horror of a) day.


Sbtrct (pronounced subtract), a pioneer of top-flight, sustainable skincare, has come up with Sbtrct Rejuvenating Night Balm, the world’s first retinoid serum bar. Its 2 per cent retinoid (wrinkle-blasting vitamin A) and Squalane combo makes for lower irritation levels.



Bo Derek 

Bo Derek, 64, maintains her appearance with La Roche-Posay sunscreen, Biotherm body milk, and Shu Uemura face cream

Eighties icon Bo Derek, 64, has married her partner of two decades, 60-year-old John Corbett — aka Aidan from Sex And The City. Both look fabulous, while also looking their age. Derek, who enjoys sailing and surfing, relies on La Roche-Posay sunscreen, Biotherm body milk, and Shu Uemura face cream.


A stroll round Milanese make-up specialists Kiko is one of life’s great fillips. Ditto a manicure. I got better at doing my nails during lockdown, but am still too impatient to let them set. Kiko’s fast-drying varnishes are the answer, in 99 punchy hues.

‘Fast’ translates as ‘seconds’: the brush deposits just the right amount of lacquer and the 7ml size offers portable glam.

I’m rocking Kiko Smart Nail Lacquer in 28 Iridescent Violet Blue (2.50), the perfect August sky. Or try 09 Tangerine, the most succulent satsuma shade, topped off with Kiko’s super-glossy Fast & Shiny Base And Top Coat (£2.50).



Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator provides a menthol-packed, zingily invigorating end to sluggishness.


Nip + Fab’s Glycolic Fix Scrub is a brightening wake-up call with spot-busting salicylic acid.


I’ve been using Guerlain Midnight Secret Late Night Recovery Treatment for 25 years, but in the morning when I won’t wash off its brilliance.


Chanel Jersey Eau de Parfum is an alchemical lavender, impeccably soothing to the soul.


Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream to Brighten and Depuff genuinely casts a veil over the horror of dark circles.


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