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Menopause-washing: How to tell if a meno-friendly product is worth your money

We share how to decode if menopause skincare and more will truly make a difference

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Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
15 April 2024
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Whether you're browsing the shelves of Boots or scouring the pages of Cult Beauty, chances are, you'll see lots of products marketed at menopausal women.

From Pantene's 'Menopause Shampoo for Thinning Hair' to No7's 'Menopause Skincare Nourishing Overnight Cream', beauty brands have been quick to notice there's a growing demand for products created to meet the needs of menopausal women.

It's not just beauty, though. Primark has a range of nightwear specifically for menopausal people to help cool night sweats, while M&S has labelled a collection of its cooling bedding as meno-friendly.

Young woman holding a jar of Sun-dried tomatoes in supermarket. She's searching for specific manufacturer.© Getty
There are endless menopause products available

Here at HELLO!, we're excited to see menopause – and the women going through it – being signposted by big retailers, and our excitement about the movement is echoed by Sam Simister, who co-founded GenM, a company created to raise awareness of the struggle we go through during menopause, encouraging companies to take positive action to make a real difference.

Woman in red with her hands on her hips
Sam said she was unprepared to go through menopause

"When I first started experiencing perimenopause symptoms, I was woefully unprepared," Sam says of what inspired her to launch GenM. "I was 48 and at the height of my career, travelling the world for work. One morning I woke up with a chronic bout of anxiety and I couldn't leave for the airport, and that was just an unbelievable experience for me. At the same time, I started having debilitating hot sweats."

Despite not expecting to go through perimenopause for another decade, Sam says she was "one of the lucky ones," realising what was happening and getting through it with the help of her family and workplace, who were supportive. But Sam's experience made her realise that there was a serious lack of signposting from retailers about products that would help her during the period.

"The more I looked, the more I just couldn't find products to support me and I started to get frustrated," Sam says. Her frustration prompted Sam to team up with her co-founder, Heather Jackson, to launch GenM, with the view to bring responsible organisations together to help them understand the menopausal audience and do more to support them through the transition.

two women sitting on a velvet leather sofa
Sam and Heather set up Gen M

Sam wanted other women to be able to easily find products, be it on the supermarket shelves or when shopping online, that could help them, because when women thrive, society thrives, she says.

 INSPIRATION: Why does nobody talk about the incredible positives of menopause? 

As part of GenM's efforts, they launched the MTick, the world's first menopause-friendly symbol, to signpost products that have been rigorously tested and are genuinely helpful to those going through perimenopause.

"The MTick is the brainchild of Heather and myself, backed by research," Sam explains. Products awarded the MTick must meet GenM's criteria and provide the data to verify that it does what it claims. Brands are denied the tick if they don't meet the standard, and can reapply. 

pink m tick logo
The M Tick signposts helpful products

GenM's research showed there was a demand for the tick, with 80% of women saying they wanted to shop products labelled ‘menopause-friendly’, and 66% saying that a lack of clear signposting made it hard for them to find the products they need.

 READ: I'm a menopause wellness coach and this is what helped me through menopause 

The MTick also works towards ending the stigma of meno-washing; the idea that brands are claiming their products are menopause-friendly, just to rake in profits.

"I think meno-washing is rubbish, and all it does is detract from the goodness the product could give to the user," Sam says. "The only people that are going to lose out from claims of meno-washing is the very audience that the symbol is designed to support."

Boots shelves with M tick
The M Tick can be found in Boots

Sam adds that brands have an important role to play in helping women through perimenopause and beyond, with GenM's research showing that 49% of women decide not to take HRT, so need holistic solutions to help with their symptoms.

"Even though I'm on HRT, I still need the right shampoo and the right skin product, because my skin is drier than it used to be. It's all these little things that add up to how you feel as a woman in your midlife, it's important to find products designed for you, that work."

 DISCOVER: I had the worst perimenopause, here's how I fixed it 

The MTick can be seen on the shelves of Boots and Tesco, along with on products created by brands such as Espa, Tena and No7, with Sam explaining the visibility will help towards the destigmatising of menopause – as well as making life easier for women seeking to ease perimenopause symptoms.

"Imagine how many conversations will be started thanks to family members seeing the tick," Sam says. "If our symbol goes some way to normalising menopause and sparking a conversation I think that's got to be a good thing."


Introducing HELLO!'s Second Act

Two women out shopping for the day, taking a break and sitting down on a couch in a clothing store together.© Getty

HELLO! wanted to create a space dedicated to sharing incredible stories from midlife; somewhere you can find inspiring stories of like-minded women, living their best life beyond 45.

Enter, Second Act...

For too long, we were expected to fade into the background when we hit 45, but we're here to reframe your Second Act as a celebratory, exciting new chapter with endless possibilities ahead.

From women who embarked on new careers in their fifties, to those who travelled the world alone after their children left home, to women who finally felt confident when they reached their forties, Second Act is devoted to celebrating the incredible stories of midlife, and we'd love to have you along for the journey - because being part of a community makes everything more enjoyable.

Visit HELLO!'s Second Act hub 

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