I’ve never created a gift guide before, but this feels like the right time to make a chunky offering like this. In the last fifteen years of my health coaching practice, I’ve worked primarily with womxn over 40. In the past 2 years I’ve been focusing a lot on the natural hormonal transition that every body with ovaries eventually goes through – pre-peri-post menopause.
What I’ve learned through coaching, teaching and my own experience is that once we start to make that transition, there’s not a lot out there culturally, medically, beauty-or-fitness-wise or even socially in this country to support us through the changes we’ll face. (Read more about what I call “the menopause gap” HERE).
My own process with the transition this past year has been pretty radically affected by my breast cancer medications (they put me into medical menopause in a matter of weeks and then amped up the symptoms). As a result, I’ve been asking friends, clients, medical specialists and others what products they recommend for the myriad of issues that have come up – from hot flashing to dry sagging skin to brain fog.
Without setting out to, I’ve spent the year testing a wide array of different support products and practices. I now have a damn fine list of “best of’s” that I want to share with you – for your own use, or for gifting to the beautiful person in your life who may be facing some of these challenges right now.*
To make the list, in addition to actually working, the products had to be safe, natural, gentle and special or unique. Also, none of the products could be “anti-aging” in theme. I am firmly pro-age and a few of these products beautifully celebrate us by helping womxn really shine in midlife.
Though my primary goal has been to find the most effective products, I have prioritized womxn, queer and Black-owned businesses when possible. Also of note is the fact that none of these products contains any actual hormones, so they are all perfectly safe for use by the breast cancer survivor in your life <3
To cool hot flashes:
Wrap Me Cool Scarves (womxn-owned)
Unbelievably effective “cooling” scarves in 2 sizes and tons of colors. You simply dip the 100% cotton scarves in some cool water, squeeze out and wear – no drips or wet spots, just subtle, efficient, stylish cool.
Pause Hot Flash Cooling Mist (queer, womxn-owned)
The Pause Hot Flash Cooling Mist instantly cools and calms to assist in relieving menopausal hot flashes. By providing the feeling of lowering the body’s surface temperature for at least 20 minutes, the light, use-anywhere mist also helps reduce redness and evaporate sweat without disturbing makeup or staining clothes. Each little bottle packs 300 sprays, so it lasts awhile. You shouldn’t use it on super-dry or rosacea-active skin, but you spray it on your neck, chest and back so that’s generally not an issue.
LGBTQ+ advocate and Pause Well-Aging founder, Rochelle Weitzner is invested not only in great product development, but in reforming the beauty industry to be more inclusive.
Slumber Cloud Cooling Sheets (and other bed gear)
Several companies promise that their sheets are cooling, but these guys actually deliver. Based on in-depth research (and partnering with the same technology company that helps NASA astronauts regulate their temperatures in space -!), they’ve developed bed linens to help alleviate night sweats and overheating. They aren’t cheap, but they wear well and should last for many years. I like the original Stratus sheet set.
A dry, re-freezable, washable-fabric-covered cold pack, its moldable shape sits easily around your neck for about 25 minutes of deep cooling. It’s very “low tech”, but actually works quite well. They claim that cooling the back of your neck helps reset the body’s core temperature. I don’t know if that’s sound science or not, but this simple pack has helped me cool off in a pinch many, many times this year.
This is a tiny, rechargeable, portable fan that you can point at yourself to cool down without affecting anyone else in the room. I’ve been known to just plop it in my lap watching a movie when the heat hits. I carry it around with me – into my office and bedroom – to quickly cool myself off if I’m sitting down for awhile. It has a function to add water or ice, but that gets things pretty wet and I haven’t found it necessary very often – just the air movement is usually enough.
To care for skin changes:
Boom Skincare and Cosmetics (womxn-owned)
I’ll admit it, I’m a little obsessed with these products. Founded by Cindy Joseph, they claim to be the first pro-age cosmetic and skin care line for women of every generation. Having owned an “almost edible skincare” company myself for a few years, I’m very familiar with the benefits and challenges of all natural skincare. When my skin changed almost overnight with menopause, these products came to the rescue in beautiful ways.
My favorites are the moisturizer Boomsilk and the Boomstick Trio of Glo moisturizer, Color and Glimmer. Boomsilk is now the only thing I use on my face, body, feet, cuticles – everywhere! It is gentle and deeply moisturizing, effective on all my skin – like a little miracle.
The Trio is a portable “kit” of everything you need for a gorgeous face. Traditional foundation, powder and even lipsticks tend to start to cake on older skin, emphasizing every line and wrinkle. This stuff is so light and sheer that it just moisturizes, highlights and gives a little glow to your face.
I’m not a makeup person, but I am in love with this stuff! It lifts and quietly elevates my natural look. And one of the coolest features is that the color is so sheer that it works with nearly every skin tone – pale cream to chocolate brown. It can be a contour tool, blush, lipstick – works anywhere you could use a little extra “rosy”.
Marble Body Brush by Gilded (Black, womxn-owned)
An award-winning body brush, each lovely piece is handmade with a marble base and natural bristles. If you’re not familiar with dry brushing, it’s an ancient technique utilized by many cultures to exfoliate and renew the skin. It also stimulates lymph circulation, which is gently detoxifying for the whole body. These little pieces of art come in a few different colors and work wet or dry.
This is one inexpensive option for this product, but it’s available from many sources. I love using the roller on face, neck and décolleté for cooling hot skin, reducing puffiness and redness, and stimulating collagen production. It can be used with or without a facial moisturizer. Bonus tip: keep it in the fridge for an extra soothing chill.
To help balance moodiness:
Herbal Blend Mini Trio Pack by Baribari (womxn-owned)
These amazing elixir mixes can be steeped as tea, smoked as herbal spliffs, or burned loose as a simple incense. This mini-pack is a great way to sample their 3 signature blends: Airplane Mode to chill out, Muse to get creative and Car Sex for a lovely lift.
As a bonus, this company also features and supports the FPP: “The Family Preservation Project (FPP) promotes individual and system level change to reduce the collateral consequences of parental incarceration on children, families, and the community. FPP achieves this through direct service programs including: family reunification, education resources, incarcerated parent & child bonding initiatives, and connecting families with community-based resources for financial and employment success.”
Lotuswei Flower Essences (womxn-owned) (Use this link for $15 off your first order!)
I’m not quite sure how to capture in a short blurb all the things these products can do for you. While on the surface they may seem “light touch”, I’ve found them to be revolutionary change-makers in my own life. Founder Katie Hess is an intuitive who speaks the language of flowers and is able to translate their energy into potent oral elixirs and fragrances in different forms. She’s developed a broad product line over the years, and I’d advise you to use your intuition about which one to choose. I’ve generally found that the right thing “calls out” to me at the right time.
For my own challenging year of cancer treatment and medical menopause, I felt particularly supported by the Self Heal Elixir and the Open Heart Mist.
Mason Noir Wines (Black-owned)
If you appreciate a relaxing glass of wine now more than ever, enjoy your visit to this funky and interesting wine collection created by talented sommelier André Hueston Mack.
To gently satisfy sweet cravings:
I’ve found that watching my sugars improves my menopause symptoms. As I still love chocolate and have a major sweet tooth, I’ve been on the hunt for different treats that scratch that itch without leaving me feeling lousy later. Here are 3 of my faves:
Built Bars (Use this link for 30% off your first order!)
Technically these are protein bars, but they’re so yummy and come in so many flavors they can be used as candy (candy that is low-calorie, low-sugar and balanced in macros, that is!!) Head’s up that they aren’t vegan, sadly. But if you aren’t vegan, you should definitely give them a try. Bonus tip: chop and freeze the peanut butter to give frozen Snickers a run for its money.
This company regularly sells out of many of its products because they offer the unique combination of great tasting chocolates without the sugar, but also without the sugar alcohols (that can cause some, ahem, gastric distress). They offer milk, white and dark chocolate candies, and right now they’re giving away a free Advent calendar with orders over $34.99.
This radiant, hand-ground, single-origin, eco-forested cacao is blended with organic, ethically sourced ashwagandha, maca and warming spices to make the perfect cocoa for bringing on a sweet psychic calm while soothing a chocolate jones. I like to melt and whisk it into a little hot almond milk with a squirt of sweetener (current sugar-free fave: NuStevia Chocolate Syrup) and a shot of ginger juice (I just grate fresh ginger and squeeze it into the cup with my hand) – SO satisfying on chilly days.
Bonus: The company pledges a 10% net profit giveback to support programs like their Youth Trade Skill Program to “empower young men and women with skills, support and work, providing them an adults salary to be trained in permaculture design, building, growing, agro-forestry, and youth leadership skills.”
For eyesight changes:
I lost a LOT of my close-up vision this year. Vision loss is something that can sharply worsen with the start of menopause. With a Kindle e-reader, I can blow up the font on any book to a readable size and don’t need to use reading glasses. I love this. There are several models, but right now, Amazon is running a special on the less expensive, older Paperwhite model – twice the storage and now waterproof (an excellent feature if you like to read while relaxing [or cooling down!] in the tub.)
If you can’t or don’t care to invest in an e-reader, these funky purple readers are inexpensive, travel anywhere in their super-slim case, and have a blue light filter for easing your eyes while staring at screens!
For vaginal changes:
Vaginal dryness and atrophy are something almost no one wants to talk about, but most people with ovaries have to face after menopause. Thankfully there are some innovative new products that can help address the challenges.
This silicone lube with vitamin E is perfectly slick, unscented, works underwater, doesn’t break down latex, doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind, doesn’t harm healthy bacteria and comes in a glass bottle – no plastic.
In their own words “Foria is an innovative health & sexual wellness company, rooted in the wisdom of plants and powered by compassion. Our all natural cannabis and hemp formulas have been changing lives since 2013.” Using high-quality hemp from an organic, biodynamic and regenerative farm and 100% organic, plant-based ingredients, they craft a unique line of products to ease pain and enhance arousal and sexual intimacy, including CBD suppositories to relax painful vaginal muscles and Awaken Arousal Oil to support the flagging libido that can come with menopause.
Bonus: Though not queer-owned, Foria has partnered with a savvy group of queer educators and influencers for its “School of Unlearning” – an initiative designed to deconstruct harmful myths around both sex and sexuality.
This product was recommended to me by a menopause doc at the Dana Farber Institute. It’s not a lube, but a moisturizer designed to help slow some of the painful vaginal changes resulting from menopause. On the upside, it’s non-hormonal and contains no parabens. On the downside, it’s pricey.
I know all three of these “intimacy” products, and especially this one, are awkward gift ideas unless you’re an intimate partner, lol. But I believe it’s important to talk openly about these perfectly natural issues and at least share about potential resources with folx in our circles.
Because they’re awesome (esp for cooking geeks 🙂 )
Okay, this one is a stretch as a menopause-related product, but honestly, it’s my favorite kitchen toy in years! And the truth is, after the kids moved out, my recipes didn’t magically scale down for a family of half the size. I still make full batches of my favorite soups, stews, beans, etc. But it’s too much for just me and my partner to eat. Souper Cubes to the rescue! I make a full soup recipe, then freeze half in the 1-cup servings – pour it in hot, chill completely in the fridge, seal and freeze. Then pop out the cubes and store in Ziplocs – 8 to a gallon-sized bag.
I’d love to hear about any products you think should get added to this list! You can make a comment right here or jump in to our free private women’s support group dedicated to living well through and beyond menopause.
Join Flower Fire – a Fresh Vision for Over-40 Women
Let the heat burn off what no longer serves and power your Rise…
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I may also receive a small amount of credit if you purchase a product through two of the non-Amazon links. But know that I only ever endorse products I really believe in, have tried myself, and think you and your circle will love too.