It has long been established that what happens inside your body has an external effect on your skin. When you are drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep each night, your skin is overall pretty happy. However, if you are dehydrated, consume a lot of junk food and do not sleep well, you will usually see the following effects on your skin Acne outbreaks, hives, and bruises or eczema.
However, did you know that your mental state can also have a huge impact on your skin? In other words, stress can really have a negative impact on your complexion. And in times like these, when uncertainty is the norm and stress levels are high, your skin could be feeling the effects of your current situation.
"It's well-documented that stress has a detrimental effect on the skin," says Joshua Draftsman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "Stress delays wound healing, impairs the skin barrier, and promotes inflammation." He explains that stress is associated with worsening of skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea. The same hormones that prepare our bodies to cope with stressful environments also stimulate our sebaceous glands and cause inflammation in hair follicles, which can lead to acne outbreaks.
So what is the exact cause of our skin's response to stress? It all starts with a hormone called cortisol. "Cortisol is our body's primary stress hormone," says Dr. Zeichner. "It helps our body break down sugar to give us energy as part of the fight or flight response. To prepare the body for a stressful environment, blood moves from the skin to the muscles.
But when your cortisol levels go up, it stimulates inflammaging , breaks down collagen, causes acne and rashes, and breaks down the skin barrier. While a spike in cortisol is great for fight or flight situations, it is not healthy for levels to remain elevated for long periods of time. Therefore, in order to help reduce the effects of cortisol on the skin, you should do what you can to reduce your stress and therefore your cortisol levels.
It may sound obvious, but anything that helps you live a less stressful life is beneficial. Getting fresh air, exercising, having sex, doing yoga, meditating, and other activities can help relieve stress. Dr. Zeichner also recommends avoiding junk food. "High blood sugar has been shown to promote skin inflammation, which can exacerbate the effects of stress on the skin," he says.
And at the end of the day, if you're still feeling stressed and can't avoid having your skin burst, there are a few products that can help. Read on for a few of our favorites.
"The goal of a cleanser is to cleanse the skin without compromising the integrity of the skin barrier itself," says Dr. Zeichner. "Some harsh cleansers can strip the skin and cause skin barrier dysfunction." If you prefer bar soap, try Herbivore's Emerald 50mg Cleansing Soap Bar, which contains organic CBD, hemp oil, and kaolin clay to soothe, nourish, and purify your skin. For an oil cleanser, Tatcha's Pure One-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil contains oleic acid and a mixture of vitamins and omegas. These are rich in antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental stresses. Additionally, you can use the oil to massage your face and relieve muscle tension. For a wet cleanser, Summer Fridays Super Amino Gel Cleanser is a gentle, nourishing cleanser that balances your skin's pH and releases impurities, but won't strip your skin of its natural oils.
"Look for soothing, calming products to address sensitized, stressed skin," says Dr. Zeichner. He recommends KateSomerville DeliKate Recovery Serum, which provides high levels of restorative ceramides and fatty acids to repair the outer skin layer. (He says he thinks of them as "grout to fill in the gaps between skin cell tiles.") Also available is Dr. DennisGross Skincare Stress Rescue Super Serum, a hero product, with niacinamide and B3 to support lipid barrier function and help skin retain moisture.
3. Nighttime moisturizer
"Night creams are important because the skin's hydration levels drop in the afternoon," Dr. Zeichner explains. "When the skin is stressed and the barrier is broken down, the dryness can get even worse." He recommends looking for ingredients that help the skin retain moisture, such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Dr. Jart + Ceramidin Cream or DrunkElephant's LalaRetro Whipped Moisturizer with Ceramides , both of which support the skin barrier and protect against moisture and moisture loss.
There are a variety of treatments that can help combat signs of stress to the skin. Retinol is known as an anti-aging ingredient, but it can also be helpful for those prone to stress-related changes in skin oiliness, dryness, and congestion. Sunday Riley's A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum or Shanny Darden's Retinol Reform. If stress manifests itself in the form of acne outbreaks, Alleyoop's Spot Me works wonders for all kinds of bumps and blemishes, including acne and ingrown hairs. And for an anytime, anywhere treatment, LL Skin MIO2 can be applied before or after skincare, right after cleansing, or any time the skin needs a little massaging.
As with treatments, masks can help address inflammation caused by stress. Depending on the type of problem you are having, look for a mask that will help purify or calm your skin. Alpin Beauty's Calming Midnight Mask calms irritated skin with melatonin, detoxifies with wild dandelion, and is made to be applied overnight while you sleep. For a wash-off mask, Glossier's Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, which removes excess oil, or Glamglow's Supermud, removes impurities from the skin.
6. Eye mask
"The skin under your eyes is the thinnest and most sensitive on your body, so it's at the highest risk for dryness, irritation, and even swelling," says Dr. Zeichner. He adds, "Soothing eye masks can help you relax. "Soothing eye masks are great for stress because they have a relaxing, calming effect on both the skin and the mind." Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift Firm Hydra-Gel Eye Patch or Patchology Flash Patch Rejuvenating Eye Gel.
7. Lip repair
Last but not least, you can't forget your lips. "Stress can mean nail biting and lip biting, and can cause dryness and cracking on the lips themselves," Dr. Zeichner explains. To provide lasting hydration to your lips, choose a lip product that is more like a mask. Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm or Bite Beauty Agave + Intensive Lip Mask, both of which use nectar, butter, and other natural extracts to smooth lips These are vegan products.