Skincare Tips

Here’s why your skin behaves badly when you’re stressed and what you can do about it!

Stressed skin & what you can do about it | blog |

It’s a Catch-22 situation. You’re stressed and it begins to show on your skin and that in turn stresses you out which wreaks more havoc on your skin. A Harvard report calls it a two way street between your brain and your skin andscience suggests that repeated exposure to psychological or environmental stressors can have lasting effects on your skin that go far beyond flushing — and could even negatively affect your overall well-being.”

That’s enough to get our attention and make sure we learn enough about the different ways we can avoid or minimise stress. 

So what’s the deal with not managing emotional, mental and physical pressures? Well, it triggers the production of cortisol andkey hormones in the fight-or-flight stress response called catecholamines, which can direct immune cells from the bloodstream into the skin or stimulate pro-inflammatory skin cells”. 

Did you know that even exposing your body to too much UV or extreme temperatures can do the same thing?

Cortisol in turn triggers inflammation that contributes to acne, breakouts, bumps and rashes. It also compromises the protective barrier of skin that helps retain moisture levels. And it destroys the amino acids in collagen - the scaffolding that keeps your skin elastic and plump.

With two types of stress - acute (e.g. upcoming deadline) and chronic (e.g. continued anxiety around Covid-19), it’s the longer term stress we should be most worried about. That type will shorten your telomeres, which are “the protective caps on the ends of [y]our chromosomes that affect how quickly [y]our cells age. 

Time also talks about a “stress-related hormone called CRH, or corticotrophin-releasing hormone, as one culprit. CRH can bind to receptors in the skin’s sebaceous glands, and that binding drives up the skin’s oil production — which can cause pimples.

But it's not all bad news for your skin. Here’s what can we do about it.

The best coping tools (and they’re free) are drinking more water, getting more sleep, taking more breaks throughout the day and making sure to do some form of weekly exercise to help you release the tension your body holds and help you relax. Even simple breathing exercises and meditation are effective.

Dr Neera Nathan recommends the same and other approaches too. She says, “Healthy lifestyle habits, including a well-balanced diet and exercise, may also help to regulate stress hormones in the body, which should in turn have positive effects for skin and hair.” 

When it comes to skincare, use products with ingredients that will help introduce water back into your skin like hyaluronic acid and squalane.

Retinol speeds up cell turnover so it takes quicker for those nasty breakouts to pass. You may be tempted to exfoliate more regularly to do the same but avoid irritating your skin either with mechanical or chemical action.