What Stress Does To The Skin + 4 Tips To Combat It
Remember that scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where the Grinch throws mail into the wrong mailboxes? In doing so, he recites: “Jury duty, jury duty, pink slip, eviction notice, jury duty...” Well, yeah, that basically was an introduction to the hardships of adulthood for most of us (especially in 2020). So, if your life has been seeming a bit too much like this scene and resulting in less than ideal complexions, allow us to review the physical signs of stress on your skin and give you tips to improve them today.
How does stress start within the body?
Before we get into the way stress impacts your skin and causes your glow to fade, let’s quickly review how stress goes from being external to internal.
The first thing to know is that stress comes about from outside stimuli — running late due to traffic, missed credit card payments, forgetting a friend’s birthday, or getting into a fight with your S.O. As a result of this trigger, your body sends a signal to your brain’s hypothalamus, where it's told to release stress hormones.
Once it does that, you exhibit the common stress-related symptoms: racing heart, sweaty palms, flushed face, etc.
This system was put in place for our ancestors who literally had to fight or flee in the face of an enemy. Our bodies now do this for everyday stressors and have a hard time turning them off when the stress is prolonged (as is the case with many of the above triggers).
What This Does To Your Skin
Now, while this was all well-and-good when our ancestors were facing life or death situations, this (hopefully) isn’t the case in modern day. Constant arguments with your S.O, while painful, won’t kill you.
Prolonged stress can raise cortisol levels inside your body which are tied to inflammation. This, in turn, leads to myriad issues since the mind-skin connection is so strong.
This increase in cortisol levels results in…
An overproduction of sebum, resulting in clogged pores, and thus breakouts.
A rise in inflammation within the body, resulting in a weakened immune system that can trigger skin issues like hives or rashes.
An increase in flare ups of autoimmune diseases.
As you can see, not great things.
So, how can you overcome the stressors + their impact on your skin?
Glad you asked. If you’re reading this and you’re shaking your head because you too experience stress daily in some form, allow us to go over a few tips to soothe your soul (and skin).
Get outside + move
We’d say head to a gym and exercise, but given current times, it’s a bit hard to do that. So, instead, we invite you to go out into nature and walk, or run, or bike — literally go do something. This helps do two things: 1) Exercise helps to boost dopamine levels, which decreases the presence of cortisol in the body, and 2) Nature is self-soothing and allows us to practice mindfulness.
Keep up with your skincare ritual
On days that it seems the hardest to do, you should still do it. Keeping up with your skincare ritual on the most stressful or trying days is key to helping ward off some of the physical signs of stress on skin.
For instance, ingredients like Clary Sage Oil (found in the 03 Midnight In Corsica Face Oil) are shown to help decrease inflammation and reduce breakouts. So, even if you can’t get your body’s stress response under wraps, you can help your skin’s microbiome chill out a bit.
Maintain A Clean Diet
While we can write a lot on this one, let’s be clear: eating clean is always good for your skin and body (whether stressed or not). That said, added sugars from processed foods will only further trigger inflammation in the body, potentially leading to acne, puffiness, rashes, etc. Swap out fake sugars with fruit and avoid junk food at all costs when stressed.
Here’s a little treat to indulge when your hormones trick you into wanting comfort foods during times of stress:
> Medjool date
> Cut in half, and pit it.
> Tiny scoop of peanut butter
> Drizzle with agave syrup
> Sprinkle with cinnamon
Sweet, delicious and skin-friendly.
Don’t be hard on yourself
The last point here is to not be hard on yourself. Stressing about stress is the silliest thing you can do! Acknowledge the situation, breathe in and remind yourself, “This too shall pass.” We often like to ask ourselves, “What does this teach me?,” and find a solution to the problem that way.
Feel free to email us if you have any stress-related skincare questions. We’re here to help!!