This past year has been stressful – that’s a given. And our minds and bodies have really noticed the strain. Cue lethargy, anxiety, digestive issues, and even physical pain. But how is your skin doing?
As the largest organ of our bodies, it makes sense that skin is one of the key receptors of stress and strain. We know factors such as air pollution, toxins and extremes of temperature are damaging, but suffering from a heightened emotional state can also present an issue to the skin’s barrier.
BUT WHAT ACTUALLY IS STRESSED SKIN, AND HOW CAN WE IDENTIFY WHEN OUR OWN SKIN NEEDS SUPPORT?
Symptoms of stress on the skin can include burning, stinging and tightness, plus signs such as redness, dryness and peeling. It may seem bizarre that such physical reactions can be sparked by our mental health, and that’s why symptoms of stressed skin can often be misdiagnosed.
For some, new symptoms connected with stress might be immediately obvious, while others may experience an unexplained skin flareup. Prolonged stress has been linked to many common skin issues and can be both the cause of onset of a condition, or an aggravator to existing problems.
IS THERE A WAY TO PREVENT STRESSED SKIN?
Other than dodging the initial cause of stress, which in the current climate, is easier said than done,
“IT MAY SEEM BIZARRE THAT SUCH PHYSICAL REACTIONS CAN BE SPARKED BY OUR MENTAL HEALTH, AND THAT’S WHY SYMPTOMS OF STRESSED SKIN CAN OFTEN BE MISDIAGNOSED. ”
— Dr. Miriam
THESE ARE OUR SIX SKIN-SOOTHING STEPS.
Add ‘recovery’ to your routine
When feeling anxious and tired, taking off our makeup can feel like a chore, but cleansing is even more important when feeling stressed. Strained skin will already be compromised, so try to remove your makeup and cleanse your face as early in the evening as possible, as this will give skin longer to actively repair.
Keep skincare consistent
It’s important to realise that it takes at least 3 skin cycles (4 months) to see the benefits of a consistent skincare routine so don’t switch it up too much. If possible, use actives – anything that contains Niacinamide should be beneficial as this stabilises your skin’s barrier function and increases hydration levels.
Turn to the right tools
When used in conjunction with a solid skincare routine, relaxation techniques such as facial massage using GuaSha tools are perfect for winding down with. Not only can it reduce inflammation caused by stress, but alongside a good skincare routine, it can also promote a range of visible benefits, such as brighter, firmer skin.
Eat your greens
A balanced diet is so important to the wellbeing of your skin. Stress is a contributing factor behind a weak gut-skin connection; it disrupts the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can cause inflammatory conditions such as acne and eczema, to flare up. If you’re struggling to balance your diet, adding supplements to your diet will give your system that much needed boost.
Clock up the zzz’s
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason and extended periods without sleep can result in premature ageing. During our sleeping hours, the body’s cortisol levels drop, which allows skin to regenerate. Consistently high cortisol levels can begin to impact how our bodies heal, leading to an increase in inflammation, and potential breakouts of acne. Cortisol also breaks down collagen, which is responsible for keeping skin healthy.
Avoid alcohol. That goes for wine and skincare
In times of turmoil, avoiding chemical depressants (aka alcohol) is understandably a good idea. And when skin is showing signs of strife, check your skincare labels for the unwanted ingredient as well. Avoid products with alcohol as this can trigger skin sensitivity. Instead, opt for gentle, calming cleansers and moisturisers that contain soothing ingredients such as jojoba oil, shea butter, and squalene.