It’s a fairly common adage that beauty starts from within. That’s why when things aren’t in tip-top shape in your body and mind — like when your body suffers from chronic stress — your body will reflect in the state of your skin. All of which makes sense, since your skin is your body’s largest organ. External issues such as rosacea, psoriasis, and acne can worsen when your body is under real stress. Read on for how you can combat the negative toll stress can have on your complexion.
The Effect of Stress on Your Skin
Your body is well adapted to respond to changes in your psychological state, such as stress, anxiety, and depression by engaging the sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. This upcharge in cortisol can cause an increase in oil production, which can lead to major breakouts and clogged pores.
“Hormones also become unbalanced by excessive stress, chronic disease, and poor dietary habits,” says Dr. Zenovia. “Visible changes in our skin health are one of the first indicators of a hormone imbalance.” These hormonal fluctuations triggered by stress, combined with bacteria and inflammation, trigger the production of sebum, which leads to the formation of pimples. “Excess oils on the skin and hair follicles provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and clogged follicles,” adds Dr. Zenovia.
Additionally, if you’re under long-term chronic stress or other mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, your body will also be under a constant state of inflammation, especially to the gut-skin connection, triggering flare-ups in most skin conditions. “Acne, psoriasis, and eczema are the three most common skin conditions that tend to flare up with elevated stress levels,” says Dr. Zenovia.
What You Can do Curb the Negative Effect of Stress on Your Skin
The lower half of the cheeks, the chin, and the jawline region are the most common areas for hormonal breakouts, which can be triggered by stress. This is because there is a higher density of sebaceous glands in these areas. “In order to keep sebum production under control at the sebaceous gland level, a combination of acne-fighting topicals with a hormonal effect, stress reduction techniques, and following a healthy diet can help prevent hormonal acne,” says Dr. Zenovia. “Practicing mindfulness and meditation are great ways to help achieve a sense of inner-calm during stressful times. Go for walks outside and breathe in the fresh air. Stay grounded and remain calm.”
Skincare is also a wonderful way to practice self-care and remaining calm. “Taking the time to take care of your skin daily can be helpful for your overall health and well-being. In times of stress and uncertainty, self-care can be a way to relax and stay balanced,” adds Dr. Zenovia. “Taking care of yourself will allow you to better take care of others! A morning personal care ritual can help you wake you up and mentally prepare for the day ahead, while a nighttime routine can help you unwind and get your body ready for sleep.”
In addition, a balanced diet that includes superfoods such as lycopenes (tomatoes), vitamin C (citrus fruits), green tea (such as matcha), blueberries and walnuts, can help curb the oxidative damage of stress in our cells, which can lead to premature aging and loss of collagen and elastin. And lastly, sleep! “It’s the most restorative thing we can do for our bodies and our skin. It decreases stress, lowers inflammation, and regenerates our cells.”
Written by Mellanie Perez, Freelance Writer & Editor