How Stress Affects Your Skin and How to Resolve It
Have you ever had spots appear or experienced dry flakey skin when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed?
We don’t always think about how stress may be affecting our skin until we are literally staring at the results in the mirror. Pimples, dry skin, wrinkles, rosacea and dull skin can all be a direct result of experiencing stress.
When we are stressed our body releases the hormone cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone designed to keep us safe from harm. Cortisol sends a message to our body to shut down non-vital functions so it can focus on survival. The real problem occurs when we experience elevated levels of cortisol over a period of time.
High cortisol levels lead to a breakdown of many functions in the body:
- Sugar levels in the blood are increased forming advanced glycation end products (shortened to AGEs). AGEs cause a breakdown in vital proteins for skin health like collagen and elastin.
- High cortisol levels dramatically decrease the skin’s ability to produce hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer, which can lead to dry skin and wrinkles.
- Cortisol can also cause an increase in oil production, which leads to oily skin, acne and breakouts.
- There is a breakdown in the skin’s protective barrier[i], leaving your skin susceptible to rosacea, rashes, infection and inflamed acne[ii].
As you can see, cortisol and stress wreak havoc on our skin. But how can we prevent the effects of stress and repair any damage that has occurred? The good news is that we can take a holistic approach to heal and protect our skin.
A diet that is anti-inflammatory and high in nutrients will hydrate your skin from the inside out and support the healing process. Eat organic food as much as possible and include plenty of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables—colorful vegetables, dark leafy greens, sea vegetables and low sugar fruits like berries are all wonderful.
It is also important to focus on gut health. A damaged gut can lead to nutrient deficiencies and inflammation in the body, which shows up on your skin. Consume plenty of probiotic rich foods like coconut water kefir or milk kefir, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and organic yoghurt.
By consulting a holistic practitioner you can determine which supplements will be most beneficial for you. However, everyone’s skin can benefit from including the following supplements in their diet:
Often called the Fountain of Youth, this important amino acid promotes muscle strength and strong bones. In addition, it also helps to heal the lining of the gut wall. By supplementing with L-glutamine your body won’t have to use up its own stores (which decrease with age), which can result in muscle weakness and dry skin.
Oral collagen supplements can help to smooth and firm the appearance of your skin. Look for supplements that also include hyaluronic acid and astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant.
Chlorella and Spirulina
Chlorella is a powerful algae, which acts as an internal cleanser, binding to toxins, protecting your cells and neutralizing free radicals[iii]. Less toxins results in clearer skin. Spirulina is a blue-green algae and a nutritional powerhouse. This nutrient-dense food contains essential amino acids, iron, protein, B vitamins and vitamins C, D and E. A true nutrient boost for your skin.
Mindfulness and Relaxation
By actively managing our stress levels we can dramatically improve the quality of our skin. Deep breathing calms our nervous system and reduces stress levels. By practicing mindfulness we can bring our focus into the present moment, easing worry and tension. Physical exercise, yoga and walks in nature are all activities that bring balance to our system, improving our ability to cope with daily stressors. Less stress means clearer, more youthful-looking skin.
Your skin will require specific nutrients and ingredients designed to calm any inflammation and provide extra hydration. Use a high-quality, non-toxic skincare with botanical and natural ingredients that rejuvenate your skin.
Antioxidant rich oils, like Marula Oil, that are high in omega fatty acids can protect, heal and intensely hydrate your skin. The good news is that, thanks to these omega fatty acids (linoleic and oleic acids)Plant-based and natural ingredients will be kind to your skin and help it to heal, repair and soften.
Our skin is our largest organ and it will reflect our emotional and physical health. The best way to prevent and heal from the effects of stress is to make yourself a priority. Practice self-care daily with good nutrition, relaxation and exercise.
And importantly, honor yourself by using high-quality, botanical and natural skincare.
As always, it is important to do your own research to discover what approach works best for you.
The Luxe Botanics Team
Psychological stress perturbs epidermal permeability barrier homeostasis: implications for the pathogenesis of stress-associated skin disorders.
A nervous breakdown in the skin: stress and the epidermal barrier
Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich) Hochst. [‘Marula’] (Anacardiaceae): a review of its phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology and its ethnomedicinal uses.