How stress affects the skin
We often hear about the harmful effects stress can have on our physical and mental wellbeing, but did you know that it can also impact the health of your skin at a cellular level?
A growing body of evidence shows that there is a direct link between how you feel on the inside and how you look on the outside. Therefore, understanding this complex connection is key to managing both.
With that in mind, here we will explore the science behind stress and skin, highlight common stress-related skin conditions and provide strategies for reducing stress and repairing stressed skin.
Understanding the stress response
To understand how stress affects our skin, we first need to understand the body's stress response. When we perceive a threat or experience a challenging situation, our brain activates the "fight or flight" response, releasing chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol – commonly referred to as the "stress hormone." While this response is beneficial in short bursts, chronic stress can have a variety of negative effects on our skin and overall health.
How stress affects the skin
Increased inflammation: Stress can cause an increase in inflammation, making the skin more prone to pigmentation, rashes, wrinkles and other signs of ageing.
Weakened immune system: Stress can suppress the body's immune system, making it harder for the skin to heal from damage or fight infection.
Damaged skin barrier: Stress can impair the skin's natural barrier function, making it more susceptible to environmental irritants and allergens.
Common stress-related skin conditions
Acne is a common skin issue that can be aggravated by stress. When cortisol levels rise, so does the production of sebum (oil) in the skin. This excess oil, combined with dead skin cells, can clog pores and cause breakouts.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterised by red, itchy patches. Stress can exacerbate eczema by weakening the skin's barrier and triggering inflammation.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to grow rapidly, leading to thick, scaly patches. Stress can worsen psoriasis by increasing inflammation and suppressing the immune system.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes facial redness, visible blood vessels, and sometimes acne-like bumps. Stress can trigger rosacea flare-ups by increasing inflammation and dilating blood vessels.
Skincare to help care for stressed skin
In addition to managing your stress levels, a skincare routine that contains scientifically proven ingredients can also help prevent and manage stress-related skin issues. Niacinamide, which appears in our After Shaving Moisturiser, is particularly effective and works by reducing sebum production, which is often a contributing factor to acne.
Prolonged stress can weaken the skin's barrier function, increasing transepidermal water loss and impairing the production of essential lipids and proteins. An intensive Night Cream helps by providing skin with essential nutrients and moisture, repairing damage, and protecting against environmental stressors, resulting in smoother, stronger, and more radiant skin.
During periods of stress, inflammation can make the skin feel irritated and sensitive. To counter this, look for ingredients known to have calming or soothing properties. The lab-grown CBG in our Face Serum is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, soothing stressed skin and combatting damage from UV rays and urban pollution that may further exacerbate sensitised skin.
Self-care plays an essential role in managing stress-related skin issues. Aromatherapy, for example, is a simple way to activate the body's parasympathetic nervous system. Try inhaling the lavender scent of our Nourishing Face Oil before applying, or light the chamomile candle in our Gift Sets while at home.
Using SPF is crucial as ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause oxidative stress, exacerbating pre-existing skin issues. Research has shown that formulations like our SPF25 Rejuvenating Day Cream can prevent photoaging, minimise blue light damage and reduce inflammation, making it a crucial part of any skincare routine.Shop skincare
Strategies for reducing stress
Regular physical activity can help lower stress levels by releasing endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals. Aim for around 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, incorporating activities such as walking, swimming or yoga.
Prioritise getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to give your body and mind time to recover from daily stressors. Establish a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine, and create a relaxing sleep environment by keeping the room cool, dark and quiet.
Deep, controlled breaths can help calm your nervous system and reduce stress. Try inhaling for four counts, holding for two, and exhaling for six. Repeat this process for several minutes to promote relaxation.
A balanced diet is vital to maintaining stable energy levels and improving your overall wellbeing. Focus on consuming nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit caffeine and sugar intake, as they can contribute to increased stress and anxiety.
Incorporate mindfulness meditation into your daily routine to increase self-awareness, focus and relaxation. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your breath, allowing thoughts to come and go.