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Stressed Out Skin Management

Don't let stress take control of your skin.
Don’t let stress take control of your skin.

Every day we encounter millions of stimuli that require our responses, so stress is inevitable. How we respond to it, however, is a choice. Unfortunately, we usually do not take the time to think about our options; we just react. For instance, think about what happens when your phone rings…do you take a second to look who’s calling and what your options are? Probably not. Most of the time we exercise something like a Pavlovian response—the phone rings, we answer.

That unconscious reacting is what makes us feel like our lives are so out of control, and that I’m-too-busy way of life is reflected in our skin health. There are five common signs that your skin is feeling as stressed out as you are, but, luckily, simple changes and additions to your skin care regimen can help you manage the effects of stress on your skin.

Skin Stress Indicator #1: Dryness

If your skin has flaky and/or scaly patches, feels tight (especially when you wiggle your nose or raise your eyebrows) or looks dull, you are seeing and feeling the effects of dryness.

Why It Happens: Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” negatively impacts your skin’s ability to retain water, leaving your cells parched.

What You Can Do about It: You can nourish dry skin from inside and outside by:

  • Consuming adequate amounts of water to give your body the raw materials it needs to replenish moisture. (Tip: eating your water in fresh fruits and vegetables more effectively replenishes moisture at the cellular level.)
  • Washing your face with a gentle (i.e. neutral or alkaline pH) cleanser.
  • Washing your face with lukewarm water to minimize evaporative water loss at your skin’s surface
  • Moisturizing your face while skin is still damp to lock in moisture

Skin Stress Indicator #2: Fine Lines

Of course your face has to crease to accommodate muscle movements, but those creases should all but disappear when muscles are relaxed. Crow’s feet, smile lines and a creased brow when you’re face is at rest are signs of stress.

Why It Happens: The hormones involved in the “fight or flight” stress response increase blood sugar levels to provide more energy to muscles. However, the increased blood sugar levels also increase the rate of glycation—the process by which sugar molecules bond to other compounds, like collagen and elastin fibers. The breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers means that your skin is less plump, firm or resilient.

What You Can Do about It: Injections—fillers or Botox—can make fine lines almost disappear immediately (but temporarily), but you can also diminish fine lines by fighting the glycation process. Antioxidants like vitamins A (retinol), C and E bind to sugar compounds, rendering them harmless to your collagen and elastin fibers, helping your retain your skin’s natural firm texture and fullness. Serums, like our Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid serum, and thick moisturizers usually make the best antioxidant delivery vehicles.

Skin Stress Indicator #3: Redness

A flushed face is a flustered face. Stress has even been shown to exacerbate rosacea.

Why It Happens: Because the stress response involves increasing blood flow, capillaries below thin skin, like the delicate skin on your face, are near-bursting (or possibly even bursting) with the rush, making you appear ruddier.

What You Can Do about It: Incorporating calming skin care products into your daily regimen can help relieve some of the redness. Look for moisturizers with aloe barbadensis, licorice root extract, oatmeal and/or other naturally soothing ingredients.

Skin Stress Indicator #4: Acne

Acne can take many forms from easy-to-cover blackheads or whiteheads to more painful (and, unfortunately, more noticeable) cysts.

Why It Happens: Cortisol and other hormones released as part of the stress response are pro-inflammatories—they increase blood flow to damaged tissues to speed healing. But when you are under chronic stress, your body is over-taxed and just finish the work of repairing damaged tissues or fighting off pathogens.

What You Can Do about It: Adult acne is proving more difficult to treat topically, meaning effective and lasting treatment has to come from the inside out and may require more intensive stress management strategies and/or nutritional consultation to balance hormones. However, you can minimize exacerbating acne with a skin care regimen that effectively but gently exfoliates. Salicylic acid encourages quicker cell turnover and, as a pro-drug to aspirin, is naturally anti-inflammatory. You can also limit poor-clogging potential by using non-comedogenic skin care products.

Skin Stress Indicator #5: Tired Eyes

Stress often means sleepless nights, and sleepless nights mean puffy and dark eyes.

Why It Happens: Sleep gives our bodies the time to rejuvenate. Without it, our tissues are not able to repair themselves, replenish moisture and nutrients, and for skin as sensitive and delicate as that under-eye, the effects of compromised restoration become visible much more quickly.

What You Can Do about It: The best solution is to get more (and more restful sleep). But to minimize the appearance of sleep deprivation, eye creams or gels that help tone and thicken delicate under-eye skin can help you appear more bright-eyed. (However, visible results from eye creams are often not seen for a few weeks.)

Wearing the signs of stress can make you feel even more stressed. Hale Cosmeceuticals has the quality skin care products you need to help rejuvenate your skin so that you can recapture your radiant, youthful glow…that fresh-face that gives you the confidence to tackle your day rather than dread it!

For help finding the right products for your skin type and skin care goals, contact us!


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