Stress. It’s hard to avoid its effects – and we’re all aware of how damaging it can be to both our mind and body if we let it build up for too long.
But while we all know that it can affect us in many ways, our skin isn’t the first thing we think about when we consider the effects of a stressful lifestyle. Your face can be one of the areas that stress can really take a toll.
The effects of cortisol
Stress causes the body to make more of the hormone cortisol, and cortisol turns up production of oil in your sebaceous glands, which leads to clogged pores, breakouts and sometimes red, itchy patches on the cheeks and around the nose.
If you’re dealing with long term, chronic stress, it can have a really damaging effect on your skin. Along with the pore-clogging effects, too much cortisol also damages your skin’s ability to hold on to water, which can make it dehydrated and dull over time. So while you’re producing more oil and getting breakouts, under the surface your skin is thirsty and desperate for hydration.
No wonder stress takes such a toll on your looks. So what can you do to counteract the effects of stress and a busy lifestyle?
Skincare for stressed skin
Looking after your skin when you’re feeling the strain is vital if you don’t want to reflect all that tension in the mirror. Treat yourself to kind, good quality skincare products that won’t irritate your delicate skin any more than it already has been.
Simpler products with fewer, better quality ingredients should also have a lower pH which should help to calm down angry skin and sooth the dryness and inflammation.
Be gentle when you cleanse your face; don’t be tempted to attack the breakouts or oily areas with harsh products to strip the oils away, you’ll only make it worse.
If you wash with water, use lukewarm rather than hot to avoid stimulating oil production, and add a layer of soothing, hydrating moisturizer while your skin is damp as damp skin will trap moisture better.
Another effect of high levels of cortisol is raised blood sugar, which damages collagen and elastin.
Long term, you may lose some of your skin’s smoothness and plumpness, and when you combine this with the extra muscle tension that’s unavoidable when you get stressed, you start to get prone to wrinkles and lines.
Nip these in the bud by investing in skincare products that contain antioxidants combined with retinol to encourage collagen production and keep skin looking and feeling firmer.
It’s not always easy, but if you also learn to manage your stress levels, it will help more than just your skincare routine.
Take some time out for yourself; enjoy a massage or a beauty treatment. Just an hour or so away from it all that’s just for you can really help to de-stress you and if you need to justify it, think of it as saving money on skincare products in the future!