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How Stress Affects Our Skin

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Stress is a common human condition, and everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. And while you may think of being stressed as solely a mental state, that’s not true – stress can affect your entire body, including the health of your hair, skin, and nails. 

How Stress Affects Your Skin

Chronic stress has become a big health crisis in recent years with over half of all Americans reporting that stress has a negative impact on their lives, their behavior, and their wellbeing.

There is no doubt that stress takes a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical health. When we feel stressed, this sends a chemical reaction throughout our entire body. Most of us have experienced the immediate effects of stress like a headache, racing heart, or upset stomach. What you may not realize is that both short-term and long-term stress can even take a toll on the health and appearance of our skin.

Your body responds to changes in your psychological state; conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety can cause new skin issues to develop or existing skin issues to flare up. When you feel stressed, your sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your body. Cortisol causes increased oil production in your skin glands, which can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts. Chronic stress leads to constantly increased levels of these hormones and can have a negative effect on your skin health.

Additionally, psychological conditions cause increased internal inflammation. When your body perceives a threat, the immune system sends out a response to handle it – that response is inflammation. Usually, inflammation helps protect and heal our bodies from microbes and wounds, but a body under stress causes the immune system to overreact and send out an inflammatory response.

Stress can also cause inflammation through the gut-skin connection. Stress impacts the balance of bacteria in your gut, which leads to a release of inflammation. Internal inflammation can manifest externally as skin conditions like acne, or eczema, and psoriasis flare-ups. People with chronic inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea are more sensitive to flare-ups when they are stressed.

  • Acne – our stress hormone cortisol triggers our skin to produce more oil. When our skin’s pores contain more oil, this can lead to acne breakouts.
  • Rosacea – some people turn red when they feel nervous, but this chronic condition of red skin is also linked to chronic stress.
  • Eczema & Psoriasis – red, itchy patches of skin can be triggered by periods of extreme stress. Infections, allergies, and immune issues are typically involved too.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles – stress damages the protein molecules that provide structure and elasticity to our skin.

The stress hormone cortisol causes the breakdown of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid in the skin. This results in a loss of elasticity and more wrinkles.

We also need to address our stress level at its root to help mitigate its effects on our skin and our entire body. One of the biggest factors in stress management is our sleep quality. A poor night’s sleep increases our stress hormones and creates a vicious cycle that can be challenging to break.

One way to ensure the kind of rejuvenating sleep that makes you more resilient the next day is to create a bedtime routine that includes relaxation techniques that lower our stress levels, relax our minds, and help us get the deep, restful sleep our body needs.

For a healthy and radiant complexion, be sure to get a handle on your stress level as much as possible. A skincare routine that includes topical rejuvenation products coupled with better quality sleep will make a noticeable difference in your skin health.

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