We all get stressed from time to time but long term, chronic stress can be detrimental to not only our health but also our skin, hair, and nails. Our emotions and the way we react to everyday situations can have a powerful effect on skin health. Since stress is a part of life, what matters is how you handle it. Health and beauty expert Fiona Tuck, MD of Skinstitut Australia and author of The Myth Minx, investigates how stress affects the skin.
“Stress causes a chemical response in the body that makes the skin more reactive and sensitive. Using gentle products rich in antioxidants and soothing ingredients can support the skin during stressful times. Stress can also cause fluctuations in hormones make it harder for skin problems such as acne to heal,” she says.
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“Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed, you break out more? This is because stress causes your body to produce cortisol and other hormones, which tells your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Oily skin is more prone to acne and other skin problems. Stress can also aggravate skin problems. For example, stress can be a trigger for psoriasis, rosacea and eczema flare-ups. Stress can also contribute to hives, skin rashes and trigger the cold sore virus in
If you have a reoccurring skin condition, it may be time to rethink how you handle stress. Although it’s impossible to avoid stress completely, there
are ways to handle it better. Fiona suggests these approaches:
1. Look after your skin. Take care of your skin, even if you’re tired or stressed. Avoid overstimulating a stressed skin with hydroxyl acid and retinol-based ingredients and look for soothing antioxidants and vitamins such as goji berry, vitamin C, vitamin B, aloe vera and Canadian willowherb.
2. Exercise. Regular exercise is not only good for your skin and the rest of your body; it is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels in the body.
3. Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy, even if you only have 10 minutes. Take a warm bath with epsom salts to aid relaxation or read a book.
4. Count to 10. When things all seem like they are too much, take a deep breath and remove yourself from the environment. A quick walk around the block can calm you down and change your whole perspective on a situation.
5. Practice stress management techniques, such as breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or visual imagery.