The Signs Your Skin Is Stressed and How To Solve It
6 minutes read
Skin problems caused by stress are a real thing. If you’re suddenly battling issues such as dull or dry limbs, then here’s why.
Experts say overproduction of cortisol (stress hormones) damages the skin’s collagen and elastin, leading to skin issues. In addition, if not controlled, stress can trigger or exacerbate multiple skin conditions too.
Stress on skin differs depending on the individual and skin type. We’ve consulted with top skin experts on dealing with stressed skin and what products can alleviate flare-ups.
How does stress affect my skin?
Our skin acts as an immediate stress perceiver and as a target of stress responses. In other words, our skin is our armour. Skin plays an important barrier and immune function, maintaining stability between the external environment and internal tissues.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s been long disproven that only teenagers suffer from breakouts. Instead, experts claim adult acne is very common and has many causes, with stress being a significant trigger.
According to dermatologists, it is very usual for people to experience breakouts when stressed and it is all due to hormonal changes our bodies experience during times of stress.
Overproduction of cortisol is not just problematic for skin issues such as premature ageing, dry and irritated skin; sallow and dull skin; increased activity of the oil glands leading to clogged pores and breakouts and can inflame conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema.
Good thing, the link between skin and stress is increasingly understood in the medical community. Psychodermatology is a field that addresses the impact of an individual’s emotion as it relates to the skin. Identifying and controlling stress is a great preventive measure not to aggravate skin concerns but also to maintain overall health and well-being.
What are the signs of stress?
There are two types of stress we are exposed to every day: acute stress and chronic stress.
They vary between the ‘acute’ minor daily stresses we experience, such as traffic jams, an argument with your spouse, preparing for exams, or tight work deadlines.
You need to watch out for the more severe stress that can build up when exposed over a more extended period – a sudden change in your life: losing a job and divorce, bereavement, are just to name a few.
According to research carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, more than 82% of UK adults have experienced stress this year because of the pandemic.
Dermatologists say the more detrimental form of stress for the skin is the chronic kind of stress. The longer you endure stress, the more it takes a toll on your skin.
The signs your skin is stressed and how to deal with it
Stress can wreak havoc on your skin. How it manifests varies depending on the individual. Everyone’s body and skin will react to stress differently, as we all have different genetic makeups. Skin type, lifestyle, and environment all play a determining role.
Can stress cause dry skin?
Yes. Stress can dry your skin out. According to experts, whenever you undergo stress, your fight-or-flight response takes over.
As a result, you experience a spike in adrenaline and cortisol. It makes you sweat a bit more, which leads to dehydration if you’re not replenishing your body with water.
“You can combat (skin) dehydration through skincare,” says Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager. “Replenish body fluids by drinking up to 8 glasses of water and try adding the topical Calm-Essentiel Restoring Treatment Oil to your regimen. This product calms redness but also helps with the skin barrier repair, down to the clary sage that treats inflammation and squalane to soothe and protect.”
Experts say dry skin also flares up as a result of excessive caffeine intake, paired with unhealthy food cravings.
“In high doses, caffeine can have a diuretic effect meaning that it can cause your body to make more urine than usual. It could have a dehydrating effect on the skin,” London-based Consultant Dietitian and Nutritionist, Ro Huntriss tells Beauty Daily.
Research suggests that too much salt may play a role in triggering skin conditions. Technical University of Munich researchers found highly elevated salt levels in the skin of patients suffering from eczema.
“Salt draws water out of our cells. Consuming food high in salt can trigger or exacerbate dry skin issues and skin conditions. Excess sugar intake can also damage the collagen in the skin contributing to signs of ageing including dryness,” Huntriss adds.
If dehydration goes unnoticed, it could lead to serious health problems.
Can stress cause dull skin?
Should your skin need to be resurrected back to life, McHale suggests a plan of exfoliation.
“Through regular exfoliation, you ensure that the dead skin cells are completely removed,” McHale explains.
Adding, “Dead skin cells do not reflect light, so if they build up on the surface, your skin can look and feel dull. I recommend a cream-gel exfoliant such as Fresh Scrub.”
This exfoliator has a refreshing formula that’s enhanced with organic leaf of life extract. The larger beads exfoliate; the smaller beads refine the skin texture, which strips impurities and dead skin cells and unveils fresh, radiant skin.
Another must-have McHale suggests to add to your weekly routine is applying SOS Hydra Refreshing Hydration Mask for a 10-minute instant boost. But for days you need a quick fix, the Beauty Flash Balm is the ultimate pick-me-up for tired skin and eliminates signs of fatigue in a flash. Use morning or evening as a quick pick-me-up or before make-up application.
If dullness results from tiredness in the skin because of anxiety or stress, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. At night, your skin switches from protect to repair mode, and it’s the best time of the day for it to recover from the day’s stresses. So don’t deprive your skin of sleep.
Ways to de-stress your skin
To live a life not dominated by stress, curate a routine that promotes relaxation and helps you live in a happier, positive way. Nothing is worth more than your health and sanity.
Start with little things like limiting daily screen-time two hours before bed, prioritising up to nine hours of sleep and opting for healthier eating habits. Also, cut down on wine and alcohol in general as they are known to bring your mood down.
Doing a 20-minute nature stroll or exercising has been long proven to boost mood, in addition to warm baths. McHale recommends using a Relaxing Bath and Shower Concentrate to calm tired muscles after a stressful day. For total relaxation, spritz Eau Ressourçante all over your body.
Don’t forget though, hot water can stress and dry your skin further, especially where skin can build up and crack; on your feet for example. Keep the water temperature as low as possible whilst still being relaxing – strike that balance.
Several studies have looked into the anxiety-reducing effects of some fragrances and aromatherapy: Physiology & Behavior focused on 200 people awaiting dental treatment and found that breathing in the scent of lavender both lessened anxiety and improved mood.
Have 30 minutes to spare? Then, pop up at your nearest Clarins’ Beauty Bar for a DeStress Express.
This deep pressure massage, turbocharged with soothing essential oils, will relax the most tensed and stressed muscles such as hands, scalp, neck, shoulders, or face and eyes. In addition, studies reveal that this type of massage decreases cortisol and increases ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and dopamine.
In a couple of days or weeks tops, see how your skin reacts to the stress-free environment you’ve cultured yourself.