The relationship between stress and our mental health has been well-documented. A recent study by the Mental Health Foundation cautioned that three in four Brits have been so overwhelmed by stress during the previous twelve months, they’ve felt unable to cope at least once. As well as your mental health, stress can physically cause upset with your skin, too. It has the power to exacerbate existing conditions such as acne or rosacea and can also lead to the emergence of irritation and dullness. Here, we investigate some of the most common signs stress is impacting your skin and show how you can counteract its affects…
For those of us prone to breakouts and acne, simply hearing the word cortisol can be a cause for alarm. Dubbed the “stress-hormone,” it increases in the body during times of high pressure, which in turn ups sebum production and can lead to an imbalance of oils in the skin. To tackle this Annee de Mamiel, founder of De Mamiel, suggests using either a salicylic or retinoid-based product to help reduce stress and its affects. Retinol products are best used at night and work wonders at unifying skin tone and evening out texture. We love Darphin’s Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Oil Concentrate, with its individual dosage capsules that combine retinol with hydrating essential oils including argan, jojoba and sesame. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that’s particularly effective at sloughing away dead cells and smoothing the complexion. Try it in Sunday Riley’s U.F.O Face Oil where it’s combined with antibacterial tea tree for a double defence against unwanted breakouts.
Most of us have suffered as a result of a broken night’s sleep caused by stress, and awoken bleary eyed a short while later looking and feeling grey, lacklustre and lacking in vitality. While you probably know the best solution for a good night’s sleep is regular exercise and perhaps even some meditation to help you wind down, there are other ways you can help your skin look and feel more alert. For instant brightening with minimal effort, look out for ingredients like vitamin C, kakadu plum or camu camu, says Annee. Try Herbivore’s clarifying Prism Natural Fruit Acids 5% Exfoliating Glow Potion that’s enriched with bilberry extract, rose water and kakadu plum, Rodial’s Vit C Brightening Mask that contains 5% of the powerful antioxidant or De Mamiel’s vitamin C infused Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate.
“The skin is the largest organ in your body and is your first line of defence. When we are in balance, our skin works at its optimum, protecting itself during the day and healing and repairing itself at night,” explains Annee. However, high or constant levels of stress can offset this delicate natural equilibrium, disrupting hormone levels and preventing effective repair. The symptoms can include inflammation, irritation and the aggravation of existing skincare conditions such as rosacea or eczema. To give yourself the best chance of maintaining a healthy balance, opt for sensitive, soothing and calming products such as Kora Organics’ 3 Step System in Sensitive.
Disruption to the skin’s healing process caused by stress can also lead to less efficient production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid warns Annee. These vital elements form the building blocks of our skin and without them common signs of ageing such as fine lines, loss of volume and plumpness can become more pronounced. Thankfully, there is a bevvy of skincare products on offer to help in easy-to-use formulations, so warding off stress-induced fine lines doesn’t need to feel like another chore on your already overflowing to-do list. From hyaluronic filled elixirs like De Mamiel’s Intense Nurture Antioxidant Elixir to serums that support natural collagen production such as Kat Burki’s Form Control Marine Collagen Gel and mists that help improve skin elasticity such as Natura Bisse’s Diamond Cocoon Ultimate Shield.