How Stress Impacts Skin & What To Do About It
BY: Danielle Winston
March 26, 2022
When stress flips on that internal switch in your brain, AKA the fear response, it triggers a ripple effect within the nervous system, potentially contributing to myriad physiological conditions. As skin is the largest organ in the body, sensitive to emotional stimuli, it’s only natural that stress impacts skin on multiple levels. For some firsthand insight into protecting it from stress, we spoke to Dermatologist, Dr. Jaimie Glick, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
How does skin react? Psychological stress increases cortisol production; according to Dr. Glick, and when this happens it “can impair your skin's barrier function, causing increased trans epidermal water loss. (Water released from the body which then evaporates.) “This can lead to dry, scaly skin and a worsening of conditions like eczema,” says Dr. Glick.
How does stress impact skin conditions? Stress is also associated with “increased production of reactive oxygen species and inflammation, leading to conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis and even premature aging,” says Dr. Glick.
What lifestyle changes can help combat stress on skin? Keep in mind that when you're “chronically stressed your sleep is often impacted. Sleep is essential to your overall health and skin,” says Dr. Glick, who goes on to explain that during slumber, skin enters a restorative phase, therefore “Poor sleep can result in dark circles, acne and overall worsening of your complexion.”
What’s a good way to calm skin? Mindfulness practices, such as yoga and breathing exercises are a natural way to soothe the body and mind. “Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and calm your skin,” says Dr. Glick, because it triggers “a relaxation response in your brain, activating the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and decreasing cortisol and inflammation.” The doctor adds, “Studies have shown that meditation might even be able to turn on anti-inflammatory genes.”
Does nutritional stress influence skin health, such as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar? What you feed your body is reflected outwards. Dr Glick cautions, “High glycemic (sugary) foods are associated with the release of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which may lead to increased sebum production and worsening of acne.” Try reducing sugary and processed foods, in favor of antioxidant-dense, plant-based choices, especially foods rich in magnesium & B vitamins, which benefit skin health.
*Make a point to add calming rituals, such as healing skincare and facial massage to your daily wellness routine. A lovely place to begin is with Kat's Pro B Repair Collection formulated with healing B vitamins that fortify hair, nails, and skin. They also boost immunity, repair cells, and protect against free radical damage that leads to premature aging.
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Follow Dr. Glick on instagram @drjaimieglick