Dermatologist Dr. Michael Rich from EnRich Clinic tells us about the link between stress and skin: "There is no question that stress affects you from the inside out. Not only does it impact on your inner resilience, but stress can take a toll on your outward appearance too."
When we're feeling anxious, our body releases a "stress hormone" called cortisol. Cortisol leads to all sorts of side effects as it floods your body, but in terms of skin, it damages its ability to hold onto water. Cue dry, dehydrated skin. Without moisture, skin looks dull and less-than-luminous — and nobody has time for that.
The fix: If your skin is feeling drier than usual, switch to hypoallergenic, fragrance-free skin care. The gentler the products, the better for your skin. Even though it's so tempting in winter, avoid taking long, steaming showers and washing your face with hot water — stick to lukewarm water instead. Finally, start taking fish oils and invest in a thick night cream to lock in moisture.
Is your face redder than Santa Claus' hat? While these kinds of flare-ups may seem random, in reality they are one of the signs that stress is taking its toll. When we're under pressure, our blood flow increases dramatically, which causes our capillaries to expand. Dr. Rich says, "Blood vessels open up and create an undesirable red hue." For women who suffer from a skin condition called rosacea, this "flushing" can last hours and even days.
The fix: No lady wants their emotions splashed all over their face. If redness and hot flushes are becoming a regular thing, it's time to update your beauty stash. Look for creams with "anti-inflammatory" on the label and apply them daily — and religiously. Dr. Rich adds that using sunscreen is super important. In most cases, you can keep redness at bay with topical products that can be bought over the counter.
If fine lines are popping up faster than they should, it may be time to assess the amount of stress in your life. Chances are, some of those creases are directly linked to anxiety. You know how your heart starts thumping when you're nervous or worried? Well, that's cortisol rearing its ugly head again. Cortisol slackens the collagen and elastin in our skin, the two key fibres that help keep it plump and smooth. As Dr. Rich explains, "When we feel stressed, we turn our smile upside down and start to frown. This dynamic facial movement increases the appearance of lines between the brow, creating an angry look."
The fix: If Botox and injectables are not an option, don't fret — there are plenty of hard-working products on the market that can help get rid of, or at least reduce, the appearance of those lines. Head to the anti-ageing section of the beauty store and try a serum loaded with antioxidants and retinol.
Do pimples always pop up at the most inconvenient times? Is your face spottier than a typical teenage boy's? You guessed it — stress may be to blame. In a nutshell, stress triggers the kind of inflammation that causes breakouts. This kind of inflammation can stick around for days or weeks, especially if you're constantly working late, not eating properly, or dealing with problems in a few areas of your life. Dr. Rich says maintaining your skin care routine is even more important during stressful times: "It is paramount that we continue to be diligent so as not to create an opportunity for stress to impact the health of our skin."
The fix: If breakouts are your main concern during stressful situations, ditch "gentle" and "normal" products and buy ones that are specifically designed to combat acne-prone skin. The key ingredients to look out for are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide — together, these will reduce bacteria and clarify and smooth out skin. Add an oil-free moisturiser to your shopping trolley too. Acne-busting products can be quite drying, so a quality moisturiser will help with that.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum If your eyes are betraying one too many late nights, this concentrated serum packs a serious punch. It's expensive, but worth it.
(Estee Lauder, $105)
Dermalogica Ultra-Calming Relief Masque Perfect for sensitive skin, this gentle yet effective mask stops inflammation in its tracks. (Dermalogica $62)
And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .
SheKnows is making some changes!