Stress does a lot more than make us feel awful — it can wreak havoc on your skin. We’re getting some expert insight into just what it does to your complexion and how to reverse the effects.
We asked Lavinia Borcau, skin care expert, spa owner and founder of LaVie Organique, for her insight into how stress can adversely affect your complexion.
Acne breakouts are stressful enough — especially when they happen the day before a date or other big event, but it turns out stress itself could be causing those pesky blemishes. “Overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol sets the stage for acne flare-ups by promoting oily skin and interfering with your body’s ability to regulate inflammation,” explains Borcau. So what’s a girl to do? To calm your complexion, she suggests using an organic skin cream that contains natural anti-inflammatories such as green tea and chamomile, as well as the natural mineral sun block zinc oxide, which reduces oiliness.
Dry skin? All those long (stressful) days at the office could be to blame. “Stress interferes with the ability of the skin to retain moisture,” says Borcau. If you’ve been dealing with more stress than you’d like — and it shows, switch to a rich cream that contains plant-derived moisturizers such as aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, shea butter and avocado oil, suggests Borcau. “These will help hydrate and lubricate the skin, improving not only the appearance of the skin, but also its ability to function as a natural shield against bacteria, irritants and toxins,” she explains.
Reduced collagen production
Stress can also be the enemy of youthful-looking skin, so if you want to turn back the clock, you’ll need to find a way to minimize stress. “Increased levels of another stress hormone, epinephrine, constricts blood vessels, reducing the flow of oxygen and nutrients that skin needs to manufacture collagen,” says Borcau. If you want to combat the effect of stress on your skin, move your face, she advises. “One of the best ways to restore healthy circulation is a program of facial exercises that incorporates aerobic techniques.”
No one likes to talk about wrinkles, let alone face them in the mirror. Ensure your skin stays smoother, longer by minimizing stress. “Cortisol also causes blood sugar levels to spike. The excess sugar molecules in your bloodstream can bond to the proteins in your skin’s collagen fibers causing them to harden and crack and resulting in loose skin and deep wrinkles,” explains Borcau. To maintain proper blood sugar levels and keep skin looking youthful, she recommends avoiding refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, junk food) and eating more vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Neglect and abuse of skin
If you’re overloaded with frustrating demands and a never-ending to-do list, you may find yourself going to bed with your makeup on, not bothering to moisturize and even indulging in bad habits like picking at your skin, notes Borcau. To get your skin back on track, treat yourself to a professional facial. “Make sure the salon you choose provides a soothing atmosphere and plenty of TLC. With a little pampering to reduce your stress level and a revitalized complexion, you’ll feel motivated to resume a disciplined skin care routine.”
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