Stress is a part of daily life – there’s no getting around it…especially this year! We can’t avoid our jobs, bills, challenging relationships, politics, or list of daily chores. In fact, according to a consumer survey on stress, more than half of North Americans say they’re currently experiencing the highest levels of stress they can ever remember. Add to that the fact that 45% are also experiencing sleeplessness every month, and it would appear stress is a having a major impact on our day to day lives.
It’s no secret that stress can take a toll on our overall health and exacerbate pre-existing conditions. But one of the largest organs impacted by stress, and the area that shows the most obvious effects, is the skin. Here’s what stress can do to your skin and how to counteract each symptom.
Expect Dullness and Dryness for Days
Spikes in the stress hormone, cortisol, and a lack of quality sleep are to blame for a seemingly constant dull and dry complexion. In reaction to stress, the body releases cortisol to boost productivity in order to quickly and effectively address whatever is causing the stress and knock it out. Unfortunately cortisol levels, unlike adrenaline, can take a while to die down. The risk here is that stress later in the day can have a hangover effect when it comes to getting a decent sleep at night. Additionally, skin’s lipid barrier is weakened by excess cortisol, which lowers the body’s natural hyaluronic acid production. This means that the skin’s ability to retain moisture declines and you wake up to a dull, dry complexion in the morning.
The Solution: Start with respecting and protecting your time for beauty sleep, because skin can’t recover without stress free rest. Work on setting and sticking to a bedtime and creating a cushion between work and sleep to decompress and de-stress. To help skin retain moisture and strengthen the lipid barrier, apply skin care containing moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid or anti-aging niacinamide (vitamin B3), which boosts free fatty acids while supporting the lipid barrier and promoting cell turnover. Try Tuel Hydrate or U Turn serums. A weekly mask is also a great addition to your skin routine – 15 minutes is all you need to help combat dryness.
Get Ready for Rosacea Flare-ups and Redness
Rosacea is commonly misunderstood to be a result of stress. Rather, rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that flares up as a result of a spike in cortisol that triggers a chain of reaction in the nervous system. As cortisol increases in response to stress, the nervous system reacts by releasing chemicals called neuropeptides and neurotransmitters. These are the culprits that affect how the body responds to stress, triggering inflammation and causing blood vessels to dilate. These symptoms are amplified in those with rosacea.
The Solution: Unfortunately, the clear solution to limit the effects of stress on rosacea is to cut out stress altogether, which isn’t likely to happen any time soon. But making a list of common stress triggers and practicing avoidance may help, but in cases where stress can’t be avoided, consider treating rosacea symptoms with radio frequency skin resurfacing treatments to boost collagen production and trigger skin’s natural healing cycle. Post treatment, you can get back to crossing items off those to do lists immediately, and return to your regular skincare routine in as little as 24 hours.
Accept that Stress Causes Wrinkles
While good genetics can play a role in delaying signs of aging, lifestyle factors can erase the benefits built into your DNA. This is because the effects of chronic stress build up over time. The longer stress continues, the more intense symptoms will appear, including the development of deep set wrinkles that are much more difficult to erase with a cream or serum alone. In fact, the root of some stress-related wrinkles is thought to be located within our DNA. Telomeres found at the ends of each DNA chromosome work to sustain DNA’s structure and prevent damage. But with time, telomeres grow shorter. This natural aging process often leads to the fine lines and wrinkles we commonly associate with the aging, but stress speeds up this process.
The Solution: Supporting skin’s moisture level is a start for preventing further damage, as well as ultimately getting our worries in check. To help minimize the appearance of existing damage, consider a series of radio frequency anti-aging treatments (collagen induction therapy) for wrinkle reduction, which can help trigger skin’s natural repair cycle for smoother, firmer-looking skin.
To learn more about how ongoing stress has affected your skin and how you can reverse its effects with non-surgical medical aesthetics treatments and dermatologist recommended skincare regimens, contact us to arrange for a consultation.