Chronic stress can drive our skin haywire
We’ve all heard, at one point or another, that beauty starts from within. And for good reason: Your skin is your body’s largest organ. External issues can be a telltale sign of the wars waged within.
While bottled serums and sheet masks possess a certain level of aesthetic and soothing allure, a solid skin care routine may not be enough to provide calm for the imbalanced hormone battles happening underneath the surface.
Fact: Stress makes your skin battle harder. The increased jump in cortisol can jumble up the messages your nerves decide to send, causing anything from an outbreak of hives to fine lines.
Sun stress and exhausted skin defenses
Even before looking internally, there’s one beaming factor that can physically stress out your skin and weaken its defenses: ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A carcinogen via sun exposure, it can have a negative effect on skin.
Whether in the form of natural sunlight or more artificial means such as tanning beds, absorbing ultraviolet rays can signal blood cells to rush to the exposed area in an attempt to repair it. This manifests into sunburns, but it doesn’t end there: Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation may lead to darkened blemishes, moles, and even skin cancer.
The best way to combat UV rays and sun stress is by applying sunscreen every morning. Brands like Avène and Dermalogica have cute and compact oil-free versions, making the mundanity of a daily routine less so. They’re not only easy to carry around, but also easy to use, so you’re less likely to forget to apply daily.
Inflammation and extra-irritated skin
Hives, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea… these are often a result of inflammation, but studies also show that when your brain is on overdrive it can actually compromise your skin’s protective abilities.
In other words, stress makes it harder for your skin to regulate and stay balanced. It’s no wonder you might have an extra breakout during a sleepless week or after an intense argument.
Inflammation can also cause acne, but remember, some skin conditions like rosacea can look like acne too. It’s important to note the difference before treating the conditions — including whether or not your irritation is a result of stress, allergies, or a bad product.
Waxy scalp, hair loss, and peeling nails
There is no one way to experience stress. Ever unconsciously pulled your hair, bitten your fingernails — or picked at both? That could be the stress hormone, cortisol, triggering your body’s fight-or-flight response.
Before you assume it’s stress though, you might want to check in with a dermatologist and doctor to rule out other potential. For example, in the case of scaly or waxy skin, it could be eczema. Or in the case of hair loss or peeling nails, it could be insufficient nutrition from skipping meals.
In the time being, avoid extremely hot showers to prevent further damaging your skin and scalp. Bring more consistency to your day by aiming to exercise regularly and eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables.
Delayed natural wound healing
In the face of severe stress, your epidermis can quickly become weakened, increasing your risk for infections and environmental pathogens. This also slows down your skin’s natural ability to heal wounds, scars, and acne.
To repair your skin barrier, you can use products with glycerin and hyaluronic acid. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a pared-down serum that aims to provide you with exactly what your skin needs, without all of the extra additives found in most products.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is also lightweight enough to layer with other serums. The formula’s key ingredients, hyaluronic acid and snail secretion, work to retain the skin’s natural moisture while balancing out any visible scarring.
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