If you’ve ever been stressed out and experienced a breakout, you already know that the mind and the skin are interconnected. Stress can have a major impact on our skin and our skin can also impact our mental health.
Let’s look at some of the ways that our emotions play a role in our skin care and what we can do when these pesky emotional flare ups happen.
How do our emotions affect our skin?
If you’ve already read up on how our hormones play a role in skin health then you know that hormonal changes are a big part of whether or not our skin is feeling it’s best. If you have a hormonal & menstrual cycle, this will change your complexion in different ways throughout the month.
This is also true for stress. Stress can increase our cortisol levels (stress hormones), leading to unexpected breakouts.
When we’re sad, angry or our boss is piling on the extra work, our hormones go into overdrive adding extra cortisol, adrenaline and testosterone into the mix. All these hormones result in increased sebum and oil production and before you know it, acne. Just what you need to help alleviate your stress.
Stress can also trigger psoriasis, cold sores, rosacea, dark circles and puffiness. What fun!
Unfortunately it’s a bit of a vicious cycle. Stress leads to unwanted skin conditions and those skin conditions lead to more stress.
Even if a condition isn’t brought on by our emotions, it can lead to more stress in our lives.
Conditions like vitiligo and psoriasis may not be 100% induced by stress, but they can cause emotional trauma in those who suffer from them. Especially if they’ve received unwanted attention or bullying due to their condition.
On the flipside, our “feel good hormones” can cause better skin conditions. There’s some evidence to suggest that hormones like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins can leave the skin smoother, more hydrated and with fewer breakouts.
How do we fix it?!
When we’re looking at combating the physical impact our emotions have on skin health, we have to look at it from two directions. Physical and mental.
If the thing that is causing your stress isn’t likely to go away, like your boss… or the patriarchy, then you have to take a more defensive approach to skin care.
Products high in amino acid, taurine or that contain CBD can help alleviate some of the symptoms your skin is experiencing.
Anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can also help. Try to stay away from those refined sugar products that we often lean on during times of stress, as they often aggravate our skin. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you need some chocolate to take the edge off. We’ve all been there.
Try to maintain your regular skin care regime during times of stress. It’s easy to let it fall by the wayside when you have a lot going on, but taking a moment of self-care for yourself can help alleviate stress both on your face and in your body.
Mindfulness practices can also be a huge help in managing our emotions. We often want a product to solve our skin care issues, but that is only a bandaid for the root problem. If our skin health is being impacted by our emotions, we need to take care of our heart and mind before we can truly remedy the situation.
Find a self-care practice that’s right for you. Incorporate meditation, journaling, yoga, dance, spa days or whatever helps you feel most at peace.
We’re not likely to avoid stress completely (if you find out how, let me know), but we can be gentle with ourselves and our skin, when those unavoidable emotions pop up. Show yourself and your skin a little extra lovin’ and don’t forget to breathe.