Understanding and how to look after your stressed out skin
Stress affects us all at some points in our lives and we can all react differently. We turned to Nurse Fiona Rizzi, for her insight on stress and it's affects on our skin. Fiona is a nurse practitioner and nutritionist who has been working in integrative and functional healthcare for over a decade. She has a deep passion for personalised medicine, encompassing physical, emotional & spiritual support.
Stress triggers our fight-or-flight response, also referred to as the HPA axis, consisting of the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands in our brain and the adrenal glands, which sit at the top of the kidneys.
When you are exposed to stress (perceived or real) chemicals known as cortisol and adrenaline are released from your adrenal glands. These chemicals affect every cell in the body, including skin cells. Many emerging studies are showing that the HPA axis can have a major effect on your skin (1) as it regulates skin inflammation, protection and repair. However, there are many simple lifestyle tips you can introduce to help protect your body and skin from the effects of long-term exposure to stress.
Acute stress is experienced as an immediate perceived threat, either physical, emotional or psychological. Examples include running late to an important appointment, traffic jams or public speaking.
Symptoms of acute stress include a faster heartbeat, a feeling of contraction and a pitted feeling in the stomach also referred to as “butterflies.” This type of stress can happen multiple times a day and serves a purpose to protect us from the threat.
Chronic stress differs from acute stress in that it is a lingering, pervasive feeling of being under pressure or overwhelmed. Symptoms of chronic stress can be fatigue, low-level anxiety, insomnia, inability to focus, irregular heartbeat, impaired digestion, or a constant feeling of unease.
If you are experiencing these symptoms for longer than 4 weeks, we would advise seeing a healthcare practitioner for further testing and support. Living with chronic stress can impair your immune system, digestion, and reproduction and can also significantly affect your skin.
Stress shuts down non-essential functions, such as skin repair, regeneration and hair growth so energy can be used to focus on the perceived threat in front of you. Chronic stress can affect the skin in a myriad of ways.
If you are experiencing issues with your skin such as breakouts, dryness, redness or rashes that are not always normal for you, this may be a sign that your skin is being affected by stress. A good idea is to keep a journal to help determine whether your skin is affected by stress:
If all answers point to stress, there are many simple things you can introduce into your skincare routine and life to help support you during times of high stress.
These are essential fats that make up 50% of your skin barrier. Ceramides are depleted by cortisol leading to inflammation, irritation and dryness.
Invest in a high-quality antioxidant serum. During periods of high stress, delivery of nutrients to the skin is reduced making the skin more vulnerable to ageing and damage. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C, E and phytonutrients quercetin and resveratrol. Paula’s Choice Ultra-light Super Antioxidant Serum is a great option to protect the skin against stress-induced free radicals, dull skin and ageing.
Hydration is to combat the effects of stress on the skin. Introducing hyaluronic acid can help support the epidermal barrier reducing inflammation, redness and irritation. This can also give the skin a lovely glow. Medik8 Hydra B5 Liquid Rehydrating Serum can be a lifesaver during stressful times.
Adaptogens come to the rescue during periods of high stress. Look for ingredients such as reishi mushroom, ashwagandha, liquorice, guto kola and holy basil for combatting stressful skin. PSA Heroine Mandelic & LIcorice Superfood Glow Toner can be applied multiple times a day to hydrate the skin with the hero adaptogens liquorice and guto kola.
Stress is an inevitable part of our daily lives. Skin symptoms can be your body’s way of asking you to take some self-care time or slow down to help with chronic stress, so here are 4 lifestyle types for managing stress:
Many studies show that rituals or routines can help calm the HPA axis. Introducing a daily skincare ritual can have a profound impact at reducing the negative effects of stress.
There are multiple studies demonstrating the positive effects of meditation on stress levels and skin health. One particular study showed a marked improvement in eczema, psoriasis and urticaria after introducing daily meditation for 12 weeks (5.)
Blue light emitted from screens increases the release of cortisol. Blue light is also capable of penetrating deep layers of the skin, producing free radicals and inflammation. Apply antioxidant serums during the day and limit exposure before bed to protect the skin.
Adaptogens are naturally occurring ingredients found in some foods and supplements that help support the stress HPA axis and reduce the harmful effects of stress. Adaptogens can be consumed as a tea, powder or supplement. Look for the below ingredients;
If you would like to speak to a Renude aesthetician about looking after your skin during a stressful period or treating skin that is reacting to any form of stress take our skin health quiz at a time that suits you.
Complete our quick quiz, then book a free video call or upload photos.
Your aesthetician will hand-select a personalised skincare routine for the evolving journey of your skin.
Get ongoing advice as your skin changes for just £20 every 3 months (which is deducted from your purchases).