We all encounter stress in different parts of our lives. Eating healthy, exercise, getting plenty of sleep and meditation can help ease daily tensions, but how to care for your skin when you are feeling overwhelmed?
Recently, I spoke with Sarah Kugelman President and Founder of skyn ICELAND. Sarah shared with me some of her insights to understand the effects of stress on the skin.
How does stress affect the skin?
When we are stressed, our brain sends a signal to our nervous system to go into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. When this happens we release hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream that have a direct effect on the way skin functions and heals itself.
In a nutshell, stress affects skin in 5 ways: accelerated aging, adult acne, irritation, dullness and dehydration. When skin is stressed it does not act properly, it’s out of balance, it’s literally exhausted, irritable, drained and depleted.
What are some of the top tips on How To Care For Stressed Skin?
One of the first places you see stress show up is in the eye area because the skin is so thin and delicate. So I always say ‘ focus on the eyes first’ because you can make the biggest impact there. Generally stress shows up in the form of puffiness, bags, dark circles and lines and wrinkles.
Be sure to keep a diet that’s low in sodium as that can cause puffiness. Also, cut-out caffeine, alcohol and smoking! These can exacerbate symptoms.
Breakouts are also common when skin is stressed and women have the tendency to overdo it on the products at that time just because they want blemishes to go away! So don’t use too many products and don’t use them too often.
Acneic skin is also inflamed and sensitive so you don’t want to dry it out and abuse it. Use products with willow bark or salicylic acid and don’t forget to moisturize…even oily skin needs hydration.
Stressed skin also can become dehydrated and dry. Important to use a moisturizer that gives continuous hydration to skin like Sodium Hyaluronate.
Also using ingredients that help repair the lipid barrier function (to hold in the moisture). For instance Omega essential fatty acids (which is in our arctic super fruits, arctic cloudberry and cranberry seed oils).
How to care for aging skin that is stressed?
You really want to help repair the DNA in the skin as this is what is damaged when we are stressed and what leads to aging. There are a few ingredients which are especially important.
There is a group of medicinal herbs called adaptogens that specifically help to fortify stressed skin (we have them in our Arctic Hydrating Balm) against the damaging effects of stress.
Also, stem cells which help rebuild and heal skin. We use a plant stem cell that is referred to as ‘plant collagen’ it literally helps repair skin’s DNA and reduces the signs of aging. Lastly, stressed skin is flooded with free radicals which destroy skin and accelerates aging. Key to use products with super antioxidants — we use ones such as Vit C and Vit E, CoEnzyme Q10, Thiotaine and raspberry stem cells.
Why is it important to care for stressed skin?
Because you can really minimize stressed skin and reverse its effects. I believe you can use skincare as a tool to reduce stress holistically — taking the time to care for your skin is pampering and relaxing, just this alone can break the stress cycle.
Then, when we look in the mirror and feel like we look better, it also helps reduce our stress. We can look better, feel better and be healthier if we care for our stressed skin.
Other tips for stressed skin?
It has to be a holistic approach: 8 hours of sleep a night, a healthy and nutrient rich diet, 64 ounces of water a day, a good exercise program and BREATHE!
It’s simple things that really help us alleviate stress…and it’s how we take care of the inside that shows on the outside.
When I slip into a period of extreme stress I know I have to get more sleep (when you get less is when you get sick!), cut out the refined sugar and white flour and load up on Omega rich foods (to decrease internal inflammation such as salmon and avocado), antioxidants (lots of berries), magnesium (sweet potatoes) and vitamin B complex (broccoli) and vitamin D (supplement), try to get some cardio or yoga into my week and get a massage!
Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest. Let’s have the very best 2015!